Information on tapestries!
Johanna, Tatsume, Sabine and Teleri attending. Good eats! In addition to personal conversation, we also talked about diversity in the SCA and the possibility of a SENEA-like focus group to work that. Teleri returned Johanna's silk belt, embroidered using techniques that Lady Sabine taught way back at the start of SENEA, and also nalbound and felted socks.
Work the night of the dinner:
Boar Stew: Two thumbs up! Good porky flavor, nice balance with greens, wheat provided good chew. Stupid thyme was totally worth the effort, added good flavor. Questions on whether this could be a feast or camp meal - might be worth trying a one-pot version.
Buttered Turnips: Were buttered turnips. Perfectly acceptable, but nobody's going to be asking for the leftovers. I don't think the teaball of thyme made much of an impression.
Cheese and Berries with Honey: Simple, light and fresh-tasting. Apparently my years-long objection to ricotta only applies to Mom's Inside-Out Manacotti.
Honey Drink: Sweet, with just a small acid note from the apple juice. Straw color, slightly cloudy from juice - looked reasonably mead-y in a glass horn. Better than the oxymel last year, but unremarkable. I think this dinner really wanted beer.
Bread and Brie: Lady Sabine brought some really choice breads and an herbed brie spread prepared by that same skilled manservant as last year, Harris le Teeter.
Waes hael, SENEA! Here's to another year.
I am cooking the annual dinner, taking some pages from An Early Meal (AEM). The AEM recipes are for four, and I'm having 5-6, so I doubled them. Le menu:
And Lady Sabine is bringing some bread.
Had I gotten my act together earlier, I could have had boar and wheat berries for this. As it is, we're having pork shoulder (2 lb, darker, more flavorful than pork loin) and einkorn wheat (1 lb box purchased). Einkorn is an ancient wheat variety that was mutated or cross-bred into bread wheat. I could not find wheat berries for love or money, even in Whole Foods. I used to be able to buy them at Weis. Maybe they are no longer 'on trend'? The dish also calls for kale (2 lb) and wild leeks (1+ lb, although it trimmed down to less). I don't know how wild leek compares to cropleek, but the picture for this dish looks as much like a pottage as a stew - everything cut rather small. Big inch-wide rounds of cropleek didn't seem to go, so I bought spring onions/scallions. There was no pancetta at the store, but there was salt pork (4-5 oz), and my Internetting tells me that those are approximately equivalent? I mean, bacon would have worked, too. The recipe also called for ground mustard seed (3 Tb) and fresh thyme.
Night before prep:
One of those "no duh" recipes. Boil turnips (3 lb), mash with butter. I cut the root tip off of a turnip while I did some other prep, and it didn't seem to turn brown. So I peeled and chopped my turnips.
Cheese with Berries and Honey
The dessert course. I thought about making fresh cheese, but just punted and bought 28 oz of ricotta. I got frozen blackberries (2 lb) rather than fresh - first, less expensive. But second and more importantly, the frozen ones are usually smaller and more flavorful than the big but watery fresh ones, and closer to the wild blackberries my grandpa used to pick. Wildflower honey. It's just all going on the table and folks can have what they like from it - plain berries, berries on cheese, cheese with honey, etc. My prep here was just to leave the bags of berries in the fridge to thaw.
Ann Hagen suggests, in one of her Food and Drink in Anglo-Saxon England books, that an unfermented drink of water boiled with honey may have been drunk as well as fermented mead. I could have made Mistress Sorcha's quick mead recipe if I'd thought about it ahead of time, but I didn't, so... honey drink.
I go back and forth with serving this or cold maythe (chamomile) tea.I like chamomile, but a lot of people don't. Also, it's not at all clear that a tincture of maythe would have been drunk as a beverage.
Patricia and Teleri in attendance.
Teleri covered the material in her lyre class: information on the tuning of lyres; ways to hold the instrument; playing techniques; ideas for performance. We chatted a bit about the possible overlap between six-stringed lyres and five-stringed kankles (CAHNK-las, not CANK-uls).
Kantele Shop - Buy a Baltic five-stringed instrument
Kantele Music - Music and how-to guides for Baltic five-stringed instruments
Michael J. King - English maker of lyres and other instruments. Excellent historical reconstructions, priced accordingly.
Master Dofinn's and Mistress Thora Sharptooth's original lyre page - I don't know anyone in the SCA who's interested in lyres who didn't either start here or get here really fast
Sabine, Patricia, Tatsume and Teleri attending.
We spun! We spun El Cheapo Generic Starter Roving; we spun two-coated Jacob sheep wool. We spun with top-weighted spindles and bottom-weighted spindles. We spun with a modern dragon spindle weight and historical clay spindle weights. We spun wool from the hand and wool from a distaff. We spun thick and we spun thin.
Techniques were shared for dressing the distaff; for re-connecting your spinning thread to your wool after the thread breaks; for finishing skeins of yarn. We tried using hooks, half-hitches and nothing at all to secure the thread prior to spinning. We watched some YouTube videos of traditional Eastern European spinners and wondered about the SCA's Central/South American-derived drop spindle technique vs. what we see in manuscripts (and Eastern European nonnas).
