Inspiration and plagiarism are two very different things

A short while ago I read a column from the New York Times with the title ”Slaves of the Internet, Unite”.
Being a journalist by profession and having many artist friends I know the subject of that column way to well.
Lots of writers and artists are asked to do original work for free and for what usually is called ”great exposure”.
This made me think a bit about the SCA too.
We have a wonderful way of sharing knowledge and helping each other find new sources and get more and new knowledge.
What gets me is the times when someone walks up to me or e-mails me and asks me to just hand over all my research.

And the reason they usually feel entitled to my research is because they have been asked to teach or they have been told they need to write up some documentation if they want to advance, and they really don’t know much about the subject because they have up to this point just been making pretty and lovely things but not really studied the field.
Their interest focus has been on making the items – not knowing how the items really were made, who used them and from what materials the items were made.
I am not saying this approach is wrong! Not everyone likes to do research.

Usually I don’t think the person asking me to hand over my research does it out of malice and I really think that they don’t understands what they are asking me to do.
I think we are so used to the sharing and helping in the SCA that we have lost parts of the respect for what goes in to doing the research.
Would you ever come up with the idea and offer to teach a class/hold a workshop on a subject that you have no or very little knowledge about at school or at work?
Would you ever – in the mundane world – ask someone else to write up your assignment to hand in to the teacher to get a grade?
I don’t think so. Unless you belong to the group of people that cut corners by plagiating someone elses work.
And if you are not ok with plagiarism in the mundane world – then you shouldn’t be ok with plagiarism in the SCA context.
Stealing is stealing. People will get upset.
Using someone elses research as a base for your own – that is ok. Just as it is in the mundane world.
But if you are not prepared to do some research on your own – don’t say yes to teaching a subject you do not know and don’t participate in A&S competitions where a proper documentation is required.

The internet and the possibility to google just about anything and have someone else give us all the answers have made many of us lazy and made us think that well what the heck – I’ll just google it. And in the SCA – we sort of google by going to the person we know that knows the most about a subject.
Don’t get me wrong. We should share and we should help each other in the SCA.
But to ask someone who has spent YEARS on researching a subject to hand over all the research so that you yourself don’t have to do any work and then use that material for your own advancement and teaching – that is plain rude.
Some of my own research comes from material that I have gotten by contacting museums to get articles sent to me in languages like Czech, Polish and German and that I then have spent time on translating. Not to mention what work went into actually finding out that there was material to ask for…

In my work as a journalist I have to rely on other peoples information to get the basic understanding of a subject – but when I write the article – I do my own original piece.
Or when I see some other newspapers layout that is brilliant – I can of course lend the idea – but then adapt it for other content that suits my newspaper. I do not just take the entire subject and layout and do the exact same thing.
Inspiration and plagiarism are two very different things.
And this is what I wanted to get to.
I happily share my handouts.
I have posted a link to my LibraryThing where people can see all the books I own (or they will soon when I get the time to add the rest of the books) and hence see what books I have used to do my research. I like owning the books so I have invested quite a lot of money in my research materials.
I also happily teach.
I can even tell people in what book they can find the information they are looking for.
What I do NOT do – is to do the research for them.
I do not make handouts for others.
I also won’t put together classes for others.

If you want me to comment on your handout, your lecture structure and what you plan to bring up in your lecture – I will happily comment and help.
But you have to do the work yourself.
In the end – you will feel great about what you have accomplished and on top of that – you will have shown those who have done research in the same field before you, that you understand the hard work they have done and that you value their help.
So this is my SCA take on how I do not do original work for free for others.
I can help you, show you in the right direction – but the reading and writing I will not do for you.

My new viking dress

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Me at Burg Ludwigstein in Witzenhausen, Germany, during the Drachenwald 20 Year Celebration in my new viking dress.

