Needful Needlework of the Day

Good Morning Ladies and Gents!

Today being the day before Independence Day here in the USA I will post a lovely stitch for you to learn. It’s Historic and was used by Elizabethan Englanders to decorate everything they could get it sewn on. Mostly in metallic passing threads of gold and silver, sometimes it was done in silk threads as well. Don’t believe me? ask the V&A Museum about some of their coifs.

here’s the link to learn it. https://trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/techniques/embroidery/embroidery-stitches/plaited-braid-stitch

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A 12th Night Gift and Story Exchange

Although this post is way past 12th Night here in Atlantia, I wanted to wait until the recipient had received my gift. Then I forgot to post this. My apologies. My gift was an embroidered pouch done in the Elizabethan style. This pouch contained sewing tools and a matching needlebook.  The story is from the point of view from the Bag itself.

The Bag

The Making

I began as a large square of fine fabric hemmed and used as a cover for glassware displayed in the windows of a shop. Every morning I would be taken off of the wares in the window and stuffed into a bag of others like me, only to be taken out and put back over the wares at the end of the day. Sunrise allowed me to see out the windows in the morning. The view was not so undesirable as the street sweepers came by each morning and scooped up the muck from the cobbled stones put down the day before by people coming and going and the animals they brought with them. Then came that fateful day that I was taken down and not returned to the bag, but dumped into the rag bucket due to dirt and day to day stains. The shopkeeper’s boy was a lazy boy and did not want to wash me.  A young woman stooped over and plucked me from the bucket, shook me out and quickly folded me. I could feel the joy of her luck at finding such a large piece of fabric for her needs. Her companion was surprised at the action but lauded the thrift and luck. I was stuffed at the bottom of her basket and the days shopping was put on top of me. All through the afternoon, I listened to the sounds of the markets and the shops and the voice of the baskets owner planning what use I would be put to. Part of me was to become an apprentice piece. A piece of work made to show the skills of the maker in order to become an apprentice. Most apprentices start out as children as young as six years of age, but occasionally an apprentice could be taken on if the apprentice could show themselves to be of sufficient skill. The girl was excited at the thought of succeeding her father in his business if she could show she had learned enough skills to show she was serious, as he had not yet found her a suitable prospective husband. It would not be hard to show her skills at embroidery, after all, she had grown up among the embroiderers employed in his shop and to keep her out of mischief, was sat down at a small slate and with plain thread and needle was taught the different stitches on a scrap of linen. Her mother let her continue, but added mathematics, reading and writing to the curriculum, and at her father’s insistence, drawing. After all, if you could not draw the designs, you would have to employ an artist to put your designs on paper and that was costly. At the end of the day, I was handed over to the companion to be washed. After being washed and hung to dry I was then folded and tucked away with the other belongings. It was dark but fragrant with dried herbs and the belongings tucked in with me were kind enough to share their knowledge of my new owner. The young woman was the only daughter, came a quiet voice from the bottom of the clothes press, “I was once the dress of another, but was sold at a shop and was purchased to be made into something suitable at a later date.” From off in a corner came the sibilant rustle of metal in a bag. “We are fine gold and silver spangles found on floors, and in the mud and muck outside. Picked up and washed and hidden away here until we have a use.” Faintly from above, I could hear the footsteps of people coming and going, the lid occasionally lifted and yet another belonging placed within. Each thing placed here in the box with us was only too happy to tell their tales and so my knowledge of the world grew.

Skeins of embroidery thread wrapped in sackcloth muttered to themselves and would not share their origin, but we in the bag could tell they hadn’t a story to add as they were newly spun and dyed, we would have to wait until they were embroidered to get a firm story of their making. Our owner was talented and smart and into the chest would come and go most often the little book in which she would draw her designs, and copy others from other books. Diligently she drew instructions for each stitch and gave descriptions. The little book was quite talkative and described the stitches as they were added to his pages. He could not show us the pictures in the dark but told us what they would look like when finished. I looked forward to seeing the pages one day.

Then came the day that I was to finally be used, or rather part of us, I was cut into large pieces and the smallest of me was stretched out onto a frame and each part of me not used was folded and put back into the chest. I was finally being put to use. The frame I was stretched upon was put on a stand next to another set of windows, and outside I could see the bluest skies, filled with birds. The room was small but the windows took up the most of it, running from one corner to another with deep sills to place one end of my stretching frame on so that the light would reach all of me. Over the top of me was placed a sheet of thin velum which had been poked full of holes in a design that I could not see, and it was pinned in place. A few moments passed and then I was gently tapped with something over the vellum and could feel a powdery substance filter through the holes. This went on for quite a few minutes until they were satisfied that there was enough of the powdery substance covering the holes. The vellum was unpinned and then gently removed. The girl seemed satisfied and she then brushed a staining liquid following the design of the dots made by the powder. The other embroiderers in the shop were working away, speaking of this bit of news or that bit of gossip, needles flashing in the sunlight streaming through the windows.

