I want to get back to the tale of the 2016 Lithuanian dance festival, but in the meantime, I just will say: I will get the handout and class notes for my sutartines class up on this website as soon as I can. I have *not* forgotten! Thanks for your patience!
Yes, I know it has been a year and a half since I updated this blog. You probably thought that this humble site had fallen by the wayside like hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of similarly abandoned blogs. But I'm bringing it back from the dead!
First, let me explain what I've been doing over this time gap.
In 2016, I attended only six SCA events. Technically, that was the same number I attended in 2015. At least in 2015, however, I managed to go to War of the Wings X (also known as WoW) down in North Carolina. I'd been to WoW once before just for the weekend, but for the 10th annual event I was able to stay for the whole thing. Those October nights got COLD. I was playing in the dance band for the Saturday night ball in the unheated castle, and as the night dragged on I was making more and more mistakes on my recorder because my fingers were stiffening. The band quit playing at the exact moment we said we would stop -- 10 p.m., if I recall correctly -- and we made it clear that the dancers would have to provide their own Bard in a Box from that time forward. We also suggested that space heaters might be nice for future wars.
Last year, I went to only weekend events ... no Pennsic, no WoW, not even Ruby Joust on Memorial Day weekend (the Joust typically attracts about 850 attendees). Instead, I spent a lot of my energy in late 2015 and the first half of 2016 preparing for something else entirely: Šokių Šventė 2016, the huge international Lithuanian folk-dance festival.
I'd heard of the quadrennial Šokiu Šventė before -- it was in Boston in 2012 -- but circumstances did not allow me to travel all the way up there just to watch an afternoon of dance. Watching the energetic young dancers at the annual Baltimore Lithuanian festival each spring for the last 10 years or so got me interested in the subject of Lithuanian folk dance. When I first heard that Malūnas, the Baltimore-based dance group, was starting a second group for "senior" (i.e., over age 35!) dancers, I was busy (that was in the fall of 2014). But in the fall of 2015, with the prospect of participating in the Baltimore Šventė looming, I took the plunge. To be continued....
Once again: Long time, no post! I'd like to write a longer description of the things I've been able to do in the SCA this year, despite my lack of funds. However, that will have to wait for another day.
In the meantime, I just want to park a few links suggested by a friend who recently taught a class on "How to Be a Veiled Threat in the SCA." I wasn't able to attend her class on veils and wimples, but I definitely want to look these websites up!
I often tell people that Lithuania is "the little country with two Independence Days." Well, there's a good reason for that.
Twenty-five years ago today, Lithuania became the first of the so-called Soviet Socialist Republics to declare itself free of the Soviet Union. This was a huge deal. It came only about four months after the Berlin Wall had fallen. During those heady weeks, new ideas swept through Eastern Europe, but the big cheese, the USSR, managed to stay intact. Suddenly, a giant ax smashed through the foundation of the central Soviet nation itself.
Vytautas Landsbergis, a music professor with the same first name as one of Lithuania's great historic figures, was the leader of the Supreme Council of Lithuania when it passed the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania, and his signature is right there at the top where Soviet authorities wouldn't miss it. (That says "re-establishment" because Lithuania was an independent nation between 1918 and 1940, and, of course, the Lithuanian nation goes back many more centuries than that.)
In May 2011, as I noted on this blog, I got a chance to meet Dr. Landsbergis in person and shake his hand at the Baltimore Lithuanian Festival. I'm still thrilled that I was able to meet him once. After all, how many people on this Earth can say that they broke an evil empire?
Happy Rebirth-Day, Lithuania!
(And, yes, I'll post again soon so that I can describe my recent adventures in the SCA.)
Recently I have been exchanging Facebook messages about medieval Baltic topics with a couple of my Slavic Interest Group (SIG) friends, Mistress ffride (Kingdom of Lochac) and Lady Magdalena (Kingdom of Aethelmearc). As a result, I have lots and lots of browser tabs open. Before my computer's memory gets tied up in knots, I really ought to save those links somewhere and close those tabs. What better place to save such links than right here?
