Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Finding my joy again

Those of you who know me and have been reading my blog know that I've been struggling the last couple years with depression and other issues. In general, things are now a lot better thanks to medication, therapy, good communication with my lady, and more. But part of it being better is finding new things that bring me joy to work on.

In particular, my current SCA/reenactor focus is working toward as authentic a "kit" as possible, and I’m having a blast!

I've been inspired by the work of Alexander Clarke, Johannes von Braunschweig, and others to put together reenactor/living history grade martial and civilian outfits, appropriate to a mercenary crossbowman from England in the early 1500s. This is a little different than my SCA persona, but not by much.

To be clear, the SCA only requires "an attempt at pre-17th century clothing" to attend events. I am fully in support of this, as it allows anyone to easily join the SCA to learn more. I'm trying to set a much higher bar for myself, because I find it to be fun.

I’m kind of enjoying the fact that it has no purpose inside the SCA other than being a period correct outfit. It doesn’t have to meet any SCA combat rules. It doesn’t help for better scores in archery. I’m not making it for an A & S competition (though I may enter some of it in one or two). It’s period reproduction for the sake of trying it and wearing it and creating a link from myself to the past.

I've accomplished some of this by buying the right things, some of it by making them myself.

One of my first projects was making myself a new belt pouch. Gregor von Medehem helped get me going by sharing his pattern pieces and method, and I spent some time reading through my copy of Purses in Pieces. Combine that with a bunch of time (~18 hours all together), and some fittings and a buckle from Pera Peris, and here's the result. Amazingly enough, there are only a couple tiny details I might change or do differently. The end result matched almost exactly with my intent. I will have a separate post about it sometime in the future for those who might want to try it themselves, including the pattern I used, process, tools, etc.

Then it was time for some new and simpler garb appropriate to the station I'm trying to portray. I love that the SCA allows us all to dress in finery. So in some ways it's a challenge for me to keep things a bit simpler. Since I really enjoy making hoods, I decided to make a "square hood" out of a single layer of wool. No buttons. Hand sewn,using linen thread. Square hoods are great in that they tie off under the arms, so the mantle of the hood doesn't flap or twist around if you are being active.

I also sewed a Bockstan Man style tunic in brown wool by hand. It's worn under the maille (eBay special) in the picture below.

That work, plus some of my existing garb and accessories (shirt, braies, chausses, shoes, thin belt, quiver, crossbow) and the addition of a kettle helm and wide belt from Lorifactor resulted in the full outfit above that I wore for the first time last weekend.

What I'm finding now is that my want-to-do list keeps growing, but in a way that seems like I can make progress, and gives me the energy to move forward.

Short term:
  • I have pieces for a period-shaped crossbow bolt quiver cut out and basically ready to assemble.
  • I've got a ballock dagger being made to wear behind my snazzy new pouch.
  • I have a crossbow spanning hook to suspend from my belt (thanks Tim!) that I need to finish strapping up.
  • I'm working on obtaining an arming cotte to wear under the armor.
  • I've got plans for additional pairs of chausses, more tunics/cottes, etc.
Medium term:
  • I'm thinking of making some more-period looking crossbow bolts for shooting with, and some fully period looking bolts mostly for display.
  • I'm thinking about designs for sleeveless martial surcottes to wear over the maille. Some with SCA arms on them, some with period appropriate arms/designs.
Long term:
  • I want to make a pavise (large crossbowman's shield).
  • I'm considering getting arm and leg armor to be able to dress as a very well-off crossbowman, or one part of an organized crossbow mercenary group.
  • Making or obtaining a period-correct crossbow in design and function (but lower poundage so it can be used for target shooting).
  • Obtaining a pole axe appropriate for the period.
The end result is that I'm having fun working on some stuff for me, because it's what I want to work on. And as a bonus, I've had comments that my own quest for personal improvement in my appearance is inspiring others. And if that isn't what the SCA is supposed to be all about, I don't know what is.



  1. WOW! This is wonderfully written and speaks directly to me. I'm Bipolar, and doing fairly well right now. Currently off of prescription medications and maintaining a somewhat even keel through dietary changes. The stress of a cross-state move have made the waters a little choppy, so hubby is keeping a close eye on my depression. Due to unforeseeable mundane obligations, we have not played in the SCA for over twelve years. My personal reasons for wanting to return to "living the Dream" are expressly to help me find my joy in life again! I miss the creative outlet and the camaraderie. It is almost a physical pain and longing in my soul! In making this return, I want to create a more authentic kit (English 1349-1399), for no other reason but my own interest and enjoyment. However, we are starting completely from scratch and it feels a bit overwhelming at this point! Your words have inspired me, and I think I'm going to set down with paper and pen to write down short, medium and long term goals. THANK YOU for sharing your journey!!!

  2. As you focus on joyful experiences and connect to the resonance of the JOY vibration (how it feels) you expand it until you are JOY (if only for an instance). These are beautiful practices and extremely powerful.koktale