Iridescent Silk Apron Panel

Alright, so remember how last time I said lampas wasn’t happening and it was just going to be three way iridescent silk? I lied. We’re at plain iridescent silk.


Well you see, tension is a pain in the butt to get correct with silk. For some reason the three way iridescent silk was plagued with tension issues. The right most 3 inches (7ish cm for my metric folks) got progressively looser as I unwound more warp. This meant I was frustrated and taking super long to weave. I finally gave up, cut the three way iridescent off, and retied the warp to adjust the tension. This meant that I no longer had time to fiddle with two wefts.

Yes I have ordered the silk to do a more dramatic three way iridescent piece as my next project when I don’t have a tight deadline.

Let’s back up a bit and start with why I’m weaving iridescent fabric in the first place.

  1. It’s pretty.
  2. It is actually period, just not for me as near as I can tell.

How do we know it’s period? We have paintings implying iridescence in fabric, like this image from the Visconti Hours:


See the woman on the right in pink and yellow? The way it was painted implies a color shift in the fabric itself, and yellow and pink will provide iridescence if woven together. I’ve yet to find a source for how to weave it in period, however something like this would more than likely have been a guild secret so I don’t have high hopes for finding documentation like that. I’m just going to continue to muddle through figuring it out.

So how do you weave something iridescent?

Iridescence is just playing with color theory and string. You need at least two colors, be smarter than me and plan on only two for your first project. You’re welcome. Your colors should be similar color saturation and from different points on the color wheel. If your colors are too different in saturation the lighter color will get lost and if they’re too close on the color wheel then they’ll just look muddy. All iridescent fabric involves two or more contrasting colors, not all fabric with two or more colors will create iridescence.

You want to use a looser sett so that the threads have room to move. If they’re stiff then you won’t get the pockets and folds that highlight one color over the other. So no taffeta or tightly packed twills here folks. Iridescence is all about drape.

You want smooth thread, the smoother the better. Silk is perfect, crochet cotton is lovely, wool is possible but tricky. Smooth and shiny thread helps create the shine we associate with iridescence, and helps keep the sharp lines between colors needed in order for the magic to work. Fuzzy yarn doesn’t allow that to happen.

You want fine thread. The finest you can stand to work with. The more threads you can pack into an inch or cm the smoother the transition between colors will be and the more impressive the effect. You can make something iridescent with heavy yarns, technically. If  you follow all the other rules you can weave something with a color shift, but it’ll be clumsy and read more like stripes than magic. Still technically iridescent! And a wonderful way to learn without the time investment (so.much.time) of itty bitty fiddly silk.

For this sample I used 60/2 silk in Red and Diva Blue from Webs. I could warp it as dense as 55epi (27.5epcm), but to get the drape I needed I kept it at a some what gauzy 40epi average. Final piece ended up being 14×33, which is perfect for me to have the shiniest most obnoxious viking apron panel ever. Which almost makes up for not having the veil I wanted.



Birka Gown, The Making of and Documentation

Here it is! The moment you’ve all been waiting for! And by that I mean I’m actually writing down the last week and providing you my paperwork.

So 8 days prior to Birka I decided to do the fashion show. Why not? I had a woven silk table runner (it was supposed to be something else and epic failed) that I could wear as a front panel, and the simple plan I told you about before. So without further ado, my write up:



A hand stitched blue wool dress sewn with handspun wool and using a bone sewing needle. Dress is embellished at the seams with purple, gold, and blue silk and strapped purple and gold linen and blue hand spun trim adapted from an arguably 10th century Saxon belt find.

Long form documentation:

The dress itself is commercially available wool. The thread count matches the 10th century scraps found under the brooches of “The Lady In Blue” (Ketilsstathir Iceland, uncovered in 1938) of an almost balanced weave of 11 warp threads and 10 weft threads per CM. Chemical analysis of the dress found in the burial indicates a blue dye with a lighter tablet woven band around the top. To mimic such a starting band I have chosen to leave the contrasting color selvadge along the top edge of the gown. The wool selected also follows the Icelandic convention of weaving with unplyed yarn.

The creation of a checkered pattern by alternating different colored yarns in either the warp, weft, or both, is found in early textiles wherever we have existing examples. The commercial wool forming the basis of this project follows the same pattern by having an entirely white warp and alternating pale blue and antique gold weft.

