Escaping the Devil's Workshop: "Little" Arts for Idle Hands

Feeling bored? Dame Aoife has lots of suggestions in this week's Links on productive and portable ways to occupy your copious free time.

Greetings my Faithful readers.

When I first joined the SCA, about mumblety-teen too many years ago, It was the norm for the ladies to sit around and gossip, with their hand-work firmly in hand, while the men went off to bash their friends over the head with big sticks. Nowadays, things have changed. The non-fighters sit around and gossip while watching and the fighters, both male and female, go off to bash each other over the heads with big sticks. And a good time is had by all.

Fighting is good fun, after all, and a well-rounded SCAdian should try some sort of combat during their years in the SCA. But wait! What about that other thing, that "Hand Work" thing. You know, that thing that some folks do while watching fighting, that others do while at a demo, and that still others do just for fun? What's all that about?

I firmly believe that our Medieval counterparts were quite industrious, and what with "Idle Hands being the Devil's Workshop" it seems to me that it's still a good idea to find something to do to keep the hands busy. I hesitate to call them "little" arts, since big results can be obtained by a little work here and there, but nonetheless, these are certainly transportable arts. And working on any handcraft is good for you! It not only builds your skills and dexterity base, it also occupies the mind, provides a source of conversation and knowledge sharing ("What's that? Can you teach me how to do it? I know someone who's really good at that..."), and historical crafts look a lot more medieval then doing nothing at all....

Therefore, this links list is all about "little" arts and sciences you can carry with you wherever you go, be it in court, alongside the tourney field, at the demo table, whilst sitting in class, while up at night, whilst sleepless, at the Office on your lunch hour, or simply while sitting and gossiping at an event.



Dame Aoife Fin of Ynos Mon, CL, CP
m/k/a Lisbeth Herr-Gelatt
Riverouge, Endless Hills, AEthelmearc

Stefan's Florilegium
Let's face it, it's a gold-mine of information no matter where you look. However, these files caught my eye:
Embroidery: 8 Period Stitches
by Mistress Ealasaid nic Shuibhne
(click Textile Arts, the 8-P-Stitches-art)
Making Quills
(click Scribal Arts, then quills-msg)
Herb Uses
(click plants, Herbs, and Spices, then Herbs-Uses-msg)
Period Favors

Twill Beadwork
(Site Excerpt) Twill beadwork is sometimes mistaken for woven beadwork, but it differs in distinct ways. While woven beadwork aligns the beads in horizontal and vertical rows, twill beadwork arranges the beads in an offset pattern, like bricks. Because of the strong diagonal 'grain' lines formed in twill beadwork (hence its name) the resulting 'fabric' is much more flexible

Hurstwick: Games and Sports of the Viking Era
(Site Excerpt) Game boards and playing pieces are common finds in grave goods. The game boards that have been found have playing surfaces ranging from 7x7 squares (right) up to 19x19 squares. Playing pieces have been found made from a wide variety of material: glass; bone (left); antler; amber; bronze; and wood.

Making Medieval Shoes by Eleanora
(Site Excerpt) Another way to make a pattern is by careful measuring. The Carlson web site offers instructions on making patterns by this method. The good news is that once you have the pattern to fit your foot, stylistic details can be added at will. Therefore you should not have to re-size your pattern each time you want to try a different style- just make adjustments to you standard pattern.

Kim's Website: Make 4-panel Juggling Balls
(Site Excerpt) I suggest taking your pattern paper and folding it neatly into quarters, the measure up half your long side length (plus seam allowance) along one fold from the folded center, half the short side length (plus seam allowance) along the other center fold, then cutting one nice curve from one measured end to the other. Then your curve will be even on all sides of your pattern piece when you unfold it.

Medieval Letter-writing
(Site Excerpt) Letter-writing was not restricted by class, gender or occupation. The treatises examined by Austin contain examples appropriate to all walks of life, and actual letters survive from people of many different types. Minimal education would have been required, but certainly many who had not had the benefit of a university education were expected and able to use the treatise examples in composing their own correspondence.

Arachne's Webserver: Lace-maker's Homepage

Viking-Style Tablet Weaving: Birka Strapwork Motif
by Þóra's Sharptooth
(Site Excerpt) The motif for this tablet-weaving "recipe" is based on a Viking Age brocaded tablet-weaving pattern found on Bands 22 and 23 at Birka, Sweden. Based on both the number of finds of brocaded tablet-weaving finds and the total weight of metal brocading weft found at Birka, this was the trim pattern most commonly represented in Birka's Viking Age burials...

Phiala's String Page: Fingerloop Braiding
(Site Excerpt) This type of braid was very common in medieval London (Crowfoot et al. 1992). They were used as edging on mesh hairnets, purse strings, and for fastening clothing. Examples of 5, 7, 10, 14, and 20 loops have been found. All were of silk, mostly monochrome, but one used 2 colors. Fingerloop braids of 3 and 4 colors are known from elsewhere.

Celtic Artwork and Illumination

Chain Mail Connection

Medieval Games and Pastimes
(an OLD Aoife-Links List)
(Site Excerpt) This list is perfect for those planning amusements at events. There's information on: Bocce, Quoits (a horse shoe like game), Croquet, Tennis, Battledore/Shuttlecock, Bowling (Ninepins, etc.), Shove-penny, skittles, and a couple bonus curiosity games.

15th century girdle book for note taking and other uses
by Cynthia Virtue aka Baroness Cynthia du Pré Argent
(Site Excerpt) To wear it, the knot slips under your belt from below, until the knot is over your belt, which keeps it from falling out. To use mine for taking notes, I can either leave it in the belt, and just pick it up and start writing (I write in it "upside down") or I can take it out of my belt easily and write. I've used it to remember names, allegedly bright ideas I have at events, interesting clothes or art, my lines in a play, class notes, and other little things.