Posts tagged ‘Lochac’

Personal A&S challenge – The birth of alcohol

Since moving into the house I’m in, I’ve developed a passion for gardening.

In the same time frame, I’ve also developed an interest in brewing.

Gardening + Brewing means that I can create the things I then put in my brews.

So far I’ve done a number of different brews utilising herbs that I’ve grown. I’ve used home grown liquorice, lemongrass, lemonbalm, rosemary, tarragon and other flavour additives in my mash in the hopes of making everything just that little bit tastier. However, something I haven’t yet done is brew anything solely using things I’ve grown myself.

While drinking some of my ale about a month ago, I started to consider what sort of things went into medieval brews. I know that many ales were a combination of grains instead of the straight barley that I had been using. A plan formed in my mind… to have a personal A&S project that would take me all the way through brewing – starting at planting the crops.

Today I have segregated a bed specifically for grains. The spot gets shade in the early morning and late afternoon, but has nice, bright sunlight through the day. It’s not a large bed by any means, and I’m not expecting to have a massive crop, but I hope there will be enough to brew a decently sized batch of ale. I’ve planted a third of the bed with wheat, a third with rye, and a third with barley.

My new garden bed, planted with wheat, rye and barley

My new garden bed, planted with wheat, rye and barley

I will document the progress of the crop through the coming months.

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Chirurgeon’s Baldrick

Th Great Northern War, I acted as a chirurgeon. This is not a familiar role, and not one I’ve done for the SCA before, but I have current first aid training for the first time since I was 15, so I figured it was a service that I was able to happily give. The only issue was, there was no regalia to be had. Hrothgar lent out his baldrick, but that was problematic in and of itself. Hrothgar is one of only 7 mentor chirurgeons in Lochac, and his regalia is bounded in gold, not white.

To this end, I decided to make some regalia. I intend to donate it to the first aid box at Riverhaven. This way, they will always have regalia for the chirurgeon on duty.

Chirurgeon's baldrick

Chirurgeon’s baldrick

The embroidery has been done in cotton, stem stitch. The baldrick itself used some reasonably heavy-weight red cotton, bounded on each side of the fabric strip with white bias binding. It seemed easier to do it that way. I’ve simply stitched the inner, the outer and the white trim using a running stitch. This was great practice for me to get my stitches evenly spaced and consistent. I’ve already had someone tell me it looks like I used a sewing machine, which makes me most proud. It’s a bit ragged where I’ve stitched the white teardrop on, but I’m considering attaching the teardrop in a different manner for my next attempt (which will go to St Florian de la Rivere).

Because everyone should be able to tell who the first aider is at an event.

#46 Wooden Spoon

This was carved for an Arts and Sciences competition at the Stegby Feast of Friendship this year for an item for a feasting kit. I was lazy, I didn’t write up any documentation to go with the entry, so I lost to an unadorned Viking era horn spoon with awesome amounts of documentation. I’ve been asked to run a collegia on carving for Riverhaven, but I’m not really sure what I would talk about. Carving is what it is… you take stuff away until you have what you’re aiming for or until something breaks.

Mermaid Spoon

Mermaid spoon

This spoon was made in stages. I knew what basic profile I wanted it to be, so I drew that onto the block of wood (which by the way is acacia). This was using a hand saw with a cylindrical blade. Then I cut the profile from the other direction. I cheated with this one… I used a cutting disk on a dremel.

Spoon bowls are annoying to carve out. I started by hand, got sick of that, then used the dremel, and eventually finished off with a gouger once I had it to almost the right depth.

After a fair amount of sanding, I had a shape I was pleased with, at which point I started worrying about details. I carved striations into the hair, individual fingers, and used a small gouger to mark her tail with scales.

Closer image of the mermaid's hair on the spoon

Closer image of the mermaid’s hair on the spoon

The reverse of the spoon shows that she has breasts.

The reverse shows the feature most often attributed to mermaids…

 

 

This closeup shows detail of the tail's scales

Spoon detail of the tail

I am a little disappointed that I encountered a couple of borer holes in the course of carving, but as I didn’t come across them until fairly late in the piece, I decided there was nothing to do about it, and set to polishing. That was the end of my work on the spoon prior to its entry into the competition.