It is unconfirmed whether the textiles in the find were from a blue dyed apron with linen under dress, full gown with linen under dress, or gown with a linen lining. There is also debate as to how the gown, if it was an over gown rather than apron, was constructed.  The three common interpretations of such a gown are:

  1. A pair of rectangles, stitched together at the sides, with side panels inserted for movement, suspended from straps at the shoulders
  2. A pair of rectangles, not stitched together, suspended from straps at the shoulders.
  3. A long tube suspended from straps at the shoulders

I have chosen to create the first option as I find it the most practical for everyday wear. A pair of rectangles, unattached, would flop open. This creates a fire hazard as well as exposing more of the linen under layer to cold air, rather than keeping the torso and body core protected by the warmer wool. A long tube without any gores would need to be baggy along the top edge in order to allow freedom of movement of the legs. This creates the same draft problem as well as making it more likely to bunch and become uncomfortable under the arms. A dress tight enough to avoid armpit bunching and drafts would bind up the legs, making walking and daily work difficult.

The over dress is hand stitched using a bone needle and handspun wool thread. The thread itself has been processed from a raw Icelandic top coat, using combs rather than hand cards in order to produce a hard woolen spun thread. This matches the extant 10th century finds of Icelandinc textiles for spin style (S-spun and used as a single rather than being plyed) as well as type of wool used. The spindle used is a bottom whorl soapstone spindle, with a weight roughly matching the weight of an extant 10th century stone spindle whorl I have in my possession. I have used a stitch length found in Dublin caps of 3-5 mm.

Over dress stitches and needle

Seam Treatments:

There is little evidence for seam embellishment on extant textiles, due in part to how rarely they are found. However I have chosen to add silk herringbone stitches to the seams of the over dress due to references in period texts of rich adornment. Herringbone, being a very simple embroidery stitch, is an excellent candidate for use in seam embellishment as it is unobtrusive to the modern eye. The small stitches on the underside of the fabric also allow it to double as a seam finishing technique as it can be done as part of the period finishing practice of flat felling. This is what I have chosen to do on this gown. The use of a bone needle, rather than a modern metal needle, is carried throughout the seam treatments, back stitched hem, and strap attachment.


Seam treatment detail.

Tablet Weaving:

The straps of the dress was woven using the Cambridge Diamonds pattern. My recreation is a 17 card pattern using the Saxon technique of only turning every other card, every other pick. In other words every odd card was given a quarter turn forwards, the weft was packed, then every even card was turned in the same direction. This elongates the center diamond and creates a sturdy band that has the same pattern on the front and back, making it perfect for structural bands such as straps or belts. In order to ensure the edge was bound correctly to the piece the two edge cards were turned every pick, rather than every other.

The fragment itself was unearthed in 1931 as a double sided linen strip attached to the end of a belt fixture. There is some debate as to the age of the extent example, it is unknown whether it is 10th century Anglo-Saxon or a later medieval piece, but as diamond patterns in textiles are common to nearly every time period and region I am interpreting this pattern as reasonable to the 10th century.

The scrap unearthed shows what appears to be a diamond pattern done in three colors, a dark background color, a second diamond color, and a light color as a highlight and outline around the center diamond. The original find was woven in linen or another bast plant fiber, potentially nettle, and measured roughly 1cm wide.

My textile was created using purple and yellow linen, per the original find, with the addition of hand spun blue wool to create the diamonds. The blue wool was S-spun on the same soapstone spindle used to spin the internal sewing thread. My recreation is wider than the original at 1.5cm wide on average. I elected to use part of the band showing my attempts to reverse engineer the pattern as the back half of a strap in order to show my process in recreating the original.

Original fragment unearthed from St. John Crick’s Field, Cambridge (left) my recreation (right)

Front Panel:

This was woven using a starting band. Starting bands are strips of tablet weaving, from which an extra long “fringe” is suspended, creating the warp for the final textile. This allows the warp to be evenly spaced without the use of a reed, which is required for modern horizontal looms, and is the hallmark of warp weighted loom woven textiles. This piece was woven on a modern horizontal table loom, but with a vertical loom starting band, to mimic the look of 10th century Northern European textiles. The starting band features a common greek key pattern.

