Tag Archives: future projects

War footing II: A Scottish mercenary in the Spanish army

That’s Juan’s primary persona, based very loosely on a very tiny reference in Douglas Preston’s Cities of Gold* to a John Black/Juan Blaque in the Coronado expedition, of which very little is known except that he was Scottish by birth. Our Juan is a generation later, born sometime in the late 1530s. He traveled to France for military service in the early 1550s, toward the end of the regency of Mary, Queen of Scots; and abandoned France for Spain in the chaotic aftermath of the death of Henry II. In the Spanish service, he traveled to the New World, and was honored for his service there with small cash and land grants both in Mexico and on the Continent, a common practice in the land-rich, upwardly mobile military of Philip II.  He retired to a life of minor gentility outside of Segovia around 1580, and that’s where we find him today.

My focus on garb up to this point has been on mid-1580s Spanish, but after watching me play with how far I can stretch my persona in directions of time and culture, he’s inspired to toy around with some of the same experimentations. I made a very basic Western Viking kit last year for one of the Battlemoor parties, and he likes it so much for casual camping garb that he’s asked me to make more. Also, hopefully he’ll be fighting this year, so the big push will be making sure there’s enough fighting garb.

updated 8/10

His garb is generally in pretty good shape, but there’s always stuff that needs done. To wit:

Viking: two days worth.

  • One good outfit done and ready to wear.
  • Definitely make one more tunic (fabric in hand), embroidery similar in scope and scale to the royal Estrella War Court tunic, which took about ten days. Some or all of that embroidery may happen after Battlemoor. Finished – bumped up on the priority list to finish in time for the investiture of our friends, Broddi hornabrjótr and Máel Mide ingen Domnaill, as Baron and Baroness of Dragonsspine.
  • Another pair of trews ONLY if I find fabric I really like and have timeHahaha not happening.
  • Leg wraps – probably purchased rather than woven; there are reasonably priced ones, in pretty twills that I don’t have the equipment to make at this time, on Etsy. On a closer look, the affordable ones on Etsy are just strips of wool twill serged, and the handwoven ones are out of my price range at this time. I have twill. So I’m just going to make them.
  • Low boots or turnshoes: he plans to make, I may help out. We found out – on the rush job for Dragonsspine Investiture, see above – that a pair of non-SCA boots he thought didn’t fit, do, after all, and look great with the Viking. So the turnshoes are on back burner for now.
  • Torc and cloak pin: we will work together on them. Not started, but I’d like to try.
  • Hat: I’m very familiar with what hats looked like in eastern Norse territories, but need to do some research on what would have been appropriate for the Isles. Patterned, starting this week

Spanish: two days worth, plus court/party garb.

  • Ready to wear: Two good outfits of daywear: black linen doublet and trunkhose; blue brocade doublet and brown wool trunkhose, one plain lightweight linen shirt that can be washed midweek.
  • Ready to wear: Brown and gold silk doublet and gold trunkhose and lightweight, heavily blackworked shirt: Saturday Grand Court and party.
  • Great boots rev. 2 – the rev. 1 boots are wearable, but not super comfortable for multiple days of camping. I have one more tweak of the pattern to do and then I may *crosses fingers* cut leather on these TODAY. Construction done, just need to finish the soles – hoping to have these ready for a trial run at Crown Tournament next weekend.
  • Need one more good outfit for Friday court and party: I have a blue velvet doublet in progress, cut out and waiting on lining fabric. I would like to make a matching pair of paned slops, but that requires going back to Denver Fabric and seeing if I can match fabrics. Blue doublet is well underway but has a lot of work still to do. I’m going to try to get the next phase of machine sewing done this week and take the handsewing to Crown.
  • I have some really stunning fabric for a short cloak, and would like to get it done for Battlemoor courts, but it’s not a top priority. Unfortunately not enough fabric, so the cloak is not happening.
  • New hat: purchased and in transit from the vendor now.
  • Hose: proper underpinnings! The bare knee between the top of the boots and the hem of the trunkhose is awkward. Also, with hose, he can wear turnshoes with the Spanish as well. Not happening before Battlemoor. A project for this fall/winter. The new boots are softer and much taller, which resolves that problem.

Fighting garb:

  • Ready to wear: Two heavy, plain linen late-period shirts.
  • Purchased straight-leg elastic-waist pants. Until I get some idea of wear and tear patterns, I’m not investing my valuable time in handmade fighting garb. Shopping for these next weekend.

*Yes, Douglas Preston the novelist; no, this is not a novel. It’s half history of the Coronado expedition, half memoir of Preston’s attempt to reconstruct the route of the expedition, on horseback, from the Mexic0-Arizona border to the farthest extent of the journey in Kansas. It’s fascinating and meticulously researched and pure delicious experimental archaeology geekery, and I can’t recommend it enough.


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Gratification, instant and otherwise

I’ve been working on a lot of projects lately that will have hundreds of hours invested in them by the time they’re done. The Motiño translation/feast/KA&S research and presentation.  A heavily blackworked 16th century shirt. Weaving. Spinning. The Great Baltic Mapping Project. The costume directory.

I love the process involved in these crazy, massive-scale projects, but I also get frustrated and discouraged sometimes with them on a more abstract level. Mostly it’s when I’m talking to other people about my work – when our A&S officer is collecting anecdata for the monthly report and it’s, “yep, still working on that same thing… again…” Or when I realize, while sitting companionably with a friend sewing at an event  in the fall, that I was sitting with the same friend, working on the same project, at the same event the previous year – that happened this weekend! Or when I see something really cool come across the works-in-progress Facebook group my Laurel administers, and once again, I have nothing to contribute.

Last week I started a new spinning project – the first step in a bigger endeavor, of course – and in the course of a 110-minute movie, I spun up 70 yards of size 2/3 silk embroidery thread. It was so satisfying to just see something come together, to hold a finished skein in my hand at the end of the evening.  I think I need a little more instant gratification in my life! Convenient, then, that it’s coming into the holiday and feast season. So! Banners. Cosmetics. Spice blends. Small gifts of block-printed stationery. I suddenly have so many ideas!

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