Get those classes registered :-)
|A Wandering Elf||
Deadline for class registrations (to be in the printed book) is May 1!!!
Get those classes registered :-)
There was a recent thread on Facebook about how to better say something to someone by whom you are impressed than saying "Why aren't you a Laurel?" (Note, this could apply to any Peerage but for an example here I will discuss this from an artisan's point of view.) I think I lost track of how many people said that to me, or who introduced me to others as a Laurel about a decade ago. I will note that I always found it to be a very high form of flattery. It did not, however, make me self-doubt in any way, because it should not, and let me explain why below.
First, it is important to understand how Peers are recognized in the SCA. This requires any number of things and the variables are beyond endless. Typically, many letters are written in on behalf of someone. People speak to the Order and the Crown about this candidate's feats. The Order will spend time discussing the merits of the candidate and also, their PLQs (Peer Like Qualities). Do they have the skills? Do they have the research/knowledge? Do they have some reach beyond their local group (remember, this is an award given by the Kingdom)? Do they share their work and teach in some manner? Do they inspire in others a desire to do more or strive for better? Regarding the PLQs, do they show courtesy, even under stress? Are they a model of the Chivalric values that the SCA holds high? Will they represent the Kingdom and Order well?
The Order is typically, at some point, polled to see who they think should be welcomed in their ranks and that information is passed on to the Royals. In the end, it is a call made by TRM as to whether someone will be given a writ or not. Someone also might be granted the honor with no polling. It is crucial to keep that factor in mind. This is, after all, a monarchy and that is part of the game we all play when we attend events.
Awards and recognition are indeed part of this game, but they are not, and never should be, the entire sum of someone's worth as an artisan.
So yes, there is a great deal of consideration that goes into the recognition of a Peer. It takes time and the factors that are involved are pretty much endless. Know that often, there is much that also goes on that you never see. Perhaps the person who inspired you does not often teach or share their work very much. Perhaps they need further work on their research, which you, as someone new to that particular craft, might not understand. Perhaps there are simply other candidates that are much stronger, more well-rounded, or more "ready" (for lack of a better term). Ideally, the Order itself will be working with an individual to help them improve on all of these. After all, the real purpose of the Order of the Laurel is not, to me, to sit around and poll people, but rather to improve the arts and assist growing artisans to the benefit of the Kingdom and the Society as a whole.
So, knowing all of that, there are so many reasons why someone might not yet belong to an Order. Many of these are out of their control. Being asked "Why aren't you a Laurel?" can be very, very awkward and it honestly is an impossible question for someone to answer. When we ask this question though, what we really are meaning to do is to compliment him or her. So that, perhaps is the best thing we can do when we are inspired. Share with them what you think of their art or research or teaching. Tell them the did something that helped you learn, grow or want to try something new. And then, at the end of the day, please go an write to that candidate's Order and to TRM. Share the word of how they inspired you with those who might not have seen the wonderful art or acts that you witnessed.
To sum this all up:
Please don't ask why someone is not yet a Peer. It can sometimes make people feel as if they missed a mark, when all you intended is to share with them how inspired you are. It is also a question that they cannot actually answer.
Please don't feel lessened in any way if this question is directed at you and you do not have an answer. It means only that the asker thinks quite highly of your skill or service.
Please do tell them they made a difference to you.
Please do tell them they inspired you.
Please do let them know they taught you something of value.
And, just as importantly, please do write in a letter of recommendation for them.
I love doing research, and love compiling documentation. Yes, it actually might be one of my favorite parts of doing what I do. I always learn new ways to improve my documentation every time I produce something, and I want to share one item that really changed now only how I document a project, but how I THINK about a project.
Mistress Ragnveig Snorradottir shared with me some of her documentation for a pentathlon competition. At the end of her documentation there was a chart, a decision making matrix (which was actually suggested to her by Mistress Sigrid Briansdotter). It allows you to readily lay out all project details for the benefit of the judges. I have discovered that using a chart like this actually helps me to organize a project, and keep track of the most relevant details. This allows me to not only have a quick reference for my own work, but it sometimes makes me stop and thing about my choices as I work.
Below is the chart as I used it in a competition entry for Atlantia's Kingdom Arts and Sciences Faire in 2016. This specific one is from a woven Norse headcovering that I entered. A link for the full documentation can be found below the chart.
, If you have stopped by here before, you likely know that I try to leave the Woulda/Coulda/Shoulda’s out of my work. Those phrases tend to lead down long and winding roads into fantasyland. The other thing I strongly dislike is absolutes. The idea that something was always one way is rather off-putting (especially when it is something readily disproven). There is this balance that must be achieved when looking at what bits of evidence we have, while still applying some creativity to sort things out into a reasonable approximation of what is historically plausible.
