Category Archives: Events

Scadians are funny that way

Yesterday I attended the wedding of Russ Sheldon (Master Dafydd, my shrub) and Valerie West (THL Mathild). This was my first purely mundane event involving a healthy mix of Scadians and non-Scadians alike. Though the weather looked questionable at times, the rain held off and an ok day turned into a wonderful night.

The wedding was held at Russ and Val’s home. They had arranged for a pair of large tents to occupy their front yard (which is about the size of a soccer field). The first, where the ceremony was held, was about 30ft x 60ft. It was connected to the much larger reception tent via a covered walkway, which housed the bar. The ceremony was lovely, touching and fairly short in duration (no hymms were sung. Woohoo!). After they exchanged vows, signed the necessary paperwork, posed for a few pictures and stepped outside to form something of a receiving line, something weird happened…

All of the Scadians stood up, folded up the chairs and started carrying them into the reception tent to be placed where we would be eating. Seeing what was going on, the mundanes started doing the same. The event catering staff were lost. They didn’t know what to make of this. Wedding guests, in their experience, don’t move furniture. Scadians, on the other hand, can clear a hall of tables and chairs faster than your average Class 5 tornado. We are used to it. We lend a hand and help (especially if there is lifting to be done). It’s what we do.

We’re funny like that.

This ain’t vacation, this is war

Pennsic XLIII is officially underway!

Today was Land Grab, the day when troll opens and good gentles from around the Known World begin to descend upon Cooper’s Lake Campground. Today is the day that canvas pavilions spring from the ground and a small city is formed (with approximately 12,000 inhabitants).

View from my porch at Pennsic
View from my porch at Pennsic

This year, the camp I am with numbers around 68 people. We set up about 20 canvas tents…before the rains came. It would seem that Odin the Alfather and Thor heard we were in town and decided to welcome us in style. We had one tent collapse & other than the scared children inside, no great harm was done. Oh, George got struck by lightning. He’s fine. Actually, I don’t think electrons affect George. Largely, he commands them to do his bidding.

Marick & Nunno
Marick and Nunno, working on the solar powered kegerator. Look, Nunno is not dead!

Tomorrow (Sunday) will see a folks making camp more homey. Crates and totes and boxes of stuff will be unpacked, sorted and set up as required. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to run electricity to my tent so I can use my CPAP (medical device) and actually breathe while I sleep. It’s going to be a long night.   Sunday night, Peace Week: This was a day of rest for me. I did not get any sleep last night (as predicted) and I take a small measure of pride in saying that despite this, I was not the most crusty person in camp this morning. Some people are positively sub-human if they haven’t had their morning cup. I did manage to empty my car and trailer today. All of the totes, tables, and carving materials have been stowed and secured. Other camp mates arrived today as well; M and J with wee little Amelia (too adorable for words) along with my Bird, Master Hector, Sara-mom & their young family. Of course, rains were threatening while we hastily set up their tent & found refuge for the gear they brought (belonging to others). Certain liquid favours for the war effort were delivered and accepted eagerly plus, I got word that a few bottles of Viking Blood mead are set to arrive next weekend and they have my name on them.

War of the Trillium

From June 26th until July 1st of this year, The War of The Trillium was fought, once again, in the Barony of Septentria (that’s in the Kingdom of Ealdormere, just so you know). Trillies is the largest camping event annually held in Ealdormere with attendance ranging from 300-450 gentles.

It was a stressful time leading up to the event. I had 2 new tents to deal with of a style that I had ever set up before. This was the 1st camping event for my girls and I this year so there was the endless hunt to find all of the kit. The trips to the site during the week leading up to it were too many to count (the trials of a small car, 2 kids and not enough camping experience) but the landowners were awesome and accommodating (love you guys!). Add to this my regular, ramped up anxiety levels and things were getting pretty shaky before the event.Camp Thule, day break

I camped with the Thuligans of Petrea Thule for the 1st time and those people good for my soul. It’s a smaller camp than I am used to but so many inspiring and encouraging conversations spontaneously erupting all the time. My girls were with me and dove right in. Oz quickly found herself learning to cook over an open fire with Mistress Keja and Lady Urraca and has earned herself the name “Bacon Maker” while Nemka did what she does best…wrangle kidlettes so parents could enjoy some time being kids themselves.Oz, learning about cooking fires under the watchful & enthusiastic eye of Mistress Keja

