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Planning the Sewing Frenzy

utamaro_needlework

So we’ve decided to give Gulf Wars a try next year. My husband (Alfgeirr) and I are not great campers, but I have been to Pennsic twice (in my younger days), we’ve camped at Lilies, and at Armorgeddon, which tells you about how long it has been since we camped. (Since we moved near the KC area, we tend to day-trip Lilies when we go now.)

I measured my husband the other night for some new garb. Alfgeirr still fits some of his old garb, but his body shape has changed a bit, so it doesn’t fit as well as it did. It was funny, I grabbed the tunic worksheet that I had used the last time I had made him garb (3/15/2008–wow, it has been awhile!). He maybe hits one or two events a year due to his crazy work schedule, so I haven’t felt a need to make him anything new for awhile, but obviously he’ll need more for Gulf. He’d gained a lot of weight, then lost some of it, and really, the only big measurement difference was his abdomen (waist, hips). He’s one of those guys who carries his weight that way, whereas when I gain weight, it is distributed all over my body.

So it’s time to finally make the blasted Thorsbjerg trousers I’ve been promising him for the past 3 years. They’ll be a modified version–I’m adapting a pajama pants pattern and adding the crotch gussets which define the Thorsbjerg trousers. No footies, and he’d rather have a drawstring waistband than have to belt them, then belt the tunics above. I’ll do a trial pair from an old sheet and see how it goes, then use that as my pattern for the rest. Got everything out and ready, just doing my usual cutting procrastination!

He’ll also be getting some new tunics, but those are easy. I know I’ve got trim stashed around here–gotta dig through the stash. He has a Mongol-style hat if it gets cold, but he’ll need a 6-panel hat as well as a few hoods. He already has two pair of winningas, a variety of bags, two plain leather belts, and a torse if he feels fancy, so he’s good there. If I’m feeling ambitious, I might try to make a coat. Those look so awesome.

He doesn’t want to wear period shoes, due to some long-time foot issues. He’s had several surgeries on his left foot and his foot-shape is so odd that we have issues finding him modern shoes. Hey, whatever, he’s coming to the event with me. His plain black tennis shoes would blend, kinda. (Not really but I’m not pushing it.)

I’m in a quandary as to what to make for myself. I had bariatric surgery a few months ago. I’ve lost a lot of weight this past 6 months and I’m already where my old garb is way too big on me (and the stuff I outgrew years ago was donated to various groups’ Gold Key). I have 5 names registered (Austrian, Anglo-Saxon, Japanese, Magyar, and 16th century English), but my main focus has been on the Japanese for the last 15 years.

Apparently (according to a good friend), I confuse people because I so rarely wear Japanese garb, but instead usually don 10th-11th century Anglo-Norman stuff. I do that because it is fairly shapeless, easy to make, and I can wear wimples to hide my short hair. I actually took apart and remade two of my old tunics when they got too small for me, and still get compliments on the way I did it (added plain white linen strips down the sides–a very period solution). My friend suggested I go all-out Japanese, and then people might actually recognize me when they see me.

I guess I could. Certainly I’ve done the research (which for me is most of the fun!) and Japanese clothing is not fitted, plus it can be easily resized. I solved the hair issue with my zukin research. But damn, I’ve always wanted to look like I stepped out of a portrait, and I can’t do that with Japanese, my body shape is all wrong! Even in my skinny days, I couldn’t wear a kimono due to my broad shoulders and generous bosom.

But OTOH, for Gulf Wars, lower-class Japanese would be easy to do, with maybe one court outfit? Opinions, anyone?

The only stipulation is that I have to use what fabric I already own–a lot of various colors of linen, some pretty but polyester brocade, and the fabric from a bunch of vintage meisen silk kimono that I’ve been dissecting for the past couple of years for craft projects. I wonder if the meisen silk could be dyed over? It’s not painted–Meisen was stenciled on the loom, which is why it was so affordable. But I don’t know much about dye at all. As for the linen, I have a few stripes, but most of it is mono-colored (in a variety of shades). I could stencil or block-print it? Even lower-class Japanese loved their textures, that would really add a needed touch.

Shoes: I have a couple of pair of jika-tabi. Need to put in some inserts and test them for long-walk comfort. Zori will not do, when I wear them, my feet hurt the next day, and we’re looking at a week of walking around. I have a pair of geta (that I lent to somebody to wear and they ruined them), but again, not keen.

