Collegium 2019

Last weekend, I taught at Collegium for the second time, with my co-teacher HL Aenor de Pessac. It was a great time! Sadly, I didn’t get any photos from the weekend–and we were only there on Sunday.

I had originally planned on going to the event for the full weekend, taking classes on Friday and/or Saturday, but after reviewing the schedule of classes, there were a few that were really intriguing. One was the woodworking bentwood boxes class, from the guy who made my Monster Loom (which I named Mike Wazowski). I’m not a big woodworker, though I’ve done a little (middle school shop class) and I’ve been interested in learning more.

Then there were a couple that were being taught by people who are literally five miles or less from my house. I thought, ‘Ya know, I bet I could just *walk* to Lori’s house and ask her how to make the partlet.’

Then I considered taking the lampworking class, but I thought they might be more geared towards beginners–which I am not anymore. Solid intermediate here. I belong to the Lampworkers Guild (as you know) and I needed to make beads that are due before Thanksgiving, and they said Collegium would be a perfect place to hand them over so they wouldn’t have to be mailed. I had completely forgotten about that deadline until just a day or two before, so I thought maybe I could work on making them AT Collegium…but that seemed like a lot of hassle dragging all my stuff down there, and if the class space is really limited, they’d likely want to save it for students, not just someone wanting to play. And then they’d need to be cleaned and I might not have time enough to finish them all…maybe this isn’t a good idea after all. Then I found out the classes were all full anyway. Ah, well.

In the end, I felt time might be better spent making the beads I need to finish for the guild at home on Saturday and bringing them with me on Sunday. I volunteered to make two strings at a dozen or so beads each, so I needed to make 25-30 beads done. I was able to get 18 or so finished before I started making some mistakes and clearly showing signs of flame fatigue. It was getting late and I also needed to finish packing the truck for the event, so I turned off the gas and let the beads cool down. I didn’t have time to clean them after all, so I’ll have to finish them up and mail them anyway.

This year was Collegium IV. I taught Survey of Tablet Woven Bands at Collegium II, which was a slide show of period pieces and patterns. It was a packed room–AMAZING! Apparently, my Laurel sent in a secret expert to sit in and review my information and she said that I did a good job! YEY!! I did my research! Then I skipped teaching for a year; I went to the event and took several classes, which was a lot of fun. This year, I was asked to teach something again and after discussing it with others, including my dear friend (and co-teacher), Aenor, we came up with an idea: Beginning Tablet Weaving: The Astonishingly Easy-to-Recreate 9th Century Oseberg Band!

The class included a very quick Power Point presentation that covered some basics of history, overview of materials and terms, some tips and tricks to keep in mind, and then some hands-on. To save a lot of time and stress, I pre-warped the looms with the yarn and cards, so all they had to do was start turning cards and throwing shuttles. A few of the looms even had a bit of weaving started.

I somehow screwed up one of the looms and warped up something wrong…the threads were making squares instead of zig-zags. Not sure what happened there. Now I think about it, the weaver may have had the cards in the wrong starting point…but it was a pattern and it looked cool, so….win!

Aenor was wonderful at helping get half the students started, and then I went around and checked on their work. In the last half-hour or so, she continued the slide presentation with a lot of great pictures of the archaeological dig and information about what they found. She’s a trained archaeologist and was completely in her wheelhouse there.

The students seemed to have a great time and they all walked away with a tablet woven bookmark they made….and hopefully an interest to learn more later.

It turned out to be (in my opinion) barely enough time. I wish I had been able to have a 4 hour block instead of just 2 so the students would have a lot of time to play, and have materials enough to take home with them, including a set of cards. Or include an hour of warping the loom (which is almost a class in itself because of all the time it takes to learn how to do just that), an hour of history and two hours of weaving. But all the materials needed would drive the price up to about $20 a student (minimum) and require some kind of loom.

Bed now. Pictures later.

Home from Athenaeum

Another brilliant event put on by Master Charles and Mistress Kerij-e! There were over 50 artisans displaying their works, talking with Laurels and other artisans, sharing their passions, their research, their creations, and their positive energy. The place was just alive with joy! It was really palpable.

