FavouriteThings of 2018

1. Art & Arcana plus the D&D limited edition core rulebooks.

Either the Art&Arcana book or the limited edition set of the core D&D5e rulebooks could be a point on this list all on their own. The Art&Arcana book is gorgeous, full of information and a tribute to decades of work of everyone ever involved in D&D. The limited edition core books are also lovely and I love that they were only available in the brick & mortar stores.
Together they represent the TTRPG time back in my life. I have missed the amount of gaming that I am currently engaging in. I am both playing and acting as GM for multiple systems. I am prepping for a large group one-shot, something I’ve wanted to do for some time now. I am learning new systems. I’ve even painted minis (something that I’ve tried once in the past with little success). And I’m back at the point as DM/GM where I’m stretching my creative writing skills once again. And I love it!

2. SW Lego Advent Calendar

A simple thing that I’ve now engaged in for a few years but I enjoy the daily builds. And I’ve continued to enjoy this little seasonal pastime of mine over the years. I’m especially enjoying that they’re adding in characters, creatures and items from more than just the core movies. Other people may be growing bored of my daily December posts on Facebook but I can’t see me stopping any time soon. Now though, I need to figure out a good way to display all these pieces.

3. Cosplay award/photo session (Snow Maiden cosplay photo taken by Open Shutter Photography)

I started participating in cosplay in 2014 and wore my first cosplays in 2015. It took awhile to get to that point (went to my first masquerade in 1991 and wanted to make costumes from that first exposure) but this path has stretched my creative wings in ways that needed to happen and has been a large part of keeping my brain healthy. I’m an average sewer at best with a lot to learn and learning I’ve been doing. Part of my objectives in pursuing cosplay as a hobby was to push some personal boundaries; take the time to do a thing properly so that ‘good enough’ became ‘let’s do things correctly so I create what I wanted’.
Neither competition nor photography were things I was/am comfortable with so (more the photography than the competition) so they were/are the things I need to push with myself. This year, I won an award in a workmanship competition for a cosplay that I love and put a lot of work into creating. Plus I went and participated in an outdoor photoshoot, with that same cosplay which is something I have never done before. My posing needs improvement. My willingness to just let go needs improvement but overall I am very pleased with myself.

4. Doors


It is not very often that projects turn out the way one sees them in their heads. At least not in my world. This is especially true of projects that involve work around my house. These are just not the kind of skills that I grew up possessing. The fact that this project turned out pretty much exactly as I wanted it to made me so happy. It is simple skills for a number of my friends but I completed it. Admittedly, installing and levelling the doors required a second set of hands (those doors are heavy) and I’m grateful for that help. But I have the doors installed and framed exactly the way I wanted them to be. Plus, those doors also represent a very long journey to getting to the point of actually working on the finishing touches of this forever renovation.

All in all 2018 was not a bad year. I finished the recovery of an injury and returned to work. I tried some new skills, with some success. I pushed a couple of boundaries. Less reading than usual but a lot more gaming. More visiting of friends and new cons. 2019 is bringing with it some chances to travel, a project or two that I am very excited about, a chance to go home and who knows what else.

Happy New Year and Welcome 2019.


Favourite things of 2017

Once again I’m following in Tested’s footsteps and putting together a favourite things list for the past year. It is a good exercise and a fun way to look back on the past months.

First: Flat Iron.


This is obviously not new tech but it is my first time using one. I chose this to be on my list because it represents a broadening of my skills. Wigs are an integral part of costuming/cosplay, at least for me and there is a lot to learn. Acquiring this piece of equipment has started me down the path of attempting to style wigs rather than just wear them as they show-up in the bag. I am not very good styling and I have a lot to learn but I am happy that I have started this particular journey.
Second:  A Certain Point of View

Surprise! There’s a book on my list. Even more surprising, there is a book about Star Wars on my list. Did you feel all that sarcasm? 40 years of Star Wars, 40 authors and 40 short stories. All of them celebrating and telling stories of the original era and the first movie. It was a wonderful read full of tidbits about characters and creatures and events (there’s a story about the Diagona!) One of the reasons I enjoyed Rogue One as much as I did is that the story  concerns background characters that get things done so the Hero’s journey can begin. I love those stories. This book has a number of those as well as a number of stories that just flesh out events or places we’re somewhat familiar with. I found that this book brought new life to a universe I already love, new insights to places or people I already knew and introduced some new characters you’d never see in the movies (they really are in the background) but it was fascinating to have their stories told.
Third: The Aftermath Trilogy by Chuck Wendig


Hey look, more books! Technically I began this trilogy in 2016 but I finished it in 2017 so I’m counting it for this year. I thoroughly enjoyed this series. Similar to my previous entry on this list and to Rogue One, these books introduced new and compelling (to me) characters into my favourite universe. It also filled in some background after the Empire fell. A government or an organization as big as the Empire wasn’t going to disappear in the blink of an eye, no matter how the movie made it look that way and this book shows that. There are recurring characters and there are new characters. I”m especially fond of Sinjir and Mr. Bones.

