Thursday, January 29, 2009

Countess Onora's Rose Cloak

When I was made a Countess, and awarded the Rose, Duchess Mary Grace of Gatland made me the most beautiful cloak. So, when it was time for Onora to become a Rose, I wanted to do something similar for her.

Onora wears early to mid-12th Century clothing from the British Isles, so I wanted to make a very nice piece, but not have it overly flashy. We picked out a really pretty coat/cloak-weight wool in a dark gray and black herringbone. I chose a simple, A-line cloak pattern, and sewed the seams with black wool thread, using running stitch and overcast-felling.

I prepped the piece by tacking a piece of black cotton batiste on the back of where the rose would go. This added stability to the work area. After chalking out the rose design on the front of the cloak, I used sewing thread and running stitch to outline the picture. Now I didn't have to worry about the chalk lines rubbing off.

For the embroidery, I used red, green, white, and yellow wool yarn from my stash. I'm not sure of the brand or weight, but I figure that string is string, and it worked very nicely. I used a "double chain stitch" that was made up by Mistress Alyssia. This is becoming one of my favorite filling stitches. It fills densely and quickly, with very little thread on the underside of the piece, and a very pleasing braid-like texture on the top. Mistress Alyssia doesn't have any documentation on this stitch, other than we know that they used chain stitch. This is really an easy variant of that, and if she could futz around and come up with it, she figures an embroideress in the Middle Ages could too. I like this logic! I used back stitch for the outlining and detail work.

The actual rose and diamond motif is quite large. The diamond is 18 inches top to bottom, and the rose is 7 inches across.

Because the cloak itself is not lined, I did take a bit of black batiste and covered the back of the embroidery work.

I don't have any full-length pictures of the Countess Onora wearing the cloak yet, but I'm hoping to get one soon. I will certainly post it when I get one.

Embroidery Guild Largess

The Gleann Abhann Embroidery Guild frequently supplies largess for Their Majesties to give out to various dignitaries. This was a simple linen sweet bag which I embroidered using perle cotton in split-stitch.

Blue Silk Ceinture

This is one of my most favorite recent pieces. I was looking through a friend's book, searching for documentation on the Palermo Tunicella and found this picture:

Wow. It's so simple and elegant and gorgeous! I decided to make as close to a reproduction as I could. This piece actually went through several incarnations before I reached the end design:

Here are some detail pictures that are not included in my documentation for this piece, which can be found here.

So, here is this ceinture's competition lineage:
  • September, 2007: Showcased in the "Timelines of Fashion" fashion show at Gleann Abhann Arts and Sciences.

  • May, 2008: Entered into the Barony of Grey Niche's Acanthus (Art's Champion) competition. Won, with a score of 17. My documentation needed to be tweaked, and I was docked for choice of materials in some places. I replaced the gold cording that I had used to edge and tie the belt with the black and gold tablet weaving on the edges, and the black wool/silk braided cords.

  • September, 2008: Gleann Abhann A&S. Entered into Dress Accessories category. Received a 19 (perfect is a 20). Documentation received a perfect score. I only lost a point in Authenticity because I chose to use glass beads instead of real pearls, and I used cotton thread in the tablet weaving instead of silk. The way our rubric is written, I'm very happy with this score.

  • November, 2008: Autumn Melees (Bordermarch, Ansteorra) Open A&S. Populace choice with documentation displayed. Won. Yay!

A pretty picture of me wearing the ceinture, courtesy of Miranda Jordan. This shows the old, gold cording. And yes, my braids are caught in my brooch! Oops!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Greetings Gleann Abhann!

We are proud to announce Gleann Abhann's first Art Wars, which will be held at Athenaeum II on April 18th, 2009.

What is Art Wars???

Art Wars is a team A&S competition where all of the construction is done on site. The competition will begin at a stated time on Friday night and end at a specific time Saturday afternoon (what times will depend on how many teams we have, and how long we think judging will take).


Each team can have a maximum of 8 points.

3 points- Laurels participating in their field of study

2 points- Laurels outside their field of study; GOA - level A&S Awards (any kingdom) participating in their field

1 point- GOA- Level A&S outside their field, and everyone else

Points will be “locked” as soon as a team is registered.

Skill Levels:

Teams need to decide and declare what skill level they wish to participate at. Teams will only compete against other teams in their skill level. Please try to challenge yourselves!

Beginner- Note card style documentation; Allowed to leave site to get more materials if needed; no Laurels or GOA -A&S awards allowed on beginner teams.

Intermediate- Good documentation expected; Allowed to leave site to get more materials

Expert- Thorough documentation expected; NOT allowed to leave site to get more materials.


Again, teams will only be competing against other teams in their category.




Textile Arts (NOT clothing)

Calligraphy/ Illumination


Armor work (all mediums)

Open Miscellaneous (pretty much anything else)


Your team is required to supply any and everything you need for your project. Electricity will be available, but you should assume you need power-strips and extension cords. You'll probably need your own tables and chairs, too.

Certain, larger materials will be allowed minimal cuts to ease transportation, but most materials should be in their most basic forms.

Patterns, designs, etc... may be created before you get onsite, but may not be drawn onto your materials.


Research should be done in advance and documentation may be prepared in advance. The expectations for documentation rise with skill level. Documentation should be presented in a well-organized manner. It can be written or delivered verbally, but sources are expected in the higher level categories.