Hat: Zukin of course, plus I have a couple of straw kasa, one of which is wide enough to approximate an ichime-gasa (top shape is wrong, though). The other one would be better for a man, but I’ve seen pictures of women using those kinds of hats without the veils.

And I need to fit this sewing around my calligraphy stuff. Oh, well, Idle Hands are the Devil’s Playground, right?

*Photo: “A Woman and a Cat” print by Kitagawa Utamaro, approx. 1793-94

Something New to Play With

yamabushi-benkei-4
Benkei (the most famous sōhei) from the NHK Taiga Drama, Yoshitsune.

So as I recover from a recent surgery, I have been thinking about getting into Cut and Thrust (Calontir’s version of rapier) after I heal up. Yesterday, the Kingdom marshal for C&T was putting together a group order for gauntlets (he could get a good price if he ordered over 10 pair) and I decided to go in for a pair. Evidently, the rules are changing and the Society is beginning to require rigid protection for the hands.

Yes, technically, I could make gauntlets, especially the hardened leather types, as I have made armor in the past. But the bulk price of $40 (plus a percentage of the group shipping) made it worthwhile to buy. A couple of people in Calontir already have these type of gauntlets, so the kingdom marshal has cleared them for use. (Might need some slight mods, not sure yet.)

Not five minutes after I posted to the interest thread than Ayisha (more properly, HE Baroness Ayisha bint Asad), a local scribe I know who is a C&T enthusiast, PM’d me asking if I was planning to get into C&T. I told her that I was interested, that I had tried rapier back in the Midrealm years ago, but as an armored fighter, I didn’t have the time/money to pursue both. She was thrilled, and said she could bring the Barony’s loaner gear to either one of the Shire meetings or Shire fighter practices (we’re actually starting to have our own, wonder of wonders) if I let her know in advance. She’d be happy to go over all the basics with me, etc. She knows I’m still healing up, so no rush. She just really was eager for a new recruit, LOL.

So yeah, taking that first step. Usually I’d wait on the armor, but since this was a chance to save money, I decided to spring for the gauntlets.

While I heal up, I was giving some thought to the type of kit I would like to have. I’ve admired West Kingdoms’s HE Baroness Saionji no Hana’s rapier get-up, but I was thinking more in the terms of sōhei, especially since I have been researching kato no kesa (their headgear) for awhile, and have been wanting to try to make one.

Sōhei wore typical monk’s garb: kosode, ( Jikitotsu, and kukuri-bakama. Not sure with the kukuri-bakama if I could add ties directly to hakama to get the effect, or make kyahan (leg wraps).

One advantage of this style is that I would not have to worry about being fancy with the fabric. This outfit was traditionally black and white (or brown and white).

I liked Saionji-kimi’s idea of a shitagi for body protection and will give that a try.

Obviously, geta are not a practical choice–the marshal wants closed-toe shoes. I have some jika-tabi that could work for that. Maybe for effect I could make some waraji to wear with them?

The process will take some time, both to make the outfit and also figure out what kind of sword, mask/helm, and gorget I would need. I can decided that after I go through some practices and talk more with Ayisha. But this is the general plan I have in mind. I don’t mind being patient, since it took me nearly a year to build my first suit of armor when I was heavy-weapons fighting. I borrowed armor at practice (everyone knew I was building a set, so I waited my turn and no one minded) in the meantime. I figure this process would be similar.

Anyway, it looks like it will be fun, and also good exercise!

How Trimaris’ Coronation is Giving Me a Persona Crisis

Me and My Zukin Examples
Me and my Zukin Examples, Queen’s Prize, Calontir, 2016. I’m actually wearing European garb in this photo, though! Photo credit: Vilhelm Lich.

So reenactment versus appropriation—where do we draw the line? I was a little surprised at my own reaction upon seeing a picture of some of the populace’s response for the recent coronation in Trimaris, because they were words used in the Mass. For those of you who don’t know me, I am Catholic. For the most part, I’m pretty liberal, but to see Mass responses from the populace to what I assume was a fake Archbishop (as most Archbishops I have met would be way too busy to have much to do with the SCA) for some reason twisted my gut. I’m not sure why. Heaven knows these phrases have often been co-opted by modern society for reasons of entertainment or protest or even mockery.

I think it bothered me because I actually really love participating in the ritual of the Mass. For me, Mass is a rich spiritual experience. It gives me the deep connection to God that I rarely felt during my Southern Baptist childhood. So it threw me off a bit to see these phrases co-opted for a Coronation.

