Welcome to Madame Perronnelle de Croy’s home on the web. Within the SCA I play a middle 12th century Frenchwoman from the northwest or Brittany region. This is my collection of esoteric knowledge and experiences within that august organization. Please feel free to look around, comment, and learn. While the offerings are meager at this time I am hoping to continue to add to this collection as time goes on. If you have any questions or input please feel free to contact me using the “Contact Me” link in the top right corner. Thank you and enjoy!
I’ve finally gotten around to putting my daughter’s dress together. I apologize in advance for slightly blurry pictures. I took them with my phone and for whatever the reason I couldn’t get a clear shot when I was putting the thing together. All of these are thumbnails. You can click on them to see them in better detail.
First I have to address the need to wash fabric before cutting. On one of the Facebook groups that I follow some recently asked if it was really necessary to wash and iron fabric before drawing the pattern and cutting. The answer is a resounding YES. For the reasons behind this, see this post on care and use of fabric. Wash and iron the fabric, you’ll thank yourself later. Another note while I’m here: I tend to do a bobbin thread of a different color. This is left over from my theater days. If you had to take something apart you wasted less time hunting for the thread. So I do have a pink thread for top stitching and a cream thread for the bobbin. The fabric is a stash remnant from someone in my local group. She was cleaning out her stash and came up with wool and linen remnants. It smelled a little like moth balls but I was able to wash that out easily. (More on that here)
I began with the layout of my daughter’s Eura dress. As I said in the previous post, I wasn’t too careful about length on the torso since I’m planning to tuck it up anyways. It’s important to note that the material is folded in half, end to end. The full piece of fabric is 42 inches long and 45 inches selvage to selvage.
Always double check your measurements and don’t forget to add seam allowance to the body measurements. A 1/2 inch seam allowance is standard for the modern fashion industry and fine for adults whose body weight doesn’t fluctuate. For children and for myself I tend to use 5/8 inch. It allows you to let out the seam as the kids grow, which is useful.
Once I’ve double checked it all, I cut the pieces apart. Three cuts and I have all the pieces for the dress. Its part of the reason I love this pattern. I took the pieces and laid them out just to make sure everything looks right before I start to sew it together. The two sleeves meet in the middle of the torso and overlap while one of the gores is running up the left side of the torso and underarm of the left sleeve.
- Hem the widest part of the sleeve.
I cheat when hemming and use a hemming “board” or piece of card stock with lines on it marking a narrow width of 1/4 inch, fashion standard of 1/2 inch, and costumer’s standard 5/8 inch. For something like this I can simply iron 1/4 inch hem, fold, and iron 1/4 inch again and I won’t need to pin the thing before I sew it. This is really handy and if you have spray starch handy you can hem even larger things this way. It is faster and nine times out of ten it means I can whip it through the machine without having to worry about a single pin. That’s always a bonus to me. Since I made such a narrow hem on this my stitching is only 1/8 of a inch.
- Hem the wrist portion. I don’t happen to have a picture of this because as it happens my wrist is on the selvage. I’m not going to make more work for myself than necessary.
But! This is when it should be done if you are using a machine. Hemming wrist openings by had isn’t hard but it’s also not one of the things I tend to want to spend time on. If you wait until the sleeve is closed you won’t be able to do it by machine because the opening will be too narrow.
- **A side note: Gores typically extend to the wrist but since I didn’t want to do any unnecessary stitching I ended the gore early. See Bleow.**
- Attach the sleeve to the torso portions. Find the center of each torso piece and mark it. Next take the widest hemmed edge and (the part that will make the V) and place it right side to right side, just to the opposite edge of the direction the sleeve is going in. If you look at the dress pieces laid out in the picture earlier on: the sleeve going off to the left is placed just to the right of the center mark.
The right sleeve is placed just to the left of the center mark.
- Next add the gores. I tend to add them from the hem to the wrist. I like having a roomy skirt and usually I don’t need any additional room in the sleeve past my elbow so I taper the gores to reflect that. I did this with my daughter’s as well. You can see this in the picture below.
- Hem it. Now because this particular dress stretched from selvage to selvage I didn’t have to hem it. This is a simple added bonus in this case. It means I will have extra length and I may end up having to add another tuck. It’s not the end of the world though since I will likely get additional life out of the garment.
The dress is complete but I haven’t had a chance to pop it over my daughter’s head and see how the length is. There will be another post I suppose with the finished product. I do have more pictures of smaller details below.
This post stem from a post that I recently saw com up on one of the Facebook groups that I follow. The question was whether or not fabric should be washed before being cut.
