Costuming · SCA

Merovingian Update

So I finished reading The world of Gregory of Tours edited by Kathleen Mitchell and Ian Wood and Fortunitus’s Poems (edited and translated by Michael Roberts, sorry, my Latin is horrid.)  I did glean some useful things from this. Neither Gregory nor Fortunitus are very descriptive when it comes to costumes, alas, but Fortunitus did mention a few times marks of beauty (Lots of milk-white skin and rose-colored lips, one mention of a white neck. Brushing hair until it shines, things like that.) and at least we know that Men and Women’s costumes were distinctive of each other. (That’s kind of a ‘duh’ but still, it’s good to have confirmation in a literary source.) I did really enjoy reading them together.

Now I’m wending my way through From Attila to Charlemagne: Arts of the Early Medieval Period in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Katharine Reynolds Brown and Dafydd Kidd. Great volume, some lovely articles. Mostly focused on jewelry, of course.

I have decided that I aught to start my under-tunic. I want to do a pleated garment, I have a lovely light blue, lightweight wool in my stash that I think will do marvelously. Going with a standard rectangular construction. Warp-weighted looms mean wide width, shorter lengths of fabric, which gives us plenty of room for pleats. (One of Aregonde’s neighbors in the Saint Denis crypt had a blue pleated wool survive in her grave, possibly a tunic.) Going to match it’s pleat size.


  • How far down do I sew the pleats? Just in the bodice area?
  • Do I bend the pleats toward the neckline, or end them straight into the shoulder seam?
  • How do I handle the neckline? (I’m leaning toward a standard keyhole.)
  • How long do I make the sleeves? (I think wrist-length) and how do I finish the wrists? trim?
  • Hem length (Have pretty much decided floor length, same as I always do.)
Life · SCA

Weekend Update – NOWM

This weekend was our largest local event, Northern Oaken War Maneuvers.

My dread of this event was very high this year. And I’ve spent much of the weekend staring at my own navel trying to figure out why. If you look back on my blog posts, they’re largely positive. Though a lot of that was just putting on a happy face for the sake of others.

I used to love this event. Then I became the local Baroness.

Every year as Baroness the event was horrid. Every. Year. Just awful.  The exact opposite of fun. Deleting the long details of exactly how it was awful. That doesn’t matter really. Plus I stressed out about every local event because I’m me and I worry about shit.

It’s funny, because you’d think I’d love this event. It’s the event I got my Award of Arms at. The event I was made a Baroness at. The event I was elevated to the Laurel at.

But mostly it’s the event I don’t belong at.

I walk around, watching other people be happy. And not belonging.

I hoped being in charge of scribes for the day would help… but it didn’t. The scribe’s room was empty all day. None of the camaraderie and hanging out of ages past.

In the end the problem is me. It’s in my own head this feeling of not belonging. Being unwanted. Derian did go out of his way to shout across the field that he was glad to see me, that was sweet of him. And Jacquline came into the scribe’s room to give me a hug. She’s a sweetheart.  It’s still hard to shake this feeling.


Laurel · SCA

Weekend Update – Kingdom A&S

This Saturday was the Kingdom Arts and Sciences Faire, my husband was grumpy about driving out 5 hours to an I-state so soon after we just got home from vacation, but he agreed. We were smart and bought a sub sandwich at lunchtime to have for dinner and took off straight from work. Thanks to the holiday weekend traffic was much lighter than usual for 5pm in downtown Cleveland! We made good time and arrived at my dear friend and mentor Elwynor’s house just after 10 pm.

We got up bright and early, Elwynor’s hunny Michael made us all a yummy frittata breakfast (YUM!) and I’m happy to say Elwynor’s dog Holly is an absolute sweetheart. A bit of an attention hog, but not obnoxious. Really, good food, good company and a sweet doggy = Much better than a hotel!

We got to the event in plenty of time. I was nervous about being in the tally room instead of my usual role as judge or entrant. I needn’t have been. It was a peaceful day. Thankfully the A&S room was air conditioned because damn. Also glad I brought a linen tunic as well as my wool one, left the wool one in the suitcase! There were some fabulous entries in particular a lady knit a replica of the 12th century Egyptian blue-and-white socks. Sweeeeeeet. Those socks rocked my socks. Zuriel won the Pentathalon.

We got a lovely dinner with Elwynor and Michael at a local brew pub and stayed up too late talking and petting the pooch. 🙂

We headed home Sunday morning, I felt a little guilty about not staying for the Crown Tournament, however it was the smart move. We were both still jet lagged and needed to spend some time in our house!

The remainder of the weekend was laid back. I got some knitting in 🙂 Yay! Lace shawl is going well. I’m about a fifth done? maybe? The yard is disgraceful, but it was just so hot we didn’t have the energy to do anything about it. I am glad my irises are blooming though. We met Kristen, Halim, Stacie, Mary-Beth and Tim for breakfast on Memorial day, was fun catching up with the family and got to give them their souvenirs from Paris. Also started sorting and uploading vacation photos. Oh so many photos!