Then the stitching began, the book lay open and very carefully she began to stitch the vines and outlines of flowers. She called the stitch the split stitch as she went along very carefully stitching the tiny stitches. She called the color of the vines green and I watched the light flash off of the sharp needles and felt the pull of the thread as it was pulled through me. Each stitch swift and gentle gathered at length along my surface. She would embroider from dawn to nearly dusk, then cover me with another cloth until the next morning. It did not take long, mere days blending into weeks and she was finished with the vines and outlines, for there were days that I sat without her working upon me. I enjoyed listening to the other embroiderers, their gossiping let me know why I wasn’t being worked on, her father had found her a suitor and they were planning on a courtship. Days later the girl came back and then the spangles and paste jewels were applied and the silver-gilt thread couched down. The girl and the women in the shop talked about the young man and his being worthy of her. It was not a matter of being worthy, she said above me as she sewed down the spangles, it was a matter of her father needing a male heir for the shop and his goods. Being an only child was not enough reason to allow the mother to run the business after the father is gone, but it worried her that this man would ruin them if he were the wrong man for the job. Father is having someone follow him to make sure he is not a gambling man or wastrel. It doesn’t matter, either way, I must still be able to perform the duties of embroiderers, as well as a housewife. This piece must please father and mother. I must learn all of the stitches and techniques within a year once I am accepted. It really should be a bit easier for me, I grew up here in the shop alongside mother, and can remember how to do the stitches. I was allowed to stay home rather than be apprenticed off to a strangers household because I am an only child, but must still prove to the guild that I am good enough to sell my work.  I can only hope that this piece gives them enough of my skills to gain approval. Once I am done embroidering this, mother is going to send it to the guild for judging. It will then come back to me and then sent down to the purse-man to be sewn into a pouch. I will need it to hold my needlework tools when I go to meet his family. Don’t tell father, I rather like his older brother better. He did not smell of ale and smoke and spoke well around me and my friends, and did not speak down to me as if I were an empty book.  I learned much as she pulled threads through my fabric. Soon the work was done, and I was left on the frame to be taken down the street to the guild house and my judging.

The Judging

In the morning light, I was wrapped in dark fabric and carted down the street to the guild house. When I was unwrapped there were four men and five women leaning in over my embroidered surface. They were silent as they ran their hands over the stitches and tested the knots on the back to see if the spangles would come off easily. I listened as they discussed the merit of her stitches, and level of skill. It was an important judgment and their seriousness gave me an idea of how hard she had worked the stitches upon my surface. They went away and returned later to have me wrapped back up and sent home with a sealed letter to the girl. After being unwrapped and placed back upon the stand I listened for the response, her happy laughter told me she had done well. That afternoon I was removed from the frame and carted off in a wrapped parcel to the purse-maker.

The Poucher

Into the shop of the purse-maker, I was taken and unwrapped along with the note from the girl with instructions as to which style of the pouch I was to be made into. The old man grumbled a bit then handed me over to his son, note and all. The son spread me out onto a large work table and placed a template over me, covering completely the design embroidered upon my surface. With a bit of thin paint, he traced around the template, making sure to put dabs where seams would meet up. I was then lifted and placed face down over a chunk of linen large enough for a lining and basted down.

The stitches that bound me to the white linen lining were simple back stitches, close to the edge of the circle I had been cut into once the lining had been basted down. All the way around my edges the needle poked and the thread pulled through me. He left a space un-sewn, and after clipping the edges all the way around me, turned me right side out to hide the stitches and clipped edge. I could see in the dim light of the shop once more. Shaking me out he pinned around the edge to lay me flat and sewed around the edge. Once close to the edge and again a bit further in for a double row. Holes were punched and bound with thread and a ribbon pulled through.

I was finally a finished piece; my girl would be an Embroiderers Apprentice.

The End.

 

The Rules of Courtly Love: A journey to avoid the modern romance novel.

 

I went on a quest to find Courtly Love and found only that there were rules. The history was harder to find, except they that follow them are fools. Highborn or Low, Swift or slow; the gifts were the same and yet, the pageantry was more beautiful than the stars above when they were first in the heaven’s set.

 

In my quest to find out what Courtly Love was all about; the internet brought up many, many sites for my perusal. Much of it was tripe, and so off to the library, I went. The many books available were mostly Romance Novels. Again tripe, but you know it’s still something to read and it was still something to read back in the middle ages…Roman de la rose, Petrarch’s sonnets to Laura, Dante’s Divine Comedy being a few of the romance novels of their time…

In the modern romance novels, we find the theme. The uncaring Lord marries his Lady she then falls in love with the Knight/Troubadour/stable hand…etc… Or, The Lady is widowed when her Lord goes off to war and his Liege Lord sends his replacement to woo her and wed her. Or is it the other way around? After some difficulties both fall in love and wed and all ends well and happily ever after and all that rot…Who here wants to barf at the thought? I know after reading the tripe I did. So I set off in search of real historical research to wet my appetites.

Eleanor of Aquitaine

This amazing woman came into her inheritance over two illegitimate younger brothers in a time when sons illegitimate or not were getting control of the fortunes of their fathers over daughters. Her father on his deathbed sent messengers to the king of France, who surprisingly enough was also on his deathbed; to beg him to protect his daughter and the lands she was inheriting. That king then betrothed Eleanor to his son of the same name Louis. To make sure that the marriage went off without a hitch he sent his son to his bride with two bishops and an army, and after they were wed gave in and left this mortal coil. Eleanor’s husband then became King of France and the Aquitaine and other fine holdings were brought under the control of France.