Fourth: Fx make-up

20171228_133905Again, this is not a new thing to 2017 but it is new to me and represents another expansion of my creative skills. I moved to cosplay because I needed a new creative path that my medieval group just wasn’t giving me anymore. I am quite pleased with my progression and these little pods of make-up are helping me level up one of my favourite costumes I’ve made so far. They’re also very easy to experiment with, not overly costly and a little goes a long way. Plus I found a source in Kingston!

Fifth: My birthday party


This year was my 45th birthday and I combined it with celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars (which was technically a month later). It was also the first real party I’ve held in my house since I moved in seven years ago. I guess that means it was also a house-warming party?

I did not realise that my house could hold as many people as it did. It makes me very happy that, even though the final details are not finished, that the majority of the big reno had been completed because that reno opened up space nicely. I really hadn’t expected so many people to show up (I live rural and the majority of my friends live in different cities). And, my friends being my friends, dressed for the occasion. The only unfortunate thing about the day was that the weather did not co-operate and it was difficult to get any posed photos. They also spoiled me with pressies even though they were told that pressies were not required. My table was full of Star Wars goodies. 🙂

I was very happy with how my costume turned out and one of my very unexpected party guests knew exactly what I had mashed up as soon as he saw me. I went on the idea of Cher’s designer (Bob Mackie) from the 70s meets a Wampa which resulted in Disco Wampa. It was such a fun build though I’m sure I ruined a pair of (my not good) scissors with all the sequined fabric I had to cut.

It was an excellent day with good people celebrating a beloved fandom and friendships.

I hope you all have a safe and healthy 2018.

My favourite fandom has some questions to be answered.

One of the podcasts I follow is Coffee with Kenobi and for a number of podcasts the hosts would ask their guests five questions. It’s been interesting to listen to the variety of responses. I thought it would be fun to answer them myself. One would think it would’ve been easy for me but, in truth, I found narrowing my thoughts down to one character or one instance very difficult. There is so much to Star Wars and so much of it that I like that choosing one thing was almost impossible for me. I tried. I didn’t always succeed. 🙂

1. What is your favourite Star Wars movie?

ANH will probably always be my gut response for this question. Not just because some scenes from it are my first real memories (I was 5 when Mom took me to opening night) or because of the impact the movie has had on me (impacts that I realised as I got older, not when I was younger) but, in part, because without ANH there wouldn’t be a fandom to immerse myself in.

Rogue One is up there now with ANH. That movie is my kind of story and it is my kind of story in my favourite fandom. There is so much to the SW universe that is beyond the Skywalker Saga and R1 shows it.

I really enjoy the Skywalker saga, the hero story, but seeing the ground work, the behind the scenes work of the Rebellion, that allows the hero story to happen, that is a story that I love.

2. Who is your favourite star wars character?

This is really really hard for me. Anyone who knows me knows that Obi-wan has been my favourite for a long time. My first jedi, someone who was loyal to his convictions to the point that he sacrificed his life (not by dying initially but by giving up his life) to watch over a child from a distance. Watching the original trilogy, I always thought there was so much more to him and I really wanted to know more.

But there are other characters that are so close to being up there with Obi-wan; Leia (the impact of her character on me is something I’m learning more about), Cassian Andor (another character who is all about sacrifice and whom I want to know more about), Poe Dameron.

And then there’s the droids; R2, K2, BB8, Choppper.

And then there are creatures (tauntuans, wampa, Loth cat, varactyl).

All of this makes this question difficult for me.

3. Favourite line of dialogue or film moment.

“Into the garbage chute Flyboy” That line has stuck with me for a long time. That’s when I began to realize the strength of Leia as she takes over her own rescue. For some reason, it struck me even more than when she lied to Tarkin, which was also a strong example to me of her strength. It took me until adulthood to begin to understand the impact of seeing a self-rescuing princess and how important that actually was to me.

There is also the “certain point-of-view” line spoken by Obi-wan. I’ve often used that line as a reminder to myself that there is always a point-of-view to truth and that POV is not the same as my own. Truth is biased by our perceptions and our experiences. It is an important lesson to remember,

4. If you collect, what is your favourite collectible that you own?

I’m going with my Obi-wan force fx lightsaber. It’s not rare or all that special as a collectable (it’s easily found) but it is my favourite.

