Welcome! I'm Ilene Johnnestoune, a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Come join me on my wanderings, as I share my interests both within and sometimes slightly outside the SCA.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Textile Goodness

I know I've mentioned that at Village Faire, I took a wonderful class showing how to build a pvc tablet weaving loom.  I had been wanting to do this for a while, as I didn’t want to invest in a nice wood loom until I knew for sure if this was an art I wanted to spend time with.

Now that I have my loom, ideas are sneaking through my head of what to do with it.  I’ve already bought red and black thread for it, and I now have the shuttle that my father-in-law made for me.  (Which is very cool, and I think I might eventually paint it something heraldic.)  I’ve been trying to ignore all these sneaky little thoughts, as I still have a good amount of knitting to do before Christmas.  I’m not quite sure if I will make it that long, however, and it’s not all my fault.

Last night, some friends of mine told me about something evil.  (Thank you Your Excellencies!!)  On the web, there is a site with a card weaving pattern generator.  Yes, you heard me right.  And you can download it to you computer.  And it appears to be free.  Yes, yes, I know, right now you’re looking at the screen and saying “you plan to share, right?”.  Well, obviously, that’s the whole purpose of me telling you about it!  The website is called the Card Weavers Studio and all the information is right on that page.  I played with it a little, and it appears to be very cool.  Hopefully when I get home tonight I can download the program onto my computer and have some fun with it.  If anybody else downloads it, let me know what you think!

So as all things do, one thought led to another and I started looking at some of the other sites that had come up on my search.  I found the site Textile Techniques & Tools which looks very yummy.  There are scads of links on this page, some I already know and lots that I don’t.  I really haven’t had any time yet to go through them, but there’s enough that I know is good to make me want to share.  I also found Þóra Sharptooth’s page.  She has loads of links as well, and I’ve heard from lots of people that she is an amazing resource for textile information.

Calontir has a very cool website for the Fiber & Needle Guild.  There are several very interesting articles and links on this page alone, and I didn’t really go through the rest of the site.

I found a really cool page that talks about Tablet Weaving for Kids.  This isn’t really pertinent for somebody wanting to learn tablet weaving themselves, but is awesome for those wanting ideas on how to teach it, especially to children.

There are lots and lots of other pages out there, so I won’t even attempt to list them all.  If you have a link that you have found extremely helpful and informational, please share!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Kirk, the Saints, and a Place to Live

This week has been mostly about saints and religion.  Living in early 16th Scotland, Ilene would most definitely have been Catholic.  The reformation didn’t really take hold until the 1560’s, and I have placed myself as currently living in 1540.  Being Catholic, saints would have been important to me.  When I was asked in my persona interview who my patron saint was, I managed to rattle something off, but afterwards I was a little appalled that I never thought to research who it would be.  So that’s what I’ve been doing.  The best part is, it’s a wee bit complex. 

Patron saint of Edinburgh  Living in Edinburgh, I would have known that the patron saint of the city was St Giles.  I also would have known that there was a church on the Royal Mile dedicated to him.  

Patron saint of Cordiners  As my husband was a cordiner (shoemaker), I would have known who the patron saint of the guild was.  In this case it was St Crispan.  He was also the patron saint for lace makers and weavers, which I think is very cool.

Patron saint of our church (kirk)  I would also have known which saint our church was dedicated to.  I have determined that if I was living nears Kings Stables Rd, West Port, etc, then I would have most likely attended St Cuthbert’s Church.  As the name implies, the patron saint is St Cuthbert.  Unfortunately the church took very severe damage several times over the years, so the current structure only dates back to the 1800’s.  St Cuthbert himself seems pretty cool, so I’m pretty happy with this discovery. 