The idea of not washing it and then I had to stop and consider: everyone is new at some point and not everyone has grown up sewing. To that end I’ve thought I would spit out my general practices for fabric care made from natural fibers such as wool, linen, and cotton.
First I have to address the need to wash fabric before cutting. New (or even new-to-you) fabric should always be washed on the hottest setting and dried the same to get all of the sizing out of the fabric.
Sizing? What’s that? The sizing substance is added to fabric before the weaving of the fabric to reduce fiber breakage during the process out. The sizing can also cause the fabric to be scratchy and stiff and no one likes that. In addition some fabrics have a tendency to shrink after washing (or de-sizing). The last thing anyone wants is to put time and effort in making something only to find out after the first wash that your clothing doesn’t fit.
Pre-shrunk fabric is not exempt. I’ve learned this one the hard way. Don’t assume that any preshrunk fabric is not going to shrink. NEVER ASSUME. It can come back to bite you.
What to Wash With
For the initial washing most any gentle detergent is fine. I happen to use Dreft (laundry soap for children) but anything without bleach is good. It does a great job at getting the sizing out and really is just a mental thing for me.
To make natural fibers last longer though I do successive washes with an all-in-one shampoo and conditioner. I happen to have several half empty bottles of Aveeno baby wash/shampoo that I am using up. If you don’t have anything in the house you can pick from anything on the supermarket shelf. You even have your choice of scents.
Why shampoo? Shampoo is much more gentle than most laundry detergent, for one, and works just as well as detergent to get things clean. Secondly, because these are natural fibers, the combined conditioner makes the fabric softer, much nicer to the touch.
Stains and Problem Spots
Moth Balls: I have been gifted wool and linen before or have found them but they smell like moth balls. You want to use it but you can’t get past the smell. It’s okay! You can get rid of it.
- 2 Parts vinegar to 1 part baking soda
- Wash on the hottest setting
- Wash one more time with soap.
If the smell persists do another hot wash with the soda and vinegar.
Grease: These stains can often be the toughest to take out. The bulk of the ones I tend to have to deal with are cooking grease stains. Oil, fat, etcetra. There are a couple of things that work well.
- Chalk – plain, white classroom chalk rubbed into the offending stain will remove the majority of things and it is gentle on fabric.
- Dawn Dish soap – old school blue dawn dish soap is fantastic. They use it to remove oil from birds and animals caught in oil spills so getting grease out of clothing is easy as pie. I recommend putting several drops onto the stain, rubbing it in, and letting it sit for a bit for optimum results.
- Hydrogen Peroxide & Dawn – For the toughest grease stains (and just about anything else) this is a miracle worker. 2 Parts hydrogen peroxide to 1 part dawn. The mix will turn white/clear which is normal. I keep it in a spray bottle for easy use. Before any use, test a small area where it won’t be noticed. I haven’t run into any reactions and the only thing I’ haven’t tested it on is silk. Pre-treat the stain and let sit for a while. For more severe stains let it sit overnight.
Yellowing: This tends to happen with whites or near white garments. Usually it’s due to oils. Veils, barbettes, and other items that touch the face and armpits are prone to this. My solution?
- Hydrogen Peroxide & Dawn – It’s better than Oxi Clean and I’ve had a lot of success in using this mix (see above) to bring my veils back to new.
Ironing is nearly as important as washing. There are times, when making up an early period dress, I can get away with taking the fabric out of the dryer as soon as the machine buzzes. However, this is definitely not best practice. Ironing the fabric before transferring your pattern ensures that your pattern will be true. If you have wrinkles in the fabric when you draft your pattern onto it, your pattern will be off. The more wrinkles, the more off your pattern will be. For a simple t-tunic this may not be a big deal. However, I would not recommend ignoring this step for fitted garments.
For now I think I’ve hit on all the major items. As I find more tricks and such I’ll post them here. If you have some tricks you’d like to share, make sure you post them below!
So it’s been a while since I began this run of posts but I’m finally getting around to posting my daughter’s dress and it’s progress.
The fist part and sometimes the hardest part (for me) is picking out material. In this particular case I was looking for an underdress piece that was roughly 34 inches by 44 inches unwashed.
The pink in the picture to the left is going to be the Eura dress and the blue will become the apron dress to top it. The roll of trim there on top of the material will go on the Eura dress at the wrists and maybe the neck. I’m not sure yet.
I measured my daughter and come up with the following measurements:
Chest to ankle: 24 in.
Neck to wrist: 14 in.
Shoulder to Chest: 9.5 in.
Torso: 22 in.