After many adventures, squabbles and a crusade the married couple were seen to have difficulties and even after having several children together could not keep their marriage off the cliffs. Upon doing some research the king found out that they were too closely related, which suited both of them in order to gain a divorce. The king divorced her and took custody of their children and Eleanor got her lands and holdings back. She met Henry, future king of England and jumped in with both feet in love. Again with the marriage to a headstrong but well-made youth? Eleanor, you cougar you! With this marriage came sons and daughters, dynastic fights and imprisonments, just what you’d find in modern romance novels eh? Tired of the squabbling yet Eleanor?

 

In 1168, Eleanor of Aquitaine left the court of her husband Henry II and took up residence in her ancestral lands of Poitou. Having served as viceregent for the king in England, she had no difficulty pursuing her duties as a ruling duchess, and she wielded the power of a feudal lord and accepted the responsibilities that went with it. With a clever hand and a shrewd eye, she turned a district that had been on the periphery of events for forty years into the center of financial and social life.

 

As a result of this sudden burst of activity, Eleanor’s court in the city of Poitou drew vassals paying homage, squires training to be knights, young ladies acquiring their education, and visiting future kings and queens related by blood or marriage to the duchess. Because she was a woman of renowned beauty, charm, and style as well as extraordinary humor and iron willpower; the poets, chroniclers, musicians, philosophers, artists, and literati who always flocked around her also congregated at Poitou.

 

It was out of this heady mix of royalty and romance that the movement of courtly love emerged. That’s what the history books say; however, her father (William X, Duke of Aquitaine) had been one who aspired to the philosophy of Fin’ Amours or Fine Love which had been developing in the Occitan through Troubadours and writers since the 11th century. Her Own Grandfather William IX, Duke of Aquitaine was a poet and troubadour. He was also a womanizing pig according to some of his contemporaries, but usually, this was said in admiration.

 

There was very little that was new about courtly love (amour courtois). Poetry devoted with great ardor to a beloved lady had flourished in the Arab culture for centuries. The “courts of love,” where suitors would seek advice on matters of the heart from the queen while the king ruled over his courts of law, had also been around for quite some time in literary tradition. New rules of etiquette were already on the rise among the elite, though they were the source of much amusement and scorn from the rugged fighting men of the nobility. The cult of the Virgin was rising in popularity. And tales of Arthur and his knights, so inextricably woven into the fabric of chivalry and courtly love, had been circulating for years.

 

Nevertheless, this point in history was the supposedly defining moment of courtly love — its time to flourish — thanks to the dream of one woman and the literary work of one man.

 

The woman was Eleanor’s daughter (from her previous marriage to King Louis VII of France), Marie de Champagne, the man was a clerk known as André the Chaplain (André le Chapelain or Andreas Cappellanus), who had worked at the king’s court and may have accompanied Marie to Poitiers in her employ. Marie (supposedly) set him to work writing a handbook on a code of behavior concerning love. André took as his model, perhaps at her suggestion, Ovid’s Ars Amatoria (“the Art of Loving”). Ovid’s work concerns how to seduce a woman, and among its rules are appropriate forms of dress, approach, conversation, and toying with a lady’s affections, all designed to amuse. In the Ars Amatoria, the man is in control, and the woman is simply his prey.

 

But André (very likely at the command of his employer) turned the Ars Amatoria inside-out. In his Liber de Arte honest amandi et reprobatione inhonesti amoris (“Book of the Art of Loving Nobly and the Reprobation of Dishonourable Love”), the woman becomes the mistress of the game. It is she who sets the rules and passes judgment on the hopeful suitor. In Ovid’s work the lover sighs with passion for his pursuit, but in le Chapelain’s Liber the passion is pure and entirely for the love of a lady. It should be understood that Andre wrote his treatise for the courts of the king of France, where Eleanor was not in high esteem, and there have yet to be found any letters or documentation of Marie ever visiting her mother in Poitou.

The rules outlined in André’s work are in many ways far-flung from the reality of the times. In the medieval world, women rarely had any power to speak of (Eleanor was a notable exception) due to the church’s teachings. The nobility were warriors, and the arts of war, leadership and politics occupied their minds. More often than not, a nobleman thought of his wife (or future wife) as a breeder, a servant, and a source of yearly monetary gain. There are of course the rare exceptions, such as Eleanor and several nuns and mother abbesses.

 

The Troubadours were welcomed from town to town singing the songs of love to lords and ladies at the courts, bringing news of the different affairs and disastrous star-crossed loves that were going on so far away. In a time where learning to read and write was not so common, minnesingers would often memorize their poems and songs. After literacy became a little more common, they wrote their own books of songs and poetry and published them but few remain behind as famous as the Codex Mannesse.

The Codex Manesse is an anthology of the works of a total of about 135 Minnesingers of the mid 12th to early 14th century. For each poet, a portrait is shown, followed by the text of their works. The entries are ordered approximately by the social status of the poets, starting with the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, Kings Conradin, and Wenceslaus II, down through dukes, counts, and knights, to the commoners.

 

Most of the poems are Minnesang, but there are also other genres, including fables and didactic poems.

The oldest poets represented in the manuscript had been dead for more than a century at the time of its compilations, while others were contemporaries, with the latest additions of poems being written during the early 14th century.

In the portraits, some of the nobles are shown in full armor in their heraldic colors and devices (therefore with their faces hidden), often shown as taking part in a joust, or sometimes in single combat with sword and shield, and sometimes in actual battle.