At this stage, I’ve decided I need to continue work on my mermaid. I haven’t done a lot of work with wood before, so the polishing has been mainly hard work and very little in the way of cutting compounds or sealants as I didn’t want to run the risk of contaminating the wood. Using the spoon once has convinced me that I need to seal the wood before using it again. So it’s time for me to look at food-safe options.

Checking back in…

It’s been quite some time since I blogged here, and I haven’t been going to many events due (mostly) to time constraints, but that doesn’t mean that all has been silent on the A&S front. This being AS 49, I decided I need to get up and moving on my 50 things project, and to do this, I need to get up to date with my list. I previously was at Breadth challenge #27, so here’s my list continuing on:

28. My songbook has now expanded to include 55 songs, some of which are period and some not. This has been a depth challenge for me (and will continue to be ongoing… there are a lot of songs available  and a lot of pages in my songbook which are yet to be filled in.) I’ve got a YouTube channel where I’m gradually adding content. Due in part to bad speakers, another part to poor microphones, and a third part to the fallibility of my vocal cords, the sound is not always the best, but I believe it’s probably sufficient for other bards to pick up a tune from what I’ve posted. You can listen to me on this channel:   https://www.youtube.com/user/RevKristine

29. My wedding dress. You’ve already seen the fabric, here and here… the final product was entirely hand stitched to my own design. It didn’t entirely work the way I wanted, due majorly to my weight (and size) jumping all over the place while I was making the dress. However, I’m (mostly) satisfied with what I made, and apart from some minor freakouts on the day and the groom having a broken leg (that’s a story unto itself), the wedding went well. I’ve since used the dress at an event, and now that I am fatter, it fits me a lot better.

My wedding dress, from my own design.

My wedding dress, from my own design.

30. My wedding cake. This was made entirely of gingerbrede with marzipan icing. I will admit to buying the pink flowers on the cake, but am particularly proud of my own marzipan roses.

Wedding cake made on gingerbrede and marzipan

Wedding Cake

31. A painted buckler. I carried it into the wedding. For those who are curious, the text on the buckler is not period. It is, instead, made of Tengwar and written in Sindarin (one of the Elvish languages from J.R.R. Tolkein’s Middle Earth stories). The text reads “loving twin souls” and “eternity”. Note: I did not make the buckler (which was rehomed to us from a heavy fighter who could no longer fight due to chronic shoulder injury), I simply painted it.

 

 

A painted buckler

A painted buckler

32. My wedding jewellery. Namely a strand of  black pearls, strung on silk, using a  toggle clasp.

A photo of me which displays my wedding jewellery

A photo of me which displays my wedding jewellery

 

 

 

33. A naalbinded phone pouch.

Naalbinded pouch

Naalbinded pouch for my love’s phone

34. Turks-head knot balls. I gifted these to Stegby a while back so the canton can build a children’s play box. I don’t currently have a photo.

35. Naalbinded bag. I make a lot of bags and pouches, it seems. This one became my token display area.

36. Bone pendant. This was a wedding gift for a couple of friends. This pendant was quite challenging due to the intricacy of the design.

Bone pendant featuring knotwork

37. Cider. My dear husband has taken to brewing his own cider, and so I have dabbled alongside him. Chief among my accomplishments is a dry pomegranate cider (yum).

38. Mead. I managed to find a period recipe for “weak mead”, which I have used, drank, then used further as a base for…

39. I am unsure what to name this drink. It may be considered a melomel, or it may be considered an ale: I used a weak mead recipe as a base and added barley. The result was dry, with a lemony flavour and a lingering but not unpleasant aftertaste in the back of the throat. I may try it again sometime.

40. Sekanjabin. This is a period Middle Eastern drink of  vinegar and sugar, heated until it becomes syrupy, and used as a cordial. I use red wine vinegar, but my father tells me it’s quite nice using apple cider vineger.

41. Embroidered handkerchiefs. Carrying tissues around at an event is (while convenient) something that detracts from authenticity. To this end, I have embroidered some handkerchiefs so that I’m not dropping tissues whenever I happen to have a runny nose at an event.

