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No way! This is eerie. I just recently got back into the SCA. Just recently began finding my niche. On the exact day that I decided to start doing fiber arts, this community was born. That is so creepy awesome.

Anyway! This is your friendly babbling unnamed as of yet viking from Knight's Crossing, Drachenwald. You can call me babbling twit. ~_^

I am so new to embroidery and all things fabric art and SCA that just yesterday I learned how to chain stitch and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Any tutorials, tips, help, cheering or jeering would be awesome. I have a project in mind for myself but...I'm at a loss on how to do it or how to even go about doing it. I've seen on other blogs and sites that some people use alternative materials to do the embroidery on and then applique it to the garment. What is the merits of this if any? What sort of materials should I use? Would it be advisable? Is it period? Where can I get period dyed and made embroidery floss? Does that matter in an A&S entry?

Hopeless Newbie, Humbled Before Your August and Magnanimous Wisdom,

Unnamed Viking Babbling Twit of Knight's Crossing Drachenwald (you can call me Nemmy for now XD)



Oct. 17th, 2008 01:36 pm (UTC)
I've seen on other blogs and sites that some people use alternative materials to do the embroidery on and then applique it to the garment. What is the merits of this if any? What sort of materials should I use? Would it be advisable? Is it period?

It's pretty frequently used when the ground fabric is silk or velvet--something that might be difficult to embroider directly onto. It's also good if you want to do counted embroidery on fabric that's too fine or not even-weave enough for countered work. The embroidery fabric in that case is usually linen. As far as period garments go, I don't know of any documentation for Norse applique at all--I think appliqued embroidery was mostly used for religious garments, altar clothes, etc. through the Middle Ages, not regular clothes. The Elizabethans used the technique a lot for home furnishings (appliqueing tent or cross-stitched 'slips' of plants, insects, and other animals onto a usually velvet ground), and there's some evidence slips were sometimes appliqued onto clothing.

Where can I get period dyed and made embroidery floss?

There are basically two kinds of floss typically use in period--spun (like modern floss) and flat silk (where the silk is untwisted and very shiny). They were used for different purposes. Flat silk is a lot harder to work with.

Hedgehog Handworks sells naturally dyed Alyce Schroth embroidery floss, although not all of the dyes are period and they unfortunately aren't listed. Very nice floss, though. Aurora Silk also sells naturally dyed floss, but it's pricey. Reconstructing History sells a line of Elizabethan-only dyed crewel wool. I don't know of any commercially available naturally dyed flat silk.

Does that matter in an A&S entry?

A&S judges typically expect some substitutions for practicality and/or cost, as long as you explain why you made the substitution. However, if you go the extra mile, that's great and will be appreciated. I wouldn't worry about it while you're starting out, though.

Beware! Fiber arts are a slippery slope.
Oct. 17th, 2008 07:29 pm (UTC)
I wish I'd caught the name of a yarn company I just met at an event... blast. But, they were chemically dyed yarns dyed to match period colors, to an exact enough standard that many reenactment groups OK them for kit.
So, what you might want to do is check out some books on dyeing that offer color photos of the results (I recommend Wild Color by Jenny Dean, but it's out of print - check your library), and get a sense of what colors are possible with which dyes... then look for those color tones when selecting chemically dyed yarns. Make sense?
Oct. 17th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)
That works, but you have to be careful, because the range of dyestuffs and mordants available pre-1600 was a lot more limited (and really, really more limited for the Vikings, since the import of a lot of the exotic dyestuffs and goods dyed with them didn't really start until much later. So yeah--you can try to match with modern dyes, but only match to things dyed with what they would have had in your period (screaming tin-mordanted scarlets = not period).

Renaissance Dyeing manufactures the yarns Reconstructing History sells.

And I'm kind of in the camp that it's really hard to find analine-dyed threads that truly match naturally-dyed ones--and they definitely won't fade the same way (natural dyes, at worst, fade to tan; analine dyes can fade in some really bizarre and hideous ways). But it's certainly better to try to match than to use obviously wrong colors.
Oct. 17th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
SO when I make an A&S submission it has to be from my period? Blast! I only chose viking because 1) it's easy for beginners, 2) they like shinies (and so do I!) and 3) I was under the impression that while they themselves did not make a whole lot of stuff they showed their wealth by showing off their imported goods. :(
Oct. 17th, 2008 09:20 pm (UTC)
Um, no, not at all. I'm not sure how I gave that impression. You don't have to stick to your chosen period in anything.

My understanding is that the Norse certainly did show off imported golds--applied gold and silk bands and all--but that this was a more common form of decoration than motif-applique or embroidery (aside from seam finishes). But again, I'm really not expert on Norse stuff.
Oct. 17th, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
Oh! I'm sorry I misunderstood you because you were talking about the Norse and applique and I had it in my head about the A&S thing. I'm so sorry. *blush*
Oct. 17th, 2008 11:50 pm (UTC)
Ah, okay. I mentioned Norse because I wasn't sure what you wanted to focus on. Norse is really interesting (especially for tablet weaving), but probably wouldn't be my first choice for embroidery projects.

Incidentally, I'd probably start with a small, manageable first embroidery project that you'd use a lot. A cloak--especially one with a repetitive design--is the kind of project it's easy to burn out on.
Oct. 17th, 2008 11:01 pm (UTC)
Well, sure there's some solid research behind doing anything *well*, and that an approximation will always be just that, and never the real thing. However, it is a start.

I, because I'm that kind of crazy, have been up to my eyeballs in onionskins, madder, and walnuts for nearly a week. Getting some fabulous results, though!
Oct. 17th, 2008 11:05 pm (UTC)
It's definitely a continuum. As far as competitions go, as long as you explain your reasons, you're usually okay, so.

Madder intimidates me.
Oct. 17th, 2008 11:29 pm (UTC)
why does madder intimidate you so? I'd never played with it before, but I ordered some pretty good stuff, and it's actually been relatively easy. I was a little concerned, but it's been more forgiving than I expected.
Oct. 17th, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)
I think it's because I'm read so much about how sensitive it is to water quality and so on. I'll have to give it a shot one of these days (I do have a bunch sitting around). I want to try the sun fermentation methods, but I'll have to steal someone else's sunny backyard.
Oct. 18th, 2008 12:37 am (UTC)
Well, I'm finding that it is indeed, but that's it's relatively easy and fun to manipulate. Pick up some pH test strips from a hardware or pool supply - water has to be rather basic to get reds (but I got a truly stunning and vibrant orange in more acidic water). I'm lucky to have excellent tap water available and am playing with a variety of mordanting and post-treatment techniques, mostly from the aforementioned book. Go into it open-minded (don't try to be matching a particular color), and have fun! I've been *loving* it.
and my onionskins with iron yielded a *beautiful* mossy green. Yummy stuff.
I should post about what I did once I have photos available!
Oct. 18th, 2008 01:19 am (UTC)
naturaldyes *cough cough*

Yeah, I'll probably wait until spring/summer to play with dyeing more. My apartment has awful ventilation and I have a lot of other projects to get done in the next few months. But I'll definitely give madder a try.