Weekend Update – Coronation

Friday we packed up the car and hit the road after work. We had leftover pizza for dinner before hitting the road so we were all set to make good time. I took the first shift driving, which was a mistake. I was exhausted, kept slowing down… but somehow, by hook or by crook, I made it to the Dunkin’ Donuts at exit 186. We got coffees, doughnuts, and hubby took over driving. *whew!*

We were about 20 minutes from the site, on a dark country highway, I was looking at the sunset and in a daze when *bam!* we tagged a deer. Ack! Fortunately, we were going below the speed limit and we just barely clipped the deer. It ran off (I hope he or she is OK and just has a bruised butt!) so we continued on to the hotel, now much more awake! Hubby was quite upset and worried about the car. We didn’t see any damage other than a pushed out section of bumper when we got to the hotel; in the morning in better light I saw there is a crack in the bottom plastic of the bumper. Still, we got off easy.

The hotel was a bit shabby, a bit musty… decor was nice, bathroom was unfortunate. But it was close to the site and the WiFi was excellent. We went across the street to a drug store and bought snacks (so many snacks! Do not shop when hungry.) and turned in. The bed was hard, but I was so tired I think I would’ve slept on the floor.

We got up bright and early and had hotel breakfast, ran into Cadfan, Robin, Meinhard and Gianna who were all also staying at that hotel. We hit the road quickly though as hubby had to be there for the morning court. We got on site and… Gianna and Meinhard were in line in front of us! How’d they manage that? Suspect they had a better GPS route, that or heavier gas pedal foot 😉

Hubby found the Royalty room, and I found the archery range. I helped them set up the range, signed in, got inspected and loosed 6 arrows, ha! Finished The Hunt challenge! at the last possible minute, but I did it. Go me. 🙂 I went back to the area where court was to be and found myself a place to sit and do my hair. The morning court was lovely. Beautiful weather, nice pagentry. Husband was given the Royal Vanguard for his service as A&S Champion which is a big honor; they usually only give that award to the armoured and rapier champions.

After court there were many hugs and congratulations and such, and we went back to the archery range where we spent most of the day. I did not shoot badly. Worry about my hanging sleeves got in my way a bit I think.

I shopped; bought some Merovingian brooches from a merchant 🙂  Talked with friends and generally had a good day.

We had to stop back at the hotel as I’d forgotten an item (d’oh!) and hubby selected McDonald’s for dinner. Yup, it’s salty. I do like that special sauce though. We made good time home and my own bed felt WONDERFUL.

Sunday I was pretty much useless. Sleepy, dragging my feet while good hubby mowed the lawn. Kristen and Halim called and we met them for a movie and dinner which was fun. Good thing I had the morning off Monday for a Dr. appointment!


Weekend Update: ShowCase and NORAD

Sounds very Science-y, eh?

Friday was the Research ShowCase, I was nervous of course, but it went great.  I talked myself horse. 🙂 I wasn’t sure what to expect; it was huge. I do wish I’d gotten more of a chance to see all the posters. The Undergraduate ones were particularly interesting, I think, as they had a lot of variety of topics.  Saw one on a weeding robot; how awesome is that? Just think of how many herbicides are used to control weeds and not having to do that. Teach it about ground ivy and let it loose in my yard, okay?

I’m already thinking about doing it next year, but afterward I was a zombie. I insisted we go out for dinner to celebrate my first ever science fair (Never did one in school, heh.) we walked to La Tratoria in Little Italy and had a fabulous meal.  Had a good, relaxed evening, packed up the car for the event in the morning.

Saturday morning the bathroom scale was unkind. Oh Italian food, why must you be so fattening?

Hubby wanted to get a blood test in the morning before going to the event as he has a doctor appointment next week. Alas! The Euclid Hospital’s testing center is no longer open on weekends. Booo. So that was a wasted hour. We headed off to the event, I was tired and crabby, but we were doing this.

It was perfect event weather. NORAD stands for “North Oaken Regional Academy of the Rapier” or something like that, so I brought my rapier gear and my bow. Hubby and I shot a few rounds, I was not unhappy with how I shot. After lunch I reluctantly got into gear. I was feeling… self conscious, out of shape, rusty… hubby had to push me toward the list. And of course the fencers were all very gracious and welcoming. I used the authorization website for the first time (The site had free wifi! bonus!) and I was just in time to enter the “Kill them with their own weapon” tournament, which was a lot of fun. I sucked, but I had a lot of fun.

After the tourney I found the husband and he said that Robin and Cadfan wanted to get going and were interested in nabbing dinner. I had no objection so geared down; we all went out for yummy yummy burgers (sorry, Bathroom Scale). And it was a lovely evening.

Sunday I was EXHAUSTED! By the way, shoulders are used a lot in archery and fencing. My shoulders are still sore. It was Earth Day, and hubby and I went to the metroparks for a long walk, and Foster’s ice cream afterward, bliss! Then there were errands and general homebody-ness, we finished with a lovely romantic comedy.