The front panel itself was woven as a balanced tabby weave of 30 ends per inch. Tabby was chosen, rather than the more appropriate diamond twill, in order to create stripes with mild iridescence. This is also the reason silk, rather than linen or wool, was chosen as the fiber. Due to contact, through sites such as Birka and trade routes through the Byzantine Empire, with China silk was known to 10th century Northern Europeans. The samples we have are small in size and point towards the thread being used to create trims that could be easily removed and added to new garments. It is unlikely, though not out of the realm of possibility, that a garment the size of this front panel would have been made of silk.

Front panel thread count and starting band


  1. _Viking Age Headcoverings from Dublin_. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 2003

Smith, Michèle Hayeur Excerpt of Bundled up in Blue, the re-investigation of a Viking grave, Publications of the National Museum of Iceland; pp.25-43. 2015. Located under: The Lady in Blue-Bláklædda Konan: the textiles. National Museum of Iceland.

Crowfoot, G.M. (1952). “Anglo-Saxon Tablet Weaving”. The Antiquaries Journal. 32 (3-4): 189–191.

Starting band pattern located at

Østergård, Else. Woven into the Earth: Textiles from Norse Greenland. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2004. Print.

Christensen, Arne Emil; Nockert, Margareta. Osebergfundet IV, Tekstilene. Universitetet i Oslo 2006.

Geijer, Agnes. Die Textilfunde aus den Gräbern. Birka: Untersuchungen und Studien III. Uppsala: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akadamien, 1938.

Lehtosalo-Hilander, Pirkko-Liisa. Ancient Finnish Costumes. Vammala, 1984.

Barber, E. J. W. Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years : Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times. New York: Norton, 1994.
Barber, E J. W. Prehistoric Textiles: The Development of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages with Special Reference to the Aegean. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1991. Print.

Effing Gloves

So a couple months back I find out a dear friend of mine is getting elevated to Master of Defense. This is super awesome and well earned. I offered to help out with anything that needed doing. A hot minute later I got asked to make regalia, specifically gloves. 

I’ve only ever knit gloves before, but I didn’t have time for that. 

I had never worked in leather before (my bog shoes don’t count here.) 

He’s late period, which means super fancy/sparkly. I don’t generally do super flashy. 

Of course I said yes without thinking this through. You guys know me well enough to know that by now.

From the beginning I’d known I’d wanted the gloves to be list legal. MoD is a fencing peerage, so regalia should be able to be fought in (in my opinion, I do not speak for or judge anyone elses views on the subject). So I researched late period leather gloves. And by “researched” I mean “asked someone with a late period persona what the hell I should be looking at.” They pointed me at a pair of white gloves with cutwork and emboridery with beads and couched embellishments. 

Using that as a jumping point I decided to get red leather gloves sent to me (his MoD paid for the gloves since surgery two months back has me pretty cash strapped). Using those as a base I’d line the cuff with white linen, cut his arms into the red so they showed white, and add gold and silver where appropriate. I had the linen, 14ct gold thread, and sterling silver thread. 

Note: metal threads are really just metal foil wrapped around a paper or silk core. This means they are for couching only, not actually embroidering with. If you try to actually sew with them you will strip the metal off. 

So here is what I started with. Plain red leather gloves. First step was to get the excess dye out since I was going to be backing the cuffs in white. And I wanted that to stay white, not turn pink as I worked or as he wore them. So I soaked them in plain water, wrung them out, and let them air dry. This had the added bonus of making the leather super soft and easy to work with. The next step was to void the non-existent warranty and rip the seams out that held the cuff to the hand, and held the cuff in a circle. No turning back now guys.

Now for the cut work. Effingham’s heraldry involved 6 white crosses, and a white slash, with a gold orobouros in the center. That means the cut work is going to be 6 crosses and a slash per glove. I had husband help me for this part since he’s much better than me with a knife.


All cut out.

Now I added the linen since couching the embellishments on would have the effect of securing the linen to the leather.

Note the linen edging at the bottom. MoDs get a white collar as part of their regalia and I wanted to echo that in his gloves. So now we come to the part where I started carrying these around and got less reliable about progress shots. 

The original plan was to couch down the orobouros in gold, then put the three crossed swords of the MoD symbol on the back of the hand. However someone who was doing a different part of the regalia mentioned they were putting the crossed swords inside the orobouros. Which was a cool idea and I clearly needed to match that. Unfortunately I didn’t get that memo until I was almost done with the linen patches I was going to sew to the back of the hand. 

Work not appearing in final product. 

Orobouros roughed in.

One cuff “finished”. I put it in quotes for a reason. Just wait.