I got my brain picked and prodded by a smattering of folks and i did the same. Huge thanks to Masters Martin, Wil and Mistress Aelfwyn for letting me get me woodworking geek on and to Mistress Keja for introducing me to the term “experimental archaeology”. Gods only know where THAT will take me. Everyone in camp was very supportive of me making stuff and showing to others. In fact, these nutters convinced me to challenge into a Arts & Science group with a proposed 12 month project. I do not know if the Fian will accept my proposal or not but, in theory, I’ll have to talk about it during Court at Pennsic. Oi!

Royal Court was a busy place. The Honourable Lady Tarian was elevated to the Order of the Laurel and three other gentles we’re placed on vigil (one each for the Order of the Laurel, Pelican and Chivalry). I am unsure when/where the P and L will occur but the knighting will take place at Pennsic. That will be kinda cool for me as I have never witnessed a knighting before. I became Baronial Archery Champion (in Baronial Court on Monday). It’s a good gig for me because 1, it ensures I attend court more often and get dressed up for it and 2, I get to talk about archery and encourage more wannabe archers within Septentria.

Like many people, I viewed Trillies as a practice round for Pennsic. It’s a good time to figure out canvas, what you really need in camp, how to pack it and the general logistics of a longer camping event. I am so very glad I did this. Honestly, my preparations and packing for Trillies were horrible, but I learned a lot. Luckily I am borrowing a trailer for Pennsic so I don’t need to spend as much time tetrising my kit. The other cool thing is that I will have that trailer 2 weeks before departure so I have lots of time to pack and be organized.

And THAT is where we officially enter the realm of fantasy.

Einar goes to war!

This post is a little on the long side so, brace yourself. In fact, go make a sandwich or two and then come on back. I’ll wait for you…

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All set now? Cool, let’s go….

Gulf Wars, a war with no enemies, was held from March 9th until March 16th this year in Lumberton, Mississippi. There was a strong contingent of Ealdormerians making the trek to support our friends, The Kingdom of Trimaris in the war effort. I decided to tag along for the first time.

Now before I go any further, I need to tell you good gentles, that I have lost the notes I made while on site. As such, I’ll probably miss a few things and may even mess up what happened on what day.

I was part of a two-vehicle caravan for the 18+ hour drive. In the lead was Master Dafydd ap Sion, THL Jocelyn Roget de Cranewell and THL Brendan Hunterson. (we lost one of our merry band before we left Toronto but that is not my tale to tell). I was in charge of bringing up the rear; no easy task with Mr. Sulu driving the lead car and Scotty pushing the engines to beyond maximum warp! Have you ever driven from Ontario to Mississippi? Spoiler alert, it’s a bloody long way! We did it over 2 days and it was largely uneventful. We did play “tourist” on day 2 by visiting a Frank Lloyd Wright home in Tennessee. The woodworker in me was intrigued by the designs and use of simple, understated woods.

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We arrived on site an hour or so after troll opened. The folks running troll had obviously done this before because it was a smooth operation. There are a few cabins on site at Gulf Wars, reserved for Royalty and their entourage. I was part of the latter group so that’s where I was staying. Let me tell you, that’s a pretty sweet way to “camp” when you’re so far from home. Getting my cavern of a tent down there would have been impossible so I was grateful that Their Majesties Nigel and Adrielle took my sorry, puppy dog face in and off the streets.

A bunch of us went on a town run for dinner and supplies the 1st night. This included a trip to WalMart and let me tell you something…I completely understand why citizens randomly go off their nut and shoot people from time to time! That place is not fit for humans. Now I know, I am not known as being the most patient fellow in a lot of situations but this had me wishing I had my bow in hand.

On our 1st full day on site, a few of us trotted to the merchant areas. Her Excellency Septentria, Anneke The Furious, and I paid a visit to Greybarr to settle some business about a bow and then she took and introduced me to Boots by Bohemond. I needed/wanted some SCA-appropriate footwear and I was told that Bohemond was the man to see. Folks, let me say this… You could not ask for a better shopping experience than dealing with this man. Period. Bohemond researches his designs to make them period but, user friendly for 21st century feet. He makes his footwear himself and backs up what he makes. Best thing is that he is one of us. He’s a Scadian. Knight, Laurel, all round good guy.