This event was new last year, but it had a lot of similarities to an event that had gone on for 3 or 4 years prior that was hosted by a Laurel in the Kent/Renton area called Arts Unframed. It had a similar structure to have artisans display their works and have Laurels attend and give them the opportunity to view the stuff. It was a little less structured in that the Laurels were not required to sign up to visit with artisans and have conversations with them about their chosen passions, and the artisans were not guaranteed to have anyone stop by to talk. I did Arts Unframed twice and had only spoken with a couple of Laurels who were curious about what I was doing. I had a lot of stuff on my assigned table, so there were lots of different kinds of art to interest a wide variety of Laurels. I had weaving, spinning, costume bits, sock knitting, the warp-weighted loom, dye stuff, blackwork, lampwork, and part of a Roman doll that I was making.

This is only about 2/3 of the exhibitors. I’m to the far right, next to the staircase.

Last year at Athenaeum, like at Arts Unframed, I had my breadth of knowledge with All The Things on display…

2018…ALL THE THINGS!

…this year was depth of knowledge display on historic tablet weaving. Because I was only showing one thing, I requested a teeny tiny table. It was just barely enough room, but it worked.

2019…HISTORIC TABLET WEAVING!

I had so many visitors and each one of them was a joy to talk to. I was able to share where I started with this rather rough-looking skip hole weave, which was made in the THIRD class I took on tablet weaving…I was determined to learn this craft. This was my “ah ha!” moment.

A very simple woven band.

Then I began learning from others through published patterns. I created quite a number of pieces from books and GTT patterns on Pinterest–there are a lot of patterns available there!

Applesies & Fox Noses has been a great tool for improving my weaving skills.

Then I felt I really advanced with this piece where I was able to look at the extant piece (photo) and the archaeological drawing and figure out how it was made…

No pattern was available, but this detailed archaeological sketch was at hand.

…and then re-create it.

Noting the little dimples in the sketch, I guessed that this was a skip-hole weave method…and I was right!

And finally, taking a very detailed pattern and use very fine silk threads to create a breathtaking woven piece…if I may say so myself.

A question I was asked by a Laurel who stopped by was how big was the original and how close is mine to that measurement? I didn’t know the answer to at the time–the extant image didn’t have a ruler next to it, sadly–but have since (in the last 24 hours) discovered the answers and found out even more about this piece and the companion piece found in the tomb. The original measured 18 mm wide and was made of silk (not wool, as was originally published in another source that I found). Mine, also made of silk, is 15 mm wide. The original motifs are much more square than mine and other reproductions I’ve seen, which makes me curious to find out why…

“So what’s up next?” was a question I heard several times. There are three things I want to do. First, work in wool. I have only worked in cotton and a little in silk, but I have a project in the queue for a gent in Denmark who got in touch with me a few days ago. The item that he’s requesting is a 6 yard piece in wool using an Icelandic pattern. I just ordered some materials and am looking forward to receiving them soon…maybe this week. The specific pattern he wants is a brocade tablet weaving piece, although brocaded weaving is something I have done very little of. The last time I tried, several years ago, the process frustrated me, likely due to the materials I was using, and the difficulty of the piece that I chose. However, now that I have much more experience and confidence, I am ready to try it again–so that’s #2.

Brocade weaving from Iceland; reproduction by Aisling

The third thing I am looking forward to trying is weaving with metal. Many of the brocade pieces used gold and silver in its creation, and the Danish gent that I’ve been communicating with has some to trade for the woven piece he is asking for.

Many of the brocaded pieces found at archaeological digs have nothing but the metal remaining–the wool and/or linen rotted away over time.

At 12:30, we had a break for lunch. I lunched in the courtyard with my bestie, Aenor, who was also displaying, as well as their Excellencies of Wyewood and a couple other gentlemen. Although the Madrone Culinary Guild provided a lovely spread of food, allergens prevented me from imbibing, so we packed a lunch of chicken salad, croissants, cheese, fruit, and Millionaire’s Shortbread.