As far as the rest of my SCA life goes, well, things are always quieter this time of year. Earlier this fall I skipped a couple of SCA events that I really would have liked to attend because of cash-flow issues. At least I had great fun participating in a "medieval maker faire" demo that Storvik was invited to organize as part of the University of Maryland at College Park's celebration of the 60th anniversary of the publication of Lord of the Rings. This fall Storvik has been welcoming a number of newcomers, both from the university and the region at large. And our barony is planning a performing-arts event in January 2015. And I'm still knitting socks for Lady Sonya's sock classes. So things are quiet but good.
Now that I have a St. Birgitta's cap of my own, what shall I wear it with? This morning I happened to see a relevant post in the SCA Garb group on Facebook. So, right now I'm just parking the links that the comments to that post contained -- various tutorials on fitted kirtles.
I have no idea whether the "gothic fitted dress" would look good on me or not, but it might be interesting to try it sometime in the future. If it turns out to be not the most flattering thing, I don't have to make any more, and I can still wear the cap with other things -- apparently, it makes a great anchor for a veil.
(Adapted from a private LiveJournal post written last week.)
For the third year, the baronies of Storvik and Lochmere held an event called "Battle on the Bay." The tradition came about because the two baronies were holding their baronial birthdays one week apart, and the Kingdom officers were gently leaning on their branches to plan fewer but better events. (Storvik became a Barony of the
East Kingdom on September 15, 1979; back then, Atlantia was a Principality of the East. Lochmere became a Barony of Atlantia on August 20, 1988, but that anniversary falls just a little too close to Pennsic and the beginning of the public school year in Maryland.)
For the first Battle on the Bay, Storvik was the primary organizer of the event, with Lochmere helping. Last year, Lochmere was the primary organizer, even though it was a Storvik baronial investiture. This year, it was again Storvik's turn to host and Lochmere's turn to get new Baronage.
This year I decided not to camp overnight at Battle on the Bay
for two reasons. First, I wanted to get up to Baltimore and see the "Star-Spangled Spectacular" events surrounding the 200th anniversary of the "Star-Spangled Banner." Second, the chance of rain on
Saturday the 13th was 40 to 60 percent, and I didn't want to spend half
of Sunday wrestling with wet tent canvas in my crowded condo.
got up on Saturday in reasonable time to get to the event. I'd been
told I might be needed to herald the last court of Their Outgoing
Excellencies of Lochmere, but at the last minute that barony's herald
was able to show up after all. Thus I announced Their Excellencies of
Storvik when they processed into court and watched the Lochmere
investiture ceremony from behind the thrones. It rained off and on
during the afternoon, but it was not windy, so we didn't have to worry
about tree limbs falling and tents collapsing.
Herveus and Megan,
who had their fiber-arts merchant business tent set up, were also
selling books that had belonged to Pedro and Devora. When she moved to
Iowa City this summer, Devora didn't want to take them with her, so they
had languished in her storage unit. I bought four books: three on
heraldry and one on medieval technology. Many of the books that Herveus
and Megan were selling last weekend were about medieval Spain and
Portugal and the Judaism that was practiced there; while those are
worthy topics, I simply don't have the space on my shelves to
accommodate them, and I have other interests within the SCA. I do hope
all those volumes find good homes.
Also during the afternoon, I entered a "Viking plunder" competition in which the winner would receive as a prize all the "booty" that was submitted. I dragged out my wire-weaving supplies and did a modest chain out of gold-toned craft wire. Not my best, but I hadn't picked up the wire in a couple of years (I think). I can't remember who ended up winning, but I hope he or she makes the chain into something.
The rain had stopped by the
time afternoon baronial court rolled around. Afterward, Their Excellencies of
Storvik invited me and Lady Tatsume to join them at high table, just
because they think everyone should be invited to do so at least once. So
that was extremely cool. No King -- he had left the site in
mid-afternoon -- just the two sets of B&Bs and their guests. I did a
little dancing after feast and before going home.