In March I decided I should finish the viking outfit I had started a rather long time ago by cutting out the under dress. Since the Kingdom of Drachenwald was having its 20 Year Celebration in June I figured that it would be nice to have something new for that occasion.
So from the beginning of March until the beginning of April I made an underdress from a herring bone twill natural linen, a dress out of a soft orange wool and an apron dress out of a naturally dyed and hand woven fabric that I got at Pennsic a few years ago. The weaver of the fabric has her own online store and you can find it here.
It turned out that I had bought a little bit to little of the hand woven fabric so a friend of mine who dyes and weaves offered to sell me a piece of a green fabric so that I would be able to keep the apron dress as naturally dyed and hand woven as possible. 🙂
The seams of the apron dress were then embroidered with Ösenstitch which is what in modern time is known as Vandyke stitch.
I used a naturally dyed filament silk that a friend of mine had dyed to pick up the orange from the dress. To cover the seam where I joined the purple and green fabrics after the apron dress turned out a bit short I learnt how to make viking whip cord and for that I used the same wool yarn as I used for the tablet woven band at the top of my apron dress and at the bottom of the sleeves on the orange dress.
At the top of the apron dress I wove a round band directly onto the fabric with a rigid heddle with the same wools as for the tablet weaving and whip cord. This saved some of the length of the dress as well since I didn’t have to hem the upper part of the apron dress.
The shoulder straps for the apron dress were sewn out of the same fabric as the majority of the apron dress. All linen was hand sewn with linen thread and all wool was hand sewn with silk thread.

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The underdress fabric and one of the seams.
The pattern I use for the linen underdress and this dress is very simple. Back and front are cut straight at the top and from the waist it starts flaring out to the hemline. I cut the front and back open in the middle and insert a gore. The sleeves are straight pieces that gets narrower towards the wrist. And I use square gores in the armpits.
The pattern I use for the linen underdress and this dress is very simple. Back and front are cut straight at the top and from the waist it starts flaring out to the hemline. I cut the front and back open in the middle and insert a gore. The sleeves are straight pieces that gets narrower towards the wrist. And I use square gores in the armpits.

 

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The cut of the apron dress. I use a 4 piece pattern that is from a Swedish website called Historiska Världar. Once cut out I still fit it so that it gives a nice silhouette.
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Before weaving the rounded braid onto the top of the apron dress I did a small practice piece just to figure out how the fabric and weaving behaves.
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The ösenstitch on the seams of the apron dress were made with naturally dyed filament silk.
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The top of the apron dress with the round woven edge and the very simple tablet woven band attached right to the rounded band.Image

After the basic dress was all done I wanted to make a front panel with lots of embellishments to make it suitable for such a big occasion as the 20 year celebration of my Kingdom.
Last summer we had bought a bunch of filament silk that we were going to dye. Now it turned out to be rather complicated to get all girls interested in the silk project in one spot so it ended up with our lovely dyeing godess doing all the work for us…
I created a pattern using some bits of the embroideries from the Mammen finds, and then I found inspiration for a vikingish Pelican and laurel wreath online and altered it to suit me.
I used split stitch for this embroidery. Now – I know that most of the Mammen finds are done with stem stitch but for some odd reason my hands refuse to make a neat stem stitch. Split stitch is also one of the oldest stitches and since my hands seem to be able to make that one – I chose to just roll with what I can make look nice. 🙂
The embroidery took about 3 weeks from start to finish. I had quite a lot of days off from work during that time but unfortunately I never bothered to write up all the hours.
Once the embroidery was done I moved on to learn how to make the posament decorations.
These decorations are almost exclusive to Birka and even there they are rather rare.
I had found a few websites mentioning them but there were no tutorials to be found.
I will mention the posaments only briefly here since the handout for the class I taught on the subject at Drachenwald 20 year Celebration is posted under the section for Documentation on this blog.
What I did was to look at pictures of the finds from Birka which can be found in this section of the Historical Museum in Stockholms website as well as the pictures on silberknoten.de
I
 stared at the pictures and tried and failed and tried and failed until I got it!
There was a lot of cursing in different languages – but finally I managed to figure it all out!
I ended up making 4 roundels that went on the embroidered piece, an edge decoration at the bottom of the front panel, a double threaded piece for the tablet woven band I put on my veil to use as decoration and a tie and two pieces that I put under some more of my tablet weaving at the top of the front panel. You can pretty much see my learning curve on the posament since I put everything I made on the outfit not wasting anything no matter how uneven it was.
Once the embroidery was sewn on to he panel I made some more whip cord to put as outline of the embroidered piece and I also used whip cord for the two small loops that are needed at the top to hang the front panel from the brooches.