Behold what happens when I don’t pay attention.

Sewn together and finished! Right?

No. Why no? Because the day before they were due I decided I wanted to outline the crosses. Note! There is a strand of silver down around the linen edging AND down the cuff seam. I just didn’t get a picture of that. 

Actually done and how they were presented. All hand work aside from reattaching the cuff. 

French Hood: Actually making the thing.

Beloved internet, I am not late period. Aethelflied lived and died before the year 1000. Yet I am led to believe that some of you insist on living after I died, centuries after even. And a few of you even have the nerve, nay the sheer bold faced audacity! To be people I like and want to give textiles to.  So for the purposes of this post, and the one previous on how I made Donovan’s floppy topper, assume Aethelflied found a time machine for the sole purpose of going forward in time to make awesome folks hats. So without further ado I present:

Apprentice Sister’s French Hood

I’ve already posted a lot of documentation for what a French hood is/looks like. So if you’re confused on where I’m pulling this from feel free to check my archives to refresh your memory. I’ll wait.

Back? Awesome.

Ok so, I wove this. So there are going to be a lot of steps here and this is going to be a Long Post. Brace yourselves, get some snacks, maybe a tasty beverage, and buckle up. First we need to figure out how much fabric we need. From there we figure out how much string we need to make the fabric. Then we’ll move on to assembly.

I guessed and patterned off of myself, but if you’re being more meticulous: You want to measure the circumference of the head of the person who is wearing this complicated hat. That’s measurement A. (there’ll be a diagram in a minute ’cause describing this is neigh impossible).  Now, measure from the temple (roughly on level with the eyebrow) down to the cheekbone. That’s measurement B. Measure from just behind the cheekbone, up over the forehead where you want the hat to sit, over to the same point on the other side of the face. That’s measurement C.

Now we’re going to pattern the paste (that’s the bottom headband bit the crescent sits on). It’s going to be roughly this shape:


Measurement A is the long bottom curve, measurement B is how far those two doinky bits come forward, measurement C is that front curve. Plot those measurements on graph paper and rough in the shape. Do your best, we’re building a pattern for a freaky shape with no right to exist. It won’t be utterly perfect but it should be symmetrical. Keep adjusting the angle of the doinky bit until the center of that measurement and the front curve are right. Then draw in those little side curves,  they need to be deep enough to go above your ear comfortably.

Cut this out of paper, yes I know this is the first time I’d advocating making an actual pattern, that’s how you know it’s a big deal. So, cut this out of paper and lay it on your head the way the finished piece will lie. The two long arms get wrapped around your head to meet at the bottom back, where your skull and neck meet. The doinky bits should lie on your cheeks, with the arch above your ears. Once you’ve mastered that magic set the paste pattern aside.


(See? Arching up and over the ear)

Now we’re going to pattern the crescent (the flashy headband bit). Measure from just in front of your ear (where the paste we just made starts to arch) up along your hairline (where the front of the paste lies when you’re wearing it), to the same front of the ear point on the other side of your head. That measurement is the bottom of your crescent. You’ll need to curve it slightly. The deeper the curve the taller your crescent will end up after you sew it on.

Once you’ve got that measured/drawn out, measure 2.5 -3in straight up from the center point in the arch and make a little mark. Make a second curve from the outer points of your existing curve up to that center point. That’s your crescent. Pictured in the first photo right below the paste.

Now to determine how much fabric you need.

Fabric for stiffening:

Enough to cut out two copies of the paste, and two copies of the crescent. For my sister’s hood that was about 1/2 yard of heavy weight linen. Some people will advocate using buckram. I’ve never used it before and didn’t have any. I had linen. So that’s what I’m going to walk you through, if you want to use buckram there are plenty of tutorials that will assume that’s where you’re starting. I suggest reading through them then coming back here and ignore the stiffening step. But I’m not referring to it again, got it? Good.

Fabric for shell/fancy fabric:

Enough to cut out a copy of the paste (plus 1/2 in all around seam allowance), a copy of the crescent (plus 1/2 in all around seam allowance), and a veil 1in wider than the outer curve of your crescent, and 22-26 inches long. This is what I wove on a table loom, so my measurements are a bit weird. That being said I needed one length of fabric that was 15in x 12in for the paste and crescent and one 45in x 12in that I cut in half and seamed for the veil.

