Posts Tagged favor

Call for Cynnabar Members to Make Favors for Pennsic!

16 March 2015


[As my Barony’s A&S Champion, I have been asked to coordinate the making of at least 25 favors for this year’s Pennsic War. Below is my call to action for my fellow members of Cynnabar!]

Pay heed, good gentles of the Barony of Cynnabar, for we have been charged with a task by Princess Arabella. Her Highness requests that we make 25 favors for the coming war at Pennsic. The design, pictured here, symbolizes the joining of forces between the Midrealm and the East to take over Aethelmearc. To help our populace answer Her Highness’ call, I have prepared kits with the right size linen, good amounts of floss, and an embroidery needle. I also have embroidery hoops for anyone who needs one. Favor Kits will be available at the weekly business meetings starting tonight, as well as at Sunday practices and our Spring Revel. To encourage the productivity of the favors, I will reward the Cynnabar member who makes the most favors by the day of Coronation (May 2) with a hat or cap of their choosing, made by me. If you are new to embroidery, this is a simple piece and I am happy to teach you how to do it. Any straight stitch, such as outline, stem, or chain, works well. I made this first favor with an outline stitch with just one evening’s work. Please let me know are able to help by posting here, emailing me, or speaking to me at one of the above-mentioned places.

Here is the instruction sheet I am including with the favor kits: favor-kit-directions


How to Embroider the Favors

For those who are new to embroidery, here is a step-by-step photo tutorial on how to embroider these:

1. Take your kit and a pair of scissors to a comfortable spot with good light. If you don’t have a kit, check the favor-kit-directions for the list of items you need.


2. Put your material in the embroidery frame. First loosen the thumbscrew on the outer circle. Then push the inner circle out of the frame and put it under your design, centered. Then place the outer circle of the frame on top of your material, centered over the bottom circle, and push them together. Tighten the thumbscrew.




3. Take your embroidery floss and cut off a length about 18″ long. Note that you can use ALL six strands of the floss together, or you can divide the strands so that it is thinner (as shown in the photo below). I personally like how bold it looks with the full floss (all six strands) and I have NOT divided mine into fewer strands for this tutorial. You may do as you please.


4. Thread your embroidery needle, pulling about 5″ of the floss through the thread. Tie a knot at the end.



5. Now let’s learn a simple, period embroidery stitch: the Back Stitch. Hold your embroidery frame in one hand, and, with your dominant hand, push the needle up from the back of the material to the front so that it comes out on the outline of your traced pattern on the fabric (as shown in the photo below).


6. Push the needle up and out and pull the thread through the material until it is stopped by the knot.


7. Push your needle back down into the fabric about 1/8″1-/4″ away.


8. Pull the thread down through the fabric until your thread lies flat. Do not over pull, as that will place too much tension on the fabric.


9. Push your needle up from the back of the material to the front about 1/8″-1/4″ ahead of the stitch you just made.


10. Push your needle down into the material back at the very same point you came up in step 6. This is the back stitch, which is ideal for following both smooth and complicated outlines like those in our pattern.


11. Continue like this along the line of your pattern. Once you feel comfortable, you can simplify and speed up the stitching by doing both the pushing in and out of the needle through the fabric at the same time, as shown in the photo below. As you can see, I pushed the needle in at the end of the preceding stitch and immediately came back up along my pattern line ahead of the thread.


12. You can do the back stitch around corners easily — just make the corner the start/stop of your stitch, as I’ve done in my next stitch here:


13. Keep going until you have only a few inches of thread left. Push your needle in and pull it through to the back of the fabric.



14. Flip your frame over and weave the needle (with the floss still threaded in its eye) through the stitches nearby. You want to go between the stitched floss and the fabric. Do this several times.



15. Once your floss is securely woven into the stitches on the back, unthread your needle and cut off the tail. Go ahead and cut off the tail of the knot on the other end of stitching, too.


When you’re done, the photo below shows what it looks like on the back of your fabric. Simple, neat, and secure.


16. Now just go back to step 5 and repeat until you’ve stitched along all the lines in your pattern! There are two other stitches that I think work well for this pattern: outline stitch and chain stitch — if you want to learn how to do these, let me know and I’ll take photos for you. When you are all done, mist your fabric with water or dampen it slightly to remove the blue pen lines.

17. With your blue lines gone, iron your embroidered fabric until it is nice and flat.  The material can now go back in the bag and you can give it to me (Genoveva) for sewing!


How to Sew the Favors

If you are finishing these favors yourself, here’s what you do:

1. Fold the fabric in half along the vertical center line, wrong side out.

2. Sew 1⁄2” seam down and press open so that the seam is centered.

3. Sew a 1⁄2” seam along the bottom edge.

4. Sew the seams a second time to reinforce edges.

5. Clip corners and turn right side out.

6. Iron flat. The image should now sit 1” above the bottom hem and 1⁄2” from each side.

7. Fold the top SA inside and stitch closed. You should now have a 5” x 12” rectangle.

8. Fold 3” down the back and stitch, forming the belt loop.


If you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to ask.