With that in mind, I want to talk a little about some research I am doing on women’s caps from the Viking Age. There is evidence of an assortment of interesting headcovering possibilities, including the caps, as well as some narrow cloth bands, small scarves and veils. I think that, over all, the caps seem to be the most common item I see among reenactors, and are one of the first that I personally used. I will eventually expand on this post, with full citations and the like, but I wanted to toss what is going through my head out there now.
To start, I will define a Viking age cap as a small item, usually square, though the top might be shaped with a dart, that typically has ties attached. I have found mention 21 such caps/possible caps in my research. There are additional small fragments, especially from Dublin, and one from London, that are thought to possibly be from caps, but I have left those items out for the moment, as I am trying to look few specific details that can help provide a better understanding of these items. The items for which I compiled data range from the 9th-11th century (with 2 being listed as uncertain), with most of them falling into the 9th-10th century range.
All of these items have one thing in common, and that is that the cloth of which they are constructed is a light weight and very fine tabby. Most of them are even described as having deliberate space left in the warp and weft, giving them a gauzy appearance. They are delicate and most have some level of transparency. All of the extant items are wool or silk, though at least one of the author’s who have studied these items thinks that linen was also a possibility, and that the fiber did not survive in the ground.
Fine, gauzy cloth textiles, many of which have been attributed to women’s headcoverings, have been found in a number of graves and sites, and across a range of locations, including York, Hedeby, Oslo, Hørning, London, Lincoln, Kaupang, Önsvala in Skåne, Oseberg and possibly Birka. Each of the caps meets the criteria of being a very fine fabric. Unfortunately, most textiles in graves are preserved by contact with metal objects, and metal near or on the head is not always common. It is entirely possible that there were indeed caps of heavier cloth (there is one from Finland and one from the Netherlands that have some similarity to these items that were not of fine cloth), but I think there are enough caps and cloth remaining to believe that at least for certain circumstances, that there might have been a preference for fine textiles for this accessory.
A further complication concerning these caps is that most of the items that are actually identifiable as headcoverings do not come from graves at all. That takes them out of context and while there is an assumption that they are indeed women’s headcoverings, they also could have belonged to children (or both women and children).
Another similarity in all of these items is size. The finished width of them is very narrow. Of the 20 that I looked at, 14 of them have a definite width, or at least an estimated width applied to them by the researchers. They range from 15cm to 18cm wide, with an average of 16.7cm (6.6 inches). That is exceedingly narrow (far narrower than many reenactors make them and far more narrow than my own first attempts at recreating these items). Simply put, these will cover only the back of the head if worn by an adult.
Of the 20 items, 10 had traces of having had a dart, following the curve of the back of the head, sewn into them. 6 were too fragmented to tell. One of the caps from York had the point created by the dart stitched down to the side.
While many of the caps appeared to have a back seam that went the length of the cap, one from Lincoln and two from Dublin were open below the bottom of the dart.
5 of the caps had patches applied. Interestingly enough, one of them had a patch applied on the inside of the cap (which would leave the damaged area showing). One had patches applied near where the ties were attached, presumably for additional strength. One also showed signs of darning.
I think there is a reenactorism that has developed around the ties on the caps. I have heard statements to the effect that caps have too have the ties set up into the cap (an inch or two, or more, from the bottom corner), as the example from York shows. I have even heard that caps with ties at the bottom corners were only for small children. I think that is odd given that we simply do not have the grave evidence to state exactly who wore these caps. Further, 7 of the 20 examples that I used for this research have the bottom corner of the cap stretched out of alignment, as if there had been a tie there at one point. Only 3 of the 20 show evidence of a tie set further up into the cap, and 10 of them are too fragmented or just do not have evidence of ties.
Beyond the location of the ties, it is very hard to say where or how they were tied. Most reenactors prefer to tie them behind the head or under the hair, but one cannot discount them being tied under the chin like a later coif either. (The tie would be well hidden under certain styles of veil from that time period as well, and there is an image from Kiev that shows such a headcovering, tied under the chin, as well.)
I think that these caps (and possibly the scarves as well) were a base layer for additional headcoverings. A cap tied in place (whether under the chin or back under the hair) makes for easy of pinning a veil in place and can help to keep hair out of the face or out of the way of tasks. The manner in which a few of these are patched (with little care for a visible hole, in the case of one patched on the inside, or in case of a visible patch for reinforcement on another one) makes it seem as though the appearance of the item itself was not terribly relevant (even in the case of a costly import such as silk).