Monday saw me playing the role of Entourage for His Majesty. We found our way to the stables where He would meet and get acquainted with His mount for Opening Ceremonies the next day. My job was to hang to the Crown while he rode and passed inspection with the equestrian Marshall’s (which he did). I didn’t wind up getting banished or anything so I must have done my bit to make His life easier. 🙂 Which brings me to Tuesday and Opening Ceremonies…

At Gulf Wars, the Royalty from the represented kingdoms ride into OC on horseback , through the town, on to the battlefield and the castle. The pageantry is something to see. Behind their respective Soverign marches the armies of the different Kingdoms and whoever else wishes to be part of a parade. Around 15 or 20 of us Ealdormerians made the trek to GW and we formed the (now) legendary Ealdormerian Cavalry.

Ealdormerian Cavalry, going to war
Ealdormerian Cavalry, going to war

The “legendary” part does not come from the fact that we stampeded the opening ceremonies, making a general spectacle of ourselves after Their Majesties Ealdormere declared the Kingdom’s support of Trimaris in the war. No, the “legendary” part arises from the fact that we did this while on our hobbie horses. You can see one of them, escorting Her Excellency Septentria, in the photo. Oh, and check out my poofy pants and fancy new booties!

wpid-storageemulated0DownloadGW23-194-of-717-XL.jpg.jpgThis is us, post stampede, wondering if Their Majesties are going to banish us nice they catch us or…Knight us all.

***Note*** It is now early May and I am still writing this post. What this means is that I no longer have any recollection of what happened on what day of Gulf Wars. So, from here on out, I’m just going to wing it and if I get the days wrong…well, I’m sure the Earth will continue to spin. ***End note***

I took care of most of my shopping needs early in the week but that didn’t stop me from enjoying Midnight Madness in the merchant area. For me, it was a wonderful torchlit stroll with friends. Much laughter was had, pocketbook lightening occurred, marauding yet somewhat whimsical cats raced among the lanes and music happened. My advice for anyone attending Gulf Wars, Pennsic or (likely) any other war is to be sure and “do” Midnight Madness. It’s entertaining as hell, whether you are serious shopping or just noodling about, trying to make sure your Baron doesn’t wander off and trade a Canton for some “magic beans”.

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This is a partial view of the rapier ravine battle. Ok, the battle is actually to the right of the frame. THIS is a partial view of the back porch of the Calontir encampment. What we see is good folks enjoying something like dinner-and-a-show, Calontir-style. There was gumbo, mint juleps and pie for everyone. It was delightful and one of my absolute favourite memories of any SCA event.

wpid-20140313_190230.jpg Our Sovereigns, yucking for the commoners before entering The Royal Court of Calontir. They don’t like to have fun.

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So, this happened. It was awesome.

The only other wars I have been to are the War of the Trillium (300 +\- people) here in Septentria and Pennsic (13,000 people or so). Trillies is its own local wonderfulness. A good chunk of Ealdormere comes out and because it’s in my home barony, it’s a nice close. It is also the most laid back of the wars I’ve attended.

Pennsic is a world of its own. Literally and legally, it becomes an actual town during its 2 week existence because of its population. The selection of classes offered at Pennsic University is astounding. The merchant area is so big and diverse that you could arrive on site with nothing more than a credit card (or bucket of cash) and completely outfit yourself for war including clothes and accessories, armor and weapons, food and shelter. The battlefield of Pennsic is where legends are born. Basically, it is a complete escape from the modern world, a place of non-stop action and wonder as well as a place to do absolutely nothing but sit under a tree (unless you are camped on the Serengeti), a place to revel in good companionship.

Gulf Wars is somewhere in between. With attendance of between 3,000 and 4,000 it’s smaller than Pennsic and on a much smaller piece of land. Folks are packed in pretty good at GW. The good thing about that is you are never far from where you want to be. The merchant area is much smaller here but, it seems all of the best vendors from Pennsic come to Gulf Wars. I’ll take quality of quantity. I also got the overall vibe that GW is a little more relaxed than Pennsic (but not even close to Trillies).