Will I be baying for the blood of whoever had this bad idea? Probably not. My discomfort is my own issue that I will deal with. But it has made me take a hard look at the work I have been doing with my own persona, a Japanese noblewoman who has taken lay Buddhist vows. The lay Buddhist vows part came into play 10 years ago, when I first started researching zukin (literally “hood”, although it can mean “wimple” as well).

Medieval Japanese women tended to wear their hair long and uncovered, usually down or simply tied back. I have very short hair. I had issues with trying to wear a wig—my complexion doesn’t go well with black hair and wearing a colored wig with Japanese garb reeked of anime to me. So I found a solution—zukin. They are most often associated with Buddhist nuns, although later research showed that versions were worn by peasant women. Noble Japanese women would sometimes take “partial vows”, which had them living a religious life, but at home, not in community like a nun would. When these women took their vows, they would cut their hair, a deeply significant action in Japanese culture, and wear a zukin. They would wear their normal clothing otherwise, although they might also wear a kesa (a kind of surplice) as a sign of devotion.

So I thought, okay, I’ll just make my persona a lay Buddhist nun, a widow who had taken partial vows in her later years. I could wear my Japanese garb with the zukin and all would be well. I did sometimes wonder whether this was appropriation of some kind (usually a bad sign right there), but tried to counter that by studying about Japanese Buddhism, its practices and philosophies, and its impact on everyday culture. It’s been years, but I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface in my research. This is a rich and incredible field of study.

But now, I’m definitely feeling guilty. I’m not Buddhist. Is it really respectful to be portraying someone who has taken sacred vows? Buddhism is still very much a living religion. Would a Buddhist seeing me at an event cringe the way I did when reading those words from the Trimaris coronation?

So I’m not sure what to do about this. Fortunately, I’m having to take a couple of months off anyway due to an upcoming surgery so there’s time to think about what I want to do going forward. I love my Japanese studies—the history, culture, literature, calligraphy, art. All of it! But I want to approach that from an area of respect.

Although, considering that I tend to wear European garb half the time, this may only be an issue between me and my conscience. I could keep my Japanese persona and just keeping wearing a variety of garb. It confuses people, but I’ve been doing that for years. But I am interested in wafuku (Japanese clothing), too.

Peasant Perspective, Part the Third

taira_no_kiyomori_deathbed_scene
Today’s random pictures are from the Japanese Taiga Drama “Taira no Kiyomori”. Deathbed scene–notice Kiyomori has his head shaven (having taken Buddhist vows) and his daughter is also showing that she took vows by wearing a zukin.

MAKING THE SCA BETTER AND BIGGER
More than 50 years of people have contributed to the SCA, but the world–and people’s social networks (and opportunities therein)- has shifted over the years. How do we leave the SCA a better place than we found it?

Of course the SCA has changed over the past 50 years. Having been involved now for 27 of those years, I’ve watched many of those changes myself. Times change, people change, so too does the Society.

I feel that ordinary rank-and-file SCA members like myself, non-peers, are the key to the Society’s future. So many people do not make it to peerage rank, and I’ve seen many who do burn out from the work it took to get there. I’m not calling them out on it: this is just a hobby and people have very legitimate reasons for deciding to stop participating after getting to peerage level that have nothing to do with the SCA.

But we non-peers play an important part in the Society. Not everyone can be or needs to be a leader. Sometimes a good follower is more valuable. Many hands make light work, so if everyone helps out just a little, a lot of progress can eventually be made.

How to do this? At events, maybe devote one or two hours to helping out somewhere. Is there something you are passionate about and know how to do? Teach someone. It doesn’t have to be a formal class–I’ve often learned plenty in informal situations where someone has taken the time to show me how to do something. Pass it along.

There is often talk of a push towards recruitment–“Bring a friend to Lilies!” sort of thing. That approach has never worked well with me. I showed up at the SCA’s door of my own account, not because someone dragged me along. What was important to me was that people helped out afterwards. New people aren’t the only ones who need a hand from time to time. Maybe you know someone who has moved into another group, maybe someone is coming back from a hiatus, maybe someone is feeling frustrated with a perceived wrong.

Reach out. Talk to these folks. Listen to their concerns. Sometimes, all that is needed is a sympathetic ear or a sign that someone cares that they are there.