Using the same pattern as I did for my own I came up with the following measurements (using a 1/2 seam allowance, and fudging a little for fit):
A: 26 in (Chest to floor)
B: 15 in. (Neck to wrist)
C: 10.5 in. (Shoulder)
D: 10.5 in. (1/2 Chest & over shoulder)
In this particular case I don’t mind if the “V” neck is a little deep or the dress is a little long. My daughter grows like a weed and the deep “v” can have a panel put in until she grows into it. The same with the overall length. I can easily put in a few tucks and let them out as she grows to get extra life out of this particular dress.
Now I don’t know about the rest of you but I “cheat” when it comes to dress assembly. I use a machine. If I were to hand hem or finish any of my pieces I would never get them done. To that end, this is how I assemble these dresses.
- Hem the widest part of the sleeve. (I usually fold it twice to encase the raw edge)
- Hem the wrist portion
- Attach the sleeve to the torso portion (overlap the widest hemmed edge by 1/4 to 1/2 in in front and back)
- Next add the gores. I tend to add them from the wrist to hem since I know I don’t want to add too much to the wrist and if the skirt is a little slimmer it’s not the end of the world.
- Hem the sucker.
With all this in mind I went to layout the dress on actual fabric. Now, apparently I wasn’t paying too much attention when I picked out my piece, because the overall length stretches selvage to selvage. Granted, I wasn’t too picky about getting the exact length on the torso piece and will have to test it on my daughter. I’m assuming that there will be at least one 1/2 inch tuck which will actually take up one inch of fabric.
For now I’ll stop here as the next bit will have more pictures and such. I hope this has been useful and stay tuned for part 4!
Recently I have joined a Facebook group with the intention of improving my Norse garb. I have plenty of garb but I realized that I don’t have a complete set of anything. Even though my persona is late 12th century/ early 13th century French my most complete set is my Norse garb. It is also probably the simplest.
The first challenge for the group was to make a Jorvik Hood. The extant is silk but linen was a probably material and what I chose to make mine from. I began with a rectangle of linen 9 in wide by 25 inches long which is a little loner and wider than the 8×24 that is usually suggested but I have a large head. I played with a large rectangle until it draped in such a way that it would not be forever slipping into my eyes or hang to my shoulders.
It’s construction is super simple as well. A seam up the back of the folded rectangle and a clipped corner with a couple of ties and vóila insta-cap. The challenge is to actually complete it with a little embroidery. The motif that i have seen the most often is the Ancthus vine done in the stem stitch. While that is all well and good I wanted to do something different. Thank God for the internet. There were other finds at the Mammen site that intrigued me, in particular, a short line of little alien-like faces. They were just odd enough to fit my sense of humor and I hadn’t seem them before.
Compared to some of the other patterns it’s also fairly simple which suited me to a tee since I have little to no time to embroider large or heavily detailed pieces. Especially if I actually want to complete them.
I began the embroidery a little over a week ago now and have half of the faces done and have begun to put in the little colored leaves in between each face using the rendering found on Heather Rose Jones’ website as a guide. I did the faces in a simple back stitch and contemplated the use of french knots for the eyes but after one trial I decided it made the face look like they had googly eyes and I wasn’t fond of that look.
Below I place a couple of shots of the work in progress below. Fig. 1 shows the first couple of faces with the bottom having the french knot googly eye that I tested. Fig. 2 has one half of the faces complete. I used a water soluble printable stabilizer but was unable to print it due to my printer. Instead I chose to trace the design onto the stabilizer and go from there.
NOTE: The stabilizer works with inkjet printers not laser and doesn’t work well being loaded in rear feed slots.
I’ve slowly begun filling in the leaves and I’ll post more pictures once I’ve moved further along.
nce upon a time there was a place where the artisans of all skill levels from around the East Kingdom gathered to trade their arts. Partners were assigned at random and their preferences given so that each creator could make something truly special for their recipient. Then came the day that I dared venture into this realm of unknown.
Enough with the silly bits and fancy talk. It’s true that a sort of EK artisan “Secret Santa” swap place does exist. It so happens that it takes place on Facebook. I happened to hear about it when I complimented a bag that one of my friends had brought to an event. She told me about this really neat thing and that I should check it out.
I have entered exactly two A&S (arts and sciences competitions) during my nearly two dozen years in the SCA. Sadly, both times were unpleasant experiences and I haven’t done it since. (This is a whole other topic which I will leave to another time.) Leave it to say that due to these experiences I believe that my crafting ability is mostly sub-par. I decided to try this exchange in hopes of gaining practice and trying out new art forms.