Fabric for lining/backing:

Enough to cut out a copy of the paste (plus 1/2 in all around seam allowance), a copy of the crescent (plus 1/2 in all around seam allowance). I used the same fabric for this as I did for the stiffening and got out of the same half yard.

So total fabric shopping list:

-1 yard of 45in black silk (if you’re buying commercial)

-1/2 yard of black linen

Additional needs:

-Sufficient beads/pearls to edge the crescent and the front of the paste (around the doinky bits and across the brow) For me that was 3 15in long strands of cultured freshwater pearls.

– a length of ribbon long enough to box pleat along the front edge of the paste (45in for me)

-18 gauge jeweler’s wire, enough to edge the entire crescent and the entire outer edge of the paste (10ft for me)

-Super strong thread

-A curved tapestry needle (I didn’t use one. This made me sad and my hands hurt. Trust me. Get one)

-Plain school glue. I used the clear gel kind.


So now we know how much fabric we need. I wove the shell and veil, which came out to a needing a chunk of fabric 60in x 12in wide, as well as a 1/4in wide ribbon 45in long. Because I was going to have to seam the center of the veil anyway I warped the ribbon as one of the selvedges with intent to cut that off and use the raw edge as the center seam of the veil and tuck the raw edge of the ribbon into the paste.


50 epi for 12 in = 600 strands.

60 + 10% (take up) + 18 (loom waste) = 84in (I rounded up to 100 because I’m paranoid.)

600*84 = 50400/36 = 1400 yards of thread needed for the warp.

50ppi at 12in long for 60in = 36000/36=1000 yards needed for weft.

Total: 2400 yards of 60/2 silk thread.

Spend the next two – three months weaving the fabric. Then move on to the next step.


(sewing pin for scale)


Making the paste:

  1. Cut out the two pieces for the stiffened inners of the paste.
  2. Make a solution of 1 part glue, 4 parts water
  3. Soak the pieces in the glue water, lay them flat (one on top of the other to stick them together) on wax paper and leave them to dry. Set this aside for now.
  4. Cut out the lining and shell pieces.
  5. Stitch them together along the interior edge (the part that goes around your head.) Set that aside for now.
  6. Take your dry stiffened bit and sew jeweler’s wire along the exterior edge. (from the back point of one leg, along the sides, along the doinky bits, along the front, and to the back point of the other leg. Use an awl for this. Trust me)
  7. Gently bend the stiffened, wired, internals into shape. Keep putting it on your head until it’s sitting comfortably in the right spot.
  8. Slide this into the shell/lining with the lining on the bottom side.
  9. Carefully, using as invisible a stitch as you can, stitch the open edge closed, tucking the raw edges into the internals. Set your paste aside.

Adding the wire^^

Making the crescent:

  1. Cut out the two pieces for the stiffened inners of the crescent.
  2. Make a solution of 1 part glue, 4 parts water
  3. Soak the pieces in the glue water, lay them flat (one on top of the other to stick them together) on wax paper and leave them to dry. Set this aside for now.
  4. Cut out the lining and shell pieces.
  5. Stitch the shell and lining together along the upper edge.
  6. Stitch the jewelers wire around the entire dry, stiffened internal piece.
  7. Gently bend the internal into shape
  8. slide the internal into the pocket made by shell and lining (lining to the back)
  9. Carefully, using as invisible stitch as you can, stitch the bottom of the crescent closed, tucking the raw edges in.


Crescent shell, ready to have the wire innards stuffed in ^^

Final assembly:

  1. Thread and knot all your beads or pearls onto a length of silk (OR! use very thin floral wire for about 174% less frustration later. I didn’t. This was a hint I got after my pearls were knotted on the silk)
  2. Align the center of the crescent with the center front of the paste.
  3. Gently bend the crescent into place
  4. Using the hooked needle (you bought one right?) sew the crescent to the paste. This will be a difficult, pain the ass process. Just go into it expecting it.
  5. Hem your veiling.
  6. Stitch your pearls or beads (this is called a biliment for a random factoid) along both edges of your crescent and the front of the paste.
  7. Pleat and iron the ribbon
  8. Stitch your ribbon along the underside of the bottom of the front of the paste
  9. Sew on your veil.


Done! Finally! This is a lot of finicky handwork. But, if you’re fond of late period hats then it’s worth the work. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m getting back into my time machine and going back to 950 C.E. when clothes make sense and hats take less than 3 months to make.