 

Some images are motivated by the biography of the person depicted, but some designs just draw their motif from the poet’s name (thus, Dietmar is shown riding a mule, since his name can be interpreted as meaning people’s horse, while others draw on imagery from their lyrics (Walther von der Vogelweide is shown in a thoughtful pose which exactly matches the description of himself in one of his most famous songs).

 

On the giving of gifts to one’s inspiration

 

There were even rules about what one could give to one’s lover. Seriously, rules about accepting a gift from a lover. If they got greedy it looked bad on not only the lady but on the knight who gave the gift. Throwing pearls before swine, so to speak.

“A lover may freely accept from her beloved these things: a handkerchief, a hair band, a circlet of gold or silver, a brooch for her breast, a mirror, a belt, a purse, a lace for clothes, a comb, cuffs, gloves, a ring, a little box of scent, a portrait, toiletries, little vases, trays, a standard(flag) as a keepsake of her lover and to speak more generally a lady can accept from her lover whatever small gift may be useful in the care of her person or may look charming or may remind her of her lover; providing however that in accepting the gift it is clear that she is acting without avarice.” Andreas Cappellanus

 

 

How a court of love was constituted

 

The rule was that all the ladies who composed the courts should be married or widows.

Another principle of selection was that they should belong to the high noblesse of their district. It appears that there was no exact regulation regarding the number of ladies in a court of love. As a general estimate, the number of ladies in the court ranged from ten to sixty, and most of the time was probably of an average of these numbers.

 

The court of love was not always composed exclusively of ladies. Upon request, the trial could be held by the seigneur of the district, who pronounced the decree necessary “with the advice of his council,” composed of gentlemen like himself. But such cases were exceptions, and the general rule requested that the judges be chosen from the ladies of the district, with one of them appointed the president.

 

A court of love took its name presumably, from the leading lady or lord who was the highest authority such as the Court of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Court of the Countess of Champagne, and so on.

 

To obtain the judgment, the complete assent of all the ladies or lords present was necessary. The leading lady of the district had to summon a sufficient number of ladies who were specially chosen for the function and were the recognized members of the court. Once the court of love was appointed, the ladies met to hear the complaint made and the cause pleaded in due form before them.

 

In the end, the court of love tried to legislate upon all questions concerned with what was at the time a subject of culture, art, and elegance: love.

It should be noted however that even with literary sources giving us fictional proof of courts of love, there are no documental sources to show that these courts existed in reality. No letters, or court documents which can give us a shred of proof. We are left with our imaginations and Medieval Romance Novels to give us a picture of what they aspired to, and dream of having such wonder and beauty in our lives.

 

There are rules for everything in this fictional world of the courts of love, have you noticed the theme yet? The rules can be followed, but on breaking them your honor is forfeit. Does anyone want to go on pilgrimage, it’s safer to navigate the pilgrim’s roads than the rules of the court of love.

 

According to William Allan Neilson-

There are 12 statutes of the court of love;  commending the virtues of Generosity, constancy to one only, truthfulness, secrecy, obedience, modesty, courtesy, moderation, the forbidding of slander, babbling, the seducing of another man’s mistress and holding intrigues with a woman whom one would be ashamed to marry. The longer set of thirty-one rules is not so high in moral tone, professing to have a higher authority.

These are the rules, I leave them here, where they belong; at the end because in the end we are left with rules to lead us along a pathway to the gentler, though stranger world of chivalry, honor and courtly conduct between the men and women of the middle ages.

 

 

  1. Marriage should not be a deterrent to love.

 

  1. Love cannot exist in the individual who cannot be jealous.

 

  1. A double love cannot obligate an individual.

 

  1. Love constantly waxes and wanes.

 

  1. That which is not given freely by the object of one’s love loses its savor.

 

  1. It is necessary for a male to reach the age of maturity in order to love.

 

  1. A lover must observe a two-year widowhood after his beloved’s death.

 

  1. Only the most urgent circumstances should deprive one of love.

 

  1. Only the insistence of love can motivate one to love.

 

  1. Love cannot coexist with avarice.

 

  1. A lover should not love anyone who would be an embarrassing marriage choice.

 

  1. True love excludes all from its embrace but the beloved.

 

  1. Public revelation of love is deadly to love in most instances.

 

  1. The value of love is commensurate with its difficulty of attainment.

 

  1. The presence of one’s beloved causes palpitation of the heart.

 

  1. The sight of one’s beloved causes palpitations of the heart.

 

  1. A new love brings an old one to a finish.

 

  1. Good character is the one real requirement for the worthiness of love.

 

  1. When love grows faint its demise is usually certain.

 

  1. Apprehension is the constant companion of true love.

 

  1. Love is reinforced by jealousy.

 

  1. Suspicion of the beloved generates jealousy and therefore intensifies love.

 

  1. Eating and sleeping diminish greatly when one is aggravated by love.

 

  1. The lover’s every deed is performed with the thought of his beloved in mind.

 

  1. Unless it pleases his beloved, no act or thought is worthy of the lover.

 

  1. Love is powerless to hold anything from love.

 

  1. There is no such thing as too much of the pleasure of one’s beloved.

 

  1. The presumption on the part of the beloved causes suspicion in the lover.

 

  1. Aggravation of excessive passion does not usually afflict the true lover.

 