My personal patron saint  So apparently in addition to all the saints I listed above, I also would have had a personal patron saint.  After talking to a friend who is Catholic both in real life and in her persona, my patron saint would have been a woman.  This makes sense, since there was quite a bit of superstition about the female sex, and there were things that could not be said to/in front of a man because of it.  For the time being I have chosen St Hilda.  From what I’ve read she was firm in her faith, but adaptable to the times as well.  She was both compassionate and business-like.  My friend is going to loan me some books on the Catholic saints when I’m ready, so that I can learn more than just the tidbits that are online.  Once I do, I might change this, but it will work for now.

In the midst of all this religious research, I’ve been trying to learn a little more about where in the city I would have lived.  So far I have not had much luck in determining when Kings Stables Rd and Johnston Terrace came into being, so I’m still searching about those.  I have confirmed that Cowgate Road and the Grassmarket were both most definitely in existence, as well as West Port.  I did find just this morning a great site with some period maps of the city.  It’s pretty exciting to look at them, and see how the city grew over the ages. 

I’m also finding quite a few books that are now in the public domain, and available for download via Google Books.  Here’s the ones that seem especially interesting.

  • Burgh laws of Dundee: with the history, statutes, & proceedings of the Guild of merchants and fraternities of craftsmen by Alex Johnston Warden
  • The incorporated trades of Edinburgh with an introductory chapter on the rise and progress of municipal government in Scotland by James Colston
  • History of the incorporation of cordiners in Glasgow by William Campbell
  • Old Glasgow weavers: being records of the Incorporation of Weavers by Robert M’Ewan
  • The Baxter books of St. Andrews: a record of three centuries by JH Macadam
  • Cassell's old and new Edinburgh by James Grant
 Needless to say I’ve got some reading to do.  I’m not sure what direction I’m going to take next in my research.  I know I want to find out what the restrictions were on purchasing wool and spinning.  Maybe I’ll head there next!  Anybody have any suggestions on topics?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Edinburgh - Finding Home

Shortly before Village Faire and the persona interview competition, I had made the decision to change where my persona lives.  I had originally placed myself in the Western March, as a Johnston married to an Armstrong.  After doing some research, however, I've determined that life on the borders was a little rougher than I would prefer.  Since I get to choose my alternate life, I'm picking one that's not full of hardship.  :)

Once I made the decision to change, it was natural to choose Edinburgh as my new home.  It was the capital city, and would be much easier to find information on.  There was all kinds of cool stuff happening there, such as the addition of a printing press very early in the 16th century, the creation of a school for surgeons, and so on.

Today I've been researching Edinburgh, seeing what I could find out about it's history, and where I might have lived.  I know that I would have been in what is now considered Old Town, as New Town was not built until after 1600.  I have found that the Grassmarket was the largest market in the city, and it was where cows and sheep were taken to be sold and then slaughtered.  The cordiners (shoemakers) guild was located at the west end of the market, in West Port.  Since my husband is a leatherworker, and specifically wants to be a shoemaker, it seems natural to pick a location near to where the guild was located.

Right now it looks like I will be settling either on King's Stables Road, or Johnston Terrace.  I'm going to need to try and find out a little more about the history of each before I make a final decision.  I am excited by the fact that where King's Stables and the Grassmarket meet is where the jousting grounds were.  This was also the main area for all things equestrian. HMMMM, I see this being figured into my newly revised persona story.

In the course of all my digging today, I found a few very cool sites.
National Library of Scotland - Online Resources  This site has a few Scottish bibliographies, that I will need to dig into further.  There are some other very cool resources on here also.
British History Online - Extracts from Edinburgh Records  This site looks exceptionally cool.  There are extracts from documents and records from Edinburgh dating to before and after the time period I'm looking at.  The only downside is that you can only view them on the website, there is no option to download the info that I could find.  I will definitely be spending some time on this site in the future.
National Archives of Scotland - Crafts & Trades  This site potentially looks like it will be a valued resource, but I need to dig a little deeper to confirm that.  The information is definitely there, but I'm not sure yet how much of it is available online.  I'll have to look into this further, and determine how much help it will be.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Village Faire 2010 - Spinning, Weaving, & Personas...Oh My!

