On April 7, 2018 I attended Grand TUA – The University of Avacal. This is an annual event consisting mostly of classes, though some social aspects, SCA court, and martial activities are also included. This year for the first time the Kingdom A&S (Arts & Sciences) Championship was also included.
This year there were two competitors and one single-entry participant. Unfortunately the schedule was so tight that I didn’t get the chance to see the entries, beyond a quick walk-past while the participants were elsewhere.
The classes I took included:
Spinning Silk on the Drop Spindle
with HL Saxa Amelia Africana
I have been spinning with wool for a few years now (since I first took an SCA class at the coronation of Avacal’s first King and Queen I think) and so brought two spindles to this class that I have enjoyed spinning wool with. They were FAR too heavy for silk – which I found very interesting… I knew that in period, people would have multiple spindles, and I have always found a preference for one spindle over the other in feeling, but not so much in function. It was very enlightening to try the instructors spindle (made with oven bake clay!) to see the huge difference that the much lighter spindle made on the technique.
I was happy to spin up a little bit of silk that the instructor provided – a beautiful hand-dyed burgundy silk top. In the photo above I’m winding the silk yarn onto a wooden thread-winder I got as a gift in largesse.
with HL Saxa Amelia Africana
I took two classes with the same instructor – the second was a Wet Felting class. Years ago when living in BC I tried wet felting and had a wretched time of it. It really didn’t work at all, and all I got was sore, dried out hands, and a lot of soap everywhere… I subsequently tried Nuno Felting (over silk) from YouTube videos and was much more successful, but not as much as I would have liked…
It was good to get hands-on instruction for this project. The instructor gave us shelf liner to use as a rubbing and rolling mat, on top of a towel for all the water and soap. We laid down four layers of wool batt (torn into strips to make it more like using roving which is what we’d normally use for this), and then one decorative layer of roving.
I took the near-finished project home, to finish off at home (in the washing machine…) to continue to full/felt the wool and to get the soap out. From there I might make a little bag like the instructor demonstrated. Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll have a finished project to show off!
Making Cloth Buttons and Hand Finished Buttonholes
with HL Kora Kendal
Although I’ve made hand-sewn eyelets (grudgingly!) I have never done hand-sewn buttonholes before, and always have been a little hesitant. Not just because of the amount of work needed, but because I thought that the fabric would fray, and that it would be unstable. Our teacher had a good technique for stabilizing the hole and fabric, and the buttonholes worked up quite nicely. She recommended using two strands of embroidery floss for the buttonholes, cutting the hole with a buttonhole chisel (my favourite tool for buttonholes too), stay-stitching the opening with a running/stab stitch, and then working the hole with the buttonhole stitch.
She also showed us how to make self-stuffed cloth buttons. I made this in a scrap of linen she provided as well as a scrap of wool. She recommended making the stitching line to gather about 2/3 of the diameter of the cloth cut. The different size could make a firmer or softer button, and the material itself matters too – so… samples to start off a project are likely necessary!
I don’t have any garb planned that would need these buttons… but it’s good to have in my toolkit!
Event Stewarding Basics–A Round Table Discussion
with Mistress Kathryn inghean Ui Mhaonaigh, OP
I’ve only co-stewarded an event once, but when I was trying to organize a different event prior to that, I ran into a number of stumbling blocks. I don’t know if I’ll ever try again, though I really do enjoy organizing events. I may try to organize things that are unofficial instead… just to not have to worry so much about the hurdles I faced before.
This class unfortunately mostly made clear that the stumbling blocks I ran into before are still things I’d face again… perhaps with time things will get better (from my perspective. Obviously people who have done this a dozen times before already know how to clear those hurdles…)
Organizing and running TUAs (and the officer position)
with Mistress Kataryna Tkach, OL
This class wasn’t quite as useful as I’d hoped it would be- partially because there were a number of interruptions that I think kept the teacher from being as productive as she could have been. I suspect she hosted the class with the hopes of finding her own replacement (as she’s the current TUA chancellor) but unfortunately she hadn’t gotten through her full agenda before it was time to head to the next class.
Classes are one of the things I find the most interesting (and most accessible to new people) about the SCA, and I would be very interested in being more involved here, but again there are a number of hurdles that at the moment I think would take all the fun out of it.
Renaissance hand stitching and seam finishing techniques
with Monna Caterina &c., OL
In this class the teacher taught abbutted seams, along with cartridge pleating. I haven’t done either before. I don’t see myself doing hand abbutted seams anytime soon. First we hemmed two pieces of fabric by rolling the edge, and did a running stitch to hold it in place. Then from the wrong side we whip-stitched them together with tiny stitches for the abbutted seam. When the seam was finished, there’s a ladder of stitches on the right side. If this was an actual garment and not just a sample, I’d use a thread that matched the fabric.
The instructor indicated that this seam is stronger than a machine sewn seam (where the fabrics are sewn right-sides together), and she recommended using first silk thread, then as a second choice polyester thread.
Although I don’t see myself doing abbutted seams, I did enjoy doing a sample of cartridge pleating. I don’t know if I’ll want to do a gown with this kind of stitching in the future, but it was good to give it a try.
First I started by hemming a piece of fabric (about 8″ long) again by double-folding and doing a running stitch. Then I did two parallel and equal, lined up lines of stitches (a running stitch) using buttonhole twist. The instructor suggested crochet thread for this, but my kit had buttonhole twist in it. Then we pulled the gathering threads, creating the accordion of pleats. The instructor suggested a 3x ratio to create the appropriate length of pleats but also showed how to spread out the pleats to evenly set them onto the bodice/waistband. She suggested doing two stitches per pleat when attaching it to another hemmed piece of fabric. I did three stitches myself for my sample. Her friend (her former apprentice sister from when they were both apprentices to to the same Laurel) said that she only did one stitch per pleat, but knots at every stitch so that if one stitch breaks, the thread won’t unravel and drop the remaining pleats.
The teacher needed to pack up before the end of her class, and we were running out of class time, so another teacher (the one who taught buttons and buttonholes, the teacher’s apprentice sister) did a quick sample of eyelets which was part of the class outline, though luckily I’ve done these before, so the lack of time to actually practice this in class as well wasn’t a big detriment.
You can learn more about the Grand TUA 2018 on the Facebook page here. Other kingdoms call this ITHRA, and I guess there are probably other names for classes as well….
Come follow me on Facebook here, if you’d like to see other projects (and maybe how I apply some of what I learned) in your feed.