GWW and a unified theory of bobbin lace

I am recently returned from my first ever war in the SCA– overall, a pretty good time! Saionji-sensei was my ride to and from the event, as my health problems prevent me from driving a car for more than about two hours without difficulty. She was repaid in Elizabethan lemon curd and conversation about old Japanese movies.

I ended up bringing my red dress, the avoiding heatstroke dress, and my Hispano-flemish kirtle, which I wore 14th century with a huva (St Birgitta cap) and veil. Sadly no pictures were acquired of this last, but it was really comfy and I felt pretty, and the veil did an excellent job of keeping me from getting sunburnt.

Here are the three pictures I DID get:

The montage of strange facial expressions is because Tanis was supposed to be taking pictures of me but was also having a conversation and I had no idea when the photos were happening and when he was just chatting and holding my phone.  Also as previously noted I am BAD at being photographed.

You can at least kind of see my new, slightly more accurate method of wearing cofia y tranzado.  Instead of making both parts (the cap and the braid cover) out of one scarf, I wear my St Birgitta cap as the cofia part and pin a scarf to the base to act as the tranzado.  A piece of ribbon or trim wraps around my head to keep the cap in place and then criss-crosses around my hair and the scarf to the bottom, where I tied a half bow.

Really it should be a cap and a tube of fabric that your braid goes inside, which I will get to eventually, but this both looked better and stayed in place for a full day of running around a battlefield handing out water bottles, so I’m pleased.

I bought a couple things– a veil, since I left the one that lives on my henin at home, and a half-hide of burgundy leather.  The leather is going to become a leather jerkin like this one from the Museum of London and probably several other things as well because my torso is very small and the half-hide is quite large.  Several people suggested Landsknecht leather hot pants, but I think I’ll leave that for Duchess Mari.  I don’t think I could pull off leather hot pants.

I had several good chats with people, including one with Mistress Sylvie about my as-of-yet unpublished unified theory of bobbin lace.  Apologies to Duke Hans, who explained to me that unified theories require blackboards, because I’m going to talk about it here.

I’ve yet to see a sensible, well-argued theory for where bobbin lace comes from.  We have one for needle lace (drawn thread embroidery–> reticella –> punto en aria) but no one seems to agree on bobbin lace.  I’ve seen that it originated in the Netherlands, or that the North Africans brought it to Italy via trade, but no logical explanation for why someone decided to start making intersecting plaits with string wound on little spools and pinned into a pillow.

I honestly wasn’t thinking that much about this, but then I stumbled on a page of finger loop braid patterns that showed several made with intersecting plaits. Hmm.  That looks a bit like very very simple early bobbin lace.  But how did we get from one to the other?

I don’t make finger loop braids (yet) but Mistress Sylvie does, and she told me that many of the more complex braids actually require two or three people.  So maybe at some point someone wanted to make those but didn’t have the extra hands, and decided to wind the string on spools instead.  Seemed plausible to me.  We’ll probably never know, but it was definitely rewarding to have my idea supported by someone much more knowledgeable than me.

Next up in sewing– Dickens (ugh, I’m having fabric sourcing issues), Twelfth Night (Spanish Burgundian is the plan at the moment, abandoning my 1520s dress), and a 16th century waisted kirtle with proper construction out of a dark madder red wool worsted. Saionji-sensei also talked me into considering doing a non-Laurel artisan display at Twelfth Night, so I’m coming up with possible ideas.

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