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This blog will no longer be updated, we’ve moved!

I’ve moved my blog off of Blog.com over to WordPress, which is, frankly a better platform. I will leave this up for anyone to have bookmarks to change them, but the new, permanent link is

http://syrakousina.wordpress.com

All the same entries are over there, no data has been lost. Just a new address and a new look. Thanks!

I finally found dumb pics of my stola…

One of the first pieces of Roman clothing I made was the stola, or, overdress of a matron. I was married at the time and it seemed like a good idea. I wish I could find pictures of the construction of it, because as far as a “tube dress” goes, it was a pain, being that i made it to almost-period specs, and it’s about twice my height clocking in at 8 full yards of this sassy red linen, and I still didn’t get the neckline right. I’m planning to make another one, um, eventually. With a proper institia,  more on that as it comes and I can do more research on what it should look like exactly.

Here’s my first Roman garb EVUR. (I think this was 2008?) That white chiton still hasn’t softened.

ROMAN BLIMP. WIDE BERTH, PLZ.

And here it is as a stand-alone garment, which is how I wear it more often, however in that case, it is NOT a stola, just a form of a peplos without the peplum. I do plan on fixing the neckline eventually, because this is such lovely red linen, I’d hate for it to go to waste, especially at a whopping 8 yards in one dress. At least it fits better now that I’ve, uh…filled out.

Complete with adorable and totally period Northern Army trim girdle.

Excellent Byzantine/Russian/Viking source

This was posted to me on the Booke of Faces, and it’s dreamy. Obviously I can’t read Russian, so I’m not sure if they are displaying Byzantine OR Russian in the earlier images, but the cultures do have a very heavy overlap when it comes to clothing. The shot of the superhumeral and cuffs are worth it alone, and gives you a good idea of how such accessories would have been closed and worn.

http://sashka-nsk.livejournal.com/37056.html

The Viking images are also REALLY worth it. I really like that apron dress style and I think that will be my next attempt. I love my heavily embroidered dress, but something a bit more…casual will be nice. And, oh look! Embroidery. Take that you fantasy Viking dress haters! ;)

Spring break, spring stress, oh look, new shiny!

I just got back from a few days down in the lush green tropical homeland of Florida to return to the cloudy, 30* maritime climate of the Arctic. Okay, so RI isn’t the Arctic, but that gosh darn groundhog LIED.

Hit the Bay Area Renaissance Festival in my new totally inaccurate but blasty-blast to wear Gahwazee outfit, complete with tassel bra goodness. Hey, it’s a fair! I can wear what I want! Next on the hit list is my mom.

The family that garbs together, stays together.

The outfit was pretty easy, I used a Simplicity pattern and just sorta…zoomed it up myself. The gomlek (undertunic) I whipped up with my imagination, using the funky selvages to my advantage, the bra is one of my old ones I bled all over trying to glue and handsew trim onto, and the skirt is just your run of the mill tiered broomstick or belly dance skirt. I believe it’s an 8 yard. I went with this look because Florida is hot when Rhode Island is not, therefore, I can have some fun. If it was going to be a cooler weekend, my actual SCA period Turkish would have been in order, but at least I got compliments on my…rack. The underbust Turkish coat is documentable to the 18th Century, when fashionable Turkish women were attempting to emulate the shapes of the Western women, notably the garish French. The tassels and the way I did the gomlek? Erm…not so much. That’s just for boogying at the festival. This will get some Pennsic wear, but probably with the neckline of the gomlek close.

Pre-Renaissance Festival filth. Kinda cursing myself over using the antique sari on the bottom.

Aside from that, I got to hit a couple of spring training baseball games, and sat at the kitchen table working on my undergrad thesis. The fun, let me tell you…No, I’ll tell you it’s most definitely not fun and I’m regretting going back to school at 28 (now 30) to get my bachelors when it should have been done 10 years ago. Life has a way of getting in the way. The thesis is The Varangian Guard, and their recruitment and downfall due to the First through Fourth Crusades. It sounds cooler than it is. In the immortal words of the old knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: “You chose…poorly.”

The Varangian Guard don’t get a lot of press, surprisingly, so it’s been a bit of a witchhunt. I’ve done some preliminary research for my book, Of Summer and Winter (shameless, I know) but I wanted to further myself as an academic, and at least have some really real for real research knowledge to back up my fiction.

In other news, I received my East Kingdom Artisanal Exchange Swap III gift this week! I was so excited when I opened this, aside from feeling like a total slacker for not having mine done yet.

It’s a lovely red coral and bronze necklace and fibulae set, using both Byzantine and Western Roman design features in the necklace. I CAN NOT wait to wear this. I feel like I need new garb just to do it! (I’ve been wanting a dark blue peplos…;) )

No cell phone pic can do this justice.