Waiting for my partner to be assigned was like sitting on pins and needles. In the end I was assigned a gentle who dabbled in Viking clothing and who had a horse as part of their household heraldry. There was a $25 cost limit on this particular swap but as I had most of my materials I didn’t have to purchase any.
- Create a Skjoldehamn-type hood.
- Add seam stitching
- Add Hem stitching to give hem weight
- Applique a horse.
Fairly straight forward, right?
The pattern is simple for this particular type of hood. Two squares and a long rectangle make up the whole thing. Since I made one for myself not too long ago it wasn’t hard to assemble. I had to try and find pictures of my recipient though, to try and gauge the size I needed to make the hood. I erred on the larger size since if I made it too small it wouldn’t be comfortable. So, with added seam allowances, I made the squares 14 inches by 14 inches and the long rectangle was 60 in by 14 inches. These are rough measurements since I didn’t write them down at the time.
So finding a horse that I thought would look suitably period and visually interesting was fun. It was also a bit of a challenge. I wanted to cut the template at least on my Cricut machine out of card stock so then I could keep the pattern pieces to use again. So I had to convert the image to a PNG file and clean it up. I used an image very similar to the one to the right but for some reason can’t find on my computer right at this moment. I also had to mirror it so that it would match with the heraldry. For my own sanity I decided to stitch the swirly bits on the shoulders and haunches. I didn’t have any wool felt hanging about in the right color so I went with red felt instead.
The Finished Product
So The finished product turned out rather well I thought. I added the cross on the shoulder to fit with my recipient’s heraldry and used blanket stitching on the hem and the seams are done in ösenstitch in undyed hand-spun wool. I spun the wool ages ago on a great wheel, also known as a walking wheel. While the wheel isn’t period, I stink at drop spinning. The wool is a green apple color and not the pea soup color that is pictured here.
Over all I’m quite happy with how it turned out and I was really anxious to hear what my recipient would say. I was ecstatic when she said she loved it and I even got to see her wear it at the last event! It is a huge boost to your crafting ego to actually get to see someone else wearing something you made.
The trade system is awesome and I received something so lovely in return! Would you believe that my partner wrote a song based on my heraldry and persona? So awesome! People are so talented! I’ve posted the photo of the gift I received below! The picture is a little blurry but I also received a CD with the song recorded on it. I feel like my persona, who has been more of an afterthought became a little more real the day I received this which is a super cool feeling!
So this past weekend was Birka, a fairly large event for us in the northeast. 1,500 friends and acquaintances from all over the East Kingdom. It’s shopping, fighting, fencing, and court until you drop.
It’s one of the events that you almost always come home feeling more tired than when you left to go. At least for me. The event is a lot of fun and a number of great things happened including a couple of my friends receiving some well deserved awards.
Apparently this year was also a fairly rough year for some. I had a more than a couple of conversations with people about this game that we play and how it wasn’t the dream that they had begun with. In some cases their support base has totally disappeared or broken down and in others a lack of basic courtesy is slowly driving them away.
Honestly, some of the stories I heard are appalling and the behavior exhibited by some of the members of our society less than stellar. Disappointing, to be sure, but we all are only human after all.
This has happened to me as well. I ended up taking a break for a while and simply dealing with the things going on in my mundane life, but that was an extreme situation.
So when the Knowne World falls down around you what do you do?
Re-Evaluate Your Priorities
Easier said than done, right? It can be hard to turn a seriously critical eye to your hobby and get some answers. Go back to the beginning. Why did you join the Society in the first place?
Some people have specific goals: reaching a level of competence in a guild, learning an art form, etcetra. What are your goals? Do have any? They aren’t necessary this is a game after all. It is a hobby for recreation and if that is simply hanging out with some cool friends, so be it. Once you have your priorities it’s time to take a look at your game.
Are Your Interests Being Supported?
What I am about to say is considered heresy in some circles but it’s what I believe and since this is my blog I’m going to state it.
If your interests are no longer being supported by your current support group (be it household, laurel, pelican, or knight) for whatever reason it may be time to look for someone or people who can. Like I said, heresy right? Wrong! This is your hobby, your game. It’s supposed to be fun. If it isn’t it defeats the point of the game.
The sad thing is when I asked people why they stayed where they were when they aren’t being supported the answer I got was, “Well, it’s just not done.” Why not? I hate to sound like my mother but “Because” is not an answer.