Followed by my Ralph McQuarrie ‘Art of Star Wars’ book. The art in the book is beautiful but the information of the behind the scenes work that went into the making of the movies has been so interesting to me.

My biggest regret is the loss of the Hoth playset we had growing up. I really miss that set.

Another regret was from a time in Winnipeg at my favourite comic store stop. There was a tusken raider with a bantha collectable. I put it down (slowly, with reluctance) and walked away. I didn’t pick it back up. I’ve never seen it since.

5. What particular messages or themes in Star Wars resonate or speak to you?

This is, I think, is the hardest question for me. I’ve never been very good at in-depth analysis of movies or books. There is a lot that people have found for themselves in this fandom, some of which I can see for myself, some of which I had to take a moment to see. But Star Wars has stuck with me for a long time which means something was/is there.

Redemption is a fairly obvious theme and is often talked about. The journey and challenges of a hero’s (or heros’) story can also be considered obvious. But thinking about it, and about my favourite characters, I think the part that sits with me the most is sacrifice.

Obi-Wan stayed on Tatooine to watch over a child and had to ignore all the pain and suffering going on in the galaxy. Even in the prequels, it could be considered that he sacrificed his own path as a jedi to train Anakin as requested by his dying Master rather than having a chance to actually be a Knight, find his footing before becoming a mentor and a Master.

Luke gave up his training, sacrificed his chance to learn more about the Jedi to save his friends.

Cassian sacrificed his life and soul for the Rebellion, to make sure it had even a chance of success. I’m not just talking his physical death on Scarif, but everything he’d done up to that point to give the fight a chance.

There are more examples (Leia could have a list all to herself and I haven’t even read “Bloodlines” yet) but I think that’s the part that resonates the most for me. Each of the above knew they were losing something personal for something that helped the greater good. Each of them were a part of something bigger or more than themselves. It came with a cost, sometimes a very heavy cost, but that cost was worth it.

This has been an interesting exercise for me. There’s all kinds of things that I like and that I love about Star Wars. There are things that I don’t like as much as others in Star Wars. But I still love the fact that after however many decades of watching the films, I can put one on, hear that opening fanfare and still be swept up in to the story.

Favourite things/discoveries of 2016

I watched a series of videos on Tested.com about favourite things/discoveries of 2016 and I thought what a great idea. It was an interesting way to positively look back at 2016. So I’m doing it myself. Except in blog form, not video. And yes, I realize that we are already into January 2017 and I’m behind the ball on this but at least it is getting done.

  1. Wonderclips

I discovered these watching an Adam Savage One Day Build video where he was using them during a sewing portion of his project. I hadn’t heard of them before and thought that they were very interesting. These just squeaked onto the 2016 list as they arrived at the end of December. I ordered a package of the small clips from amazon.ca (100 for $13.40) and they were an absolute joy to use on my vinyl sewing project.  I can see a number of applications for them when working on cosplays; especially for any fabrics or materials that will be difficult to pin or would leave holes.  So far, they hold very well and don’t slide. I will have to let you know how they hold up under extended use but they seem pretty well made. I’m looking forward to playing with these more and will probably end up getting a few more sizes.

As a side note, with the pets around, I’m much less worried if one of these fall onto the floor than I am if a pin drops and I can’t find it.20170111_163607

  1. Iroda PT-200 Butane Torch

This is not a new item in the world. They’ve been around a long time but it was a new to me item. This one was purchased at Canadian Tire ($49.99 reg, can usually find it on sale + soldering supplies). There are probably better products out there but this was easy to find and affordable which are two key points when trying something out. Also, it is simple to use, easy to store and not very scary for those of us who are unsure about playing with items that have flame and melt metal. It’s a 2016 favourite of mine because it represents learning new skills, expanding other skills and allowed for the completion of my first ever original design cosplay/costume. And it’s playing with fire. I took a soldering class in high school and had never used those skills since. I’m a long way from the high school days but it was wonderful to dig back into those skills (what little I had) and see where I ended up going. This was my first real foray away from the soft stuff and into the hard materials of the costuming/cosplay world. While I still have a lot to learn, I was pleased enough with the results that I’m looking forward to doing more work in the prop/hard materials world in the future.


  1. Stryker Power Cot

From my professional career side of things, this new piece of equipment has been an absolute back-saver to use. Overall, the weight of the powercot is heavier than the pro-flexx stretchers we had/still are using but when you average 12-15 lifts per patient on a routine call, the ability to raise and lower the stretcher with a push of a button is amazing. Obviously I didn’t buy this item but oh do I love it. I will love it even more when my employer is able to complete the purchases so all our trucks have them rather than only having the three in service that we have now. They get shuffled around so I don’t always have this at my base.