  1. The thought of the beloved never leaves the true lover.

 

  1. Two men may love one woman or two women one man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

The Studies and Notes in Philology and Literature: Vol. VI The sources and origins of the Court of Love by William Allan Neilson

The Art of Courtly Love by Andreas Capellanus; translated by John Jay Parry

Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings by Amy Ruth Kelly

The Civilization of the Middle Ages by Norman F. Cantor

The Medieval Art of Love: Objects and Subjects of Desire by Michael Camille

The Five Labors of Finn and the sparkly thing I made

This year for our Tir Y Don Baronial Birthday and Baronial Investiture there was a little competition known as the “Five Labors of Finn”. Finn, our Baronial Mascot is a Red Dolphin. The competition ran with the premise that our mascot met a mermaid while swimming in the ocean and fell in love instantly. In order to woo her, he gathered up things he thought a mermaid would like and brought them to us to make something as he doesn’t have hands. Those things were divided up and sold in $5.00 baggies so that we could raise funds and have a fun competition.

It took me the better part of 2 months to work on this in little bits. All of it is hand sewn onto scrap upholstery fabric given to me by a friend who was cleaning out her garage.

I only needed to use 5 of the items provided, and create a document detailing which items were used and how, and the important part the historical inspiration for the item I created. This competition isn’t based in our usual Arts & Sciences category of needing historically accurate documentation, it is after all a dolphin falling in love with a mermaid. From start to finish I knew I wanted to make something that would have a practical use, but was as sparkly as a mermaids tail. So…A bag it was. Inside the baggie was different wool yards in bright colors, wood beads, Atlantian coins, and a few gold chains. I used it all, and added more of my own flotsam and jetsam. To read the full documentation of my journey to a lovely Bag you can download the PDF here. Raised Figure Embroidery for the Five Labors of Finn

setting the scenes with seaweed borders

 

Where to learn the Techniques

Raised Figures

Mastering the Art of Embroidery by Sophie Long

Sophie’s book contains a dozen techniques for the embellishment of textiles ranging from Crewel to Smocking. Each technique has samples in full-color glossy photographs and well-done drawings in step by step sequence to give you a good start.  The relevant section of the book for this documentation is the chapter on Stump-work. I found the usual needle lace, detached and raised surface stitches, but the really important part is the Figures primer. In the Figures primer, you find step by step instructions on how to do the raised figures that are the underpinnings of raised figure embroideries. She covers the body, face, hair, and hands.

Raised Embroidery: A practical guide to decorative stumpwork by Barbara and Roy Hirst

In this book, Barbara and Roy Hirst guide you along the path of stumpwork embroidery with some history of the craft, pictorial examples and step by step instructions on the various techniques that make stumpwork such an art-form.

The Complete Book of Stumpwork Embroidery by Jane Nicholas

Jane Nicholas is touted to be the best in her work and you can clearly see it in the examples she created to teach this technique. The title of her book is rather misleading, however as her book only covers the plants, animals, and insects but not the human figures that are often the central technique that people have come to know as stumpwork. The beautiful Elizabethan Figures that are central to her original piece are not covered in this book. It will, however, teach you the varied techniques needed to create the natural world in the background of your figures. She also helps you use those techniques in a variety of craft projects to beautify your home and needlework basket.

Stumpwork Seasons by Kay &Michael Dennis

Kay and Michael Dennis give you a really good start to finish guide to stumpwork through the seasons. They start you off with all tools, materials, and threads needed to do the lovely projects pictured in the pages. Besides the stitches and techniques for the surface embroidery, they guide you to staining or painting the backgrounds to give a more natural and realistic looks to your work. A good book for those that need color pictures to guide step by step.

Close up of the Mermaid Raised Figure. No Hair yet.

The Mermaid tacked down. Still no hair yet.

Tube Coral beginning the surround of the pearl beds.

Finn and his mermaid. Still no hair yet.

The Mermaid sitting pretty on her sandy mound..Yay! She has a full head of hair!

Pearl bed filled in with pearls, shells and lacy corals.

A closer look at the Mermaid.

The Finished Bag, Hoard Side View.

The Finished Bag Mermaid side View.

The Finished Bag Pearl Bed View.

Persona Pentathlon Atlantia A&S Festival 2018

When you’re creative, but uber lazy like I am, it takes a real hard push to finish research, writing, and making things for a competition. I have jumped off the deck with the crazy, and entered myself into my Kingdom’s Arts & Sciences competition. Mainly the Persona Pentathlon.
First Item on my list of to do’s was my Bruise Juice Project. A research paper on Medieval Herbcraft, mainly about the herbs I use in a concoction called bruise cream, tools and herbs used to make it, and whether or not a medieval woman would have been able to learn about the simple herbs, and how to use them. It is finished and emailed off to the judges.
Second is making a few jars of the bruise cream using the juice, and other ingredients and how we can still make creams and salves today the same way they were made in the middle ages. I have gotten the Documentation typed up and Printed and two little jars of the cream made from the oil.
Third up on the list is a 14th century alms purse Pattern and how I couldn’t find a commercial pattern for the trapezoidal dome topped alms purse, so with the tidbits of measurements from museums I drafted one, and then had to change it to look more in keeping with the extant items it was being drafted from. All of the Documentation is written up and Printed and the Photography is done, and the little pouches made.
Fourth on the list is a 14th century studded girdle belt Blank. The little belt is made, documentation is written and printed and all photography finished and printed as well.  Fifth and finally are the loose leaves (pages) of a cordiform bestiary. March third is coming up, and I have just a few pages of the bestiary pages left to paint and the documentation all written up and printed.  When I am done with the competition I will be posting all of the documentation and patterns here in pdf format for easy downloading.