The fact that this is the mentality of so many is not good or healthy. Nobody wants you to be unhappy or unsupported. People change and so do their interests. I’ve been in the society off and on (more on than off) for twenty years. I’ve changed a lot in that time. Likewise the people around you and their interests change. We cannot, as a society, make it taboo for people to find support in their desired field. I could rant on about this particular bit but I’ll stop here.
The End Result
Long story short: people change, their involvement with and within the Society changes and sometimes having honest conversations with those around us isn’t easy but it is necessary. We all have to remember that this is a hobby. We do this to have fun. If it’s not fun anymore than something has to change. The what is up to the individual but it’s important to know that change is OKAY, good even. Make this the game you want to play.
So as we know the SCA can be an all encompassing hobby. The hobby that eats all other hobbies. How else could I have all my embroidery, costuming, cordial making, and artsy stuff count as one hobby?
Recently, our Tyger Clerk of the Signet (read person in charge of getting scrolls), has presented a challenge. Blank scrolls are needed for a variety of awards and for each blank submitted your name goes into a hat. Names will be drawn at random during Birka and you get a prize. So I like to paint and do art stuff. I’d never done illumination but I figured, “why not?” I needed another hobby like I need another hole in my head! In any case I went to a scroll blank workshop held by our group’s Minister of Arts and Sciences. She had pre-drawn several blanks based on period sources and gave us the reference images so that we could paint our own.
Everything was going great until the cold got to my hands and they started to cramp. (Thanks, arthritis.) I dropped my brush and ended up with several odd looking blobs on my pristine paper. I was told to cover it. Strategic placement of a vine and several leaves later and it was fixed. Unfortunately I didn’t finish painting it at that particular session but I did bring it home and finish it. The completed scroll is to the left. I think it’s based on the Lutrell Psalter from the early part of the 14th century. (You can view it here.) I could be wrong though.
So bit by the painting bug I decided I would take a stab at it on my own. I spent time trying to figure out if I would trace or try to draw something freehand. I was scared to do something wrong. In the end I decided on a fairly simple design and drew it free hand. I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right or if I would be able to do the rather intricate initial at the top corner but I decided to try anyways. At the very least it would be good practice since I hadn’t really painted since I left college. Unfortunately I had found the image on Pinterest. The image was part of a group of images that showcased the best of the museum’s illuminated manuscrips. It did not give any details as to what it was actually from. I spent several hours knocking my head against the wall before I finally found it. (I had to do it the old fashioned way and look through the manuscripts of the approximate time period. Never again.) This one was a great deal plainer than the first and, since I was doing it all by myself, I was happy about that. The scroll is based off of a manuscript at the Utrecht University in the Netherlands. It was done by Bartholomaeus de Urbino in his great work Milleloquium veritatis Sancti Augustini Pars I: A-M (University of Utrecht, MS 71, fol. 1r) which he completed by 1345. All in all I don’t think it turned out half bad.
I was all set and fired up to go to the next scroll blank workshop. A friend was even driving in from the western part of the state to join us when, due to bad weather, it was cancelled. *Boo* So we had our own scribal night at home. I had found in my search another model that I wanted to try. I wasn’t crazy enough to attempt the figures so I thought I would be fairly safe with just the border. Straight lines, half circles, and diamonds: no sweat, right? Ha! Long story short is that I didn’t end up finishing the border that night. Close but no cigar. So I was working on it the next day and went to the bathroom a bit. The pesky cat hopped up on to the table and dipped her paw into the paint water. She didn’t like the taste of it so shook the excess water off. Right onto my masterpiece. I wasn’t very happy. I had it almost done. I tired to scrape and dab the pigmented water stains off but it did very little. So then the question became,”How do I fix it?” My solution was to take a few of the elements and rearrange them a little to cover the stains. The end result? See for yourself!
I was quite pleased with how it turned out. Not too bad for my third attempt! I need to try to have a steadier hand though. I find that some of my lines are a little too wobbly to be really straight. I also did this mostly free hand. I did use my ruler to help plot out the buildings and a compass to do the circles because there’s no way that I’m that good.
We did end up rescheduling the scroll blank workshop and I got to paint another pre-drawn scroll. Compared to the last one, this one was a piece of cake. I even had my own gold to use now. I didn’t go with gold leaf or even shell gold. I’m too poor. Instead I went with Schminke Aqua Bronze in the Rich Gold color. It was something I’ve used before, back in college, to simulate gold. Far more affordable and looks good too. I was able to finish this one in one sitting which made me happy though I don’t feel it turned out quite as well as the last. The gold is a little hard to see but I think it turned out alright.