  1. The Star Wars Show

This is short, weekly news show on youtube that started this year. It runs about 7-10 mins in length (give or take) and is all about what’s happening in the Star Wars verse that week. It is highly entertaining, full of background information and interesting tidbits of what’s coming up next and filmed at Lucasfilm. I caught this show on its second episode and heard about it from StarWars.com. Obviously I missed the lead-up on the website for the show. They also started a second show called The Aftershow where they talk to members of the Lucasfilm staff about the topics brought up in the show. On some occasions, they’ve also added the extended interviews as an addendum show. My favourite episode so far has been the one where the Rogue One cast came for a visit. That was a lot of fun to watch. Oh, and maybe the Holiday episode. Campy, entertaining and full of dancing MandoMercs.


  1. Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie

A fairly expensive book (ranging between $270.00-300.00) but so very worth it. I had been waiting for this to come out since I first heard it was going to be published. I knew a little about Ralph McQuarrie before reading this: he was a definitive artist in Star Wars and recruited by George Lucas but I’ve learned so much more reading this book. It is beautiful. It is full of so much information, not only on the movie but the process of making the movie and the artist himself. It is big and heavy. It has made me fall more in love with McQuarrie’s art. The work that went into creating this was impressive. I believe it was tested.com that did a video on that process. Being a book lover and a long-time Star Wars fan this book has become a very important part of my collection. Highly recommended but no, you can’t borrow it.


The Story of the Scarlet Witch (House of M; family portrait edition)

1. Why the Scarlet Witch? Why make this particular cosplay?

I’ve always liked the Scarlet Witch. I started reading her in The Avengers/The West Coast Avengers comics in my teens. I remember her being independent and willing to make her own decisions even if they didn’t make sense to others (for example; her romance with The Vision). That, and she was a witch with some pretty spectacular powers. 🙂

This was my first real foray into cosplay and it was fun to create. I chose this particular piece knowing it was not likely to get recognised by the majority of people viewing it, after all, it is shown in one panel on one page in one comic book in the whole Marvel Universe but I loved the look of it. I particularly fell in love with the hat and the sleeves of the coat. So it was pretty much a given that this was the piece I was going to make. By the way, I have worn this now I think three times and I’ve been recognised twice! Woohoo!

2. Materials

This being my first cosplay I was pretty restrictive on what I wanted to spend as, while I was 99.9% sure I was going to keep going in this whole new creative adventure, it was the trial. So, the rule was that I wasn’t allowed to spend more than $10/m on fabric and preferably less than that. Given that I needed a very specific set of reds that was a bit of a challenge. 🙂 Especially since scarlet reds weren’t really in season when I started this. I was able to find a beautiful red but it was a knit. It was also less than $10/m and the store had enough of it to do the whole dress. So I bought it knowing that the stretch was going to be a challenge and would require some extra structuring. In the end it worked out really well. The drape and flow of the fabric is lovely for both the dress and the coat which are the same knit fabric just very different weights.

I also ended up buying tulle. Lots and lots of tulle for the underskirt (or the under-floof as it is called in my circle of friends). Thankfully, tulle was cheap and it was on sale because I believe I ended up with over 40m in the underskirt.

For the hat and the piping around the bodice I had to purchase approx a metre of gold satin. Again on sale. Yay! I had the bucram and wire in stash.

The remainder of the fabrics I had in stash; canvas for the structuring of the bodice and cotton for the lining. I did need to top up some of my stash of fusible interfacing but that’s pretty much an ongoing thing.

Grommets and ribbon for the bodice lacing were again in stash. The metal bits covering the coat were purchased and it took me a little while to figure out how I was going to make that happen. They were all individually put on the coat with a glue-gun and a couple of seasons of the classic BattleStar Galactica telly series.

The faux-gold hanging bits off the hat were little wooden round discs of varying sizes I found at Michaels craft store. I had spent a lot of time trying to figure out the best route to go that wasn’t going to a) cost a lot and b) was something I was going to be able to wear all day at a con. This worked out really well. I used spray paints to layer the colours of the wood discs and the craft foam.

Oh, I did need to buy a wig as well, which was purchased from Arda.

