Who is ready to start Pennsic prep???
|A Wandering Elf||
There are several articles on my blog that get heavy traffic, including those where I discuss hot-weather garb options for Pennsic ( http://awanderingelf.weebly.com/blog-my-journey/summer-wardrobe ). I want today to share a friend's blog posts about Archaic Greek Chitons so that folks have even more low-bulk, summer-weight clothing options (and since it is only September, you have plenty of time to get things made before next year). Baroness Anna Dokeianina Syrakousian's work is always lovely and this chiton is no exception (and she is professionally a researcher/historian, so I highly recommend checking out the rest of her blog as well, especially if you have any interest in Byzantine clothing).
Who is ready to start Pennsic prep???
Aprondresses are very simple and very quick to make, depending on which pattern you choose. The fit of the straps, however, can be something that drives people completely insane over time. If you find that you are continually futzing with your straps, here are a few things you might want to look at to help troubleshoot the source of your problems. Note that most people blame brooches, but they were historically large and heavy for the most part. This often causes reenactors to initially choose brooches from other eras or locations to reduce size and weight, because they worry about them dragging the dress down, but a well fitted dress, with properly sized straps, make even the largest brooches feel nonexistant when worn.
Many of the tips below will require you to test and re-test a garment and strap length. If you want to quickly test out the length of the straps without having to remove them from the dress and re-attach, you can just add a few sturdy whipstitches to the loop end of the long strap to effectively shorten them. (See diagram to the left.) This is also a great tip to use if you swap out between different sets of brooches that might have different pin lengths.
I was talking to a new-ish person today who is concerned about having "good enough" or "accurate enough" garb for Pennsic.
I have this conversation pretty regularly with folks and most who know me know that if you want to talk accuracy, because it is something YOU want to pursue, I will likely hit you with way more information than you ever wanted.
However, I also realize that most newcomers aren't looking for research or actual accuracy right out of the gate. The real concern is often having something that they personally like, that will also allow them to be accepted.
That is a very, very important concept. Acceptance. For many folks, the SCA is something totally new. They see amazing photos on line, or hear friends in the Society talk up the magic they see at events, and they want to participate, but they are intimidated. Worried they will not do it right, or well enough. For some people, this worry can be so intense it might even hold them back from jumping in.
Beyond the idea of acceptance, so many people come into this having this vision of The Dress and really, really are hoping it is OK to start their journey in the SCA with The Dress, even though they suspect it might not really be "right". For many, The Dress (or strapping on armor and swinging a sword) is really one of the things that drew them to the SCA in the first place. It is a chance to realize some internal mythic ideal, often fueled by Hollywood or Ren Faires. They come to the game with the idea that AT LAST they can make and wear The Dress.
You will never hear me disparage the wish for The Dress. I had it it (though my personal version of The Dress might differ from yours). There were certain costume elements that I longed for when I started - lace up "brocade" bodices, bellydancer bling, the Ren inspired "Irish dress", poofy pirate shirts, princess dresses with bell sleeves... I could go on and on.
I made everyone of those things and loved them all. I learned to become a better seamstress while making all of those very acceptable, if not terribly (or at all) period costumes. And I have very fond memories the many adventures I had wearing them. Having those garments, that made me feel good while wearing them, allowed me to play the game while I had time to develop the research and textiles skills to do the things I do now. NOT getting overly hung up on what others thought about my accuracy let me grow at my own pace, and eventually help others to do the same.
So yes, I will gladly help push you in the deep end if you want to take the next step, but I am also not adverse to giving you my personal tips for making The Dress as well. ;-)
(One of The Dresses that I had below.)
Unto glorious AEthelmearc do Timothy and Gabrielle send greetings,
At our Coronation this past weekend, we announced our Spark Challenge: our way of encouraging folks to discover, or rediscover the magic that our Kingdom, and the Society as a whole offers. Any and all are invited to give pearls, any and all are invited to receive pearls. We distributed about 1,000 at Coronation to the landed Barons and Baronesses, the Kingdom officers and what peers we could, but that was just to get the ball rolling.
The idea is simple. Try something out of your usual range of activities. You may find yourself in love with your hobby all over again in ways you never thought possible. The things available to do are quite literally innumerable. Broaden your horizons. Never thrown axes or knives? Go to a thrown weapons practice. Are you comfortable at calligraphy and Illumination but afraid to try gilding? We are sure there is someone willing to teach you. Always curious about fighting heavy, but could never get up the nerve? Give it a shot. There are dozens of folks who would love to show you how it is done. Attend a class or a Curia. Sit through a court. Submit a device. Go to a bardic circle. Volunteer at Troll or in the kitchen. You’ll have fun, and hopefully meet new people and make new friends. At Melee Madness, Timothy will be doing something way, way out of his comfort zone (Ask any of the equestrians about Tim and horses).