That… did not go as expected.

So my last post (way back in mid-April, remember?) I talked about weaving silk. I laid out all my glorious plan for how this was going to go and how beautiful the finished project was going to be, ect. Well…


  1. I miswarped the first time. So I tried to solve this problem by tying on additional warp when I approached the end of my first one.
  2. That was an epic failure. I needed to pull it all off the loom and rewarp like a smart not-corner-cutting person.
  3. Pearls take a long time to knot onto silk thread.
  4. Silk thread is super fine and does not want to form knots wide enough to not slide back out of the pearls.
  5. Sewing through stiffened linen is super hard guys. I don’t like it. Sewing around wire is also less than pleasant.
  6. Pleats are hard yo.

That being said”

I made my apprentice sister a french hood. Because I love her very much and she needed a hat just as glorious as the fancy dress she recently acquired AND something worthy of sitting atop her awesomeness. I think I came close and I really hope she likes it.

Materials 1/2 yard x 12in 54epi silk for the shell on the crescent and paste. 20×21 35epi silk veil. 1in x 40in 60epi silk ribbon (red). Roughly 1/2 yard of (commercial) linen for the lining and to stiffen for the interior structural bits. 10 ft of wire, 45 inches of 1cm freshwater pearls.

Total cost: ~$200 not counting time.

Total hours: sweet merciful Loki. I averaged 1in an hour weaving time and spent about 30 hours total warping. So 88 hours weaving/warping total. Sewing took about 10 hours. Knotting and applying the pearls took about 6 hours all told. Patterning/cutting materials/stiffening the linen was about 4-5 hours actual work. Let’s say 5, I tend to under state my labor.

88+10+6+5= 111 hours. Give or take.

For a hat. A really awesome hat.

French Hood

Created by Lady Ǣthelflied Brewbane

The design for this piece taken from a portrait of Anne Boleyn showing a black French hood trimmed in pearls and edged with an orangey red pleated ribbon.  I have chosen to recreate this hood in handwoven black silk taffeta, red silk satin ribbon, and cultured pearls.

Original ^18698950_1529308743760396_786930571_o

My recreation ^

We’ve found cloth ranging from 15 to 100 epi per Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450. In an effort to recreate this I aimed for 50 epi when weaving the covering, lining, veil, and ribbon. I have woven the covering, lining, and veil in a simple tabby weave to produce taffeta per  “Anatomy of the Abuses in England” (1583) by Phillip Stubbes:

… on toppe of these stately turrets (I meane their goodly heads wherin is more vanitie than true Philosophie now and than) stand their other capitall ornaments, as french hood, hat, cappe, kercher, and suche like; wheof some be of veluet, some of taffatie, some (but few) of woll, some of this fashion, some of that, and some of this color, some of that, according to the variable fantasies of their serpentine minds. And to such escesse is it growen, as every artifices wife (almost) wil not stick to goe in her hat of Veluet everye day, every marchants wyfe and meane Gentlewomen in her french-hood, and everye poore Cottagers Daughter in her taffatie hat, or els of woll at least, wel lined with silk, veluet or taffatie. …

The silk taffeta on the shell of the paste and crescent came out to a finished thread density of 54epi. The ribbon is an average of 60epi,  and the veil was woven at 35-40epi to allow for a lighter fabric.

A simple weave, and coarser thread count, would keep costs down in creation of this piece as well as speed production. As today, fashion follows the rich, and it is not out of the realm of possibility that a gentlewoman would commission a hood in the style of one worn by the queen. Therefore it would behoove an enterprising merchant to be able to produce one quickly and comparably cheaply.

The stiffened paste and crescent that forms the center shape of the hood is composed of three layers of heavy linen canvas.  These layers are edged in 14 gauge jewelry wire to help maintain the shape of the hood and support the weight of the veil. Though we have no surviving extant French Hoods we have found wire shaping for English Gable Hoods, the direct predecessor of the French Hood, making it safe to assume French Hoods would have been constructed in a similar fashion.


Textiles and Clothing 1150 -1450 Elisabeth Crowfoot, Frances Pritchard, and Kay Staniland.

Museum of London Publication, 1992. 2001 Reprint.ISBIN 9-781-84383-239-3


The French Hood: What it is and is not Lady Alliette Delecourt mka Irina Lubomirska Accessed 3/25/2017.