3. Objectives

My main objective with this project was to make something fun and different from what I normally make (which is early century historical costumes). I needed to do something new and exciting. I’ve known about cosplay since before it was called cosplay (my introduction was at my first con in 1990; the masquerade was amazing!) but things conspired and life happened and I never tried it myself until now. The secondary objective was to figure out if this was a route I wanted to pursue. The third objective was to play with skills I haven’t used in a very long time and to learn some new ones.

4. Wearability

This ended up being very comfortable to wear all day. My first outing with this cosplay I was in for over 12 hours with no difficulties. I cut the length of the train of the coat down for the purposes of moving through the con. I probably didn’t need to do that but I was worried about my ability to keep track of it with the number of people. I realised when I was wearing it the first time that I have enough experience with wearing costumes that I underestimated my own abilities.

The hat ended up being much more comfortable than I thought. Especially since it was my first ever build of a hat.

5. Lessons Learned.

My first lesson learned I figured out a few hours into my first con wearing the cosplay. I made a rookie mistake and I forgot that fabric warms and loosens/stretches as it is worn. Especially if one is wearing it all day. When I made the bodice I chose to make the lacing on the side so I could get into it myself. That was a good plan. I made the bodice so it laced together when I put it on. That was the incorrect plan. I should have made it so that I could tighten the lacing throughout the day as the fabric stretched. I corrected this before my second wearing of the cosplay. I also cut the bodice and put into a better seam arrangement for fitting.

I learned that I have a lot to learn about the care and styling of wigs. That has been a fun rabbit hole to fall into. 🙂

Also, I need to learn more about proper make-up application. This really comes to bear in my next cosplay.

6. Satisfaction

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the end product. I’ve made some changes between each wearing. I hadn’t completed the underskirt in time for it’s first showing but I did for the second and it made a big difference in the shape of the skirt. I was much happier with the change in the bodice in regards to overall fit and shape.

There are little cheats in the finishes that I would probably not do again if I was to remake this project but at the time, for what may have been a one-off never to do again thing, I was okay with those cheats. It is one of the reasons I’ve been very hesitant to put this cosplay into a masquerade. I know that I’d be very interested in the workmanship critique and I know that for some of the details this is not my best work (I’m generally all about the details).


I have been wanting to try working with a Lucet for quite some time now and I just recently got around to it. Since my own poor attempt at carving one out of bone is a slow going thing I borrowed one from a friend, watched a quick you tube video about how to make it work and then went at it. I do need to go back to review how to finish off the end of a piece. I seem to be remembering how to do that about 50% of the time. The rest of the time I forget and umm…wing it. Unfortunately that doesn’t always make for a neat and tidy end. 🙂

2014-03-02 12.44.41My first attempt. I’m using some gold coloured wool I had in the stash. It’s somewhat rough as I worked out tension and how I like to position my fingers when working. 2014-03-02 12.54.14Finished piece. 2014-03-02 13.35.28Not a very good photo but this was my second attempt. Much better with the tension. 2014-03-23 22.16.48And this is what happened with the results of my first two pieces; Mara Jade’s new favourite toys. The gold cord seems to follow her everywhere. 🙂2014-03-24 08.21.18Next attempt. Again using a light grey wool. I ended up with approx 2.5 metres of this. 2014-03-24 08.21.282014-03-04 16.33.07Mara Jade helping with the process. 2014-03-24 08.22.112014-03-24 08.22.23 I moved onto to using silk. The bottom cord is a single strand and the top cord is two strands. The single strand version I need to work on my tension. The thread is small and slippery. The two strand version worked much better. Since I’m looking at possible using the silk cord for a belt edging I wanted to experiment with the thickness of the cord. I have yet to decide which one is going to work better on the project. 2014-03-24 08.27.402014-03-24 08.27.48My latest version. This time I used two different colours for a two strand cord. This particular piece actually has a planned use now that it’s done so the cat can’t have this one. 🙂

Early Rus Rituals

One of my books “The Early Slavs” has a statement in it that claims ‘the sauna was an important part of the ritual of greeting a guest and also ceremonial cleansing before certain rituals’ (pg 118). Unfortunately, it does not elaborate further on which rituals. Or if it does, I haven’t seen it. I would like to find more information, if I can. Need to work on that.