Wish me luck? I truly think I’m gonna need it.

An Expanded thought on Medieval Pilgrimage

Lady Mevanou's Musings

Throughout man’s history with the Christian and Many other )religions, there have been pilgrimage sites visited where men and women have been martyred for the “cause”. Those sites are considered holy even to this day. Up and down the European coastline and along trade routes can be found little chapels or larger abbeys where pilgrims on this quest or that can go see the venerated remains of the martyred souls: who, though long dead allegedly work miracles for the faithful.

The burial sites of martyrs were the first destinations for pilgrimage in the Christian West, reports of healings contributed fame to such sites. In the 4th century, Rome became a major pilgrimage as it was considered Holy due to the tombs of the Apostles, martyrs, and the catacombs themselves where it is said that the followers of Christ would preach the word after his death.

In the early middle…

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Colors Oh My The Colors

The history of Embroidery, indeed any kind of embellishment upon garments is centuries old. This is not about that..but recreating the styles and techniques of Embroidery from the middle ages to the renaissance.  Designs we can come up with, but what about the colors? Do we use Wool, or silk? I don’t know about you, but when I price skeins of Wool Embroidery yarn I cringe, silk is only a bit more expensive, and that leaves us with Cotton Floss. We know that cotton embroidery floss is well into the more modern age when it comes to materials for embroidery, but it’s so much less expensive than wools and silks. I got bored one day and thought about the colors available back then, and while not so abundant as our modern color palette, they still had quite a selection. Digging through my seeming abundance of colors, some mine and some I inherited from my mum I looked for pictures of the colors and found one reference. Pinterest, blessed Pinterest!  for the Tudor Era Colors I found a lovely chart, created by(  July 4, 2012 by staceywng.  http://www.creamcityillustrators.com/2012/07/another-fun-renaissance-thing/) and the rest of the colors for the Medieval List come from Rosalies Medieval Woman page..Amazing Resource for those starting out or needing a reference when doing some sort of research..(Remember, This project of mine got started because I was bored) (http://rosaliegilbert.com/dyesandcolours.html). Please Understand that I am in no way going to post pictures from their pages, even if I found them on Pinterest. Because this page here is just a starting point for any who would do deeper research I fully expect you to do your own research and citations, It was only a few minutes worth of time googling the names of medieval and renaissance colors. Pinterest is also a good place to start, don’t forget your local libraries.

I am going to go alphabetically with the names starting with the Medieval List and then bring in the Tudor List. Many of the colors will have salty names, like Bloody Flux a dirty red brown  and Puke a deep grey brown..but don’t be alarmed, they are not ugly colors, just differently named. In many instances the colors are simply named and it’s in the Tudor Era that the names get more creative and sometimes snarky sounding, such as Dead Spaniard (Slate grey). Where you see the same name from one era to another means usually that it is a very popular color. Please Note: These are the colors that I use which may not be correct in color or hue, but are what I can get close to color wise from the confines of my color stash. Where the names have remained the same I have kept the DMC colors the same for a bit of continuity.

Medieval Color Name DMC Cotton Floss Number
Aureole – Orange 741
Bristol Red-Red 606
Bloody Flux 816
Burnet-Brown 400
Carsey-yellow 973
Cendre/Cinder 535
Garance- madder-red 498
Goose-turd- yellow green 772
Gris-Grey 318
Grisart-Light Grey 415
Inde-Indigo Blue 3843
Maiden Hair-Bright Tan 728
Mezereon- Rose Purple 326
Milk and Water- Blue-ish White 3761
Popinjay-Blue Green 827
Puke-Dirty Grey Brown 840
Raw Flesh- Pinkish Orange 352
Russet-Dark Brown 300
Sheep Color- Natural Creamy White Ecru
Tawny-Dusky Orange Brown 722
Vert- Green 906
Violet- Purple 552

 

and now for the Tudor Color List.

Tudor Color Name DMC Cotton Floss Number
Apes Laugh 164
Beans Blue 518
Biskaye 823
Bottle Green 334
Bristol 606
Brown Bread 3772
Burnet 400
Cane Colour 437
Chimney Sweep 317
Dead Spaniard 452
Devil in the Head 700
Goose-turd 772
Loves Longing 3687
Lustie-Gallant 351
Maiden Hair 728
Maidens Blush 899
Merry Widow 973
Milk and Water 3761
Mortal  Sin- True Black 310
Ox Blood 814
Pansey 554
Pheasant 816
Puke 840
Purple 552
Raw Flesh 352
Russet 300
Scarlett 326
Sea Water 517
Soppes in Wine 355
Straw 782
Tawny 722
Turkey 898
Ultra Marine 311
Watchet 820
Whey 677
Yellow 743

 

St Birgitta, give me a new cap…or have me make it myself…

So this make it monday brings me to my need for keeping my fly away baba Yaga tresses under Control…also, it is February, and a new challenge in the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge..Yeah, I know, I am publishing this on March 1st…so what? There’s only 28 days of February in a non leap year…so I considered it a moment and took march first as the last day of February..so there!

