20 February 2024

SCA: Shiny New Viking Stuff!

Yes, I was responsible with most of my tax refund this year, but I also treated myself to a couple of new shiny things for the SCA: 

Birka Cup

I think my favorite thing in the world, at the moment, is this little glass cup in the foreground of this photo.  

It's a replica of a glass cup found at Birka (this cup was from grave 750, exc. by Hjalmar Stolpe in 1897), and it just makes my heart glad.  I love glassware, especially period glassware - and this is the first piece of period glassware I've ever owned.   


I also got this lovely little bronze Viking key from Raymond's Quiet Press.  It's a replica of an extant key from Lund in Sweden, and it's a great little addition to my set of "jewelry".  I wove a very thin band to use to hang it from my brooches.  

Yay, shiny Viking stuff!  

What's Next? 

I'm working on a BUNCH of things right now, so there'll be posts a-plenty coming up soon.  This weekend is the spring Bjornsborg event, from which there will be pictures (I hope).  I'm weaving my butt off right now making trim to go on my linen Viking coat, I'm working on a new Hedeby bag, I built a new loom and am trying it out, and I'm working on a Roman outfit for the hot weather this coming season.  Whew!  More soon! 

05 February 2024

SCA: Just Some Viking Stuff

In addition to spending two months whomping up a new Italian outfit for Candlemas, which was this past weekend, I also, in that space of time, made a TON of largesse items for a largesse competition that was supposed to be held at the event. 

I started working just before Thanksgiving, and finished about the middle of January; and I made the following items: 

thirteen Hedeby bags

1.  Hedeby bags!  

I love making these things, and I had plenty of supplies on hand, so I went for it. The handles are a simple, curvy Hedeby-style similar to the ones I usually make (based on the handles found at Hedeby and Birka), and they are made from 1/4" red oak flooring pieces that someone gave to me a few years ago. The handles were cut on my table saw and shaped with a hacksaw and electric sander; then stained with a walnut Minwax stain.  It took me about a week to produce all thirteen pairs of handles.  

The bags are hand sewn out of linen, because I had a lot of linen scraps on hand that were perfectly sized for this project. Some are lined, some are not, depending on the weight of the linen used. Each bag has a hand-stitched trim in a braided/herringbone stitch, examples of which were found on an apron dress fragment from Hedeby and on a hat from Denmark; some are bands across the front of the bag, some are stitched around the top edge, and some are covering the side seams. The handles are sewn onto the bag with matching thread (cotton embroidery floss).  Each bag, from sewing to decorating to handle attachment, took me about three hours.  

The bags's carrying straps are a combination of flat card-woven bands, and tubular card-woven cord bands made after a method I found described in this paper by L. Elena Hylton.  You use 4-6 cards with 4 holes threaded, and pass the weft thread/shuttle through one side of the warp only, looping under the warp to get back to the first side (instead of going right-to-left and then left-to-right as you do in "regular" card weaving).  This causes the weave to pull itself into a hollow round tube when you pull the weft tight, instead of creating a flat band. This method of weaving tubular cording is documentable to as early as the 1100s, according to Elena's research. I used 6 cards for my tubular straps, after I found 4 to make a square-profile band and I really wanted a rounder profile.  I also found that it's harder to weave this tubular band after switching the card's direction in order to untwist the threads - for some reason it just works better going "fowards" than going "backwards".  I'll have to practice it more. 

tubular strap

thirteen woven bands
2.  Tablet-woven trim

Something else I really, really enjoy doing.  I had a number of spools of cotton crochet thread on hand from another project, and so I used up my excess on thirteen 1.5-2 yard pieces of trim.  

There are five different designs, each very simple and no more than 10 cards each, and all are either period designs or based on period designs. Each one took me about 3 hours to make from warping to finishing. 

3. Lampworked glass beads 

I hadn't made glass beads for several months (due to it being summer, and about 120ºF inside my garage where my glass workshop is set up), and I needed the practice badly. I'm not very good at doing this - I'm still VERY much a beginner, so my beads aren't, like, awesome or anything - but they'll make nice additions to someone's Viking kit, I'm hoping.  

I made thirteen sets of 8 beads.  All of them are about 8mm in size; some are round, some drum-shaped with flat sides, and some are kind of round/oval with little bumps or dots on them - there are 2 of these "fancy" beads in each set, and 6 plain ones.  It took me about a month to make all the beads, working in 20-minute sessions of about 7 beads per session (not all of which turned out right).  


Guess What? 

For some reason, the competition didn’t happen at the event. I don’t know why it got scrubbed - I KNOW I read a whole post about it on the event page two months ago, but no one knew anything about it when I got there and asked about where to set up. Shoot! All that work...!  Not "for nothing" - after all, I'm now prepared to enter the next largesse competition, whenever that happens.  