Would I do Gulf Wars again? Absolutely, but it won’t be on my yearly rotation. There are only so many events I can afford each year and Lumberton Mississippi is a long, long way from the Northlands. Taking distance out of the mix, which would I rather attend? Tough call but I think I would have to lean towards Pennsic. Sitting by the lake with a breeze, the sound of the drums (when I don’t to stab the perpetrators for sheer volume and lack of rhythm), being able to take all of the gack and set up a home are heavy draws for me. But, for me at least, Pennsic is an emotional place. I get all the feels there (with a large dose of the bad ones) and that is not good for me. Gulf Wars allowed me to leave most of the feels somewhere else. THAT was a welcome thing.

Kingdom Arts and Sciences, Spring 2014 Faire

On March 29th, the Barony of Ben Dunfirth hosted Ealdormere’s Arts and Sciences, Spring 2014 Faire. It’s an opportunity for the Kingdom’s makers-of-all-the-things to come out and share what they have been working on. This is the first year that I have attended A&S and I was blown away by the talent shown by the populace, on such a diverse range of topics! We had painters, weavers, leather workers, embroiders, textile junkies, musicians and so much more.

I recently had trouble with the tablet weaving loom I was using. When I decided to built a new one in a more period style, Master Daffyd suggested that I document the process and enter it in A&S. Below is a copy of my documentation.

Enjoy!

So then, I built a loom

by Einar Inn Austrifara Josepsson

March, 2014

Introduction:

I have recently discovered that tablet weaving can be a rather mentally therapeutic activity for me. To date, I have only attempted simple patterns with the entire stack of tablets turning as one unit so there is comfort in the simple rhythm and my brain can go into sleep mode (mostly). Through liberal application of brute force, I have managed to damage my original loom. I could have easily made another using tougher materials but that’s not really how my mind works. Knowing that there had to be a more difficult process, I set out to find it.

And I did.

What have we got here?

This is a tablet weaving loom, based on the loom components found as part of the Oseberg burial find. It is not intended to be a replica or recreation.

How did he do that?!?!

For the construction of this loom, I relied on modern tools and woodworking techniques. For me, the process was less important than the need for a functional loom.

lumber pile

I began with a 4 foot length of 8/4 kiln dried ash. I found some anecdotal evidence that the original was made from alder but as they say, “the jury is still out on that”. Ash seemed like a good choice for a few reasons: it is readily available to me, I’ve worked with it before (different woods behave in different ways when put to the tools) and because while ash is very strong timber, it also has some flex to it (which should serve well under the tension of the threads). The uprights were milled out and turned on my lathe. Like the original, I made them approximately 3 feet long. Where I varied the design the most was with the length of the loom. On the advice of Master Rufus of Stamford, I made sure the longest pieces would fit inside the trunk of my car so I could break it down and transport it to events. So, I made the two horizontal pieces 4 feet long.

turning

The base was made by attaching the feet to the lower crosspiece via glue and wood screws; the uprights insert into holes drilled in the feet. (The original does not share how this had been done. It is reasonable to assume some form of sliding dovetail or lap joint was used, possibly reinforced with pegs). The cross bar is secured via through mortise and tenon joints on each end. I made the crossbar a little longer than it ought to be for 2 reasons. Number 1, I did not want to use any wedges or pegs to secure it to the uprights (too much work and they could go missing) and number 2, the uprights fit a tad loose into the holes in the feet. By making the crossbar a little longer, it forces the uprights outward, creating pressure where the uprights join the base. This results in the uprights locking into the base. The tension/compression between the uprights and the cross bar help ensure rigidity in the loom.

 At this time, I am undecided as to how I want to decorate or embellish the loom. Except for the portion of the uprights which will be in contact with the threads, I have not attempted to sand or finish the surface of the wood in any way (the uprights have been sanded to 400 grit sandpaper, with no finish applied). The rest of the loom will host some knot work patterns, carving or paint as time and ambition present themselves.

 The tools used in the construction were: various power saws, wood lathe, drill press, mortise and paring chisels, a variety of measuring/marking/layout tools, my mp3 player (music is essential) and band aids (2 of them).

Yeah, but is it period?

