A year ago, at the SCA event Flaming Gryphon 12th Night 2017 (see Flaming Gryphon 12th Night), I took a beginning embroidery class from Jerusha a’Laon called Eight Basic Period Stitches. My friend Uilleag Balbhan (mka Dan Barringer) took it too. Here are some photos from the class:

I went to the event with Dan and his wife Slany Bean Uillic (mka Sheryl Barringer). Here are the three of us there, with Slany in green:

Their daughter Sarah also went with us. Both Slany and Sarah taught classes at the event that day.  Slany, the head of the Food Sciences Department at The Ohio State University, gave her tasty class “An Elizabethan Guide to Chocolate,” at the end of which she gave out samples of period hot chocolate (yum!).

Sarah’s class was about the Norse trickster god Loki. She had taken “Norse Mythology” from Professor Merrill Kaplan when she was a student at OSU, which was in part where she got her extensive and insightful knowledge of Loki. At that time, I hadn’t yet had Professor Kaplan as a teacher. But I had the honor of being her student last semester for “The Icelandic Saga.” See School starts soon! and Back at school…

“The Icelandic Saga” was an amazing class, and Professor Kaplan was both authoritative and charming. Illness cut short the semester for me, though. I was delighted to receive a “Get Well Soon” card from Professor Kaplan.  She even had my classmates sign it, and many of them included personal messages, which was really touching.

But back to embroidery, which is what this post is supposed to be about, after all! 😉

Here’s the handout that Jerusha used at Flaming Gryphon 12th Night, which she in turn got from a teacher of hers, as well as the page that includes the Herringbone Stitch, and then a photo of the few stitches that I worked in class:

Not an impressive first effort, huh? And I basically laid the idea of embroidery aside, although I’m threatening to do a gift for my friend Janet VanMeter that would involve embroidery. We’ll see if that ever happens! 😛

But I really wanted to have some embroidery on the Viking outfit I’m making for Spring Coronation at the beginning of May. Here’s the linen I’ll be using for the outfit. The marigold will be the smokkr, or apron dress, and the red will be the underdress:


And I got some silk habotai to trim the garments with:


My plan is to put a panel of red silk at the top of the front of the bodice of the marigold-colored smokkr. And I wanted to add some embroidery to the silk.

But I am a rank beginner at embroidery and not very handy, either! I had heard about a new method of doing embroidery called the Alabama Chanin method. So I ordered the book from Amazon:


In the introduction to the book, Natalie Chanin explains how she learned embroidery as a child, using yarn and thick cardboard cards with pictures printed on them that appealed to kids and with holes punched out in the cards that showed where to pull the yarn through. She adapted that idea for adults who wanted to learn how to embroider and needed or wanted some guidance.

So what the book gives you is not only a reference work as to the various stitches, but also plastic cards called “grids” that have small holes in them. For each stitch you want to do, there is a note at the top of the page telling you which grid to use. For example, I wanted to do a basic Herringbone Stitch. The page showing the stitch said that I needed to use “Stitching Card 1, Rectangle-A Grid, Two Row.” So I turned to the stitching cards in the back and removed the one with the Rectangle-A Grid on it. Easy-peasy.

After that it’s a simple matter of marking through the holes perforated in the card with the instrument of your choice. I used a disappearing ink pen with a very fine point, because the holes are quite small.

Then, with the rows marked on your fabric, you just follow the instructions for the stitch that you want to create, and voilà! You are in the embroidery business!

I’m still struggling to make my stitches as well-formed as I’d like them to be, but here’s my first row, which I did tonight:


Here’s what the Stitching Card looks like:



Helping me in my endeavors is a notions caddy from my late Mother’s sewing box:


I just love to use things that she used herself so long ago. It brings her back to me in a very sensory fashion, and I remember all the beautiful clothes she made me throughout my life. ❤

Natalie Chanin’s book contains all kinds of inspiration! 🙂 It’s definitely not just for beginners, Take a look at some of these photos from the book:


And there are many, many variations on each basic stitch. For example, look at these different kinds of Herringbone Stitch:



And some other stitches that I really like:





Tomorrow it’s back to my new sewing machine to finish up the parts of the blue smokkr I’ve got underway which can be done by machine. After that, I’ll be finishing it by hand and then moving on to cutting out the marigold smokkr (the one I’m doing the embroidery for) and the red underdress for Spring Coronation! Yay! 🙂