42. Illumination.  This was the product of an A&S class at this year’s Great Northern War.

Illumination

Illumination

43. Pilgrim bag for my father. Having at some stage read about Elizabethan era stitching techniques, and having a father who is about ready to entrust himself to the SCA and who accompanied me to Great Northern War, I decided he needed a pilgrim bag to put his feasting gear into. You can see the bag in the background of the below image. All fabric edges have been folded into a hem and secured with a running stitch, then seams have been whipstitched. I decided that, as the fabric I was using was unbleached calico and the stitches would be visible anyway, I would make the stitches become a feature of the bag. All stitching has been done in blue. I also followed this pattern with the strap, making the strap a long tube and placing the seam for the strap uppermost and in the middle rather than on one of the edges. I think this will probably add long term strength to the strap also.

Dad

My father. Note the bag on the table next to him.

That’s it for the moment. I’m so close to my 50! I do have a few projects on the go at the moment… one crewel work embroidery, a splitstitch embroidery, a blackwork collar, a girdlebook, and a carved spoon, which means that once they’re done, I have only two more items to manage for my list.

 

A Proper Sonet, Wherein a Louer Dolefully Sheweth his Grief to his L. and Requireth Pity

This is a song I’ve had in my songbook for a few years now. I spent quite a lot of time researching it and its tune, as (at the time) I had a fair amount of trouble finding ‘Row Well Ye Mariners’ online. I eventually settled for learning the tune off a wav file that played at incredible speeds.

The tune is fairly complex and took me a while to get down. I physically can’t sing the song any faster than I’ve sung it here – my tounge gets tied and trips over itself. It’s lyrics also indicate that it’s been written for a male vocalist, so my mezzo-soprano vocals are at odds with the intended outcome.

Online, you can find the transcript (along with other pretties) here: http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/ballads/handful.html, and a copy of an 1878 print here: https://archive.org/stream/handfulofpleasan00robiuoft#page/20/mode/2up.

The Spirit of Lochac, and on writing filk (and why I can’t teach it)

Looking through my blog, I realised that I’ve not yet put in a plug for The Spirit of Lochac.

That’s probably because I wrote it before I started this blog.  Not only that, but it exists elsewhere on the internet, at the Lochac Performers and Entertainers Guild.  However, I am currently constructing a page to place all my song links onto, and I believe The Spirit of Lochac needs to be on that list.

A Lochac warrior stepped out
One bright and shining day
To face a horde of armed men
Upon the battle fray
His armour gleamed, his shield held high,
His sword held fast in hand
As he stepped forth that fateful day
For to protect his land

‘Twas on the field at Rowany
Our hero stood his ground
An army waited by his side,
But not one made a sound.
For on the ridge, an awful sight,
The enemy was vast,
And then they roared, that mighty horde,
And fell upon them fast.

Swords and shields did crash and bang
In dizzy fearsome flight
But every time the one foe fell,
Another joined the fight
Weariness did take its toll
Our hero’s arms ran red
And amongst the gore of those he slayed
None noticed that he bled.

His strength was sapping mighty quick,
In vain our hero tried,
But from one foe, the telling blow
And our dear hero died.
But lies a heart of fortitude
In every Lochac man
And like unto a Lazarus
Our hero rose again.

His pallid flesh was icy cold
But his eyes they burned like flame
A demon in him bursted forth
As each opponent came
The bodies piled within his wake,
None could withstand his might,
And as the last opponent fell
He vanished in the night.

Seven times that day he fell
And seven times he rose,
For Lochac men do not lie down
To face their battle foes.
A horde of men that day he fought,
A horde of men he slayed
For none can match the valour of
A Lochac hero’s shade!

The song was written specifically (at least in part) for Festival, where I received nothing but positive feedback for it, especially from the fighters that heard it.  But the best feedback was the silence after I sang it in the bardic circle, and seconds later, the almost whispered “Huzzah“.

This recording is not the best rendition.  It was recorded when the song was in its very first stages of being settled in my head, and contains none of the tempo changes I use now.  I do intend to re-record this song at some stage, but until then, please, if you see me at an event, don’t be afraid to collar me for a live performance.  So long as my throat is in good condition, I’ll be more than willing.

For those who find the tune familiar, you may indeed have heard it before.  It’s a direct rip of The Handsome Cabin Boy by Kate Bush.