The idea of rituals and ceremony are very interesting to me but, as with many things, difficult to find information on in the Early Rus time period. I have read about ritual bride captures, dowry, bride-price and hair plaiting as rituals (obviously related to weddings) but I haven’t yet figured out how much of that is steeped in lore, stories or conjecture from more modern (so to speak) folklore. I need to look at some of the post-conversion religious ceremonies. I’d like to look at some pre-conversion ceremonies but I’m not sure what’s out there. Yet. At least though, I have a starting point. Sort of. 😀


Ponyava; Pan’ova; Panova; Poneva – Wrap around skirt

The 3 panel wrap around skirt that I frequently wear with my Early Rus clothing is a somewhat contested piece. This is something I’ve never shied away from stating when I’ve been asked about it. The existence of the garment is less contested (Kolchin gives examples of archeological evidence for the panova and there is a bracelet of a dancer wearing panel skirt from the Kievan Rus period) than what it was called, how it was made and, perhaps, how it was worn. As you can see from the title, even the word being used now to describe the skirt has many versions of spelling which I would guess doesn’t make the naming issue any easier. Ponyava (or other spelling variations) loosely means ‘to wrap, to embrace’.

History of Ukrainian Costume is the first book I used when I started in on developing my rus persona or, more specifically, when I first started trying to figure out what to wear. Now, when I started in the SCA and tried to work out a Rus persona it was…difficult. There was very little information out there and the internet wasn’t around. (Yes, that sentence did just make me feel a bit old). This particular book was in English which was enormously useful. I was in Winnipeg at the time and there is a fantastic Slavic section in the Elizabeth Dafoe library at the University of Manitoba but, alas, I can’t read either Ukrainian or Russian (or any other language other than English for that matter).

Anyway, that book talks about the Pan’ova being a wrap around skirt made of particoloured checked or diamond fabric, worn only by married women. It consisted of three unsewn panels held together similar to drawstring pants. Rabinovich claims that panova/poneva term for the checkered wrap skirt is a term that appeared in the 16th C and the name prior to that is not known. Pushkareva states that the checkered version of the skirt is known in the 12th -13th C and prior to that it could have been linen and the possibly the same colour (or different) as the shirt.

What I have figured out so far is that there is evidence of a wrap around skirt that existed in the time period I want to recreate. Given that in the 10th C the common fabrics/threads available consisted of; wool (mainly sheep), plant fibres (linen, hemp), felt and fur/hide, the idea that the skirt could be made of wool, half-wool or linen are all plausible. Tabby and twill weaves are common with checked, striped, diamond/rhomboid or geometric patterns. So, again, diamond, plain or checked fabric could have also been plausible. The fact that silk, brocades and fine wool broadcloth (not exactly sure what that means) was imported seems to make it less plausible that these fabrics were used since the garment appears very utilitarian/practical to me.

Archeological evidence supports the following common colour choices: brown, black wool, grey, red, green, blue, yellow, black and white with a predominance of reds.

Somewhere along my way there has been talk about the following construction ideas:
3 panels attached at the top (or slightly down each panel) and held at the waist with a belt/drawstring style.
3 separate panels held together at the waist with a belt/drawstring style.
1 piece split half-way and folded over a belt.
The panels are unlined.

I have made a few of these skirts over the years. I really like them. They give the costume something different from just a generic t-tunic (though the head-gear and the bling that’s worn with this kind of give the Rus bit away). They are very practical. I have used them to get things off the fire, to dry my hands, to quickly wipe up spills, etc. I do find they make a difference in warmth on chilly nights without making too much of a difference on warm days. Admittedly, I wear lighter wool at that point and I really need to make some linen ones for the summer.

This was the first panova I made and I still wear it. I probably should have ironed it before I took these photos but oh well. 🙂 This panova is made from fabric that is an unknown fibre content that was gifted to me. I had heard somewhere at that point that block printing for fabric was being used during the Kievan Rus period and I thought this would work. I liked the colour too. I have not been able to follow up on the block printing idea and I’m not sure when I’m going to get to it so I can’t tell you just how appropriate the pattern is. The width and length of the panels was decided by the amount of fabric I had. I’d never made one of these before and I was the only one around attempting it so I winged it. 😀 I divided the fabric in the best ‘3’ I could make and sewed up the top, put an inkle-woven belt through it and away I went. When I’m wearing this, there is another belt that goes over the panova that is used to hold a pouch, knife and/or charms.

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2014-02-17 11.10.01  2014-02-17 11.20.47

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2014-02-17 11.21.14

The next set I made, I constructed in the same 3 panel attached at the top style. I had found a diamond fabric on sale in two colours and decided to experiment a little. Again, this fabric is synthetic but it is pretty. The experiment had to do with the idea of lining the skirt. I had heard (and I do not have a reference for the statement) that the panels were unlined. That made me wonder why. So, since I had the same fabric in two colours I made one set lined with linen (red) and one without the lining (gold/yellow). Wearing them, I don’t find that the lining makes any difference in use. I do find that the lining of the red set slips quite a bit (which might be user error or not) and when I’m not wearing it against a white shirt, the lining is visible. The end result for this was..why waste fabric on something that doesn’t seem to matter if it’s lined? At some point in time I will be removing the lining of the red ones as I find it annoying to have it slipping over the edges.