I’ve already got another one that I would like to try and do in mind. It’s simple and just a border but a different style. Birka is this weekend and I’m hoping to be able to attend the scribal round table and I’ll be handing in my blanks as well. I’m still new, still learning, but it’s not as scary as I thought it was going to be. YAY!
After making this traditional family dish for our meal plan at Pennsic I have gotten a lot of requests for the recipe. Keep in mind that this is a “cheater” sauerkraut – my family equivalent to a quick and dirty casserole that you would throw together on a Wednesday night. It is not a period recipe. In any case I hope you enjoy!
Ingredients (per 28oz of Kraut):
- 2 – 14oz cans/jars of SilverFloss Sauerkraut
- 3 Slices of Bacon
- 1/2 Large Onion
- 1/2 tsp Caraway seeds
- 3 Juniper Berries
- Peppercorns or Black pepper
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 Garlic clove – chopped
- 1-2 Tbsp. Flour
- 1 Apple – grated (optional)
- Large slice of ham steak or pork chops.
- 1 Sausage (kielbasa works well)
- Cut slices of bacon into thin strips (1″). Cook in saucepan until done. Set aside on paper towel.
Leave about 1 tablespoon of drippings in pan and put the rest aside for roux
- Chop 1/2 onion and saute in bacon drippings until translucent (or you can just use oil).
- Drain sauerkraut and add to pan.
- Add caraway seeds, peppercorns/black pepper, juniper berries, bay leaf, garlic clove, and meats.
- Cover kraut with water and cook covered with lid until tender. (about 1 hour)
- Make roux (below) and add to kraut, cooking another 10 minutes.
1-2 Tbsp.oil or bacon fat.
1-2 Tbsp. flour
Melt fat in a frying pan. Add flour and cook until golden in color.
I don’t often do this but I am making a one-time exception. Today I’m going to talk about my other crazy hobby. I have two hobbies that eat up my free time. Clearly, the SCA is one. The other is my writing outlet. It’s called NaNoWriMo and it stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a crazy idea to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty (30!) days. Absolutely nutty, right? Get this: tlast year there were 325,142 participants from around the world. There’s more. Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder all have one thing in common: they were written during NaNoWriMo.
So this is where I’m at right now. November is National Novel Writing Month, I’m on day fifteen and I have over 21,000 words. I’m almost half way though and I know it’s going to get harder. I’m a persistent and stubborn chick though and, if I complete this round, I will have completed FOUR (5) manuscripts. I sometimes tell people about this other crazy hobby but usually not. Why not? The question that always follows is, “Why aren’t you published?” My reasons are simple, really. I’m a greedy author and I’m my own harshest critic. I write because I like it and love the characters and worlds I create. Beyond that I don’t care to be published. It sounds like a stupid thing to say, but it’s true.
This year I’ve hit a bigger funk than most and I’m in a rut. The plot bunnies have attacked and I have essentially written myself into a corner. In hopes to reverse the bad ju-ju on my writing I’m going to post an excerpt here. I suppose it’s a way to hold myself accountable. Who knows. This seems like a good idea now but we’ll have to see how good of an idea it is later! In the meantime I hope you enjoy this little bit and please be kind, it hasn’t been edited yet!
It was insane. It was cold enough to freeze the slightest bit of moisture on a person’s face so why was she out here? Saija adjusted her cloak’s hood to cover more of her face and moved the thick woolen scarf to cover her nose. Her big black mount Thor, shuddered and whuffed beneath her. She patted his thick neck and urged him on, through the thick snowdrifts between trees, towards the main road.
One letter, a hastily scribbled missive with an unknown seal, arriving in the middle of the night was the reason she was out in this miserable weather. An old friend was coming to visit…the thought made her mouth pull into a sad smile. They had almost been more than friends. But that had been several years ago and she was a different person now.
Fifteen strides to the main road and she could only see the blinding white snow and the immediate trees and ice-covered branches around her. The only sounds that filled her ears were her own breathing and the howling wind that whipped the small snowflakes with such force that they felt like thousands of miniature daggers wherever they landed on her exposed skin. Saija shrugged and drew up her scarf around her face and pulled down the hood of her thick woolen cloak. Breaking though the wood line she stood on the side of the road looking for signs of a carriage. Thor snorted and shifted impatiently.
“I know, it is impossible to see anything with this weather,” she sighed, “Still I have to make sure they make it safely.”
Staring off down the road covered in swirling snow, Saija let her mind wander. Ten summers ago she had been a young, indulged only daughter of Lord and Lady Icewatch. There had been expensive clothing lavish parties and influential friends. The same things which she now thought frivolous as she sat on her large horse dressed in men’s leathers better suited to the cold climate.