I think it possible that the cap was a common item worn daily, and perhaps a veil was donned on top of it if one was leaving home or receiving guests. I do not consider the cap alone to be “outerwear” for harsh outdoor climates as the size of these items do not allow for much protection from the sun and the diaphanous nature of the cloth itself does little to provide warmth. I would not necessarily consider it “formal wear” at this point either. I believe that, especially later in the Viking Age, that women were using veils as a symbol of status and that these caps might well have been worn under those. In fact, a small wool gauze veil or scarf does a great deal to make a veil less likely to slip around on slick hair.
The dart itself is fascinating to me. I find that a soft cap of wool gauze with a dart) lays exceptionally well under a veil (the peak of the dart naturally folds over, without leaving much of a point at the back of the veil. I linen cap with no dart, tends to leave a more visible point under the veil. I definitely plan to experiment more with a variety of options.
I think that some details about the caps varied greatly, such as whether there was a dart (though I lean towards more having had them historically than not) or the location of the ties. Those with an open back bear some similarity to the proposed uses of the scarves, in that one could wear the rectangle of cloth and tie it on back under the hair. This type can slide further forward on the head than a cap with a back could. It could be regional or just personal preferences when it comes down to it. There are so many variables.
Heckett's work with the headcoverings from Dublin includes diagrams that show ways one can wear the caps, but I think that a more recent item in an article by Penelope Walton Rogers gives a more interesting view (both can be seen below).
Reposted from FB:
There are lots of things you "hear" in the SCA that simply are not true. Things like "pink is not period" come immediately to mind for that but these things sometimes go deeper into the culture than that.
There things that people say when they are trying to be helpful that might not be true at all, or just might not be true for you or your situation. I heard some doozies over the last several years, all said by people who genuinely wanted to help me "move forward". I want to mention them now because one of the often quoted things out there really DOES hold true and that is that doing what you love will lead you to the most happiness in this hobby.
One instance of this happened when I was switching my residency back to Æthelmearc. I started the SCA in the Principality of Æthelmearc, back when the Shire of Sylvan Glen was just starting and we would sit at a table in someone's house and argue about what the heck the device should be. My household formed there and my first events were all there. Even after moving to Atlantia, I still, for many years, drove back there for dance practices, household meetings and events. I always considered Æthelmearc my home even though my SCA membership listed me elsewhere. When we got the house in WV, I switched my membership back to the Kingdom I still called me SCA home (not to mention the state that has always been my home). Someone told me then that I should maybe NOT do that because it could "hurt my chances" to get a Laurel because I was not well known in Æthelmearc. I had to laugh and I did it anyways. I wasn't "on track" for anything. I really wasn't dedicated to any one art at the time. I had also only just got my AoA after 16 or so years playing. This is all a game, and for me part of the game is the SCA culture, the Kingdoms, the pageantry and pomp. I had a sense of loyalty to the Kingdom that started this journey for me, because that, to me, is part of the game. I followed my heart and did what I love and it made me happy to be received there once again.
Another instance of this was when I made a semi-public statement that I was switching my studies from 16th Century Ottoman to Viking Age Norse. Someone, again, kindly told me that might "hurt my chances". Chances for what? I wasn't actively seeking anything other than how to construct an aprondress. My passion had changed, and I was loving this new-to-me realm and pursued my new passion.
I was also told it would be harder to get a Laurel for Viking stuff, because there were lots of Viking folks, but few doing Ottoman... Again, why should this even cross my thoughts when I am diving headlong into something that was very satisfying? Are there not more postage-stamp size pieces of fabric out there to explore?
The most entertaining bit of misinformation that I ever got though, came last year. Someone (who really meant well) told me that I should maybe talk a bit less about my projects and my SCA thoughts on social media because it would seem like I was "trying too hard to get a Laurel". I had a ready response for that one. I stated that if one looked back at my long history of internet blather (going back to the yahoo-groups days as well as Tribe.net), one would see that I have ALWAYS talked far too much about my projects, research and general feelings about the SCA online, long before I even did anything "real" in terms of A&S. If I were to stop those exchanges, I would, in essence, stop doing something I love, and would that not defeat the point? Because if getting an accolade meant that I needed to do something less, well then a title just wasn't that important.
What is the long, drawn out point of this? There is a great deal of misinformation out there, often it is a result of some misunderstanding or some well-intentioned person who might not know as much as they think they do about something. Whether you solicit it or not, you will likely hear some of it at some point in time. It is not always bad or wrong, and certainly rarely is it malicious. But if you REALLY want to be happy, you need to be happy with what you are doing. Follow your passions, but don't fail to seek out help along the way. Learn to accept feedback and learn to sift through what might be relevant to you and your situation as you gather that information from others.