Judging will use the Kingdom Standards for the categories. These can be found on the kingdom webpage, under Officers, then Arts and Sciences. Judging will be done by qualified members of the kingdom, although judges are not allowed to judge a category and skill level that they themselves have entered.

The team in each category and skill level with the most points wins! In case of a tie, I'm sure we will have some sort of Royal decision.


If you are interested in donating prizes for any of the categories/skill levels, or for any special challenge, please contact me. Please remember that this is a team contest, and prizes should be sharable.

Team Sign Up:

To register your team, please send the following information to Countess Kenna at SperryW at Yahoo dot com:

Team Captain

Team Members

Total points


Skill Level

If you have any questions, please contact Countess Kenna.

Fiber-y Fun with Kitchen Chemistry

Ok, so as I said earlier, Allison wants to be a Viking. She's also going to Gulf Wars for the first time this year and needs a goodly amount of new clothes. Since coats are just more handy on kids than cloaks, I'm making her a caftan.

I found the most beautiful dark heathery-brown wool flannel for the body and the lining of the coat. I'll post pics of that as I get them, but this post is all about the decoration.

Allison has some pretty definite ideas about what she likes, and when I asked her what color she wanted the embroidery on her coat to be, she gave me a list: medium brown, light brown, red, orange, and yellow. Ok, these are nice, autumnal colors that I can work with. Except I didn't have them. What I did have was some good, white wool yarn, and a well-stocked kitchen.

You see, protein fibers (wool, silk) take dyes very well. They just need a good amount of an acid to set the color into the fiber. Wanna know what has a lot of color and a lot of acid? Kool-aid! Yeah, no kidding, Kool-aid. Lemonade, Cherry, Orange... all right there in the cabinet. Excellent.

But what about the browns? Well, citric acid is not the only acid you'll find in the kitchen. Tannic acid is also there in abundance. It's in tea, and it makes a very pretty range of browns.

The colors came out brighter than they scanned as. There is a definite difference between the red and the orange, and the yellow is as lemony as you could ask for. She loves the colors, and I think they look gorgeous against the dark brown of the coat.

I'll post more pictures of this project as it comes along.

A German Brick-stitch Pouch

Last Summer, around Pennsic-time, Their Majesties asked the Order of the Silver Lamp to supply Them with gifts and largesse for Them to take to Pennsic and give to Their Royal Cousins.

These pieces needed to be fairly small, easily carried, and should showcase the talents of the artisans of Gleann Abhann. So, I chose to do a pouch in the brick-stitch style of the late 14th, early 15th centuries. I have been enthralled with this style of embroidery since I first stumbled across. Master Richard Wymarc's research on it.

I picked this pattern, because I really liked the subtle design repeats in the same color threads.

The ground fabric is even-weave cotton. I've forgotten what size, maybe 28 count? The quarter in the off-frame picture should help give some idea of the scale.

I used two strands of Medici wool embroidery yarn. I used colors I had on hand, and ones that reminded me of the earth tones the current Crown favored. I wasn't thrilled with the coverage in some areas, but when I started using shorter lengths of thread, that seemed to fix most of those problems.

The pouch was lined in linen and sewn with linen thread. The tassels and drawstring are more of the Medici wool.

I was really pretty happy with this piece, and hope that whomever ended up with it enjoys it. I believe that it ended up in the Court of Their Majesties of the West.


Hi, and welcome to my little corner of the internet. This is where I hope to share projects I've completed and am currently working on, but I guess I'll start with an introduction:

I am Countess Kenna nic Aherne von Ziemer. I have participated in the Society for Creative Anachronism since the spring of 1995. I have sat on the throne of Gleann Abhann twice, once as Princess of the Principality, and once as Queen. I live in the Barony of Grey Niche, which is mundanely Memphis, TN.

My entire family is very involved in the SCA. My husband, Count Uther von Ziemer, was the first Knight made in the new kingdom. My daughter, Allison (8), is fairly active in Youth Archery, and is starting to be interested in Youth Rapier. She's also picking up an interest in all things string. My son, Jonathan (6), is counting the days until he's able to start fighting in Youth Combat. He's only got about 4 more months to wait.

Uther and I are the proud heads of Haus Adlerturm, which is made up of his Squires and men-at-arms, my ladies-in-waiting, and several orphans we've picked up along the way. Haus Adlerturm is primarily a fighting and fighter-support household who take a strong interest in historical accuracy. We also have a serious leaning towards service.

When I'm not herding those lovable cats, I'm usually working on something that involves fabric and thread. I very much enjoy studying and making the different styles of clothing worn in the Middle Ages, especially pre-1300 fashion. I especially love the lines and sillouette of the European gowns of the mid to late 1100's. While the pattern itself may be simple, the design possibilities are endless! I have also, as of late, been learning about early Norse and Scandinavian clothing, since my daughter has decided that she'd really much rather be a Viking. This is somewhat disturbing to her late-12th Century, German father, but the new knowledge is pretty exciting for me.

I have been embroidering since I was in the 4th Grade, and love the relaxed, Zen-like state that working on a piece can put me into. I especially like Couching, German Brick-stitch, and the various types of Middle Eastern Counted-work.

I also do enjoy knitting and cooking. I'm a little more Medieval-esque in these pursuits, but I still have fun with it, and will gladly show off any pieces I do as well.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my works and possibly find them as helpful as some of the other amazing project-journals on the Web. Please feel free to leave comments and ask questions.