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The last piece of posament that I made and that went on the tablet woven band of my veil/head wear.
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The front panel with embroidery, posament and tablet weaving but I hadn’t made the whip cord yet when I took this picture so that was still added to cover the seams where I attached the embroidered red wool. The front panel is made out of a dark purple wool. The green band is the tablet weaving I made for my veil and after this picture was taken it was put at the front edge of my head wear and the ends of the bands are used to tie the veil to my head.

So the final thing I did was to weave myself a belt. I had already started a rams horn patterned belt at one point but then I messed it all up and gave up. However my weaving godess friend was just about to publish a book on tablet weaving from the Finnish iron age that she co authored with a friend and she needed to practice her teaching in English and was kind enough to give me a pattern from the book before it was even printed so that she got to practice her teaching and I got an awesome pattern for my new belt!
The book is in Finnish and English and can be bought here.
And now I suddenly know how to even read the tablets while I weave!
The reason I chose a pattern from a different culture was that the new tortoise brooches my husband had given me to complete this new outfit are based on a find from Öland. The bead spreaders that the brooches come with are extremely influenced by Baltic tradition since the shape of the spreaders can be found in Baltic finds. So I figured that my outfit could be from Öland which is between Birka and the Baltic region and hence had influences from both places. 🙂

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My belt for the viking outfit. It was woven with 20 tablets and each repetition of the pattern took about 30 minutes to weave and was about 10 cm long. The final length is about 3 meters.

It’s everyones vacation – not only yours

I am sorry for being quiet for so long and that this post won’t be on any of my textile projects but instead yet another observation I have made that makes me feel I need to well… put things bluntly. 😉

When we go to events we all do it on our spare time. Well at least most of us. Very few make a living out of this hobby.
Now I do understand that everyone doesn’t pitch in at all events – sometimes when you have carried a heavier load as autocrat or head cook you are allowed to just enjoy yourself at other events.
What gets me is when people stand next to the autocrat, head cook or someone who is carrying a heavy bit of an event and say:
– I am not helping out because I am on vacation.
Seriously – WTF?!
It is EVERYONES vacation or time off!
When you are having a break from pitching in – chose what you say around the people that are working their asses off while you enjoy yourself!

And just because you are having an event off from carrying a heavy burden – does that prevent you from carrying out the trash?
Or to replace the box for bottle collection?
Or wipe off a table?
What I am trying to say – yeah, do take time off from heavy work but if everyone either works or don’t lift a finger – the burden becomes very heavy on the autocrating team.
Help them with small things so that they actually can enjoy some parts of the event too!
And if everyone helps out just one hour during an event – everyone will have lots more time for having fun.
If there are 70 people at an event who are able to do some work and 5 of those are on the autocrating team – that means that technically they could get 65 hours of help!
And at long events that lasts more than a weekend – this help becomes extra important!
And if YOU help out for an hour when you are having an event off – the likelyhood that you yourself will get help when you are the atuocrat will be a lot higher…

Things happen, sometimes we have to take back an offer of help that we have made. At some points in life we might not be able to help because if illnesses, small children or for other reasons.
I myself had to withdraw from a promise I made and it was really hard for me – but mundane life has taken a twist and my spare time will be diminished for a while.
But I didn’t say there will be no help from me at all?
I will still do what I can and once on site where I have time since I am there enjoying my vacation – I will pitch in to make sure that not just a few people do all the work.