As I said in my previous post, last month I took a Pennsic University class on how to make a St. Birgitta's cap. Lady Sarai Tindall taught the class. I don't think she has a website of her own, but the method she taught was very similar to the one in this tutorial. The main difference was that Lady Sarai had us leave the ends unconnected to each other, so that we could tie them in a knot or bow. Also, we didn't do the optional embroidery between the two halves of the cap, and we had to "finger-press" the linen seams instead of ironing them (fortunately, in hot and humid weather, that isn't difficult to do).
You can go to the tutorial if you want step-by-step instructions. I would just like to post photos depicting some of the stages of my work.
First, here's how my cap looked toward the end of the two-hour Pennsic class:
I had hand-stitched the two halves of the cap together and finished the gathers at the back of the head, but that's about it. (Granted, a good part of the class was an introductory talk followed by distribution of materials, etc.)
The next time I bothered to take a photo of my work, I had pretty much finished sewing the ties to the front edge of the cap, down to the gathers. The ties came in three separate pieces, including a bit of extra handkerchief linen I had to buy after the class.
I finished the last little bit of stitching only after I got home from Pennsic. Here are a couple of photos of the finished cap on my head (pardon the mundane clothing on the rest of me):
I'm not sure about that bow. Maybe I should redo the strap/tie as a long closed loop that could be wrapped around my head. Hey, I should experiment with this -- what a concept!
I think I have enough of the handkerchief linen to make at least one more of these caps.I might try the same thing, or I might experiment with doing the embroidery down the middle seam, or other embellishments such as contrasting thread for the hand stitching. We shall see.
In the meantime, I'll leave you with a few other links related to the St. Birgitta's cap.
OK, it's been a long while now. While the hunt for full-time employment continues, I try to keep up with my SCA life as well as I can with my limited means. I haven't been doing much Lithuanian research lately, but I have been attending events when I can and trying to make myself useful to the Barony of Storvik.
For example, this past January my Barony hosted Atlantia's Kingdom Twelfth Night, a very Big Deal in SCA circles. We held it at the Shriners' temple in Washington, D.C., which inspired the event's Ottoman theme. Some of my friends and I made brand-new late-period Ottoman garb specifically for this event -- I was literally working on it at 1 a.m. the morning thereof! Plus, I organized the heraldic consult table. So, even though it was the first completely Metro-accessible event in our Kingdom in many years, I couldn't really take Metrorail, because I was lugging 50 or 60 pounds of stuff -- books, musical instruments, refreshments for heralds, etc. Plus I was wearing clothing that looked vaguely Middle Eastern and I would have been getting off the train a few blocks from the White House. On top of everything, the skies gave us cold winter rain all day. Nevertheless, it was a lovely event.
I recently returned from spending a week or so at Pennsic 43, and, now that I have mostly finished unpacking and doing laundry, I have concluded that I really should be chronicling everything I do for the SCA, not just research and crafts related to Lithuania. Don't worry, I'm not giving up my Baltic studies, but many times I find something interesting and enjoyable to do that falls within the purview of the SCA but does not pertain to Lithuania. I really ought to record that stuff for posterity, too, until some greater pattern emerges.
So, to start with, here is a link to some photos depicting the construction of my Ottoman outfit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/34356022@N03/sets/72157639457065966/. A few of the photos at the end of the album depict me as I was trying to convert the coat pattern into a vest pattern, so that I could make a sleeveless, unlined vest with the remainder of the fabric I used for the outer layer of the coat. I'll post more of the details some other time.
At this most recent Pennsic, I was extremely cautious with my spending and I didn't want to take a class in something that would make me run out and buy all sorts of expensive supplies. However, I did take a class on how to make a St. Birgitta's cap. The cost was just a few dollars for the linen and the handout, and I did most of the hand-stitching at Pennsic and finished it up at home. I will try to write about that very soon in a separate entry.
I'll just close this one off with a couple of images. Here is a selfie of me at Pennsic on August 6, halfway through War Week. (I'm wearing a kerchief, not the St. Birgitta's cap.)
Finally -- just so I can have some Lithuanian content in this entry -- here is a portrait of my cat trying to look learned. :-)