Meanwhile, I learned a lot, and got a lot of good practice with woodworking and weaving. And glass bead making, although I'm kind of burnt out on glass beads for the time being and probably won't be doing any of that any time soon.  We'll see.  

dry run of display at home

25 January 2024

Regency: The Pineapple Reticule

Here is the silliest thing I've ever made: a pineapple reticule! 

A few weeks ago I learned that pineapple reticules were a thing - at least one of them, that I know of. This knit pineapple purse is housed in the Kyoto Costume Institute’s 1800-1810 collection (as featured on JaneAusten.co.uk

The extant purse is knit in silk, in several shades of yellow and green.  The blog linked above states that pineapples and other tropical fruit were very much en vogue during the early regency, but sadly, I cannot find any other examples of period fruit-like knit or fabric objects online. But this one example is enough for me! 

There are lots of patterns for similar knit reticules on Ravelry and Etsy. I am not a knitter - I crochet (crocodile stitch, maybe?), but I didn’t happen to have any yellow or green yarn sitting around. What I did have was a three yard length of 6” wide yellow poly satin fabric that I wasn’t doing anything with, so I decided to sew a little pineapple bag. 

For the body, I sewed four 6" wide strips of satin together to make a large rectangle, then pintucked the whole thing on the bias, and sewed the result into a tube. The lining is yellow cotton from an old sheet I had sitting around to make mock-ups with. 

The  “leaves” are big triangles attached to the top edge of the tube, and I ran a drawstring (pale gold ribbon) around the top of the bag just beneath the leaves on the inside of the bag so that they'd stand up when the bag is closed.  I didn’t have anything green to use for the leaves, so I cut off part of the yellow piece and dyed it green with Rit’s Dyemore for synthetics in “peacock green,” which yielded this lovely leaf green color: 

The leaves being put together, and the yellow cotton lining: 

And here's the round, flat bottom of the bag, also green. The little covered button on the bottom is just for fun, and just because I love covered buttons:

Y'all, I CANNOT stop giggling at this thing.  It's so silly!  This is officially the silliest thing I've ever made, and it pleases my heart.  HEE HEE HEE.  

24 January 2024

Regency: Teal Cotton Open Robe

After working my butt off on SCA projects since Thanksgiving, I needed a creative palate-cleanser project - and I was itching to do something new with Regency stuff (besides the apron, that was actually a functional thing I needed).  So my first “real” project of 2024 is this teal open robe, along with a new shawl and some new jewelry to go  with it: 

I had this teal cotton in my stash for years, and I'd originally intended to do a Really Awesome Regency Dress with it (like this one), but after chipping little bits off of it here and there over the years for small projects, it ended up only 3 yards long - not enough for something big and fancy.  But it was, I realized recently, exactly enough to make a short-sleeved open robe to wear over my white 1800s gown.  

My inspiration for the color palette for this outfit was this painting of Princess Amelia (youngest daughter of King George III and Queen Charlotte) by Sir William Beechey (1797).   While I didn't want to recreate this exact outfit, I did want to do something with the same color scheme, with which I am in LOVE - the teal dress with the delicate little silver/white designs, the rust/burnt orange shawl and gold sash and armband. She also wears long strands of clear (I'm assuming rock crystal) beads - which you don't see in Regency art very often - and which sort of pick up on the look of the little silver/white dots on her dress. 

The teal dress in the inspiration picture has some sort of white/silver design on it - it’s probably sprigged - and I’m not sure what the design is actually supposed to be. Stars, dots, probably little flowers? I decorated my fabric with little trios of silver dots, which is a design I’ve used before for Medieval stuff; I really like the look of it, it’s delicate and subtle. I chalked out grid lines on the fabric every 6” and then dotted the intersections and centers of the grid with a silver paint pen: 

The robe is about half machine sewn and half hand sewn - I did the primary construction of the bodice and bodice lining on the machine; but the lining is inserted and the skirt attached by hand, and all the hemming and edging is down by hand as well. 

There's a wee bit of a train on the back, too, for the lovely drape it gives when one walks or the wind blows.  



I made the shawl for this dress out of an old SCA costume. The fabric is a soft, lightweight silk twill, in a deep russet color. The SCA costume was a 12th century *cyclas*, which was just made of two rectangles and some triangular gores, so I removed the gores and the neckline and joined the two rectangles together (flat felled seam + rolled hem edge) to make this shawl. 


The sash in the inspiration painting looks to me like a dark dusty gold, possibly with some kind of print or embroidery on it, but I suppose it could be brown? Mine is a length of gold poly satin, purchased from Etsy as a “bridal sash” and tied around the waistline of the robe. The color is way too light - I wanted a darker gold, almost bronze - but it’ll do for now. I think eventually I’ll get some nice silk and make a new sash for this outfit. 