This past weekend was my home Barony’s (Darkwater) Village Faire event.  This has become one of my favorite events of the year, as it is jam-packed with classes.  This year I was not part of the staff, so I actually got to take a few of the classes.

Spindle Spinning:  Since I started knitting over the summer, I’ve been reading various blogs by other knitters who also spin.  While I’ve seen this numerous times since I’ve been in the SCA, I never had a particular desire to try it out.  It looked interesting, and like something I would enjoy learning at some point, but that was about it.  Suddenly spinning has taken on a whole new interest for me, however.  The idea of being able to spin my own yarn, which I can then knit, is intriguing to say the least.  I’ve previously taken a class on spindles, and saw how they work, but I didn’t own one so I couldn’t try it out.  Then a very kind Laurel in my Kingdom offered to send me one with some roving to practice with.  I was ecstatic!  As soon as it arrived I tried it out, but had no idea what I was doing.  Then I saw that there would be a class at the event all about this.  I showed up a few minutes early, with spindle and roving ready.  It was AMAZING!!!!  Lady Gwenhwyvar Threadgould taught the class, and I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher.  By the end I understood the mechanics, and was actually starting to develop some consistency (just some!).  I am completely infatuated with this new art.  I’m already eyeing the roving I have left, thinking I will need to purchase more so that I can keep practicing. 

Tablet Weaving Looms:  the very kind lady Siobhan was teaching this class, and was even willing to teach it twice.  I showed up at the end, as I had something else I had to attend that hour.  She pulled back out all of her supplies, and spent the next hour showing me how to put the loom together, and giving me basic instruction on reading patterns and doing the actual weaving.  I’ve been interested in trying card weaving for some time, but did not have the instructions on how to create the pvc looms, nor the funds to buy a wooden one.  I now have a loom I can play with!  And I know how to build more if I need to.  So I’ve asked my father-in-law to make a shuttle for me, since he is an experienced woodworker.  As soon as I have that, I will be warping up (?) my loom and seeing what I can do!

In addition to the classes, Village Faire is also where the Baronial novice art/sci competition takes place.  Last year we added a category for persona interviews, and I was determined to enter this year.  I am very proud to say that I did so, and according to the judges did very well!  I didn’t win, but I am still very pleased.  The winner did an amazing job, and based on the description of her interview that I heard I hope I will eventually have as thorough a knowledge of my persona as she does hers.  I did manage to answer most of the questions accurately, and even pulled a few answers out of thin air when I couldn’t remember or didn’t know the correct information.  I made it through, however, and am very much looking forward to next year.  I already have plans for what I need to research.  *grin*

Speaking of personas, Baroness Adelheid and I hosted an in-persona luncheon.  The idea was to bring your lunch and join us under the Baronial pavilion, while staying in persona the entire time.  We had several people join us, most of which managed to avoid mundane topics.  In my opinion Adelheid and I did a very good job of sticking to our goal, and managed to not break character once we had started.  I found that I love the challenge of putting what I want to say into persona-appropriate terms.  We’ve decided that we will definitely have to do another luncheon, although we haven’t figured out when.

Overall I had a wonderful time at the event.  While there were some very interesting classes that I wasn’t able to take due to time conflicts, I made it to the ones that were most important to me.  This alone made the event worthwhile.  Add in all the great persona practice, and I think this will go down as one of my most memorable events.


Thank you for stopping by!  This is my first time creating a blog, so I'm not quite sure yet where it will go or if I'll be any good at it.  My goal is to share with anyone who's interested my adventures in the SCA, or Society for Creative Anachronism.  This will mostly focus on the arts & sciences, but since I do quite a bit of service also, that is sure to come up from time to time.

I hope you find my posts interesting, and worth coming back for.  Please feel free to leave me comments, I'd love to hear your feedback!