It would have been enough to refresh after Saturday had the husband not accidentally set our alarm clock to go off at 3:30 am. (I’m more amused than anything but today truly there is not enough coffee in the world!)

Laurel · SCA

Weekend Update – Laurel Retreat

This past Saturday was the Laurel Retreat; it’d been planned for a long time. Last year I had a fabulous time and had been looking forward to it for ages. However, as the day drew near I was full of “Don’t wanna” I have personal projects that need attention, things I’d procrastinated on, things I should be doing, and things I really wanted to work on, but… if you wait for a good time for a retreat, you never go on a retreat.  Husband was terribly supportive of the effort, which helped. I packed up the car and after work on Friday headed off to exotic Fort Wayne.

I was worried about rush hour traffic leaving, but it wasn’t so bad. Radio told me the other route I could have taken was bad so yay me for picking the choice I thought best instead of what the GPS said.  I arrived nice and early in the evening at the hotel. Don Hall’s Guesthouse in Fort Wayne is a charming hotel; large rooms, a bit aged and shabby around the corners, but a well designed facility in general. The bed was comfy and the wifi worked well. When D and Ursula arrived we met up at the hotel bar and had a good long hangout and talk over drinks. The live music was good (a bit loud, but good!)

I did not sleep well that night, alas. Combination of strange bed, worry about over-sleeping/projects, etc. So I didn’t get anything done in the morning but getting dressed, eating breakfast and heading over to the conference room.

The retreat itself went well. Once again Fairfax did a great job facilitating and keeping people on task and on topic. This year they did a catered lunch, which was a good idea since last year folks dispersed for lunch and it was hard to get them all back together again. Bad for the step count on my pedometer, though, and calorie count. The lunch was lovely, I enjoyed it. *burp* It was a smaller group than last year, but in some ways that made things easier. Once again I met Laurels I didn’t know and was glad to meet them!

Almost all of us went out to dinner at a local Vietnamese place afterward. (mmmm Pho, so happy in my tummy) And a small group of us went back to the hotel to hang out and ended up staying up very very late talking Laurel stuff and drinking cider in Gunnar Alfblot’s room. He, by the way, lucked out in getting one of the hotel’s theme rooms. It was “The Fabulous 50s” and it was swinging! I was quite jealous of the decor.

Sunday morning came all too soon; and the hotel Sunday Brunch was amazing! about a jillion times yesterday’s breakfast selection. Not long after I’d gotten my food, Gunnar arrived and joined me and we had a great conversation over breakfast… until Tonis and Lucia arrived and joined us and just as I was pushing away from the table Ursula arrived… I got my stuff packed up, checked out and came back to join the conversation with all of them and D too. So yeah, I hit the road later than I intended, but it was good!

So yeah, the sewing I brought, the calligraphy I brought, the book I brought… none of that got done, heh. And I did not visit the hotel pool or the exercise room either (bad kid!) my weight is up, my step count down… but still very glad I went and glad I participated. I’m not as excited as I was last year and I’m pretty sure that’s just related to personal stress and lack of sleep.

Retreats like this are always great because they self select for the attendance; the people who make time for this sort of thing are usually the people who really care about making a difference.

Costuming · SCA

Dress in Anglo-Saxon England

Had trouble sleeping last night so I picked up Dress in Anglo-Saxon England by Gale R. Owen-Crocker, Manchester University Press 1986.

The book is a bit light, and dated, but still yielded some useful points to my Merovingian research.  First a citation about the Saxons being neighbors to the Franks on the continent,  since they and other Germanic peoples invaded England there was definitely a cultural link there.
Bonus: Apparently some 5th or 6th century female graves in Kent were supplied with very Merovingian jewelry; paired bow-headed broaches at the waist, paired bird-shaped broaches and the crystal ball we’ve seen before. Apparently Aethelbhert, late 6th century King and convert to Christianity according to the Venerable Bede had a Frankish wife.

Of note the Kentish burials did not have buckles on their garters (if they had garters); the author presumes this points to longer hemlines, much like other authors assume fancy garters mean short hemlines, still an assumption. People wear lots of fancy stuff that’s out of sight, though in general when we have jewelry we want to flaunt it.  They also did not have any earrings save one burial that had them on her necklace. The author postulates that the Kentish ladies had close fitting headdresses so earrings would not show… I’m more inclined to think that Anglo-Saxons did not wear earrings and the ladies were not so wed to the Frankish fashions as to poke holes in their ears when no one around them was doing so.

So, if I can find some more recent information on Kentish burials of the time, I may have some more clues to Merovingian fashions. 🙂 See? it was good I took this book out.

It’s been a staple of SCA and other reenactors for years and really was ahead of its time, though scant on concrete textile information. It’s written in a very accessible prose, which, alas, makes it a little hard to parse technical information. I’d much rather charts and graphs, you know.