Thursday, 20 August 2020

Fruits of our Labours, 2019

By Fáelán Ruadh ua Aodha [See the original post on her blog, complete with pictures.]

‘Fruits Of Our Labours’ – FOOL – is an annual Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) event in the Kingdom of Ealdormere (covers most of the Province of Ontario, Canada)

In the Barony of Ramshaven (Kitchener/Waterloo, Guelph, Cambridge, Bruce and Grey County – West of Highway 6)

Organized by the Canton of Bryniau Tywynnog (Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge), FOOL is a whole weekend of classes on the making of pre-1600 things.

This was the event’s 12th year and went from Friday May 17th to Monday May 20th.

Rua’s Wrangling Of The Arts & Sciences

My goals this year was to get more familiar with the Arts and Sciences of the materials I was already working with. Therefore it was with a focus on the Fiber Arts because I had local sheep wool that I had cleaned and was ready for the next steps, and I have been working with linen thread and cloth for clothing. On top of that I now have a bit of land of my own that allows more experimenting with these mediums – a lot of the wet messy side of these arts are only an option when you have a yard. Both of these materials are also a reflection of my growing up on a farm and desiring to know a life I could have lived in this time, as well as wanting to make some of my own sustainable ‘mundane’¹ clothing in fashions that I have yet to find.

With that I attended Flax Processing, Beginning Spinning, What to do with Raw Fleece, Alchemy 101 (with a focus on dying fibers), and Silk Painting.

I would have liked to have gotten into the sewing and embroidery classes but the scheduling worked out better this way and involved less running around. Besides it happened to be a great way learn the fiber crafts in the order of how things were made.

Flax Processing

The Flax Processing class was taught by Anne of Saffron Walden, who this past March at Kingdom Arts & Science, was made a Laurel for her work in making a tunic from scratch – like from the literal ground scratch (her documented journey can be found here). So if you are going to learn from anyone in Kingdom about this, this is the person to learn it from.

We began with an introduction covering how to grow flax, when to harvest, Rippling, Rivelling, Winnowing, Retting, Grassing, Drying and Storage (her own blog covers this well if you want details on those steps).

Then came the activity part of the class, first with Breaking:

Next came Scutching – a process to remove as much of the broken stalk/boon/shives from the fibre as possible using a wooden scutching knife and board, on the thigh, and held up in the air:

After Scutching comes Hackling, a series of combs the flax is brushed through where the remaining boon is removed from the fibers and the fibers are separated from each other:

And the last step in the process – Spinning! But there is something to keep in mind for that step to be successful – remembering which side was Top of the grass, and which side was Toe! With that you store your finished bundles the same direction so spinning is easier. One hint is that the fibers naturally twirl Earthwise (direction the earth spins) (widdershins / counter-clockwise).

The other hint is that the flax buds can be found on the Top.

The Other Fiber Arts Classes

I had not taken any photos of the Beginning Spinning class by Yngvildr Ádísardóttir or What To Do With Fleece class by Aibhilin. I feel sheepish about that.

Yngvildr was a very patient instructor who did a wonderful job helping me get a better handle on the spinning side of things and my confidence grew substantially from taking this class. Whenever Yngvildr is available she is open to sharing how to get your spin on beyond this class if you want to learn more.

Already being well past lunch hour without eating breakfast – I had slept in and ran for my first class of the day. I ended up nomming an apple during Aibhilin’s fleece class which was a poor choice in timing on my part as this was prewashed sheep fleece and most definitely not something to combine food with – so I observed, listened and asked what few questions I had for the pre washed side of things, having brought my own washed wool that I already learned the hard way from. I truly wish I had taken this class prior to my first forays into dealing with fleece because some otherwise fine projects have been wasted from not knowing it was better to toss a portion than trying to salvage the whole thing. I definitely got a better grasp on the combing side of wool and how to gather it for storage.

Outside The Fiber Forays And Into The Moots and Metals

Several of the guilds happened to have Moots scheduled during the event and I happened to be a member to most of these guilds and as someone who only manages to get to about 4 events a year, these are opportunities I should not miss. So I attended the Vexillology Moot, Bardic Moot, and the Heraldry Moots, which meant that there was little time for much else, but well used time none-the-less.

It was hard not to notice how the Moneyers scheduled coin making classes – it was for both days all weekend. Done so in a way that if you wanted to make your own to keep you could either attended all of them in order that one day, or the next, or spread it out between the two days of the weekend. This would enable so many people to complete that process that I felt that it was well planned and executed, which made me think that even I could manage to squeak it in. But alas, I committed myself thoroughly. Here is to hoping it happens again next year – and that I am able to attend that year!