If we all help out everyone gets to have a vacation.
And everyone will leave the event happy, full of nice impressions and memories of the fun they had.
Instead of a big mass leaving happy and the few that organized the whole thing leave the site saying: I will never ever autocrat ever again.

Double Wars XXV

I haven’t posted in a bit since I have been suffering from a bit of an SCA bleh which has made me completely inactive during the last months of winter.
However at the end of March I got busy making the schedule for the A&S activities for Double Wars XXV – one of Drachenwalds largest events.
This year we broke the record of the amount of classes and we had 56 classes!!! Considering the event had about 260 participants and out of those 60 were small children – I am amazed of the extent of our A&S schedule and even more amazed how many participants all the classes had!
I taught a class on intarsia embroidery myself and had 6 participants. You can find my handout here.

This year Mistress Isobel Bedingfield (also known as Attack Laurel) from The Kingdom of Atlantia was our guest of honour.
She taught 7 classes during the week – mostly on the topic of Elizabeathan costuming but also a class on women in rapier.
The event was absolutely fantastic in so many ways that my SCA bleh has turned into a complete SCA yay instead!
And best of all was that I found new great friends in Mistress Isobel and her husband Master Robert Bedingfield. 🙂

Me and Mistress Isobel Bedingfield at the castle Hovdala in southern Sweden.

For my dear friend Mistress Uta Boucht: Part 1

At an event a few weeks ago one of my dear friends was elevated to the Order of the Laurel.
Within a group of friends we now have a tradition of making some small piece of outer garment with embroidered patches made by each one of us.
Mistress Helena who is a 14:th century costuming laurel got the first hood of love. I was second and they made me a gollar of love to go with my German 16:th century clothing.
Mistress Uta is also a 14:th century costuming laurel so she too got a hood of love.
We try to make them all a little bit different so Mistress Utas has laurel wreaths and the waterlilly from her arms.
This is the patch that I embroidered for her hood:

The patch for Mistress Utas hood of love: Silk embroidery on white wool. We all put out initial within the laurel wreath. Everyone gets the same pattern and then chooses materials and techniques on their own.

And here is Mistress Uta – just minutes after her elevation ceremony – trying on her hood of love for the first time! She gets help from Mistress Helena.

Trying on the hood of love for the first time. My patch can be seen on the right side.

It is really nice to see how all three of us cherish the hoods and gollar of love as much as we do.
So many costuming laurels aren’t fond of wearing things not made by themselves.
I find the gollar of love to be the most fantatsic piece in my medieval warderobe. That was I always have my friends with me – and on top of that I have a fantastic display of artisan skill from Drachenwald right around my shoulders!

Sometimes we forget…

This is a post about two ”trends” in the SCA that worries me. Perhaps trends is not the right word…
Perhaps tendencies is a better word.
All societies evolve and change over the years and to do that we do go through some difficult times.
And sometimes I have a feeling we forget that this is something we do for fun and on our spare time.
One of the things I have noted lately is how some people – they are not many but they do exist – that attend events seem to think they have booked an all inclusive charter weekend to a luxury hotel.
And to clarify – here in Drachnwald almost all our events are weekend evenst that include sleeping arrangements of some sort and usually 2 breakfasts, one lunch and one feast. We do provide food at most our events for all attendees that sign up for it and pay for it.
Many of us have health issues and allergies. Myself included.
For instance I have a hard time getting up to the top bed in bunk beds due to my fibromyalgia. So when I know that a site has bunk beds I inform the autocrats that if only possible – I would need a bottom bunk.
If they can’t provide me with that – I have to decide if I think the event is worth it for me. It is not harder than that in my world.
I can not expect that the autocrats create special arrangements for me – or build me a special bed!
My health issues and allergies can not become the main problem that has to be solved for the event organizers.

