Defending the Gate 2016

Here are some photos from yesterday’s event. Left to right: Esperanza, Amie, Anastaasia, Genefe. We were trying to recreate a photo taken four years ago!



Esperanza, Amie, Anastaasia, Genefe


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This month’s service project

Thank you notes with pre-stamped envelopes for Queen Toryn Seven Stitches. A service gift other than offering to sew something for somebody!


Heraldic Thank You Cards

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Kingdom Arts and Science Festival

All three dresses by me! I didn’t mean to coordinate colors but I guess we can all tell what color palette was on my brain during the last 12 months. Left to Right: me in Landsknecht, the dress dummy is wearing a Masquerade dress based on an illustration from an unfinished manuscript commissioned by the Emperor Maximillian, and Baroness Esperanza is wearing a Cranach Princess dress inspired by Sybille, sister to Anne of Cleves.


German Dresses!

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Cranach Princess Dress, second draft

This Baroness Esperanza wearing a Cranach Princess dress that I made. The photo was taken at 5:30 in the evening when the outside light was low. The inside lights were on. There was one above the backdrop and one behind me as well as ambient light from outside. I pulled the curtains open.


Esperanza, Feb. 2016

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Costumer’s Dilemma: The Wrong Buttons

by guest columnist Basil White

Your costumer Significant Other might ask you for buttons for a holiday gift or their birthday. Unless they’re going to use the buttons for some non-functional decoration, assume they need specific buttons. You may think “buttons are everywhere. There’s a wall of buttons at those stores that sell fabric, whatever those stores are called, and I have these buttons in my dresser drawer, and…”

Do not give these buttons. These are The Wrong Buttons.

The Wrong Buttons are everywhere. They surround us, and are in all manner of places – shops, homes, work – but the reason they are everywhere is because each button suits a very specific purpose, and unless these buttons are exactly the same, they are not interchangeable. These Are The Wrong Buttons.

You may think the purpose of all buttons is to secure clothing, and so they are all the same. However, the purpose of all examples of something you value might be the same, and you wouldn’t mix tequila and champagne, or the Chicago Bears with the Memphis Grizzlies, would you? Certainly not; that would be silly, like your former attitude about buttons. The grizzly is a form of bear, and this common feature would make them interchangeable, but how would you feel if you needed quarterback Jay Cutler for your NFL fantasy team, and a trader gave you point guard Mike Conley? Because grizzlies are bears, and therefore interchangeable? No, you would think that trader a monster for delivering such a mistake.

That monster is you, because These Are The Wrong Buttons.

Let me retain your attention with alcohol and sports metaphors. A loved one can dismiss one wrong button as a mistake; multiple cards of Wrong Buttons reveals you as an incorrigible psychopath. To increase their effectiveness at making you happy, beer and Timberwolves are grouped into sets of six and five, respectively. So it is with buttons. More is best, but only if they are The Right Buttons. Surely, a gift set of a Grizzlies wall clock, barstool and pilsner glass would express your insight, but what if you gave these to a Bears fan? They would think you thoughtless, and rightly so; Bears fans already have a full measure of suffering.

So when your significant other indicates a specific set of buttons, buy them. Don’t think on your own. It is a losing proposition and will only lead you to gift the Wrong Buttons.

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Costumer’s Dilemma: No One is Going to Pants You

It has been a few years since I made my husband his first really nice English doublet and Venetian hose for 12th Night. It was made from gloriously thick black wool interlined and tailored to fit him from a pattern that too me days’ worth of attempted mockups.

We dressed at home because the event was close by. I was so excited about my own dress and fancy hat that I didn’t pay much attention to anything else until we were at the event.

Once inside, my husband went to the bar to get me a drink. That’s when I noticed some weirdness going on in the butt of his Venetians. My husband has, ask I like to call it, negative butt space. And that’s how I made the pattern, for a man with negative butt space. However, the hose no longer fit smoothly. The thighs were tight. The inseams were all wonky and he had a tell-tale butt lump on one side.

When he came back with my adult beverage, I took a deep drink before the ensuing conversation.

Me: “Darling, why are your pants all lumpy?”
Him: “I don’t know. You made them.”
Me: “Are you, perhaps, just maybe, wearing your cargo shorts under your Venetians?”
Him: “Yeah, so what? I gotta have some place to put your wallet.”
Me: “I put pockets in your Venetians so you could hide your wallet.”
Him: “I didn’t know these had pockets.”
Me: “You’re wearing them. How could you not know about the pockets?”
Him: “It doesn’t matter. I’m not wearing only underwear under a costume. I have to have pants on.”
Me: “The Venetians are pants.”
Him: “No, they’re not. They’re a costume.”
Me: “Are you afraid that somebody is going to pants you at 12th Night?”
Him: “They might. You never know.”
Me: “Your cargo pants have ruined the line of your Venetians.”
Him: “No, they don’t.”
Me: “Why do you hate me?”
Him: “I don’t hate you. Here, let me get you another drink.”

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Costumer’s Dilemma: Clothing the Unwilling Spouse

I love costuming in the SCA. It is a creative outlet that brings me into contact with other curious people who have the same interests. Resources are shared. Techniques are learned and lots of fancy clothing is worn to great acclaim. Nothing tops being able to create a garment with modern materials and have somebody tell you that you looked like you came straight from a portrait.

My problem is that my husband is not interested in any of this.

After living with me for over a decade, my constant book-reading, picture-browsing and commenting on “historic” movies has rubbed off on him. He knows a thing or two about what historic costumes should look like. When we walk through the food court at Pennsic, he can discretely nod in someone’s direction and say to me in an undertone, “She’s wearing an English hat with an Italian dress, isn’t she?” to which I nod and say, “Yup.” Those little moments make me so proud. He understands! He cares!

But it quickly goes south when I ask him what he wants to wear for garb. To wit, this morning’s conversation.

Me: “Coronation’s going to be Viking-themed. I have to make you a Viking outfit. What colors do you want?”

Him: “Chroma key green.”

Me: “Vikings didn’t have chroma key green.”

Him: “You asked me what color I want. I want chroma key green. I think it will be hysterical.”

Me: “How about oatmeal?”

Him: “If I don’t get to decide what color I get to wear, why did you ask me in the first place?”

Me: “Fine. Just don’t tell anybody that you’re married to me.”

Him: “Oh, I’m going to tell everyone. I’m going to put a sign on my back that says, ‘Made by Amie Sparow.’”

Me: “Why do you hate me?”

Him: “You take this stuff too seriously.”

Me: <Sigh.> “Don’t you understand that what you’re asking for isn’t historically accurate in the least?”

Him: “Just because I don’t care, doesn’t mean I don’t understand.”

So if you go to Coronation this Spring and you see a Viking in chroma key green garb, it’s not my husband and I didn’t make his outfit.

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