It’s very easy to get caught up in our cliques and ignore others around us. I’ve been on the verge of rage-quitting a few times because I’ve been ignored when I needed help, and what has stopped me EVERY TIME is the action of ONE person, either by word or deed, reaching out to help or just to acknowledge my problem (even if they can’t solve it). And it doesn’t have to be a peer. Anyone can do this.

taira_no_kiyomori_Yoritomo_and_Higekiri
Also from “Taira no Kiyomori”: Minamoto no Yoritomo reaches for the future.

Social networks have definitely changed over time. Some people really have issues with online SCA activity, especially when people who haven’t been active for a long time pipe up on some topic. My advice here is also to reach out to these people. There are many reasons why people can’t make it to events–time conflicts, distance, and especially money issues.

I believe that once you are SCA, you stay SCA unless you actively decide the hobby is not for you. So reach out to those online acquaintances who haven’t been to an event in 5 years. Tell them they are still welcome, and ask them to come out and play again. If they work weekends, encourage them to come to a local meeting during the week. That is still participating. Local groups are the backbone of the SCA and anything that makes them stronger makes us all as a Society flourish.

There will be people who just can’t get out, for whatever reason. But perhaps they can still do research or make things, and eventually find the time or means to participate again. The internet has been a great gift in this manner.

Some would argue that internet involvement isn’t “real SCA”. I feel that view is short-sighted. Real SCA is what you make of it. Certainly, there is nothing like being out with a bunch of your fellow history-buffs having fun. But again, real life can get in the way. Don’t cut people out because they can’t get out to events often. Make them feel welcome, and maybe when they can manage to come out, they will. Especially if you post about the fun you are having!

Regarding trolls (and not of the Gate variety!)–treat them as you would any other troll you run into on the internet. Once you realize someone is just out to argue or cast negativity on every single thing anyone says, ignore them. You’ve got better things to do.

So in conclusion, the average non-peer SCAdian can actually do a lot towards growing and improving the SCA, at their own pace and in their own way. The key is to be open and welcoming.

Peasant Perspective, Part the Second

ivanhoe_templars
Another Ivanhoe picture, just because. This is from the 1997 mini-series, with extra servings of Knights Templar!

TOPIC TWO: STAY HEALTHY; AVOID BITTERNESS AND BURNOUT

The SCA is built around the mystique of a chivalry “Dream”. It’s also got a reputation for being an all-consuming devourer of time, money, and social lives. Yet many find the Society a richly rewarding experience. How do you position yourself to participate in a healthy way?

I actually touched on this topic some in my first Peasant Perspective post, but the topic is important and worth more time.

Something you see in all kinds of fandom related activities (not just SCA) is tension between the ideas of Fandom is a Way of Life vs Fandom is Just a G-ddamned Hobby. The SCA can be an intense hobby and some people like to approach it like a career, while others just like to come out occasionally and have fun.

This may be tied to personality–for example, my father likes to play bridge, and now that he’s retired, he plays it several days a week like it is his job. It keeps his mind sharp and he enjoys getting out to see people, so I try to think of that attitude as healthy. Some people can spend a few days a week on SCA activities, and then hit three events per month with no trouble.

But what works for some people doesn’t work for others. These people might be introverts, or maybe they have family obligations or perhaps they work evenings and/or weekends. Maybe they have other hobbies that they want to pursue.

The trick is to figure out how you want to participate in the Society and not feel guilty or pressured because you are playing one way and not another. There may be times when you are able to devote a lot of energy to the hobby, and times when Life Happens and you need to step back and deal with that.

The burnout that I’ve seen from others and experienced myself tends to happen when one is devoting more energy to the hobby than one has. Sometimes it is a tricky business, figuring out how much you can handle. A new job, a new relationship, a health issue, or an injury can affect your energy levels, and it’s hard to step back, especially if you are the type who approaches SCA as a Way of Life.

Avoiding burnout means learning to be aware of growing tension within yourself. If an activity that once brought you joy is feeling more and more like a burden, then it is time to step back. That doesn’t mean you have to quit! Just slow down and allow others to take the lead for awhile.

kingdom_of_heaven_hospitaller_web
Okay, NOT from Ivanhoe, but while we’re on a Crusader theme, here’s my favorite character from the film, Kingdom of Heaven: The Hospitaller!

Yeah, easier said than done! However, most of the people that I’ve known who have been in the SCA for a long time (2 decades or more) have stepped back on occasion, caught their breath, and then come back when they get their second wind.