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2014-02-17 11.16.00

2014-02-17 11.18.28

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2014-02-17 11.22.16You can see in the above photo how the lining keeps peeking out. Even after I iron the crap out of it, once I’ve worn it for any length of time, the lining slips.

I’m always on the look out for appropriate panova fabric but it isn’t all the easy to find. Especially when you want fibre content and pattern. Then I found Wood-n-Woven (http://wood-n-woven.com/). I purchased a lovely red/black diamond twill with plans to make a panova from it. This time I decided to try to the three separate panels idea. This construction method requires a much longer belt in order to actually wrap the skirt properly. I ended up using a failed rigid heddle weaving piece (it was meant to be trim but I didn’t like how it turned out) as it was the only thing that was close to long enough to wrap 2-3 times around my waist. Unlike all the previous skirts, this one is entirely hand-sewn. Hand-woven fabric deserves nothing less. 😀 The panels of this one ended up being a little wider than I’ve previously used and that seemed to have worked well for this style. I do find this style much more fussy to put on. You line up the back panel, then wrap the belt with the other two panels around and then lay the two side panels on the second pass of the belt. The previous skirts go on really quick and easy. I am not sure if that’s due to unfamiliarity though. I first wore this at Birka this year so I have yet to see what other difference (if any) there are during wear.

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I am now working on another panova. Again with fabric from wood-n-woven. This one is in progress and is being hand-sewn. Though this time I am taking apart some extra bits of the fabric and using those threads to sew the piece. The panels of this skirt are the same width as my earlier attempts which means that they’re a little more narrow than the above panova. I am debating trying the separate panels idea (though I need to make a proper length of belt for it) to see if the width makes any significant difference in how it lays on the body. In the final photo below the panels are just tucked into the belt around the shirt.

2014-02-17 11.25.08

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I haven’t tried the single piece fold-over construction method yet. Given the weaving technology of the time that I prefer (10th C) I would think a single piece would be implausible as that would be quite wide and beyond the ability of a single weaver. The looms being at the time were more likely the vertical style and fabric width (especially for home-spun) would be restricted by width a single weaver could move the shuttle. There is the possibility that the ‘single’ panel would actually be two panels sewn together half way down the length (which is much more plausible) and then folded over a belt. I haven’t decided if I’m going to attempt this yet. I can see some restrictions from that construction style that would negate how I use the apron aspect of my skirts as they are now.

Final thought: A quick search on Early Rus clothing or panova will end up showing you a number of other re-enactment groups with women wearing the panova. You’ll probably end up at the Pinterest site but if you dig a little further you can end up in a number of inspiring places. And in the absence of complete extant pieces and with very little pictorial evidence in regards to the panova, it’s nice to see others thinking along the same lines as I am. 😀



Barford, P.M. (2001) The Early Slavs. New York. Cornell University Press.

Kolchin, B. A. (1997)  Ancient Russian Costume. Drevnaia Rus’: Byt i kultura. Chapter IV. (Trans. Kies, L.)

Nahlik, A. (1963) Textiles of Novgorod. Works of the Novgorod Expedition. Vol IV. (Trans. Kies, L.)

Pushkareva, N.L. (1989) Especially clothing they created…(Clothing and ornaments of ancient Russian Women). Zhenshiny Drevnej Rusy. Chapter IV. (Trans. Kies, L.)

Rabinovich, M.G (ed). (1986) Ancient Russian Clothing of the IX-XIII Centuries. Drevyaya Odezheda Narodov Vostochnoj Evropy. Chapter 3. (Trans. Kies, L.)

Sherman, H. M. (2008) From Flax to Linen in the Medieval Rus Lands. https://www.academia.edu/859238/From_Flax_to_Linen_in_the_Medieval_Rus_Lands

Ukrainian Heritage Library. (1986) History of Ukrainian Costume: From the Scythian Period to the Late 17th Century. Melbourne. Bayda Books.

A collection of thoughts and tidbits regarding Early Rus (10th C) embellishment

1. Metal work embroidery existed in Early Rus. According to Kolchin’s article it “was already known in the 11th cent.”(6)  Anna Vsevolodovna (sister to the Grand Prince of Kiev) opened a gold/silver embroidery school for girls in 1086 (1). Monastic records of the 12th C also talked about Rus gold and silver work (1). There is some evidence that Gold embroidery existed in 10thC Rus but at this point all I’ve seen is an abstract from an article that I’ve been unable to track down any further. However, it does mention that the earliest evidence of gold thread embroidery is seen in 10th C graves in a number of sites in the Rus territory, mostly recently Novgorod. (8)

2. It appears that pearls were applied with the following technique: (2)
i. apply a ground thread in your design pattern
ii. apply pearls directly to the ground thread
iii. couch gold thread on each side of the pearling, also directly to the ground thread. (This technique enabled the embellishment to be completely removed just by cutting the couched ground thread).