The son of the Lord General, Liam, was one of her best friends and, when she had been the tender age of thirteen summers, talk of a possible marriage between the two. Liam had laughed when Saija had brought up the topic and she remembered blushing furiously. They had grown up side by side, only three summers apart and had climbed trees and ridden horses together. Liam had taught her how to throw knives and shoot arrows. In return she had taught him how to dance and how to make fishing baits with scraps of wool and line. They had been friends and while Saija had harbored deeper feelings for her companion and he knew it, it was never discussed. After being laughed at the first time, Saija simply let the topic lie. Thor stumbled a little over a hidden object, jolting Saija out of her thoughts and nearly out of her saddle. Sajia felt a nervous trickle of sweat run down her back under her leathers that even the frigid cold could not dissuade before her inescapable memories invaded her thoughts again.
Time had passed and in during the harvest month when she was fifteen summers old war had broken out on the southern border of Dnira. The tiny war state of Gnsa had amassed an army and charged over their boarders and massacred whole villages. Men and boys left homes in droves as knights and squires. Liam was among those that left. The war dragged on and news from the south was long in coming. Two summers later news came from the south: Liam had married a General’s daughter and they had a son. Saija remembered her sadness and pain. It was nothing compared to the loss of her parents a few moons later. A raiding party had attacked her parents on the way leaving all but a few men at arms dead.
At the tender age of seventeen summers Saija had become the new Lady Icewatch. Things had changed for her and in turn she had changed. Gone were the fancy clothes and lavish parties. In their place were warm, comfortable shearling lined leather hose and vests and thick woolen over shirts which were more suited to the patrols and weapons practices. She was the Lady Icewatch. Silk and gems couldn’t be worn while protecting her people from the wild raiders of the north.
Thor shivered under her, bringing her back to the present and to the faint sound of bells. Saija turned her large horse to face the oncoming bells. Slowly the dim light of matched lamps that flanked either side of the covered sled pierced the darkness and blinding snow.
“Ho! Driver!” She called out, pitching her voice to carry over the whistling wind and creaking of the sled, “I am your escort to Icewatch!”
The sled drew abreast of her and the two men seated on the front driver’s box squinted against the falling snow to assess their so-called “escort.” She liked these cautious men and thought she might even recognize one of them from her time at court even through the snow and wool cloaks and mufflers they wore. The guard’s hand eased off of the hilt that protruded prominently from his cloak and closed it back up, keeping the warmth inside.
“How much further boy?” The driver asked tiredly but with hope peering at her from under a deep hood, knowing there was an end in sight. Saija ignored the boy comment, besides who could tell anything when dressed in so many layers as she was with only her eyes peeking out at the world?
“We’ll be there in a mark or so. It’s slow going from here to the keep,” she answered as she turned Thor around to walk side by side with the driver, “I am going to ride directly in front of you, follow me and try to keep the horses from dancing too much. Those bells could cause a snowfall,” she warned them before walking Thor to the front of the sled.
Snowfalls were common in the north. The seemingly ever-falling snow piled and gathered on the mountainsides, cliffs and outcroppings to dangerous heights. The slightest sound could set the piles of snow cascading down on top of unsuspecting visitors. It was effective as a defense tactic but hazardous to innocent visitors. It was a snowfall that had killed her mother and father.
Saija guided Thor deftly though the knee-high snow. Though whether she guided him or he guided himself was up for discussion since Saija’s thoughts were with the passengers in the sled behind her.
The missive had requested help. Not money, men or arms which Saija was used to. No, it requested shelter and care for two children. “Please,” he had written, “my wife is gone and I need to make sure they are safe.”
“Though what I’m to do with two children I haven’t the slightest idea,” she muttered into her muffler. While Icewatch suffered raids from the north it was nothing compared to the war raging in the south. Certainly the children would be safer here but what would she do with them?
She could see the watch fires on the tower heights now. It wouldn’t be much longer to the gates then the tall walls of Icewatch would protect them from the worst of the driving snow. The winding approach to the drawbridge and main guard towers was steep and slick with packed snow and an under layer of ice. Saija guided Thor down the slippery slope, looking down to watch his front hooves as he planted them in the snow, watching for any sign that he might slip. She risked a glance behind her watching the progress of the sled. One of the drivers had clambered down and was walking off to the side of the sled trying to find a safe route for the two large draft houses by tapping the packed snow with a cane. She slowed down and approached the drawbridge and gates. “Hoy, gatekeeper!” she called, using all her breath to launch her voice through the storm, “Icewatch guests arrive!” The gatekeeper waved a torch and Saija heard the tell-tale click of the lock on the gate being removed. The drawbridge let down slowly and came to rest with a thud and a stirring cloud of snow. Saija waited for the sled and its driver to catch up to her on the small flat landing before the drawbridge.
