Monday, January 16, 2012

old threads

Yesterday I took part in a local Arts and Science event held by my shire of the SCA. The SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) is a living history club, based on the middle ages and prior (pre 1600AD), and all things lifestyle before motors, guns, engines, and such. The skills are old, the clothing is old, the sports are old (equestrian, archery, jousting, combat practice with swords, etc.) So as you can imagine, there are a lot of homesteaders, blacksmiths, seamstresses and historians involved. All of them have a lot to teach! Skills are traded, events held in meeting places and homes. This particular class was in embroidery. And not just any sort of embroidery, but the delicate and detailed work of past ages. The day was part sewing circle, part history lesson, and part cookie-eating. My kind of scene.

As for my first club activity, it was a small group, all women, but their skill and dedication to authenticity floored me. That sample above, it's about 8 inches long on a piece of blue wool, a wyvern done entirely in stem stitch (there's a video below that teaches it to anyone who wants to learn). Watching these architects, real estate agents, and computer programmers gently copy images from old rune stones and ancient texts and bring them alive again was inspirational, link all of us around some card tables to women hundreds of years before us. My own stitches were clumsy, but empowering. But you know me, I get off on doing anything by hand that a machine usually does.

I showed them my humble crow sample, and they were all very polite about it, but drawing a crow on linen and filling it in with as many stitches needed to make it a solid, heavy, patch was a little crude for their taste. In the class I learned the chain stitch, stem stitch, satin stitch and the French knot. I worked on a small piece of linen in the circle, and then when I came home I got more ambitious. I took an image from the Book of Kells, a lion, and changed it into a wolf but kept the same vibe. I used the stitches I learned and while it's nowhere near as nice as their work (or even historically accurate) it is a nice way to learn a new craft.And it is addicting, like knitting, but maybe even moreso for me. I love making handmade things, even more personal, a little soul branding. Which for this farm girl, means Scottish wolves from old manuscripts. It takes all kinds, people.


Blogger Mist said...

Cool, cool stuff! Embroidery is one of my favorite things. That doesn't mean I'm good at it, but someday I'll put in the time to be.

January 16, 2012 at 2:43 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

Oh wow, I wanted to join the SCA when I was in highschool but never did. I'd forgotten about it until now. Thanks for the reminder! :)

January 16, 2012 at 2:47 PM  
Blogger The MO Farmers Daughter said...

Hi Jena.Proud of you,I love this too! We have very few people intrested in this around here but,I love it,and glad you are involved!carol

January 16, 2012 at 2:51 PM  
Blogger The Village Queen said...

Thats neat, I've gotten back into embroidery after many years away. I was doing alot of it in my teens and 20's. Amazing how much its changed and a new crop of young people are moderizing it while at the same time a group is still loving the very old stuff. The internet makes it so easy to find designs, supplies and other gals to sew with. Always good to have something to do that doesnt take power, you never know!

January 16, 2012 at 2:52 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Welcome to the kingdom! :)
Funny, I was at a shire meeting yesterday watching someone do a lovely bit of embroidery.

Seriously, if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line. I know some of the fencing/heavy crew out of Glens Falls/Albany area.
- Sarah, known around the East as Varju

January 16, 2012 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger Helois said...

that is so cool! I love this kind of stuff, but had no idea that they had organizations and such. I think I will be looking into this more.

January 16, 2012 at 5:38 PM  
Blogger Emmalina said...

That sounds like a lot of fun! Being a history enthusiast as well as enjoying embroidery on the cold winter nights, that sounds like a fantastic group! Btw I love your raven, it is beautiful.

January 16, 2012 at 5:47 PM  
Blogger Lyssa said...

The SCA is where I first learned homebrew and cheesemaking, in addition to lots of other awesome skills. I haven't gone to any meetings in a few years, but maybe it's time to go back!

January 16, 2012 at 5:55 PM  
Blogger PansWife said...

Check out The Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo NY. It's in Aug-Sept.
Great crafts and just a lot of very, very old fashioned kind of fun.

January 16, 2012 at 8:06 PM  
Blogger Brenda said...

Very cool! Embroidery is a really beautiful art form.

Can I ask a question off topic here? Found a very large possum in our chicken coop this evening. Anyone have any ideas on what to bait a HavaHart trap with to get rid of this critter?

January 16, 2012 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger J.D. said...

Thanks, Jenna! Amazing work & great information.

January 17, 2012 at 7:43 AM  
Blogger Debi said...

I never knew that SCA's existed. I'm excited to see if they have one in my area. Thanks for enlightening me once again, Jenna!

January 17, 2012 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

Oh that sounds amazing!! I used to embroider on the beach for hours in high school...maybe time to try it again!

January 17, 2012 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger Pricilla said...

Back in the dark ages when I went to high school these skills were taught as part of the Home Ec curriculum; how to cook, how to sew, knitting, crochet and embroidery. Not so much any longer - and it was not elective, it was required. How times have changed.

January 17, 2012 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger Kella B said...

ha ha ha. did you join sca because of "dies the fire"? i went to a few events because of that. now my house is full of clumsy hand sewing and wooden swords. its fun.

January 20, 2012 at 7:58 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Been involved with the SCA off and on since 2000

January 23, 2012 at 1:43 PM  

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