I LOVE the rock crystal bead jewelry in the inspiration painting so much! I haven’t seen clear crystal jewelry much in Regency paintings - usually you see pearls or coral, or colored gemstones with fancier outfits.  My beads are glass (for budget reasons), 14mm round, and strung in two 16” strands. Yes, the bead strands should be waaaay longer than they are in order to look more like the inspiration pic, but I used what I had.  


Yay! This was a quick, simple project, and a much-needed break from SCA stuff for a minute.  It's easy to wear, and versatile. 

And I have no idea what's next!  I have LOTS of ideas for new Regency costumes, new Viking stuff and weaving projects, and even a dip into Victorian for the first time (maybe), but where to start?  I think I need a break…I’m also refinishing an old wooden table right now, but I’ll be back soon. 


18 January 2024

Regency: A Work Apron

Here’s something a bit weird: I made a Regency item for SCA use.  I remembered kind of late that I had promised a friend that I’d help him in the kitchen at Candlemas, and I had this fancy Italian dress that I needed to protect - so I needed an apron. 

I had wanted a Regency apron for a while (I love Elinor’s tan gardening apron in the 1995 Sense & Sensibility movie and have wanted one ever since).  And so I figured, since nobody would really see me in it at the event, I would go ahead and make a Regency apron to wear over my Italian outfit. 

(I swear those pockets are actually even, I don't know why they look wonky on the mannequin; they look fine on me). 

There's not really a pattern; it’s really just a couple of rectangles and some long ties. It’s made out of an old, blue, cotton sheet that I had saved to use as mock-up fabric. The shoulder straps cross over and loop around the waist tie in the back; and there are two large pockets on the front. 

I also made a pair of sleeve covers, which I know I’ve seen somewhere in period on a maid or someone like that - probably on TV - to keep my silk sleeves clean. They’re elasticized at the top and bottom for ease of wear. 

Wearing a Regency apron with 15th century clothing is a bit silly, but I got a pretty blue apron out of it and now I won't get any food on my Italian outfit, so, win-win. 

07 January 2024

SCA: Candlemas 2024: Green 1490s Italian - the Accessories

A week ago I posted about the 1490s Florentine outfit I made for Candlemas in February - today’s post is about all the accessories that went into the outfit: 


I’ll talk about my hair first, since it was a lot of fun - I used fake hair for the first time ever for this outfit! It was given to me by a friend several months ago, and I finally fixed it up and wore some of it for this outfit. It was really neat - it’s been two years since I cut all my hair off in order to grow out my gray (and I’m growing it back as fast as I can!) - and it felt soooo good to at least have the feel and weight of long hair again. I miss my hair! 

Anyway, I clipped two long silvery-gray extensions into my hair, then braided it all into a single braid down my back. The front of my hair was parted in the middle and smoothed down over my ears, and I curled the bits that were too short to be included in the braid. I wrapped the braid in gold ribbon, wider at the top and end to hide the elastic bands which contained the braid, with thin gold ribbon spiraled around the length of the braid. 

My inspiration for the hairstyle and headgear were from several paintings, like these: 

La Bella Principessa, Leonardo DaVinci

fragment from a painting of Lodovica
Tuornabuoni, Domenico Ghirlandaio

La Belle Feronniere, DaVinci

I created a reta - a netted skullcap like you see in the first two paintings - using a base of cotton needlepoint mesh canvas.   Once I had the shape figured out, I sewed/knotted the mesh pieces together, and then spray-painted the piece gold, which stiffened the mesh so that it held its shape better. Then I sewed gold metallic braided trim over the seam to hide it, and around the edges, and then attached a long gold ribbon to the corners to tie under my chin. 

Over the top of it all is a feronniere - mine is a long thin black velvet ribbon, onto which I threaded three gold beads spaced out along the front. 

The whole look goes something like this: 

The hair needs work - I like the false hairpiece, but my own hair in the front/side is very flyaway and frizzy looking.  Gotta figure out what to do about that.  


The necklace that I made to wear with this outfit is one of those kits where you press an acrylic cabochon (over a picture or flower petals or what-have-you) into the [pewter] setting - I’ve used these kits for Regency jewelry in the past. For this pendant, I painted the back of the cab with blueish iridescent nail polish, and the effect is sort of labradorite-ish, and I love the way it looks, and the way the color looks with the green and aqua/gold colors in the outfit.  

The pendant is hung on am 16" gold chain; and worn with a second much longer chain which is tucked into the neckline of my gamurra

I opted not to wear earrings with this outfit, since my hair covers my ears anyway. 


I wanted a new purse/pouch to go with this outfit, since my other SCA pouches are all blue and red. I used scraps of the sleeve fabric, cut into orange-wedge-shaped pieces, and lined the bag with some spare blue cotton sheeting I had lying around.  I couched a thin gold cord along each seam line on the outside, added a little fabric-covered button to the bottom to hide the joint between all the seams, and laced the top with a gold satin ribbon.  