“What’s the wait for boy?” The coachman called to her.
“Just a word of caution sir,” Saija motioned to the edge of the bridge, “the drawbridge is narrow and the fall is a long one,” She watched the driver take a look over the edge. What little of his face she could see, paled further before he looked up and nodded back at her. Saija nudged Thor onto the crossing and listened to the sled’s two horses walk on to the bridge. The hollow hoof beats followed her steadily without hesitation. a few breaths and they were in the safety of Icewatch. From inside the walls of the keep were even more impressive. The gray walls soared sixty feet above her head and the irregular shape was interspersed with even taller square towers. The walls cut the wind and snow down some, enough for Saija to lower her hood and remove her muff. The heavy sled pulled up behind her to the stone archway that housed the thick oaken doors to the main hall. A stable boy ran to her to take her horse and show the drivers the way to the stable.
“Niilo,” Saija said to the waif of a boy hidden under the mound of clothing that approached her, “an extra helping of mash tonight and a an orange root, alright?” The mute freckled-faced boy grinned and wiped his running nose on his sleeve before taking the reins to black horse that towered over him. The coachman that had walked in front of the sled approached her as he walked to the side of the coach.
“Are you certain that boy can handle that monster of a horse?”
“Niilo? Those two were practically raised together,” she said warmly watching the twelve-year-old boy and eight year old horse as they walked off together, Thor nuzzling his pocket for a bit of apple, “Welcome to Icewatch sir.”
***The letters discussed may change by region, kingdom, and groups. Some groups may be more or less formal in their requirements. ***
This past week I spent a bit of time researching and working on a letter of intent – something I found out I needed to supply to my shire at our meeting on Sunday. Elections for offices are in November. Now I had a general idea of what a letter of intent looked like for a job application and for grad school applications but, like many things in the SCA, I wondered if what they wanted was that formal. So I went turned to trusty Google. Despite my Google-fu I was unable to find examples of letters of intent of offices other than for Baron/Baroness and Crown Tourney applicants.
Stumped, I fell to habit and went with a more formal version of the letter. So, for anyone new or who hasn’t had to write one before, a list of general requirements for a letter of intent:
- A standard greeting (Include day, date, and greeting like in a resume letter.)
- An opening paragraph stating the office the letter is for and what accomplishments you have under your belt that apply to the office.
- Follow that by a bulleted or numbered list of goals to fit your office. (In mine I did, 3, 6, 9 months, and 1 year+) Try to make these simple, straight forward, and as clear to those who may not be familiar with the terms, lingo, and acronyms of your office. No more than two or three goals per time allocation.
- A closing paragraph. Make sure you thank the other officers and populace for their consideration!
To show you what all that looks like I’ve pasted my letter of intent for the office of the shire webminister below.
Saturday, October 17th, 2015
To the Officers and Populace of the Shire of Quintavia,
I, Perronnelle de Croy write this letter of intent for re-election to the office of Webminister. Over the past year I have rebuilt the Shire website form scratch and have added a number of features that are of benefit to the Shire as a whole and to the webministers that will follow me such as moving us to WordPress, adding an easy redirect plugin, and integrating our calender, newsletter sign-up, and Facebook page. If re-elected I have a number of goals which I would like to accomplish in the following timeline:
- Prepare our website for the upcoming audit (beginning in Jan. 2016)
- Add logins for the other officers so that they may write blog posts.
- Add content to the Seneschal, MOL, and Rapier pages.
- Create a Dance Page
- Promote use of the forums as an alternate to Yahoo Groups
- Add more pictures to the gallery page from the most recent events
- Make a new banner for the site, something clearer and more mobile friendly.
- Complete changes required from audit results.
- Continue creating/changing event pages as necessary
- Put together a class on WordPress usage and audit standards.
1 Year +
- Make the page more mobile friendly overall.
- Continue to search for more ways to make the email more accessible.
- Establish a maintenance routine for the site.
I have gained a great deal of experience within the past year and hope to put it to use for the Shire for another two years. I look forward to the results of the election and to serving the Shire in any capacity.
Yours In Service,
Madame Perronnelle de Croy
As I mentioned in my italicized disclaimer at the top double check with what your group requires for stating intent to run for an office. Likewise this in just my way of writing a letter. I’m hoping that some people I’ve asked will be willing to share theirs but if not at least there is one example.