My First SCA A&S Display Experience at Vikings Come Home

19 September 2011

I had a great time at Vikings Come Home XX (20) in Traverse City, MI this weekend. For the first time, I brought along a finished project (the blackwork favor I made for Gregor) to include in the A&S display at this event. I had a reasonable idea of what to expect, having read a lot of things online, though firsthand experience is always most helpful.

I arrived later than nearly everyone (a 4-hour drive on the morning of the event will do that) and was both the last pre-registered person to show up and the last person to set out their project in the A&S display. When I arrived at the display, I discovered that they were having a Jewel Competition for any project that had documentation — the idea is that folks could pick up a jewel from a pile and place them in little cups in front of a project if they liked it. I think this is called a populace bean count vote. I wasn’t aware they were doing this — I was just intending to put my project on display. So after I set up my favor on the table, I did not put out a cup. Besides, nearly all the jewels from the main pile were gone at this point — I saw only a few left to give out. No one was really around at this point, so I left to find my friends from Cynnabar.

My Blackwork Project at the A&S Display

When I came back by the A&S display about 30 minutes later, I discovered someone had put out a cup in front of my project and there were now two jewels in it. That made me feel really great! Someone liked my work! I wandered off, but later was nearby again for a demonstration of glass beadmaking (really excellent and fun!) and saw another person taking several photos of my work. Cool! I wish I could have spoken to people to see what they thought, but I’d never approach anyone. I was hoping to have the chance to talk about the project, and discuss the projects of other people, but I just arrived too late. I think at Pennsic you had the opportunity to sit down with your work and talk to folks who came by … I’ll definitely have to do that next year. I love talking to others — I learn so much from them.

By this point, it was almost time for court, so I came back to the display to collect it. As I approached the building, Lady Helena mentioned that Donnershafen’s Minister of Arts and Sciences, Lady Diamante da Berra, was looking for me. ‘Oops, I must be late picking up my project,’ I thought. But when I got to the display, I found her standing in front of my project, reading my documentation. She said she was really impressed with both my work and my documentation, and asked if she could keep the documentation, or if I could e-mail it to her. I gave it to her, of course. She also said that my project had collected five jewels, and that she wished she had more time to look closer at it. That was very kind of her! She indicated a red ribbon with a bead on it that she’d placed there as a token — how cool was that? That ribbon is going with my other SCA treasures.

All in all, it was a very positive experience, and I am eager to enter an A&S display again. The only thing I regret is not putting it out earlier, as I don’t think any of my friends of Cynnabar had a chance to see it (they’d visited the display earlier in the day), and I value their feedback highly. I would enjoy the opportunity to talk A&S more! That just means I need to go to more events, now doesn’t it?

Here is my A&S Documentation as a PDF (or, if you don’t want to view a PDF, look here) — I’d REALLY love any feedback anyone has to give on it, as I want to be sure I am doing it right. Thank you!

A Favor for My Champion: Blackwork Embroidery of Chivalric Virtues

16 September 2011

I have someone who champions my causes, fights for me, supports me completely. He is Gregor. He is my personal champion. So I have made him a token to wear into battle. The token embodies five important chivalric virtues, with related emblems and personal symbolism. Here is a photo of the favor:

An embroidered blackwork favor for Gregor

The favor measures about 5″ x 7″, and is designed for Gregor to wear on his belt. I was inspired by historical embroidery. I intend to display it at Vikings Come Home tomorrow as my first A&S project, so I wrote up some documentation to explain it.


Blackwork Embroidered Favor

silk and metallic threads on linen

by Genoveva von Lübeck

Documentation Summary
Inspired by the embroidered linens of the 16th century, I created a favor for my fighter to wear to tournaments. The favor employs “blackwork” (Holbein stitch in repeating geometric patterns) with both silk green thread and metallic gold thread, as well as period-appropriate pictographic representations copied directly from 16th c. emblem books, just as embroiderers did at that time. I closely studied high-quality photos of extant embroidery work at the Victoria and Albert Museum and borrowed patterns and techniques used during this time period. All stitches used in this piece (Holbein, backstitch, speckle, chain, and stem) were also used in period embroidery work. The ground material is a 32-thread Belgian linen, which was worked in 1 or 2 thread sections with single strands of silk or metallic thread.

Why a Favor?
I wish to encourage my fighter, Gregor Reinhardt von Holstein, in the chivalric values by presenting him with a token. For historical evidence of favors, I offer this passage from The Treasure of the City of Ladies, a book written in 1405 by Christine de Pisan:

“If this lady sees any gentleman, be he knight or squire, of good courage who has a desire to increase his honor but does not have much money to outfit himself properly, and if she sees that it is worth while to help him, the gentle lady will do so, for she has within her all good impulses for honor and gentility and for always encouraging noble and valiant actions. And thus in various situations that may arise this lady will extend wise and well-considered largesse.”