And when it comes to food allergies it is actually even simpler.
Some food allergies are deadly. I myself live with a man that suffers from nut allergy.
At some events we have brought him his own food. And that is nothing strange.
The people that cook the food at our events are not proffessional chefs. They are not people that daily handle food for people with severe allergies.
If there are nuts in many of the dishes served, they can not guarrantee that the nuts won’t contaminate some of the other food.
We can not expect the kitchen staff to cook special food for all people with dietry restrictions!
If we would expect the cooks at all events to cook food one to one for all allergies and diets (what I mean is that they would replace each dish someone can’t eat with something else) it would be an impossible task.
I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect that people with serious dietry restrictions are prepared for the fact that they might not be able to eat all the food at an event and that they might have to bring some food of their own to not go hungry.
It is about safety! Safety for the allergic person, safety for the people in the kitchen and about taking responsibility for your own allergies and diet – not making them someone elses problem.
Someone else that has given up a weekend of spare time to cook for a whole event.
Unreasonable would be if you had to pay for the food but couldn’t eat it.
With ANY food allergies you should be prepared for the fact that you might not be able to eat EVERY SINGLE dish during feast.
Feastocrats aren’t stupid – they will make sure you won’t go hungry – but you might not be able to eat everything.
I am sorry if I make anyone upset with my rant, but honestly – the SCA is a hobby and all autocrating, feastocrating, marshalling and other things is something that people do on their spare time.
Don’t forget that we rely on volounteers – if we expect the unreasonable there won’t be any volounteers in the end!

Now to a different rant and a different problem…
In the Nordic countries there is a norm in society that no one should think they are better than anyone else – this is called the Jante Law and you can read about it here.
This causes problems in many hobbies since honestly – there is always someone that is a bit better, a bit faster, a bit stronger etc.
Lately I have heard comments like: ”Some people only do things to get awards”. And I have heard it in many regions of the Kingdom.
Or people say they think that the SCA has become a competition and it is all about who has a new dress, a new tent, new shoes or a new recipie.
And it is sad that people feel like that.
Especially since the people that make new things all the time do it because they are passionate about their hobby.
Perhaps there are people that do things only to get awards – honestly, all people want affirmation and want to get a pat on the shoulder and hear that they are doing good, and in the SCA our pat on the shoulder is awards – but I don’t think that people spend heaps of money and time on something that they are completely uninterested in!
I would not spend HOURS flipping through pictures in the Bildindex and doing wide obscure searches on a topic I am completely uninterested in just to get an award in the SCA.
What I see has happened lately in the SCA, is that people GENUINLEY are interested in doing reaserch and to learn new things and to share their knowledge.
Sure, this raises the bar and sometimes unreasonably high – but is it really all bad?
We have access to so much more information theese days with everything that can be found online – museums have picture databases online – we can easily buy books from anywhere in the world through the internet! Ofcourse the bar will be raised with an increase in access to information!
And we also have so much greater means to share – now we can do it in a blog online and those who are interested can read about it. And those who might not have the money to spend on the book still get access to the information!
The blogs are not there to brag. (Well, most of them are not at least.) They are there so that we can share our finds, increase knowledge, discuss theories, ask questions and also to push ourselves to actually do the projects we set out to do.
To use myself as an example once again – I feel a lot more preassure to finnish a project if I have promised to write about it on my blog. I have a responsibility to my readers.
That is MY way of kicking myself in the butt.
And it does feel good when you see that you get many hits or reads on your blog. That becomes a pat on the shoulder. ”I must be doing something right – people want to read what I write!”
Before I saw tendencies for people to withhold information that they had managed to dig up. Sources were scarce all new knowledge was like finding a gold mine and who wants to share a gold find?
Theese days people want to share what they have learnt for the benefit of all. Actually – theese days it is better to put the information out there as soon as possible – that way you get to be first! 😉