This was not the original tune I had planned for this song.  The original tune was going to be Tempus Adest Floridum, more popularly known now as Good King Wenceslas.  Nor is it the original lyrics.  In fact, very little of the ditty that woke me up in the wee hours of the morning late 2010 actually remains.

I’ve been writing poetry since I was twelve.  Reams and reams of the stuff.  I’m 36 as of the writing of this post, so that makes 24 years of experience.  Writing is like any other skill, it improves with practise.  But for me, writing has never been a process of sitting down with the aim of writing something.  That process works with some people, but every time I actually attempt to write poetry, I end up with drivel.  My best works have been spontaneous, and tend to occur at the most inconvenient times.  The middle of the night, while riding a bicycle, while sitting in a restaurant… I recall one time in particular when I wrote on the back of a shopping docket in eyeliner because I had no paper or pen handy, but the words burning through my mind so quickly that I knew I would lose them if I waited.

For a long time I thought that spark was all I needed for my writing, and if I had continued with that line of thought, you would, instead of listening to The Spirit of Lochac, be listening to The Seven Deaths of ****** (name blocked to protect the innocent), a jaunty tune which describes how one specific SCAdian dies several times in succession.  It was very specific.  I thought he might have taken it amiss that I killed him over and over again in song.  I quite like him, and you don’t try to kill friends.  So I tabled it.  It didn’t scan well, the lyrics were off colour, it just wasn’t going to work as it was.
But editing is an important part of writing poetry, and the core of the story was a good one, so I took what was good and worked with it.  Sometimes you’ve got a heap of good that’s wiped out by just a few lines.  Experience is the only thing that can tell you what to cut and what to keep.

I removed all references to the original victim of the song.  I wanted this to be a ghostly hero rather than a real life person.  And I got rid of the music altogether and stepped back into an easy rhythm which I call “horseplod”, but which probably had a much nicer name somewhere outside of my own head.  Basically, the accent is on every second syllable.  Eight syllables first line, six the second, eight the third, six the fourth, rhyme on the second and fourth lines.  When I’d finished cutting and shaping, which was quite a tedious process, I had 4 verses of usable material.

Later that day I was listening to various ballads, and The Handsome Cabin Boy was amongst them.  It stuck me that this used the same beat pattern I had settled on for my poem, so that was the tune I used.

Unfortunately, the very first person I showed it to (beyond my other half, whom I automatically expect to be biased), after raving at how it read like music, tried to give me the tune she thought I should put with it.  All I heard coming from her lips was the same note over and over again in a rather unrhythmic pattern, which does not a tune make.  At which point I told her I already had decided on using the tune from another ballad (a wonderfully period practice), and sang her the first verse.  Her face turned sour and she told me that I didn’t need to turn it into a dirge, that this should be a more uplifting song, and that I should write my own music, I shouldn’t make filk.

Please don’t ever do this to anyone.

I put this song away for months because of her comments.  I knew it was good poetry, but I wanted it to be good music.   I’d even forgotten I’d written it, as I hadn’t wanted to look at it after hearing negative comments the first time I’d shown my work.  Criticism does not equal critiquing, and can be very harmful.

Eventually I found it again during a tidy up months later,  and reading through it with fresh eyes I found there was a lack within the story at two points.  I didn’t have a description of where my warrior was, or what he was facing (which became verse 2), nor did I have a description of what happened when he rose (this became verse 5).  I spent roughly a week on those two verses.  I knew what I wanted to say, but writing with purpose is not my strong suit.  It was at this point that I decided to make the song specifically for Rowany Festival, as I was steadily gearing up to attend.  Those two verses were, I think,  the thing that took this from good poetry to great poetry.

I then revived the tune.  I was convinced it could sound good despite what had been said, so I persevered.  And thus was born The Spirit of Lochac.

I was asked just a few days ago about perhaps doing a collegia on how to write period style filk.  But I can’t teach that.  I just don’t know how to teach a skill that’s grown from something I do without thinking about it.  Perhaps this blog entry gives a small taste of why that is.

And if you haven’t found the link to the song yet, here it is one more time:  The Spirit of Lochac

(c) Kristine Robinson 2011

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