In Vino Veritas Part III, and Artisanal Swapage.

Racked the wine to the secondary today. It’s fermenting like a madwoman. I probably could have let it go longer, but the boy needed the larger carboy for his beer that he’s working on today. Either way, I plan to leave it in this carboy now for at least a month before the clarifying process. I picked up another 1 gallon jug today as well, now I have 2, which will be important for when I do my separate infusions of the rose and resin. As of this point, I’m not thinking they will be ready for paneling at War of the Roses (Memorial Day weekend) so at the earliest I should have a drinkable product by Pennsic, and especially good next year, as I intend to age as much as possible. It is wine after all. Though the Romans did drink a lot of young wine. Mostly because it was the primary beverage of choice, and though there were period winos (Pliny most certainly one of them) that did enjoy ages wines, there is no harm in younger beverages.

I also signed up for the Nobelese Largesse swap today via Facebook. It’s a Knowne-World wide artisanal swap that requires documentation. I cannot post what I am doing or who I have or pictures until the gift is sent for obvious reasons, but I am looking forward to participating in this one. :)

I am also involved in the East Kingdom Artisanal Swap for my second round. That gift has been finalized, and I am working on getting everything together to complete it. My previous swap gift went to Konstantia Kaloethina in Calontir, the founder of the NL swap, and I made for her a Byzantine Superhumeral out of shot purple silk, with some amethyst and pearl beadwork. I left it plain since we had discussed prior to me even having her as a swap recipient that she wanted one to adorn with her award medallions, but did not know how to sew one for herself.

Konstantia's Superhumeral

I received in the swap a lovely wooden chest with my arms on it, and a couple of brass and bronze medallions from Sir Yessunge Altan, I was blown away.

Wooden Chest from Sir Yessunge.Medallions that came in the box.

You can see the type of work that goes into these swaps, this is why I’m so excited for NL, being limited to 40 participants, and worldwide. I do love a challenge!

Another day of brewing…

I just knocked out my 2nd annual gallon of espresso cordial. It won big at the Bridge Birthday drinking, I mean, Brewing Contest, also known as “Pickle the Baron.” The recipe is proprietary, sorry, folks. ;)

The original name of it was “Dark, Dirty, and Whipped,” but I think I’m changing it to “Auntie Anna’s Award-Winning Marriage Proposal Juice” or something along those lines, as I have never been offered hands in marriage by so many people at once.

I also tried a new sekanjabin recipe today, and this is a Pomegranate Balsamic variant. The redaction is below:

2 cups of POM juice
1 cup water
1 cup balsamic vinegar (NOT vinaigrette! That’s dressing. LOL.)
4 cups of sugar

boil together for a half hour, cool, and bottle. Easy, peasy, tasty. The color is a dark burgundy/brown, and the flavor is very caramely and almost tea in nature from the balsamic, plus the juice. It’s very sweet, but I can see it being VERY nice on a hot day in ice cold water. So this will be popular at Pennsic.

So I now have 4 full sekanjabin recipes I can easily produce.  However, the boyfriend does not enjoy it that much, so I can’t take over my kitchen with bottles of syrup, lol. I guess I’ll have to take my time with them, though I STILL want to try cinnamon with apple cider vinegar. ;)

Rose Sekanjabin video.

I made rose sekanjabin for the first time today, so I documented it by video. Sekanjabin is a syrup with origins in Medieval Persia. It’s typically made with mint, but a variety of substitutions can be made. In this case, I used dried roses, since I have way too much for my wine.

The video will take you through the steps, but here’s the recipe:

2 1/2 cups of homemade rosewater (I boiled 4 cups of dried rose petals and buds in 3 cups of water. I had to add more water a couple of times to get the right amount.)
4 cups of granulated sugar
1 cup of white wine vinegar

Combine ingredients and boil for a half hour. Let cool. Syrup keeps indefinitely in a bottle without refrigeration.

How to make Rose Sekanjabin Syrup from Anna Dokeianina Syrakousina on Vimeo.

In Vino Veritas, Part II.

The wine kit was put to primary fermentation today! I will secondary in a week, then let it sit a month before conditioning, and splitting it into the different jugs for the Roman infusions.

 Cloudy…I assume it’s going to clarify during the process.

I’m also starting to play with gin. Gin is actually a period beverage, well, it wasn’t CALLED gin, but juniper infused spirits go pretty far back, I believe the 11th Century. Let’s face it, gin is an acquired taste. My acquisition came and went after a long night of drinking that got capped with a G&T, so, I got revisited by the gin first. ~_~ This infusion is peppermint and roses. It took VERY fast, like, overnight fast, and I already strained it and started a new batch.