February’s challenge at the Historical Sew Fortnightly is thus: Re-Make, Re-Use, Re-Fashion – Sew something that pays homage to the historical idea of re-using, re-making and re-fashioning. Turn one thing into another. Re-fit or re-fashion an old gown into something you would wear again. Re-trim a hat for a new outfit, or re-shape a modern hat to be a historical hat. Re-purpose the fabric from an old garment (your own or a commercial one) into a new garment.

My Old garment is an old white linen sideless surcote with trim. Yeppers, the poor old thing had holes from catching on everything it came up against…fence? yep nice hole on the side…tree bark? oh triple yeah, good sized hole in the bum region…so..today I tore it apart and have put it in the wash with dawn dish soap and ammonia to get rid of those stubborn horse arena stains and permanent ink fades from having a small child years ago think she needed to draw a daisy..good thing I caught her before she got too far…whewww…only a small black/grey stain now years later…

As the St. Birgitta’s cap is rather dainty It won’t take much fabric to make one, leaving me large hunks to eventually embroider something totally medieval on for a ladies sewing bag, or a set of “Pockets” to hide under a new surcote…yeah, yeah, I know..not 14th century period, but this is me not giving a rip…I have wide hips, so hiding things under the skirts won’t be a problem..

It got my pattern and instructions at: https://katafalk.wordpress.com/2014/01/16/st-birgittas-cap/, which were not too hard to follow and had pictures. This lady has a lot of really good tutorials for the medieval lady’s needs..go take a look…

Once the linen was white again and smelled better too, I dried it on high to re-shrink it then Ironed out the smaller pieces so that it would make pinning the pattern and cutting out easier.

Now was the time to get the decision done about whether or not to hand sew the pieces or machine sew them, also came the decision to machine or hand embroider the brow band and center seam…hmmm…..This may take longer to deliberate upon…talking to myself again…sigh…Machine Sewn it is! Embroidery can come later.

So to get an idea of what this simple cap looks like I went out and found it on several websites…but if you do a google search on St. Birgitta’s Cap you’ll find it…

Pretty, eh what? hand sewn linen with hand embroidered lace insertion stitches down the center back seam and all around the border of the forehead strap…also what looks to be gathered and smocked at the back of the cap near the nape of the neck…nice.

birgittas-cap

Okay, Mine is not so pretty. It is of course good enough at first glance and I can embroider it later to make it purty…All machine sewn of course, I do plan on one day getting off mah duff and hand sewing a St. Birgitta’s Cap, but if you look at the close ups of the pin, I made that and squashed the head good and flat to lay against the cap nicely.

Should you want to join us or just observe the festivities, start here: http://thedreamstress.com/the-historical-sew-monthly-2017/

 

Getting into the thick of things…Firsts and Lasts

At the Beginning, of the year, I joined a small group of intrepid seamstresses in a monthly challenge (fortnight). I found this group quite by accident looking for inspiration for historical costume and tutorials. Upon joining this group, I promptly set to work documenting what I was making for the January challenge of “Firsts and Lasts”.

January: Firsts & Lasts – Create either the first item in a new ensemble, or one last piece to put the final fillip on an outfit.

As my beloved needed new medieval garb, I forced him to brave the fabric store and purchase fabric for said garb. My beloved being of Byzantine persona, we looked for fabrics close enough, and I DO mean CLOSE ENOUGH to the textiles in museums…yeah..We found what could only be called the Hawaiian Prints of the Byzantine Era and went with it…Paisley, it was Paisley..black gold and silver paisley, with a dark lavender/gray under fabric for under-

tunic and pants..as getting my beloved into Hosen would have been nigh on impossible… Those were the firsts…but for this I chose Lasts..

His shoes…now the typical Byzantine shoe looks more like a woman’s shoe to modern male eyes and we could not make him sandals in January…nope…nope…nope.

So, I went with a combination of medieval and modern making him a pair of leather lace up slippers/short boots.

 

I and my beloved were going to go to the local 12th night festivities, at least until it dumped at least a foot of snow on the roads making it inadvisable for travel on the day of the event…So for now, they hang in the closet, awaiting the day that I can make him put them on and enjoy his day of getting out of the house medieval style.

 

To See more of the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenges do go have a look see!

http://thedreamstress.com/the-historical-sew-monthly-2017/

Make it Monday in the 18th Century

Yeah, I know I am a 14th Century Blogger, but these buttons are so darned Purty!

18th Century Embroidered Buttons

And how to make them

by Tina M Comroe ©2016

Since the inception of clothing, there has been a need to close the garment. Whether it was a wrap, tunic, dress or apron, some type of toggle or button has been needed to keep the outside world from seeing more flesh than fashionable. Functional buttons with buttonholes for fastening or closing clothes as we know them, appeared first in Germany in the 13th century. They soon became widespread with the rise of snug-fitting garments in 13th- and 14th-century Europe. During the 18th century buttons could be found in many types of artistic medium: Glass, Mother of Pearl, Wood, Silver gilt, gold, brass, copper and my personal Favorite Embroidered to match the outfit. There are many a website or book and even articles that cover the history of buttons; This is NOT one of them. Everywhere I looked I found information on what the lovely embroidered buttons were made of after the fabric was embroidered or embellished..but not instructions on how to recreate them. To be fair, there are a great many who blogged about making the buttons, but had very few step by step from beginning to end instructions that I myself could follow. So I decided to create them using what I could find in my own home that was close enough to the materials used.