Anatomy of the Abuses in England in Shakespeare’s Youth A.D 1583 Phillip Stubbes. Accessed on 3/25/2017.


Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years Elizabeth Wayland Barber.

Norton Press, 1994. ISBIN 0-393-31348-4.



Cord Making

So last post I mentioned that there would be a post forth coming regarding the physical process of making cord in the two methods that I know.

Method One (by virtue of me learning it first): Lucet

A lucet is a fork looking tool with two tines, it generally looks like a wooden tuning fork. But they can be made out of wood, bone, horn, plastic, ect. Basically anything rigid. They also don’t have to be fork shaped. This is mine:


This is going to be picture heavy because trying to explain how this works is… well… words are hard yo.

Step one: Make a slip knot and loop it over one of your tines (or dragon legs as the case may be) BUT DO NOT PULL IT TIGHT. That’s important.


Step 2: Flip your lucet counterclockwise a full turn. Why counterclockwise? Because that’s how I do it and you always need to flip in the same direction or else you won’t be able to tighten the knot you’re making down enough to make cord. You should now have your slip knot, a loop of yarn around the other leg, and a loop around the leg the slip knot is on. Like this:


Step 3: Carefully pull your slip knot up over the loop of yarn above it and off the leg entirely.


Step 4: Now you can pull the tail of your slip knot and tighten it down. That’ll form your first chain/cord/link thing.


Step 5: Turn your lucet counter clockwise half a turn so that you have a new loop of yarn on the opposite leg.


Step 6: Pull the bottom loop over the top loop and off the leg.


Step 7: Wiggle the existing cord back and forth to tighten down the loop  you just de-legged.


Repeat steps 5-7 as many times as you need to get the length of cord you want OR until you run out of yarn. This is the simpliest cord pattern you can do for a lucet. If you use google you’ll find all kinds of other patterns and ways of doing it. I like this one because it’s easy and gives a nice, sturdy, square cord.


Method Two: Weird double loopy thing I never learned the proper name for AKA Why-Aethelflied-can’t-name-things

This method uses two strands (I’m using contrasting colors for you to see clearly because I’m nice like that) but no other tools.

Step 1: Make a slip knot in each of your two threads. Slide one over the pointer finger of your left hand. Why left? Because that’s how I start.


Step 2: Take the index finger of your other hand and slide it through the loop in the same direction as the finger on hand one.


Step 3: Loop the second thread over finger 2


Step 4: Pull finger 2 and thread two through loop 1


Step 5: Tighten loop 1 around thread 2.

Finger and thread 2 now become finger and thread 1. Repeat steps 2-5 until cord is as long as you want or you run out of yarn. This method (very quickly) produces a nice round cord.


Pros and Cons:

Method 1 is easier to pick up and put down for long periods of time. And (since it only uses one strand) you don’t have to measure out your materials exactly. It also gives you multiple patterns, as opposed to method 2 where you’re limited to creating pattern by switching up your yarns. That being said I prefer method 2. I find it faster and easier and gentler on my hands.



This, my darling beloveds, is the process of making wool cordage. My laurel uses cord to wrap the grips of his fencing swords before applying a layer of leather over it. This is arguably a period process and so I got it into my head one day that I was going to help.

By making him handspun cord. Because I am a crazy person.

I decided to make worsted spun singles, over ply them to make them as smooth and strong as possible, and the either lucet or loop cord them. Tutorials for both those processes will come at a later date. I decided to start this process with some locks of mystery long wool I have. Namely? This:


I pull out the individual locks and comb them to keep the fibers all running in the same direction. This is what makes it worsted spinning rather than woolen (which is what you get when you card wool and let the fibers run all willy-nilly). Combing sounds so quaint and gentle doesn’t it? Like softly running your fingers through someone’s hair, or lovingly brushing out a cat.

These? Are wool combs.


Let that be a lesson not to anger fiber artists.


The next step is to take the combed out locks and spin them, being careful to keep the fibers all going in the same direction and the yarn as tightly spun with a little air and as few nepps as possible.


Then you ply your singles:


(yes that is 2 ply. Singles were about the diameter of sewing thread)

Then comes the actual cord making. I had initially opted to use a lucet. However this? Was a slow pain in the butt and not an effective use of handspun. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy lucting, it’s fun and makes a sturdy cord. However it also makes a square cord. This doesn’t make for very good sword grip texture as I think it would end up flattening out and just not working as intended. You really do need a round cord in order to get the proper ridges. So looped cord worked a lot better.