However, one thing about stepping back is that you learn the SCA can go on without you, and people’s memories can be remarkably short. It can hurt when you come back after a hiatus and find that few people remember you or the things that you once poured your heart and soul into. How do you stop from being bitter?

I’ve had to struggle with that. For me, the answer is to go back to the beginning. You can do that by either exploring another facet of the Society (there are so many things to do!) or by getting to know new members, and helping them to experience the fun that can be found in this hobby. I love being able to point new members towards things that might interest them, or introducing them around to other experienced members who want to share what they know.

It isn’t easy to watch people who you saw come in as newbies advance by leaps and bounds while you are sidelined. My advice? Be happy for them. Sure, there are a few exceptions of people who got lucky (especially in the very early days of the SCA), but usually a peerage or high award is the result of hard work. The Society is built on courtesy, so give these people the courtesy of respect.

A few brief words about SCA politics here. I’ve gotten caught in the middle of some nasty political struggles over the years. In my earlier days, I couldn’t seem to avoid them. But what I found out was that many years later, most people either don’t remember or don’t care about something that happened way back when, except maybe as gossip. All the anger and frustration that I spent on certain situations was, for the most part, a complete waste of time.

As for the gossip, well. I recently ran into someone from my original Barony. I had moved away 20 years ago, but he had been a newbie just as I was leaving the area. We did have a few acquaintances in common, and as it turns out, he had heard of me, and not in a complimentary way. We both laughed about it when he realized who I was. He saw that I obviously was not anything like the person he’s heard about. The person most hurt by this was whoever had told him that story about me.

Another time, a person was telling a story about a group I was a part of, and mentioned me, not by name, but by action. It was also not complimentary, and I called him on it, because the story he was telling second-hand was completely different from what I had experienced in person. Awkward, but again, what did it matter in the long run? That group no longer exists, I’m not the same person I was 15 years ago, and besides an odd story or mention on a map, nobody much cares about what happened.

So if you find yourself in the middle of some SCA political drama, stop and step back and ask yourself what will it matter in 10 years. Now for some things (say, safety matters like marshalling or legal matters), yeah, stand your ground, do what you need to do. But otherwise? Don’t waste your happiness on something that is an illusion. Don’t become bitter over something that few people will even remember in 10 or 20 years.

Hopefully these hints will help people who are feeling frustrated in the hobby find a bit of peace and be able to continue playing. Remember, it’s your hobby, you play it at a pace that suits you.

Peasant Perspective, Part the First

Ishiyamadera_engi_emaki_-_Scroll_3_Section_1
Life goals: an oxcart of my very own. From the Ishiyama-dera engi emaki 石山寺縁起絵巻, Roll 3, Section 1 (approx. 14th century). Picture credit Wikimedia commons.

About a month ago, the Peers in the Kingdom of Calontir had meetings to discuss certain aspects about peerage. Not specific persons, but of peerage itself. Calontir being Calontir, of course those of us not so graced also had things to say. Lord Hugo van Harlo wrote up a few topic questions which definitely made me think, and I wanted to discuss my thoughts here, being an Award Of Arms holder of long standing (my AOA having just celebrated its 24th anniversary. It is now out of university and looking for an honest living, bless its heart.)

TOPIC ONE: UPPING YOUR GAME AND FINDING SATISFACTION
The SCA is host to a wildly diverse range of activities and approaches. How do we find our place in it, find satisfaction in how we approach it, and do it without going broke–all amidst an uncertain sea of awards, recognition, student-teacher relationships, and peerage “tracks?”

This is a big and somewhat ambitious topic. For a little bit of background, I’ve been involved with the SCA since 1991 (about 27 years), have lived in three kingdoms and visited several others. I’ve been an armored fighter, an arts and sciences enthusiast, and a service junkie. Not all my time in the SCA has been terribly active, as life does happen. I’ve had to step away while taking care of a sick parent, getting married, moving several times, working a demanding job, and dealing with some serious health issues of my own. But I never completely quit the hobby, just went from very active to not very active and back again as needed.