3. There is a Sakkos from 1364 that belonged to the Metropolitan of Moscow that is embellished with pearls and metal appliques (3). You can see the wool ground thread under the pearls in this piece. It is one of the earliest extant examples of a complete piece that I’ve come across. There is another early 14th C piece belonging to the Metropolitan Pyotr that has pearl and metal applique pieces as well as what appears to be gold work. I haven’t seen close up photos of the collar (where the pearling exists) to see what I can of the application technique used. (5) After that I can find obvious examples of 15th-16th C showing the pearls and gold-work borders. (4)

3. I don’t know how early this technique was used though I have read that there was evidence of a linen ground thread (around 13th C) (7). Need to suss that out further.

4. Two metalwork stitches appeared to be used. (7) A ‘punch’ stitch that required the metal thread to be pulled through the ground fabric. It’s very hard on the metal thread but gives an effect of couching/underside couching. This appeared to be the earliest stitch used. I’ve tried this one on a practice piece. I need to work out a better method for pulling the metal thread through the ground. As well, a  surface /underside couching technique was also used. Both types of stitches could be used on an individual piece or just one type. I’m using a surface couching stitch for my work. Underside couching I find frustrating as I suspect that in order to get the effect correct you need real gold thread. I don’t have real gold thread. Jap gold is the best I’m going to do for awhile.

5. By the 12th C the couching technique had gained the most popularity and appeared to be in exclusive use. I’m not surprised, the other one is really hard on the thread.

6. Split and stem stitch seemed to be widely popular for non-metal thread embroidery. I’m sure others were in use. I just haven’t gone much further with this yet. Luckily, split is one of my favourite stitches to use. 🙂

7. Head-dresses and collars appeared to be the priority when choosing where to place the heaviest embellishment. They would be decorated with whatever the wearer could afford (metal pieces/appliques, pearls, beads, silk, gold/silver work).

8. As with a lot of things there was a language in the symbols used by an individual to embellish their pieces. I do not speak the language and I probably never will. To that end, I choose pieces that, to me, are esthetically pleasing and that fit the time period. In some of my work, I am using figures that are important to me as a person or to me in the SCA (if I can find an appropriate Early Rus analog that is).

9. Embellishment designs appeared to be independent of any design on the ground fabric, even into later Russian periods.

10. Getting information on this side of the pond about any early Rus stuff is annoyingly frustrating. I really wish I could read Russian. There’s information out there. I just find it hard to access sometimes.

References (so far) in no particular order (and not in any particular citation style either apparently).

(1) Orfinskaya, O and A. Engavatova. (Trans. M. Tokmancheva). 2009. Medieval Textiles from the necropolis of Dmitrov Kremlin, Russia. Archaeological Textiles Newsletter. Issue 48, Spring 2009.

(2) Luidmilla’s pearl embroidery webpage. http://www.sca-russian.com/pearls.html

(3) B.A. Rybakov. Russian Applied Art of Tenth – Thirteenth Centuries.

(4) Early Russian Embroidrey in the Zagorsk Museum Collection. 1983.

(5) Hamlyn, Paul.  1964. Treasures in the Kremlin.

(6) Kolchin.  Drevnaia Rus’: Byt i kultura (Ancient Russian Costume; chapter 4) (Trans. Lisa Kies).

(7) E. Yu. Katasonova. “Golden Embroidery of pre-Mongol Rus. X-XIIIth Cent.” (Trans. Lisa Kies).

(8) K. Mikhailov. 2009. Gold Embroidery Fabrics in Ancient Russian Towns. Abstract from a seminar in Sept 2009; Urban Textiles in Social Context.

Aelfwyn’s Anglo-saxon dress

11th C Anglo-saxon dress made of blue wool. This was completed in September 2013. I’m just way  behind on posting.

The embroidery is split stitch using hand-dyed wool. Technically this project is a part of my A&S 50 challenge and is completed. Another one to strike off the list. 🙂

11th C Anglo-saxon dress


Dress design trialInitial trial of the design. I was pretty happy with how this turned out.

Dress in progress supervisionApparently I required some supervision during the progress. 🙂

Dress neckline close up in progressClose up of some of the stitchwork

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