Another reason that things have changed and that people get new things is because many of todays scadians started as poor students many many years ago.
Now many of us are done studying, most of us are working and we finally have the possibilities to do all the investments into our hobby that we have always dreamed about.
Ofcourse there are members in the SCA that don’t have the same possibilities – but it is not a competition! We do it for fun and everyone has to adapt how they can play to their current situation.
And the situation can change – for all of us. Those that have to day might not have tomorrow and the other way arround.
Should I not get a new tent when I finally can afford it just because I have to think about all the others that can’t afford it?
Should I not make a new dress completely out of silk and research it really really well, now that I have found my area of interest, invested in books and have enough money to get the correct materials – because I  have to consider the fact that someone will be stressed by me showing up in a new dress?
Remember – this is a hobby, we do it for fun and we all have different means to practice our hobby.
Some are good at brewing, some are good at textile arts, some are good at metalwork – the people that are good at EVERYTHING are rare!
Find YOUR thing – that you like and that works with your current life situation. All of us have had to cut corners – all of us have had dresses out of sheet cotton at one point or another…
And put things in perspective.
What if we played golf?
Would we sit and complain that ”NN” always win the competitions because he has made himself a new fantatsic club.
”NN” just goes to the drivning range and practices to win competitions.
Damn that ”NN” he, just wrote on his blog how he has figured out how to play hole number 9 on that impossible golf course in Spain – what a prick to share that information!
Doesn’t it suddenly sound pretty silly?
If what others do annoys you – look the other way and play as YOU want to play. Not everyone has to play the same way.
So now some might say – this is easy for you to say! You have awards, you have a camp!
Well, I have not always had it.
I have worked hard for it.
And I know I might not have all of it one day.
Who knows – my fibro might prevent me from sewing in a few years.
Or be so bad that I can’t work or go to events.

This is a hobby. We do it for fun. We rely on volounteers.
Find the benefits instead of looking for things that annoy you!
Just imagine what sources you can get access to if you reach out!
Play the game the way YOU want and the way YOU can and stop looking so much to what others do.
That way I think one ends up a lot happier and a lot more content with ones hobby.

The challange

I have gotten myself an apprentice. 🙂
Well, actually it was about two months ago and I should have mentioned it earlier – but better late than never!
This is an SCA thing – Masters and Mistresses of the Order of the Laurel take apprentices and my first one is known by the name Baroness Eva Grelsdotter and she is absolutley brilliant!
She has two blogs – Evas Thoughts – and One Year and Thousand Eggs.
So one day we were chatting on Facebook and she says: You have to make me read more of my books!
And that was when I had to admit that I myself have a pretty extensive library and I have perhaps only read 10% of it…
GAHHHH!!! The SHAME!!!!

So we decided to make it a challange. During the next year we will read 6 of our books from start to END!
Now you might say 6 books, wow that’s little.
We first thought about making it 12 – one book per month.
Then we considered this little thing called life.
Reading 12 of our books would mean very little time to read anything else and also limit the amount of time we have for projects.
We are both pretty busy people, both with our day jobs and with our hobby, so we wanted to leave a bit of space for other things.
Like sewing, readin fiction, runing or being part of event crews and such things.

So here goes – the 6 books I will read from start to end during 2012! (Most of them I have read about 10 pages in – but I really need to get to that END!)
Working Women in Renaissance Germany by Merry E. Wiesner.
Women, Armies and Warfare in Early Modern Europe by John A. Lynn II
The Good Wife’s Guide translation by Gina L. Greco & Christine M. Rose
Kläderna och människan i medeltidens Sverige och Norge by Eva I Andersson
Medieval Textiles and Clothing 1
Medieval Textiles and Clothing 6

There! Now you all know and now I HAVE to do it!
I will ofcourse write something about the books here on the blog once I finnish them.

Who knew that getting an apprentice actually would put ME to work!?