The SCA is extremely diverse, and that diversity is one of its greatest strengths. There are some boundaries (which, interestingly, have changed over the time I’ve been in), but they are very flexible. The basic requirements as stated in Corpora (law) are these: Anyone may attend Society events provided he or she wears an attempt at pre-17th century clothing, conforms to the provisions in Corpora, and complies with any other requirements (including but not limited
to site fees or waivers) which may be imposed. At business meetings and informal classes, the requirement to wear pre-17th century dress may be waived. All participants are expected to behave as ladies or gentlemen.
Note that you do not even have to be a member to participate in many SCA activities (such requirements do vary by kingdom), although being a member does give one a small discount to events.

Many of us got our start in the SCA as young people, either as impoverished students or impoverished young adults. So having this diversity helps. A new member just needs to wear very basic garb (a tunic works great), and look around to see what of the many facets of the SCA catches their attention. The fact that there isn’t the same kind of rigorous authenticity standards found in many other living history groups allows a new person a chance to slowly build up skills and yet still participate. It’s really a wonderful way to get people started.

The wide range of time periods and localities allowed (any culture that had contact with Western Europe before the year 1600 is fair game) gives many people a chance to explore what is important to THEM. Some people, like myself, end up having more than one persona, exploring more than one time or culture. Others like to narrow in on a particular time and place and learn as much as they can about it. It’s all good. And that is delightful. I love seeing what other people find out as they explore the history that interests them.

So how does one find ones place in the SCA? There are a thousand answers, each one of them correct. One person may wish to explore their family’s heritage. Another person’s imagination may be caught by a time or place completely unrelated to their ethnic heritage. Some people just pick an appropriate-sounding name and bounce around from topic to topic. There is no one right way to do this.

ivanhoe_bryan_dubois_gilbert_vs_wilfred_of_ivanhoe_neal_andrews
The Ivanhoe movie from 1982, which started me on my Ivanhoe addiction. Sam Neill as Brian DuBois Gilbert with Anthony Andrews as the heroic Wilfred of Ivanhoe.

For myself, I started out doing 16th century Austrian. My senior thesis at University was on the relationship between the two Habsburg brothers who ruled much of Europe in the early 16th century, Charles and Ferdinand. I had also portrayed a Habsburg archduchess while working at a local renaissance fair while I was in high school and college, so I tweaked the name a little and continued with the same persona. Later, after I married and followed my Iowan husband back home to his native state, I decided to explore an Anglo-Saxon persona. My main inspiration was a 19th century work of historic fiction, the book Ivanhoe, one of my favorite works since my teenaged days. Then a few years later, I gave in to my passion for Japanese culture, and chose to have a Japanese persona, which is what I use today. However, you’re just as likely to find me in European garb as in Japanese clothing. I love costumes and like to wear a variety of outfits as the mood takes me. If anyone asks, I just tell them it’s my nindo (ninja way). 😉

Finding satisfaction is another very personal issue. From time to time, ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? What brings me the most joy?” The answer one hears from many people has to do with the people they meet and the friends they make through this hobby. That is certainly a large part of what keeps me going, but for me, the SCA offers me a venue in which I can explore history as I want, in the company of like-minded people who also share my passion for history.

The chatelaine in the Barony of the Flame (Louisville, KY) gave me some words of advice when I got started in the SCA. She told me, “This hobby will end up taking up much of your time, or your money, or even both.” At first, I thought that was a rather down-beat thing to say to a complete newbie, but the years have proven the truth of those words. There’s no getting around it–the SCA can be an expensive hobby and an intense one. There are ways to do this hobby on a budget (for many years, most of my garb was made from thrift store cotton sheets or things I could find from the clearance aisles at JoAnn’s or Hancock’s). It took me a long time to get my armor together–even though I had the use of someone’s shop and their teaching skills for free, the materials still cost and the construction took the better part of a year. We bought our bows used–they’re not the best, but they work.

That chatelaine was right in another way: the longer you are in, the more you may want to “up your game”, which means you fork out for better materials and spend more time doing research or construction. Usually, a person will want to give back to their local group in service, and devote time towards helping out at events.

I’ve really struggled with this issue. Budgeting becomes more complex as one gets older, maybe acquires a spouse or partner, a house, car, children, pets, the detritus of everyday life. Some jobs require weekend work. Sometimes, vacation time needs to be devoted to visiting family rather than going to events. How do you choose, especially if you’re trying to improve your SCA game?

There is no right answer. For me, my husband and family must come first, always. Neither of our parents live close-by, so we have to save vacation time/money to visit them, especially as they are growing older. My husband has other hobbies outside the SCA, and it’s only fair I support him as he has always supported me. You have to listen to your heart and do what you think is best for your situation (and never take flack from anyone who tells you differently! Only you know what is really going on in your life!)