At any time after Crown Tournament, please come up to us and show us your 8 pearls, and better still, tell us a story or two of how much fun you had. We will gladly present you with a token commemorating the completion of your quest, and hopefully, the beginning of a magical new chapter in your SCA career.
In service to AEthelmearc,
Timothy and Gabrielle
The Spark Challenge FAQ:
• Am I giving pearls out or am I trying to earn them?
Both! The spirit of the challenge is to encourage everyone to try something new and to recognize the effort that others are putting into the Society. If you are teaching a class, running an event, or organizing a marshal activity, TRMs hope that you would present a pearl to those individuals who are new to the activity or coming back after an extended absence.
• Is this for new people or everyone?
Both! New members are encouraged to explore all that the Society has to offer. However, long-time participants are encouraged to step outside their comfort zones and try something different.
• What if I’ve already done a lot of things?
There are many different aspects of the Society. Some possible activities include retaining, teaching, taking classes, or participating in different martial activities.
• What do I do with the pearls?
Anything you want! You can add them to garb, make jewelry, give them to a special friend, or recognize someone else doing something new. Just make a point to show your collection to TRMs
Linen order is on the way, and that means new garb for me! I am very excited to upgrade my kit. I learn new things constantly and look forward to applying them, making each item in my wardrobe better than the last, whether in fit or finish. This is the game that I play, and I love it. I love the constant air of discovery, experimentation, and application.
Why do I say that it is "my" game? As a reminder that it does not mean that I am judging your own kit. It does not mean that I am scoping the "periodness" of anything in any condemning way. I do not have expectations when it comes to your garb. It is your garb and I am happy you acquired it or made it and came to the event! If I see a lovely garment, I will absolutely comment on it. If you ask my opinion on how to improve something, I will gladly offer tips or resources. But I completely understand that we all have our own reasons that we go to events, and my geeks might not be your geeks. ;-)
And since I mentioned "period", I have a further comment to make here. A friend recently made a comment online to the effect of "saying something is not period is not an insult". She is right. Now, we are not talking about unsought after advice (which is rude), but rather someone posing a question about the appropriateness of a specific garment concept or of a particular textile. It really is ok to answer that question with "that is not period" (or, as others prefer "that is not historically accurate"). That is not an insult to the idea or the questioner, it is just a statement of fact. It does not mean that they cannot still use the fabric or create the costume, because really, it is all good as long as someone is making that "attempt at pre-17th century garb" and getting out to events and enjoying the day. We can absolutely have discussions about digging deeper and learning more and producing better garments that are closer to what might have historically been worn, and one group of people having does discussions in no way belittles those who really do not care for those things. The Known World is a very large place with room for us all.
But back to my upgrading my kit... I am finally ready to let go of some of my early pieces of garb. Some of them I still adore, and some should have been removed from inventory years ago, but they got displaced when I moved. I know that more than once I have mentioned upgrading my gear and people roll their eyes at me. My garb is already nice. I have spend a great deal of time on it, but there are definite areas for improvement and I can recognize those (and take joy in making changes). I would love to make more items that fit in better with my current research and that avoid reenactorism pitfalls, because doing so makes me happy (even if I do not actually like doing the sewing that comes with this, lol).
I mentioned this online, and someone offered to take my old things and sell them. I said that these things were from so much earlier that the construction flaws would not allow me to try to make a profit from them (I have a very skewed set of ethics when it comes to selling handmade goods, if my name is on it, it needs to be of a certain quality). I will, however, happily give those things away to newcomers or those who just need to beef up a wardrobe for Pennsic. Someone commented that that was the problem with learning new things, that it makes you hate your old wardrobe. This was my reply:
"Hate? Nah, however, I do have moments when I wish that I knew what I know know back then. I wish I had known how many things I put time into that are nothing more than wishful thinking reenactorisms.
