A few new scrolls…

I have a new (temporary) job at a university that has a LOT of downtime. As long as I’m at my desk, I can kind of do what I want. This was delightful for war prep, since it meant abundant time for hand-finishing or fussy small tasks I’d lay aside in favor of more time at the serger, pedal to the metal. Now that war is over, I’m doing some tentative scribal work. The kingdom coffers are low. I have time…and after nearly two years of forced wrist rest, I could REALLY use the practice. (Wrist surgery is happening this summer!) Meridies had a crown that educated the populace about the amount of work and love that go into each award – and they talked about the sizes of period manuscripts! The kingdom largely hands out smaller pieces now. This is both really cool and an adjustment, since everything has to be scaled down. Also, award texts have to have information in them to make them legally valid (dates, signatures, etc.), and this nearly doubles the amount of text. The period manuscripts with beautiful illustration and illumination often only have 3-4 lines of text. Keeping the aesthetic while doing the text all on a 5×7″ sheet of paper is a little bit challenging when you’re used to having 8×10″ or larger.


This is finishing out an example I started for my class on diapering and white work. The big shield is supposed to be left white, as the award is the Argent Shield. It’s one of the first times I’ve popped a grotesque into a blank space. As with all new things, I feel like it’s awkward. The whole piece hasn’t been highlighted yet, which always makes things look a lot better. Overall, I love this scroll. I tried a couple of more period approaches to painting that I hadn’t before, and they were easier and gave better results than what I’d done before. Calligraphy is really my thing, more than illumination. It’s a bit frustrating to see it a bit shaky and uneven after doing so much work to be able to write fluidly and evenly.  And why is it leaning a bit to the left? Stupid calligraphy.


There has been a specific request for masculine and early period scrolls. I immediately thought of the many, many fart and dick jokes on manuscripts.

Like this goat farting on a squire…
…and this dude pooping out a bunch of acanthus leaves…
…and this guy who found a novel way to sound the trumpet.

I may still do a fart joke scroll. But since you never know who it’s going to be for, and so many people have an AoA as the highest award they ever get, I always feel a little hinky about the only thing they hang on their wall being a butt trumpeting out part of the scroll text. WHICH IS AN AMAZING IDEA, BY THE WAY. You’re welcome. I might do it when I redo my husband’s AoA, because he would love a butt trumpeting scroll to no end. BUT. I decided to start with something early period and not girly.


This is a mashup of the Lindisfarne Gospel, with some of the decorative motifs in the R are from the Book of Kells (plus a simple braid knot). My brain has historically been averse to drawing my own knotwork. It does not compute, not even a little bit. Not with a grid or with a squid. I do not like them, Sam I Am. So for this, I figured it out without benefit of a light box and tracing. It’s tiny and a bit wonky, but I did it all by myself. The patterning of the dots and shaped coloring in of capital letters came from the Lindisfarne Gospels. I’ve had the book for ages, and only this week noticed that they use patterned red dots to do simple knots and lattice patterns. That’s much more doable for me than a Kells carpet page of doom. Still debating how to fill in the R’s empty space. It would be cool to draw in a little Celtic dude with a coronet on his head…or maybe some crazy knotwork animal?

Narrow Oseberg Band

With Gulf coming up and our local championship tournament last weekend, I wanted to find a relatively quick project that would upgrade the look and authenticity of my costuming while advancing my skills in one of the areas where I don’t spend as much time as I’d like. Enter: tablet weaving an authentic Norse pattern! Something for me that wasn’t hard on my wrist? Check. A way to get back in the weaving saddle? Check that too. I started digging around in textile research and decided to go with something from the Oseberg ship burial. This particular find is chock full of weaving, both decorative and functional, as well as textiles, tapestries, imported silks, and some of the few examples of embroidery associated with the Viking world. You should most definitely check it out if you’re not familiar with it. My documentation is here, should you like to read a little bit about the burial.

Schmales OsebergbandI made a narrow band (12L 1 is the specific designation) that is part of a “cake” of textiles that are stuck together. It was 0.5 cm across and made of silk with a contrasting plant fiber (linen) that has rotted away, leaving only the silk. The band has a pattern that I’ve seen described as serpentine, and it rather reminds me of Greek key. I used the excellent chart and instructions from Shelagh Lewins to make my band. This is a particularly good resource, as she was able to visit the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo and have first-hand inspection access to a couple of the woven bands, through a professor. Her site also has an excellent array of Dark Ages patterns which are sorted by authenticity level and ease.

Tablet weaving is something I can sort of do. My weaving is pretty even, and I enjoy doing it. But. I don’t have a weaver’s brain. I can’t read patterns well or read what I’m doing to find mistakes and correct them very easily if something gets off. My husband – who is not crafty in the least – can look over and immediately see what’s wrong and why. I’m trying to embrace the idea of having a proofreader instead of being grumpy that I’m not good at something I’d like to be good at. I’ve been overly reliant on patterns that can be done on a modern tablet loom with pegs via the continuous warping method. It’s wonderfully convenient, but it restricts the weaving to patterns that aren’t authentic replications of the patterns used. I’m one of those who strives to be ever more authentic in my portrayal, and taking a couple of hours to flub my way through warping my loom isn’t too terrible – particularly since I learned ways to do it much more quickly next time. And next time I weave, it will be with authentic materials and not Aunt Lydia’s #10 crochet cotton. And I think it will be a missed hole band from Mammen or maybe Birka where the tablets aren’t all turned together…


This pattern, while simple, taught me some skills I had not learned on other weaving projects, such as flipping the twist of the cards over a few turns so that you can keep turning them forward while reversing the twist instead of having to reverse the whole pattern. This is a fantastic trick! My loom is small, though, so I would up having to do this more frequently than I would like. My flips are roughly every 10″, which would be ok if they were really smooth and therefore less noticeable. This is my first time with that technique, so it took a while for them to improve. The spots where the flips take place are better, but not consistently so. See the difference in the early ones and late ones? I’m still not totally sure if I should flip cards then pass the shuttle of weft thread or pass and then flip. Either way, I still have some crazy floating threads over on the sides…