Why The Pictograms?
I was inspired by a 1570 embroidered work I found in the Victoria & Albert Museum (T.219-1953). This piece has a large center illustration of a shepherd, surrounded by unusual emblems and mottoes, worked in the characteristic blackwork of the period. I was curious about the emblems, and quite by chance, discovered that many of the emblems in this piece were clearly copied directly from The Heroicall Devises of M. Claudius Paradin, translated from Latin into English by P.S. William Kearney (London, 1591). The book illustrations of the emblems and the embroidered emblems are nearly exact! A knowledge of emblems and their use in art was part of the intellectual climate of Elizabethan life—the images represented important allegories.
What Do the Emblems Mean?

I chose emblems that represented the chivalric values I wish to encourage, as follows:

Page 311 of Heroicall Devises

Honor: The emblem of a crown of grass (not a laurel) is from page 312 of The Heroicall Devises. The motto is “Merces sublimis honorum” (the reward of honor is great). The crown was awarded to those that had valiantly subdued their enemies and, while it was only made of grass, flowers and herbs found at the place of battle, it was thought to be the most honorable of all and held in the greatest estimation. This emblem represents honor and encourages my fighter to seek great stature of character by holding to the virtues and duties of a knight (though he is not one), and realizing that though the ideals cannot be reached, the quality of striving towards them ennobles the spirit. View the page of the book at

Prowess: The emblem of the sword is from page 218 of The Heroicall Devises. This emblem depicts the hand of Marcus Sergius, who famously fought in Gaul with an artificial iron hand—he is a symbol of prowess and manhood, overcoming personal obstacles to attend to duty. I encourage my fighter to  seek prowess and excellence in all endeavors expected of a knight, martial and otherwise, seeking strength to be used in the service of justice, rather than in personal aggrandizement. View the page of the book at

Humility: This emblem carries the motto “sic terras turbine perflat” on page 166 of The Heroicall Devises, which translates to something lile “so he troubles the earth with whirlwinds.” The descriptive text warns that “God our creator doth resist the proud, the high minded, lovers of themselves, and the arrogant, but giveth grace to the humble and the lowly.” This emblem represents humility, inspiring one to refrain from boasting one’s your own accomplishments, and instead tell the deeds of others before one’s own. View the page of the book at

Page 32 of Heroicall Devises

Courage: The emblem of two pillars appears on page 32 of The Heroicall Devises, depicting the Pillars of Hercules which mark the edge of the then known world. According to mythology the pillars bore the warning “Nec plus ultra” (nothing further beyond). These pillars represent the courage to go beyond what is known, choosing a more difficult path. View the page in the book at

Loyalty: The central element is a personal image, combining symbolism of my own and my fighter, and thus I will not go into detail about it here. It is still inspired by an illustration from an emblem book, however. The image of the King of Lycia on Pegasus from Les emblemes by Andrea Alciato provided the image for me (view at This image represents loyalty, the cornerstone of all virtues. I encourage my fighter to continue to be known for his unwavering commitment to the people and ideals he chooses to live by. There are many places where compromise is expected; loyalty is not amongst them.




Page 150 of Les Emblemes

Why Blackwork?

Blackwork in silk on linen was the most common domestic embroidery technique for clothing and household items throughout the reign of Elizabeth I. Blackwork is a counted-thread embroidery which is usually stitched on even-weave fabric. Traditionally blackwork is stitched in silk thread on white or off-white linen or cotton fabric. Sometimes metallic threads or colored threads are used for accents. In the earliest blackwork, counted stitches are worked to make a geometric or small floral pattern. Historical stitches for blackwork primarily used the Holbein stitch (double running) and the backstitch, as I have done in my work, but also employed other stitches such as stem, chain, ladder, couching, coral, speckling, and others. Evidence of this can be seen in extant embroidery pieces, such as the 1598 sampler by Jane Bostocke in the Victoria and Albert Museum (T.190-1960).


“The Shepherd’s Buss.” 16th century embroidery by Unknown. Housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Textiles and Fashion Collection, British Galleries, room 58c, case 6. Item T.219-1953. View at

Sampler. Jane Bostocke in 1598. Housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Textiles and Fashion Collection. Item T.219-1953. View at

The Heroicall Devises of M. Claudius Paradin, Whereunto are added the Lord Gabriel Symeons and others. Claude Paradin. Translated out of our Latin into English by P.S. William Kearney (London, 1591). In the collection of the Penn State University Libraries Rare Books Room. View at

Les emblemes. Andrea Alciato. 1615 (translated from earlier work). In the collection of the Glagow University Library (SMAdd32). View at

Treasure of the City of Ladies. Christine de Pisan. 1405. Translated with an introduction and notes by Sarah Lawson (Penguin classics). Rev. ed.London: Penguin, 2003.