For me, improving my game has been a very long process, and not everything has happened at once or on every level. I’ve tried very hard to make my garb look more authentic–I may machine-sew the inner seams, but every outer stitch is done by hand. I try to keep to period-looking footware. It passes the 10-foot rule, but there’s room to grow. I might take modern shortcuts for financial reasons, or if I’m in a hurry, but try to research the heck out of anything I present in a display or competition.

In my early years, authenticity just didn’t matter that much to me. I was just happy to be able to sew on my own, or any other art that came along. Mistress Bianca Rosamund, my first calligraphy teacher, taught me with modern tools and methods. Her belief (one I share) is that you learn the skill-set (calligraphy, painting) with modern tools so you don’t get frustrated, then progress to more period equipment as your skills improve and you can manage them better. My current shodo teacher feels much the same way. And thank goodness, the SCA is designed in a way that people can progress towards more authentic methods at their own pace.

It’s a road and we’re all always learning.

Finally, we come to awards. As someone who has been passed over many times for awards, I’m probably not the best to speak about how to navigate those waters. It was 3 years until I got my AOA, then 9 years and another kingdom until my next two awards (6 months apart). All of these were AOA-level awards. It has been over 14 years since my last award. And my husband is one of those legendary below-the-radar guys who waited 20 years before even getting an AOA. So obviously, I’m not a fan of the current award system.

However, if I try to think about it too much, I get bitter. So instead, I write in a list of people once or twice a year, and I make sure to attend court to cheer on those who have been recognized. Someone was there to cheer me on when the Midrealm’s King Jafar (of blessed memory) called me up in court to give me my Award of Arms. I feel it’s my duty to pass on that cheer to my AOA-siblings. I may not even know you in person, but well done, good job!

I will admit to some tears when I’ve been passed over yet again, but after so many years, I can safely say that no, awards and recognition are not what keep me in the SCA. The same can be said of my husband, who went right back below the radar and hasn’t been noticed by royalty since his AOA 15 years ago.

One thing I might add about awards, though–there are Baronial awards available for those who live in Baronies, but for those of us who reside out in the Shires, at least in Calontir, there is nothing. Maybe something can be done about that–perhaps the Baronages can spread out their awards among the Shires near them. Everyone could use a little pick-me-up.

I think I will address student-teacher relationships and peerage “tracks” in another post. This one is quite long on its own.

I would love to hear other SCAdian thoughts on these subjects, especially from other non-peers.

Ki no Kotori info from the Calontir Wiki

Ki no Kotori

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Photo by Lord Alfgeirr skytja, 2017

Ki no Kotori 紀小鳥
aka Tace of Foxele, Maria Katerina von Adlerhof

Persona:

Ki no Kotori 紀小鳥 is a 10th century (Heian Era) Japanese courtier who has taken Buddhist vows(Heian Era). She is my primary Persona.

moi_uchigi
Kamakura-era garb, 2008. Photo by Lord Alfgeirr skytja.

Tace of Foxele is 12th century Anglo-Saxon lady living in Norman-occupied England, at Foxele (modern Foxholes), in Yorkshire, 9 miles south of Scarborough.

Anglo-Saxon Garb 2004
11th century Anglo-Saxon garb, 2004. Photo by Lord Alfgeirr skytja.

Maria Katerina von Adlerhof is a 16th century Austrian, in the service of the Habsburg Imperial Court in Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

moi_austrian_garb_dragoncon
In Austrian Garb, 1996. Photo by Richard Gilson.

Link to Calontir Armorial – http://armorial.calontir.org/Pages/KiTorame.htm

History in the SCA:

war_bitches_1993
Summer’s End Tournament, Barony of the Flame, Midrealm, 1993. I’m on the left with the red bandana.