However, I can also say that most of my garb, even some of the really early things with loads of mistakes, have memories attached that makes me not really dislike even my worst choices. When I wore something to my first Pennsic, or to an event where I made new friends, or wore something for a performance, well, I cannot hate those things. Sometimes I even have memories of making things in the company of friends or planning them in conjunction with others. I think this is one reason that I am very much ok with the SCA concept of "reasonable attempt" when it comes to garb. Even a newcomer in a cobbled together outfit can have the time of their life at event and carry those memories with them going forward, and that is really what this is all about.
Each piece also represents how far I have come as an artisan and researcher (and each piece I will make will show me that I still have even farther to go). So I look forward to making all sorts of new things, even if the differences in my old things are only subtle and at the same time I will pare down the closet and let some others have garb to hopefully start making happy memories as well."
Pennsic prep is happening all across the known world! I have a few articles geared towards newcomers that I repost every year at this time, and I also would like to include a recent piece in the AEthelmearc Gazette.
Happy Prepping Everyone!
My Pennsic Prep List: http://awanderingelf.weebly.com/blog-my-journey/pennsic-prep-and-my-list-for-newcomers
Tips for Enjoying your First (or Tenth) Pennsic: http://awanderingelf.weebly.com/blog-my-journey/tips-for-enjoying-your-first-or-tenth-pennsic
AEthelmearc Gazette: http://aethelmearcgazette.com/2015/06/24/a-newcomers-guide-to-pennsic-part-1-of-3/
I know that I have posted this before, but I want to boost the signal. For those in or near AEthelmearc, the AEthelmearc Gazette is really a pretty awesome resource. There are great articles that cover everything from SCA topics (like Peerages), human interest stories, profiles of different people in the Kingdom and Court reports from various events. As trite as this may sound, it actually makes me feel more connected to the Kingdom goings on than I ever have been in the past. Thanks to the writers and editors who make it all come together.
You can check it out for yourself now if you click below!
At Atlantia University this past February I met a woman, Gianette Veronese, who attended one of my classes, not long after she put a challenge out to the Kingdom for every event attended that people take the time to meet three new people. It can be people in a class with you, working the kitchen with you or in line at a merchant next to you. Make introductions and just chat and you might just find you have a common geek about something. Or you might discover that they have a focus on something that makes them someone that would be willing to jump in an help with a specific facet at an event some day.
Or, making a new friend might just make them feel that much more welcome at an event and want to come back.
It is easy to go to an event with your own group of friends (and many of us go to events specifically because of those people), but I have discovered that it is even more amazing to go to an event with my own household and still have another host of individuals that I look forward to seeing and geeking with.
Last week Gianetta posted another letter to the Kingdom of Atlantia's Facebook page that I feel is worth posting here as well (with her permission, of course). I have placed it below for you to read.
"My friends are here." Count 'em - that's four words. I met a charming young woman at an event this weekend and chatted with her briefly. I don't know if she's new to the Society or raised in it, but she said that she drove an hour in an un-air-conditioned car yesterday (yes - in that horrid heat and humidity that was yesterday). When I said, "Oh, wow," (remembering my days of no AC in my car), she shrugged and said, "My friends are here."
Any organization needs to new growth if it is to thrive. Newcomers bring new life, new thoughts, and new energy. I have mentioned before that I really love helping others explore and event for the first time, or to get into their first set of garb.
I see good work with newcomers elsewhere as well. Atlantia University has been having a track each session that specifically caters to newcomers. Introduction to garb type classes, classes on Court etiquette, beginning dance, calligraphy, embroidery... you name it. I also have seen some local groups going out of their way to host special classes for their newer members to help them learn about SCA culture while making their first garb. These people hit the ground running and feel like part of the Society from the very start. It would be fantastic if we all followed these examples and took just a bit of time at any event we attend to introduce ourselves and make the new members welcome.
This summer a news crew from NBC covered the SCA and the Pennsic War. I think the coverage is quite nice and covers a fair bit of the activities one can enjoy in the Society. Click pic for link to the full story :-)
I love hearing stories about how people discovered the SCA and fell in love with it. To find one's place amidst the ranks of artisans and fighters and to find a wealth of friends with a common Dream is both powerful and empowering. Likewise, I love to hear about how people who are becoming burnt out, or even disenchanted, are drawn back into the Society. It is important for all of us to remember that more often than not, it is the people around that provide those enchanting experiences for both newcomers and long-term members alike. Everyone has the ability to make a difference, and help flesh out the Dream for someone else.
Click the image below to read a lovely tale of how another individual found her place in the SCA.
I dance, race cars, play video games and am on a fantastic journey to recreate the past via costume, textiles, dance and food.
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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