Tada! I did a practice run on the whole costume today - doing my hair and getting completely dressed took me about forty minutes! SHEESH. I need a lady’s maid.  Everything is finally finished, though, and now I just have to sit back and wait until the event.  In three weeks.  I guess I'll go crochet something, hehe.  

31 December 2023

SCA: Green 1490s Florentine Outfit - for Candlemas 2024

1490s Florentine Italian
for Candlemas 2024

In the beginning, I honestly had no thoughts about what to wear to Candlemas in February - I figured I would just go Viking, like I always do.  But then I went to the event webpage and saw this: 

"The year is 1494 and the wealthiest bride in Europe is about to become the queen of Germany and future Empress of Rome.  Come re-live the wedding of Bianca Maria Sforza of Milan and King Maximilian I of Austria and Germany." 

1490s Italian? I'm in.  The Sforza wedding was said to be one of the most amazing spectacles in years, by several people who wrote about it later: a pageant of high fashion and pomp the likes of which the writers had never seen.  Candlemas this year is intended to be a huge costume extravaganza, and everyone will be wearing their finest Italian and German garb - there's even a costume contest!   Time for a new fancy outfit, I thought.

My first thought was to make some minor alterations to the red velvet Florentine-ish outfit I wore to Baronial in 2022 (the trim is wrong, the sleeves are too big, and the whole thing needs small adjustments here and there), but I wanted something new.  And so of course, I started with something  old.  


I started with my black silk noil gamurra, which I made in 2014 and which has undergone many transformations in the past nearly ten years, mostly in the form of various decorative stitching and trims being applied and removed to change the look.  

I did the same this time, applying a gold and black braided trim to the neckline and front edges, and attaching some gold (brass) lacing rings to the front opening (yes, on top of the hand-sewn eyelets that were already there. The eyelets are very small, and they don't show under the rings when the dress is laced at all).  


before - Burgundian dress
For the giornea,  I made over an old Burgundian dress that I had made in 2013 and had never worn - I just never got around to making an underdress or headgear to wear with it, so it just sat ignored  in my closet all these years. The outline was already nearly perfect, though. The dress is voluminous (much fuller than it looks in this picture), but the sleeves were too tight at the top, which made the shoulders fit weird.  Fortunately, I didn't need the sleeves.  

I removed the sleeves and all of the faux fur trim, cut the armscyes a bit deeper, removed the collar and opened up the center front seam all the way to the hemline.  

I also stitched a length of gold braided trim along the neck opening/center front.   I didn't want to dress this giornea up TOO much, because the sleeves and the trim on the gamurra were more than enough decoration for this outfit, but it did need something so that the edges weren't just plain. 

closeup of the front

Giorneae were usually open either at the front or sides or both, to allow the gamurra underneath to show through - mine is only open up the front, and is belted all the way around with a long, black, double-faced satin ribbon sash.  My giornea was inspired by several Renaissance paintings, like these two (both fragments of frescos by Domenico Ghirlandaio): 

fragment from the "Birth of St.
John the Baptist" fresco

fragment from the "Visitation" fresco


While 90% of this dress was basically free - I made over old costume pieces and used materials from my stash for almost all of it - I did actually splurge on fabric for the sleeves. This is a silk damask in aqua and gold (sort of a shiny tan, really) from Rennaisance Fabrics - it’s so soft and pretty, I just love it!   

Since the fabric was fairly dressy, I opted for a plainer sleeve design, closed at the upper arm and open on the lower arm, and laced open to allow my linen camicia to poof out through the lacings.  

I stitched eyelets along the open forearm edges and on the sleeve heads where the sleeves attach to the gamurra in a tan/brown thread which matches the "gold" parts of the fabric's design. 

I took my inspiration from images like these: 

another fragment from the
"Visitation" fresco by Ghirlandaio

I'll talk about the accessories, and my hair, tomorrow. For now, although I won't be the fanciest nor the richest-looking person at the Candlemas event in my made-over dress, I'm proud of this outfit and I can't wait to wear it.  I just hope it's not too hot, and that it holds up to dancing.  

Bonus:  my Project Cat, Rabi, asleep on an Ikea pillow underneath my work table: 

26 December 2023

SCA: Hooray, New Book!

 LOOK what a friend gave to me last week:  

“Women In the Viking Age” by Judith Jesch (1991).  Im SO excited to read it! Looks like there’s some nifty stuff in there -  archeology, religion, politics, home life; poetry, weaving, jewelry, tools - and lots of great black and white photos and illustrations and MAPS. I love maps! 

Yay! Thank you, friend! 

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled pre-event creative crunch, wherein out heroine is finishing up six different projects before the event deadline and also starting two more that she absolutely does NOT have time to work on right now. Stay tuned…