Timeline:
* I started in the SCA in 1991, in the Barony of the Flame (Louisville, KY), Middle Kingdom
* Originally I was a heavy-weapons fighter. Injuries have sidelined me.
* AOA awarded by King Jafar and Queen Catherine, Midrealm 3/12/1994 for Service as Chronicler and at Demos.
* Became Squire to Sir David Dragonhawk, 9/24/1994
* Baronial award: Order of the Flamberge by Baroness Cordelia Tichy, Barony of the Flame, 1995, for Service at Demos.
* Moved to Calontir after I met my husband, Alfgeirr skytja. We lived in Coeur d’Ennui from 1998-2001.
* We moved to Dubuque in 2001 and started the Riverwatch contact group in mid-2002. It disbanded in 2006. After that, we were honorary members of the Shire of Deodar.
* Golden Swan awarded by King Valens and Queen Susannah for Calligraphy & Illumination 5/24/2003
* Torse awarded by King Joe-Angus and Queen Phaedra for service to the Riverwatch contact group 1/31/2004
* We moved to the Kansas City metro area in December 2012 and live in the Shire of Cum an Iolair.
* First event: Summer’s End Tournament, Barony of the Flame, Middle Kingdom, Sept. 1991.
* Link to Calontir OP is here.

sca_cinci_oct_1994
Fighting in the snow, Barony of Fenix, Midrealm, 1994. I’m in the Red and Green armor.

Groups and Affiliations:
* Current Group: Shire of Cum an Iolair, Calontir.
* Previous Groups: Shire of Deodar, Riverwatch contact group (Dubuque, IA), Barony of Coeur d’Ennui (all Calontir), Barony of the Flame (Midrealm)
* Guilds, Households, etc: Scribal guild, Bardic guild (Calontir), squired to Sir David Dragonhawk (Midrealm) 1994-present, House Drachenstein (Midrealm) 1992-1994.

Getting my Golden Swan award,Horse and Falcon, 2003
Being awarded the Golden Swan by Queen Susannah, Barony of Forgotten Sea, 2003. Photo by Verla Herschell.

Offices:

* Local Offices: Talon Herald, Deputy Exchequer (Shire of Cum an Iolair); Past: Chatelaine (Shire of Cum an Iolair) Deputy Seneschal, Chronicler (Barony of the Flame); Contact person, Herald, Knight’s Marshal, Exchequer (Riverwatch)
* Regional Offices: Assistant Signet (Southern Oaken Region, Midrealm, 1994), Lanner Herald Committee (Calontir 2016-2018)
* Kingdom Offices: None
* SCA-wide Offices: None
* Other service: Autocrat of five events: Summer’s End (1993), Collegium (1994), Christmas Tourney (1993, 1994) in Barony of the Flame, and Triskelion at Riverwatch (2004)

moi_riverwatch_tower
The Riverwatch Contact Group, Dubuque, Iowa, 2003. Photo by Gaston le Mieux.

Singing at Feast of Eagles 2017
Members of the Shire of Cum an Iolair singing at Feast of Eagles, 2017. Photo by Verla Herschell

Classes Taught:

* Basic Calligraphy: Carolingian, Insular Majuscule, Insular Minuscule, Half-Uncial, Shodo (many times)
* Scroll layout (many times)
* The Medieval Middle East (Collegium, Barony of the Flame, 1994)
* How to do Documentation (Riverwatch, 2002)
* T-Tunic Tutorial (Riverwatch, 2002, 2003)
* Let’s Renga! (Riverwatch, 2003)
* Let’s Tanka! (Riverwatch, 2004)
* Successful Event Planning (RUSH, Le Grande Tent, 2003; Flynthill 2005)
* Panel: Design Elements of 16th Century Japanese Clothing (Clothiers, 2017)
* Kosode Construction: Stitches, Tips, and Tricks (Clothiers, 2017)

Anglo-Normal Clothiers 2016
Displaying hand-made Anglo-Norman garb, Clothiers 2016. Photo by Verla Herschell.

Other Information:

* My SCA blog is Foxeholly
* Some Scribal Examples can be found here.
* Documentation for past projects:
* Song: The Iowegia Song 2003
* Akikawa Nikki (A Poetic Diary) 2005
* Notes from Successful! Event Planning (2005)
* Wimples and Zukin 2008
* 20 Poems from the Shōyōshū (小葉集 Small Leaf Collection) 2015
* Song: Kestrel’s Lullabye 2015
* Poems from Daisougen Nikki 大草原日記 The Great Prairie Diary 2016
* An Examination of Zukin 2016
* Kosode Construction: Stitches, Tricks, and Tips 2017
* Song: The Falcon’s Cry 2017
* Composing and Designing a Japanese SCA Scroll 2017

3 Pretty Maids Clothiers 2017
Three Pretty Maids at Clothiers 2017. (Ki no Kotori, Agnes von Heidelburg, Konstantia Kaloenthia). Photo by Verla Herschell