However? I am not very bright and did not take a picture of either the process of making the looped cord OR THE FINISHED CORD. So have a picture of me trying to lucet this.


(yes my lucet is a dragon. Don’t judge.)

Haversack for Magnus

Come on guys, you didn’t think I just did words did you?

Haversacks or pilgram’s bags aren’t really documentable for either Magnus or me, but they’re damn useful and SCA appropriate regardless of persona. This is the project that made me realize my idea of ‘effort’ has gotten really skewed. I don’t feel like I put a lot of effort into this because I used modern needles and polyester thread for structural seams.

Never mind that it’s black linen, lined in raw silk, hand stitched with fully finished seams on both the lining and the shell, with a hand woven strap based on some trim located in a find contemporary to his period. Or that the embroidered panel on the front was designed by his (sneaky, clever, and wonderful) lady and embroidered with silk, linen, 14ct gold and sterling silver. Nope, clearly no effort since I didn’t spin or use period tools. Yes I can feel your eyeroll and recognize I’ve earned it.

Anyway. Pictures!



Boast for the Knighting of Sir Magnus Refsson

Make a path for / Magnus Refsson
Ravenous flock / ravens, murder
Feasting in his footsteps/ faithful sword Thane
Dauntless defender / of dragon crown

Honor prizing / oathkeeper he
Weighs full well all / words and dealings.
Swift bright sword of / Ser Nikolai
Fells his foes as a / fox amid hens.

Red company’s / captain titled
Honored well with / order of vanguard
Displaying valor / dragon’s tooth earned.
Now kneels to throne/ knighthood attained.

This is done in Saxon verse which is (to be perfectly honest) not right for Magnus’s persona but it’s right for mine and I was the one speaking it. This was done as a boast to herald him into court. The original version was much less polished, as rough drafts tend to be.

Make clear path for / Magnus Refssen
Ravenously / ravens take to flight
Feasting in his / footsteps. Mighty
Defender of / fierce dragon crown
Swift sure sword of / sage Nikolai
Fells his foes as a/ fox amid hens
About the only line that got kept was the last line of verse 2, because his heraldry is a fox and Refssen is “son of the fox” so that imagery needed to stay. The rest of it? Well, let’s red pen this line by line.
Make clear path for /Magnus Refssen
The biggest issue with this line? The beat pattern makes the alliteration muddy. I needed to keep M as the alliteration since I was using his name as the second half line, which means I was pretty much stuck with Make as the first word. Clear needed to go away since it was another hammer beat and that made this way too front loaded.
Ravenously / ravens take to flight
My laurel has an issue with single word half lines. Which means I needed more words for the first half line. It was also pointed out that the imagery of birds taking flight didn’t work with the next line and we needed to make them land some how.
Feasting in his / footsteps. Mighty
This line is a hot metrical mess. Footsteps wants to be before the half line not after, and while wrapping phrases is a Thing in Saxon poetry the phrase generally starts at either the line break or the start of the second half line.
Defender of / fierce dragon crown
This was ok -ish as far as metrics. But clunky and awkward and really didn’t work well with the first word of the sentence being in the proceeding line.
Swift sure sword of / sage Nikolai
Again not bad, but the “of” wants to be part of the second half line, and using “sage” as a descriptor for someone you have never met and know next to nothing about is always a bit dicey.
Fells his foes as a / fox amid hens.
I love it, it’s perfect, I didn’t change a thing.
Other issues with the rough draft:
It was two lines and a verse too short. This is why we have editors people.

Wrist cuffs

So I altered what I was doing for my wrist cuffs because I decided that for the really fancy ones I’m weaving out of my own handspun and embroidering with silver and gold I really want silvered clasps. I currently have bronze. BUT! I have a length of handwoven trim that a friend of mine gifted me way back in March at coronation that I hadn’t yet done anything with. This was just enough (literally the perfect length) to edge the neckline of my under dress and make a pair of cuffs. So I now have a lovely and finished pair of wrist cuffs in a trim that resembled blue and cream tiger stripes. And since I live in the East and our symbol is a blue tiger…

Materials: One set of clasps bought from Raymond’s Quiet Press at Pennsic.

Roughly one foot total of hand woven trim (I have tiny wrists)

Linen thread

Bronze needle (My bone needles are too thick to fit through the holes in the clasp)