(When I asked a group of 18th Century Costumers if they would be interested in an article covering the how to aspect of button making it was a nearly Unanimous Yes (unanimous for me is more than 50 people)…So Here it is, my search and recovery of making 18th century Embroidered Buttons.)

 

What my buttons are made of:  Button Blank, Cardboard core, thread and Felt to pad the embroidery.button-parts

 

Why cardboard for the core? Well, it’s what I had laying around the house, and in at least one source (#3 in bibliography) states that cardboard was the core for the buttons on a fancy waistcoat.  At one point Capital Meats came by a few months back and sold us a freezer full of cheap meats..I kept the boxes as they were clean and would be nearly perfect for storing the dresses I make for dolls…well months later those boxes are still sitting on my wool covered folding table in the laundry room…so being of good sturdy cardboard I cut two of them apart and used them for button blanks and a button template.

You don’t need any special tools to make buttons, but having an essential tool like a button template sure does make the job faster.  To make a button template draw a circle the size of the button you want to make and add a circle around it equal to the inner circles radius. In this example the circle is 1.5 inches with a .75 radius or ¾ in. Add the ¾ inch around it. Draw the template onto cardboard, cut out the center circle and you now have your button template.121116_0417_MakeitMonda1.jpg

 

Choose the design for your button. You will see that I have provided six different Historical Buttons to recreate for those that don’t think they have the skills in drawing (they do, they just won’t believe in themselves..but I won’t quibble). To make these buttons you need only the basic skills of sewing and embroidering..there are no fancy shmancy stitches to fumble over and I have provided common pictures further along to show you how easy they really are. Okay, once you choose which button, on which fabric you are going to use it’s time to put the fabric into the hoop and carefully draw, pounce or just plain old free hand embroider the design onto the fabric.

However, I would suggest using  a very fine tear away stabilizer that would work just as well for tracing and embroidering, it’s designed to be used that way, made by Silky. Make it really Easy on yourself and use a sheet of it to trace your button designs and use the 18th century Chinese embroidery technique of embroidering the design down and tear the stabilizer away once done(#4 in the Bibliography). Remember to use your button template to trace the outer edge of the button leaving room between each button for cutting them out once they are embroidered.

Embroider the buttons using single strands of silk or cotton floss.  It was hard to match exactly the colors used on those historic buttons, but I got close enough using DMC brand cotton floss. With the numbers off of the floss packaging, it should be easier to find which colors the silk companies have that compare well.

Button Designs

121116_0417_MakeitMonda2.jpg

121116_0417_MakeitMonda3.jpg

 

Embroidery Stitches

121116_0417_MakeitMonda11.jpg

table-of-stitches

Okay, you have your buttons embroidered and your felt and button cores cut out, let’sbutton-parts get those buttons made.

Using your button template on the backside of your buttons center the embroidered area inside the template and trace around the outside edge with chalk. The examples in the pictures are done with ink to make it easier to see.

  1. Cut out the button blanks, and set them aside. Cut your button cores and felt rounds and for each button pair up a core and felt circle, stitch each pair together to stabilize the core.step-one

 

  1. Thread your needle and put a running stitch around the edge of the button blank ¼ inch from the edge, no need to turn the edges in, we’re not making yo-yo’s or Suffolk puffs.step-two

 

  1. Center a felt core felt side down to the back of the embroidered button blank.

step-three

  1. Pull the thread to gather the edges to the center, easing the raw edges together to close any gap. Use a square knot to secure the center.

step-four

 

  1. To make the button shank, create a thread bar by putting two loops over a shank bar aka a chopstick and use buttonhole stitches to create the bar. Secure the end with a good knot and you now have a button.

 

 

Pictures of the garments the Buttons came from

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Bibliography

  1. Erica Wilson’s Embroidery Book: Wilson, Erica

Published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1973

ISBN 10: 0684106558 / ISBN 13: 9780684106557

  1. Arts and Designs Needlework Glossary of terms, where i got the images for the stitches: https://www.artsanddesigns.com/glossary/A
  2. 18th Century Embroidery Techniques

Gail Marsh

Guild of Master Craftsman Publications, Feb 16, 2012

  1. Chinese Embroidery: Traditional Techniques

Josianne Bertin-Guest

Krause Publications, Jan 1, 2003

  1. Needlework School: A comprehensive guide to decorative embroidery by the Embroiderers Guild Practical Study Group. Chartwell Books, INC. 1984

 

Further Reading on Button History; please note that none of these pages cover the method of making the fabric buttons until the mid 19th century, overlooking entirely the fabric buttons of the 14th century and the embroidered buttons of the early through late 18th century. Good for Historians but not costumers with an eye to recreate the lovely embroidered buttons seen on many a fancy Waistcoat.

  1. http://www.antiquebuttons.nl/index_en.php?p0=history_of_buttons
  2. http://www.slate.com/articles/life/design/2012/06/button_history_a_visual_tour_of_button_design_through_the_ages_.html
  3. http://www.thebuttonmonger.com/content/A_history_of_buttonsv1.pdf