It was a long day, exhausting, but in a good way. I had to leave right after the displaying was over at 4 pm to meet up with hubby and friends at the Pride Day Sounders game. Sadly, this meant missing court and the elevation of Mistress Helewisa, and the awarding of the Lion’s Strength to my Mistress, Isolde.

The gargoyle behind me is Rick…he’s a very funny guy.

At the end of the day, I had over 14,000 steps logged on my Fitbit. I forgot to change into my comfy tennies, but kept wearing my new, not-yet-broken-in SCA loafers…by the time I got home, my feet were very sore! I need to find a way to stretch the leather over the instep.

I’m looking forward to doing this again next year. But maybe with more comfortable shoes.

Teaching and Weaving

The last few weeks have been a flurry of research for teaching a class at An Tir Collegium on A Brief Survey of Tablet Woven Bands, being an overview of extant tablet weaving pieces and patterns to reproduce them. It was a few weeks of preparation prior to the class, but I was able to put together a 50+ slide PowerPoint presentation. It had pieces from 500 BC Austria to 14th century Germany, and from countries all over Europe from Scandinavia to France. I arrived in the classroom a few minutes early, but spent several more struggling to get the computer to work properly.  Once we made the magic of technology cooperate with me, I looked up and realized that the classroom was not just well-attended, but standing-room-only! I thought I’d have a small handful of students and it was more than 25. No worries. I’ll just panic a little.  AAAAAHHHHHHH!

After we finally got the computer working, it went well! Most of the students were either novice or beginning weavers; only a couple were intermediate or advanced. The feedback I got was mostly excellent, which was very encouraging. I even was pulled aside by a couple of students later and told that they really enjoyed the class and that a few things that I mentioned were particularly helpful.  😀

A few days later, I sent a copy of the slide show to a prominent tablet weaver in Germany who gave me some really good feedback–just a couple of minor corrections and marking some images that I had missed–but she said, “It is one of the best summaries I’ve read.” That is high praise from such an esteemed source! (Giddiness ensued!)

My goal for teaching the class was to have as many pieces done in my own hand as possible.  The more slides I added, the fewer examples I had…so I needed to get some work done.  In preparation for this class, I made a few woven pieces to pass around. They are:

14th Century German piece.  Original was brocade (of course), but this is a very close facsimile in a threaded-in version.  This one was still on the loom, which was great for students to see all set up with all the cards needed for it…all 28 cards.

Dublin Dragons.  Original was also brocaded.  I think this is even prettier than the original.  It’s great fun to weave, too!

Hallstat 3, Austria, 500 BCE.  This was found in a salt mine with several other woven pieces.  The colors were remarkably well preserved due to the salt.  This one was fast and lovely to work, and I find it so remarkable how complex the pattern is, and this in 500 BCE…the technique was already very advanced at this time.  In Mistress Madrun’s class, she mentioned how much our weaving skills have declined in the last few centuries compared to what it was back then.

Right now I’m working on a piece that has a repeating motif from the Merovingian Queen Bathilde in Chelles, France (above).  I’m not as impressed with this selection of colors (below), but I wanted to choose something from my badge/arms.  I think the blue and green are too similar in tone, or maybe there is too much contrast with the green and white.  I’m not entirely sure, but I have a taker for it when I finish the other 3 yards of it.  It’s kind of slow going and the twist is building up on it rather quickly.  This would work much better in a warp-weighted version, if I had something set up to work on.

I have a list of about 20 other pieces in a binder, ready to go, that I’m looking forward to making, and a few patterns that I plan to make more than one length of, in various colors.

While I was getting ready to teach, I also had a commitment to make beads for the Lampworkers Guild.  These are for Aethelmarc, Northshield and Avacal.  Each grouping has one bead for An Tir’s sitting Queen and the others are gifts to the Queens of other Kingdoms, which I believe are sent to them at events in February and August.

Now that all that is done….I need a long sleep.