The other class that I was keenly interested in was bronze casting – mostly because the persona I do for the SCA is Pictish / Dal Riata and earlier (generally Old Irish, Early Celtic studies) and bronze was the most common metal used in that time. Not to mention that Lost Wax Casting is so mesmerizing to me. That and Repousse. *drool*

Another art I have been eyeing for a long time now, but wanted to ensure I could fully commit before starting, was Scribal arts. I already do graphic design and tilted that toward armory in the Heraldry Guild and I want to get a more solid footing in that field and establish a proper work station to complete any scribing I start. Otherwise it is liable to get set aside somewhere and lost with my habits – I have come to know my limits.

Needless to say, I had to remind myself that I was already spreading my projects thin and needed to get current projects off of the table before I took on a new one. Otherwise I probably would die from a falling pile of projects.


Court began with their Excellencies of Ramshaven Penn and Lucia de Moranza calling forth their Baronial Champions with thanks for their year’s service and release from duty, and then summoned this year’s new Baronial Champions – Dawn Galbraith as Rapier Champion, Sibylla of Glyndmere as Armoured Champion, Guoillauc filius Brancu as Bardic Champion, and Catriona inghean Ragnaill as Ranged Champion.

Dorothea af Holm was recognized for their dedicated work and gifted a Guidon de Sang – Ramshaven’s official service award.

Then came Dietrich von Sachsen and Emer nic Aiden bearing a gift to aid in the Barony’s battle skills and tactics, a game of “Battle Sheep”.

Æthelbert of Whitstone Isle was then recognized for his long time… service… to the Barony as First Punnister.

Their Excellencies then announced that the year of Song has wrapped up and their 3rd Word of The Year is Hospitality – calling all within Ramshaven to look deeply into ourselves, and share generously and with kindness, to help strike back against the creeping push from the mundane world to close our hearts and doors.

Their Majesties Roak Khan and Hyrrokin Khan Begam then called court.

Summoning The Order of The Crucible, their majesties addressed that the order wanted a new member to join their ranks and called forth Æthelbert of Whitstone Isle, recognizing his leatherwork, in particular in shoe making:

“Rest your feet awhile, yet gentles good,
And hear the words of Roak Khan,
And those of Hyrokkin, Khan Begam.
The reputation of Æthelbert
Is not just a load of old cobblers.
Lets us thus wax eloquently in his praise.
For word-fame lasts; this sole of diligence –
No cowmouth’d vagabond is he.
But his works speak with a most supple tongue
Which ensure he does not get off the wrong foot.
Needles to say, and not put too fine a point on it,
Such works deserve swift reward, hell-for-leather!
For as the ancients say: “If the shoe fits,
“Then a Crucible we make for skill and wits!”
Done this 18th Day of May, Anno Societatis LIV, as we sit our thrones at the great faire of Fruits Of Our Labours, in our Canton of Bryniau Tywynnog.
wording by Dietrich von Sachsen. Leather Apron by Mjoll Ulfsdottir

Following this their majesties, as is customary of Ealdormere, summoned those who this was their first event and gifted them cups. And then acknowledged and thanked the event organizers for their work in making FOOL happen.

A Change In Weather

By the end of Sunday, when most people would be thinking about or preparing their evening meal, the winds had picked up drastically and the clouds looked ominous. Some of the tents had blown down and looking at the forecast revealed a hefty storm was imminent. News spread quickly and the entire encampment was packed up practically in an hour. Being far travellers ourselves, we would not set out on a 7 hour drive that evening and instead stayed that evening with those who were sticking around in the lodgings and crashed with family who lived in the nearby city.

While everyone was packing, their excellencies offered to cook what they had at the Anneke Kitchen and turn it into a potluck for those staying. It was lovely little gathering and I had the opportunity to present the current status of the Ramshaven Barony Arts & Science Regalia, which garnered some volunteers for the project and ideas forward. Hopefully this will be complete and ready to present this summer.

The evening then transitioned into bardic circle – the second of the weekend – and was gathered at the Tavern, away from the harsh weather. It was warm and full of song and merriment – as good as a bardic circle can be expected to be. Before long I had to part ways with my companions and venture back into the mundane¹ world. Until we meet again – Waes Hael!

[1] ‘Mundane’ is a colloquial term within the SCA that refers to regular modern day clothing as opposed to SCA – pre-1600 clothing.

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