But seriously, beyond all else, do what you love (even if it is just hanging out with friends at events) because that is the only thing that will keep your happiness in any hobby.
Oh and one more note... Do what you love but also write in award recommendations for all the others you see out there who are following their own passion and turning it into something to give back to the SCA in some way. :-)
(Note If you bring up wool to many people, especially in America, and the first thing they think of is the itchy sweater that their grandmother knit for them (mine was red). These memories can often make people shy away from wool fabric for reenacting purposes, but the reality is that for most of us, that would have been the choice material for our persona. In fact, some very strict groups have requirements that state you have to make your garments out of wool to even participate. Inevitably, this brings up the conversation about someone's wool allergies and what to do about that.
First thing that needs to be understood is that no one is actually allergic to wool itself, unless, of course one is also allergic to the hair on their own head. Wool is made of keratin, just like our own hair and finger nails. There are, however, some people who have reactions to it, so understanding the actual cause of the reaction is important.
There is one other factor, and likely it is the most common one, that can make people shy away from wool. That is the "scratchiness" of the fiber itself. This reaction can be excessively annoying and can happen for a couple of reasons.
Also look for a more fine cloth. Some vendors, such as Burnley & Trowbridge, sell swatch sets of their cloth. I recommend ordering swatches from them and other outlets to see which materials might best suit your needs an level of sensitivity. There are 100% wool fabrics out there that surprisingly don't actually "feel" like wool at all.
Another factor that comes into play is the perception that all wool will be hot and heavy. Much of the cloth from Norse finds is exceptionally fine with very high thread counts. They had lightweight wools! As mentioned above, poke around online and order swatches to see the variety of cloth that really exists. I prefer wool for my veils and headdresses. A wool gauze is no warmer in the summer than linen and my handwoven wool dress is no warmer than a linen of the same weight. Avoid coatings or heavily fulled materials if heat is a concern.
Another option, for those that do not have a chemical sensitivity, or who can wash out the offending chemicals, but still find wool uncomfortable, is to make sure that the wool fabric does not touch the more sensitive areas of your body, such as your neck. For women doing Viking age, this can be simple as you can wear a wool aprondress over a linen underdress. However, if you need a wool tunic you can wear a wool one over linen and then you can add a linen facing inside the neckline and inside the sleeves to prevent the wool from coming in contact with your skin. Tacking it down on the inside with small stitches will leave it invisible from the outside completely and adding a wear cord at the opening edge will further remove it from your skin.
(Note that this post is not an insistence everyone wear wool, but I do know many people who previously shied away from the fibre by working with it and figuring out how to make it work for them. As always, your own best comfort is important so be reasonable as you test your limits!)
ART has always had a number of issues available, for free, to the public. Now, however, they have expanded that offering considerably. There are some fantastic items in here for people interested in a variety of cultures and time periods!
Recently someone asked me if they should teach a class at Pennsic. I said to this person (who is highly knowledgeable and skilled), "Yes, you should absolutely teach at Pennsic."
But in case anyone else is wondering the same thing, here are my thoughts:
Pennsic is not some sort of exclusive place to teach. Classes are needed for all levels of participants from beginners at a craft to expert artisans. We all have things to share and there are 9000 people there, many of whom might be waiting for that very class that you are sitting on, worrying about whether or not you should teach.
If you are new to teaching in the SCA, I have an article that might help you decide if it is time to take the plunge: http://awanderingelf.weebly.com/blog-my-journey/time-to-teach
Don't want to teach? Can't do it now? Then GO to classes and learn pretty much anything that could interest you! The Pennsic University system is one of the very best things about War!
If you feel like digging around in Swedish this site is a gold mine.
This is a fantastic resource to have in your library for Ottoman research for the SCA. You can download it here: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/research/publications/pdf-library/the-age-of-sultan-sueleyman-the-magnificent.html
There are a number of other titles (including several about artists pigments) that can be found on the site as well: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/research/publications/pdf-library.html
I dance, race cars, play video games and am on a fantastic journey to recreate the past via costume, textiles, dance and food.
Blogroll of SCA & Costume Bloggers
Below is a collection of some of my favorite places online to look for SCA and historic costuming information.
More Amie Sparrow - 16th Century German Costuming
Gianetta Veronese - SCA and Costuming Blog
Grazia Morgano - 16th Century A&S
Mistress Sahra -Dress From Medieval Turku
Loose Threads: Cathy's Costume Blog
Mistress Mathilde Bourrette - By My Measure: 14th and 15th Century Costuming
More than Cod: Exploring Medieval Norway