Attending: Johanna, Tatsume, Patricia, Teleri
We made molds for casting. Johanna brought cuttlefish bone and carved a negative mold. Everyone played with Play-Doh to 'carve' positive molds for use in sand casting.
Casting next month!
Johanna, Tatsume, Brittney, Patricia, and Teleri attending.
Teleri taught a quick class on Anglo-Saxon alliterative poetry. Notes available here.
We are going to do pewter casting next. It'll be one-sided casting. You can cast whatever smallish thing you like, but I had fun making a seal for KASF. My documentation on it is here, and it's slanted to Anglo-Saxon England, as usual. Of the small collection of seals I used as sources, most have pictures of people, but one does have a geometric symbol (so, kind of like a heraldic charge? Maybe?)
The Bathild Seal Matrix is another fantastic example. One side has a very lively figure, simply drawn but full of energy, that historians have thought might be Woden or Christ but seriously, why couldn't it just be Bathild herself?
Anyhow, the docs are offered just as inspiration, so you can kick around some ideas on things you might want to cast. I'm going to look into carving wax, but I used Play-Doh for KASF and it worked surprisingly well!
Getting ready for Sword, Stitch and Song with a lovely Birka ensemble! We spent time mostly on the smokkr, tablet weaving, and the cloak.
We fussed about with the trial smokkr we made a couple months ago, figuring out the steps to make it. Workflow will be very important at the event, so we need to go smoothly step by step to make quick progress and not waste time on stitches that will have to be torn out.
My blue wool is juuuuust big enough, so we'd best measure twice and cut once.
I tried on Baroness Janina's smokkr for fit; it was looser and more flared than our current mock up, and actually felt very nice to wear. It's a totally different pattern, though, and I don't know that we want to go off in that direction this close to the event. The current pattern works well enough.
Tatsume worked on the belt design, timing herself to get a feel for how long a complete belt would take to weave. It's going at a foot an hour, so she can weave it onsite. It looks great, and the pack idling technique is giving a really firm, dense weave that will stand up to belt duties.
Meisterin Johanna recommends a band of some kind around the top of the smokkr as a construction element, I think because of the mismatch between my short-waisted back and my large-chested front. It could be made out of the same wool, but Tatsume will warp up a loom with the Oseberg threaded-in pattern, and if there's time, we'll make a woven band for that purpose.
The brocaded band will be used for the headpiece.
Tatsume's belt tablet weaving sample makes a lovely border for the top edge of the cloak! We will go with the iconic rectangular cloak. Meisterin Johanna showed that we could pleat the center back (15" of pleating) to make it fit better and hang more nicely.
Display and Documentation
I'll continue to write the draft documentation (since I have all the sources) but we will leverage Patricia's real-life journalistic experience for revisions and editing. The "shock and awe" of last year's 19-page opus will not be repeated; fine details like threads/cm can be left out.
We will have some sort of poster or display to highlight and define parts of our project.
Veil linen should be soaked/gently washed, ironed, and spray starched.
Wools should go to the dry cleaners, get cleaned and pressed. (I accept responsibility for only dry cleaning my outer garments forever after.)
Gown linen needs ironed or pressed.
Brocade needs soaked in water to test color-fastness. (Belt wool has already been tested in boiling water, passes with flying colors - even the red threads.)
Hat tip to Kender for pointing this out! Free entire books in many cases; some of the ones still in print may be previews, I'm not sure.
The Glory of Byzantine Art and Culture: Okay, it's not northern, but Byzantine style and fashion trickled down to the rest of the world. Also, their silks were absolutely prized up North, and I am interested in finding out more about those.
Herbs for the Medieval Household for Cooking, Healing, and Divers Uses: Looks like it may be not exactly early, and it's old, but I'm a sucker for herbals.
Medieval Art: A resource for educators. Looks like good coverage on early artistic movements, examples of various arts, and a pedagogical slant that might be helpful.
Medieval Art in Private Collections: No idea what part of period it covers, but stuff in 'private collections' seems unlikely to be available randomly on the Internet, so this might be worth a look later.
Medieval Sculpture at the Met, 800-1400: Even if sculpture is not a common SCA art, they make good references for garb
The Metropolitan Museum of Art,vol 3: Europe in the Middle Ages: Random sampling of period artifacts, might have cool stuff in it
Mirror of the Medieval World: Content relevant to our interests
Treasures from Ancient Kiev: Maybe for Rus Vikings?
Two Carolingian Ivories: What it says on the tin
Patricia, Sabina, Morton, Ilaria, Tatsume, Johanna and Teleri all in attendance.
Wires were woven and pulled through draw plates. Morton demonstrated how to make finishing cones from a piece of white metal (aluminum? tin? it's a mystery) acquired from Home Depot.
Ilaria mentioned wanting to learn how to do lucet.
Next month: Viking dress, in support of Garb Wars.