In Vino Veritas. Part I.

I will be VERY popular during the apocalypse. Homebrewers will be the richest, between selling booze for drinking and selling it for medicinal and antiseptic purpose.

But yes, welcome to Black Dolphin Brewing! Where my boyfriend and I make all sorts of delectable draughts of doom. (I love alliteration.) Since this blog is still rather new, I’m not going to backtrack to explain all that I have done so far. But, I am a member of the Smokingbridge Guild of Libation Brewers locally, and part of the entire East Kingdom Brewer’s Guild as well. I have yet to be paneled, but we’re working on that. WITH ROMAN WINE.

Of course it would be Roman, it’s what I do.

The Romans adored sweet white wines, contrary to the heavy reds that you often think of, Pliny the Elder gives us great insight as to how the Romans enjoyed their wines, from white grapes to heavy spices. Natural History can be quite a ponderous tome for those that don’t find him all that appealing, but, for a reference into how Romans viewed their natural world, it’s an invaluable tool for research. A free, solid translation of it is available online at the Perseus project through Tufts University here.

Pliny the Elder wrote during the Flavian Dynasty, and N.H. is dedicated to the Emperor Vespasian. Pliny is the reason why we have plinean eruptions, for the poor fella was killed indirectly from the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. Most likely of a heart attack, as he was quite old. His nephew, Pliny the Younger, watched on from another boat as his uncle returned to help refugees escape the nasty pyroclastic flow. It is from these men we have the best eyewitness account of the eruption. The Younger wrote Epistles, which is a series of letters between him and the Emperor Domitian regarding his governance of an eastern province. They are absolutely boring, BUT, they give a remarkable insight into the inner workings of Roman goverment in the 1st Century. But, I digress…

I will be re-creating two styles of wine to start. Since this is my first wine, I will be making a moscato from a kit. The muscat grape is very ancient, and was cultivated throughout the region. It’s not one of my particularly favorite flavors (I’m a chardonnay and sauv blanc kinda lady, here. HEY, at least it’s not white zin?) The kit will be ready for me at my friendly local brewstore tonight. (Check out Basement Brewhaus in Providence. Cool, helpful people.)

I plan to follow the kit through the primary fermentation, then split off two smaller batches for secondary in which one will be resined with pine sap (yum?) and the other with roses. Pliny mentions both at Plin. Nat. 14.24-25 and Plin. Nat. 19.19 respectively.

Pliny devotes most of Book 14 to wines and wine making. There is also calidum, the hot spiced wine drunk year round, and diluted with water, usually seawater of some sort. Pliny gives a whole chapter on salted wines. Those Romans and their wacky tastebuds…

Pictures will be coming forthwith once the fermentation process begins.

When you wish you’re Jeannie…

Garb does not blink into existence, but oh, how I wish it did.

I have a backlog of commissions right now because schoolwork is taking precedence right now in my life. I’m toward the end of my degree, and the classes are railing into me, this includes a capstone major paper on The Varangian Guard.

I haven’t really made myself any new “nice” garb in a while, because I don’t particularly have the time. My Viking dress was finished a year ago, and since I’ve made the switch to Byzantine persona full-time, I figured I needed more stuff. Well…I picked up some gorgeous jewel-toned linen and some trims at Birka for this project, and figured, “Oh I have PLENTY of time before I have to teach my class at Ice Weasel.”

Yeah no. A couple blizzards and the inability to get anywhere slowed me down greatly on the sewing front, because I couldn’t get to the laundromat or Joann’s for much needed supplies. This is annoying, but nothing life-threatening. So, as it stands, the gorgeous linen I have is still unwashed and shall remain that way until I have ample time to make myself this new tunica and dalmatica. Until then, I have older stuff I can bring to Ice Weasel I can use for the sake of the class. I would love to get my beaded dalmatica to a wearable state, so that’s an option, but…it’s Ice Weasel. Snow, ice, weasels. Okay, not actual weasels, but the climate and the fact I’d like to be outside supporting my lord in his first heavy tournament (I brought a newb into the society, teehee.) is more important than wrecking new, or nice expensive, garb. Plus, he’s been on my ASS to finish his Norman riding tunic, so that’s the project this week. I will post pics when it’s done.

Until then, here’s pics of my fabric and trim that will some day become my next tunica and dalmatica. Complete with antique silk saris I pillaged for trim.

Mint green for the tunica, dusty rose for the dalmatica.

 Some old, moth-eaten saris I’ll be cutting trim from. I’ll probably use the pink for the dalmatica, and save the red for a hand-sewn tunica I have planned for the summer.