In 834AD, human remains and a variety of grave goods were interred at what is now known as the Oseberg farm near Tønsberg, Norway1. Among the grave goods were a variety of textiles, including 52 threaded tablets used for weaving. They were attached to uprights of a weaving frame. Below is an artists rendering of how the loom might have looked.

 diagram2

As stated previously, the loom I build is shorter in length than the original. The feet are of a different design as are the embellishments to the base.

That’s all very nice but WHY did you build it?

Very simply, because I damaged my original loom. Here it is…

original loom 1

original loom 2

As you can see in the 2nd picture, the base of my loom has bent. The result of this is that the threads no longer stay in tension very well. This happened for 2 reasons: # 1, plywood was not the best choice of material and # 2, I applied too much pressure to the clamping mechanism. Besides its flexibility, another problem with the plywood is that the bolts going through the clamp block had stripped and were turning freely on their own. This resulted in me needing both hands to simply tighten the clamping mechanism and THAT meant that I no longer had a free hand to tension the wrap in a consistent fashion. I don’t believe any of this would have happened if I had been a touch more delicate while clamping things down in the first place.

All of this brought me to question if there was a style of loom that did not rely on any sort of clamping device to secure the threads. My intense attraction to being comfortable plus my tendency to be easily distracted made me feel that a back-strap loom was not the best choice for me. Also, I discounted an inkle loom because I knew it was not a piece of period equipment and thus, not terribly suitable as a possible A&S project (besides, every kid has one of those).

When I saw pictures of and read a bit about the loom found at Oseberg, I was intrigued. I wasn’t sure how the threads were attached to the loom however, I knew it was done without any kind of mechanism. This appealed to me greatly. Further research and discussion with other weavers led me to know I could shorten the overall length of the loom so it would be portable yet still highly functional.

built

Now I had a type of loom with no moving parts, that was portable and of a period design. So, I went with it.

But, where does the woe and strife come into the story?

I ran into 2 difficulties with this project: measurements and documentation.

Most of the woodworking I do takes place at my lathe where I have been known to say, “Measurements? What are those?” Very little of my work requires taking or transferring accurate measurements. Wood joinery (the fitting together of two or more pieces of wood to create a new shape) requires that measurements be taken and accurately transferred to multiple pieces of wood. I am horrible at this and that is why I had a tough time cutting the mortise and tenon joins for the cross bar. I actually messed up the first cross bar so badly that a second attempt was required with a fresh piece of wood. On top of that, it had been quite some time since I had worked with wood outside of my lathe. My skills with those tools had greatly diminished.

The second true difficulty I had was in the write up. As the song says, “I’ve not tried to research, since my high school days” and I found to process very stressful. I do not have a great deal of books on my shelf related SCA pursuits. My local library is either void of what I need or I lack the research chops to find it. This leaves the internet and asking other people for help. The internet, of course, holds loads of information but I rarely know if what I’m reading is good source or not.

The great thing about Scadians is that they love to share what they know or help you find something. The trouble is that I’m not great at asking. Call it anxiety or a lack of social communication skills. Either way, it is a very real problem.

The other part of research and documentation that troubles me is the writing of it. When I try to write in a professional, scholarly fashion I fail miserably. I switch between 1st and 3rd person , mix up my verb tenses and generally make a hash of it. The best writing I do is when I write like I speak (though with fewer expletives). It’s usually easy to read and understand which is great for most readers but, not very research-y. This too worries me.

Moving forward…

The biggest thing I got out of this project was the knowledge that there are good people around me who are willing and eager to share what they know. It also reaffirmed that I feel better when I am making things and for a variety of reasons, I haven’t felt like doing that lately. I am also reminded that we each have very different experiences and skill sets and that what I find second-nature or intuitive, others will have never considered (and vice verse). Remembering this will serve me well whenever I writing about my work.

The next step in terms of my weaving will be learning how to warp up my thread, secure it to this loom and quite frankly, see if this loom will make my weaving easier or not. If it does not, well, there’s always another A&S competition and this one will make for some nice, decorative tent pegs. I am quite certain that I will rebuild my original loom so that I can have multiple projects on the go at once.

Thank you.


1Durham, Keith. Noon, Steve. (2002). Viking Longship Osprey Publishing ISBN 1-84176-349-7