Interview with Lady AEsa Knarrabringa

AEsa Knarrabringa

Barony of Tir Ysgithr

You have been in the society for 10 years. How did you start?

My husband is originally from Caid. We started in the SCA together in the Kingdom of Atlantia, the Virginia/Maryland area, then moved to the Barony of the Western Seas, Hawaii, then moved to the Kingdom of Atenveldt. My husband is what drew me to the SCA. I found it very attractive and decided to try it out. I met him after he graduated and he was like, “Hey, there is this medieval thing I do, and we are having an event. Would you like to come?” He wore a kilt to the event, and I was like, “Yes, what is this? I like this!”

I was nervous going to my first event, and at the time the “peasant blouses” were really in, and I asked my husband, not married at the time, what I should wear, and he told me to wear a long skirt and a poofy shirt. While at the event, I ran into this lady who was in this huge cortesan, french gown. It really got me started from there, because I fell in love with the people. The lady who I ran into was dressed to the nines, and she didn’t look down on me for what I was wearing. She took me around and asked me, “Which one is your lord?” and the whole thing.

What was your first Art/Science within the SCA?

When my husband’s tunic ripped, I figured I would try to make him a new one. I learned how to sew back in highschool. I tried to sew him a tunic, and I did not know anything about fabric back then. I wanted it to be black and blue, and he told me to go to the fabric store and find indestructible fabric. I ended up with blue canvas, and black felt. Again, at the time, I had no idea of the differences in fabrics. He was amazing to wear what I made him. It was only once, because as soon as I washed it, the felt side shrunk up. It was so bad. That was my first attempt at garb.

I went back and made him a tabard after that, so that he would have something to fight in. I was so proud of myself after that, and gained the confidence to try making something for myself. I made a lace-up in the front kind of dress. It had a pleated skirt, with laces in the front. I made it with more period looking fabric. At the time, I was in college, so I was buying fabric off the clearance racks. I had befriended Mistress Brenda in Atlantia, the lovely lady who I ran into at my first event, and she was very excited that I made this dress. She was the kind of person who was very supportive. I showed it to her and she basically said it was amazing for my first time, but it was not likely that I would wear it more than a few times. 

It was from there that she started to teach me how to make garb. She made me go buy linen for this red dress I was going to learn to make. It was a long flowing gown, with buttons all up and down the sleeves. She shows me how to use patterns for the sleeves and skirting. It took me weeks. It was one of my most favorite dresses. If I had it still to this day, I would be extremely happy with it. To be honest, I love making garb, because I do not like to wear the same outfit twice, so when I can, I will make new garb for myself and the family.

Funny story about my name. When I moved here, there were a lot of people here in Atenveldt with that same name because it is a very common viking name. When I came up with my name, I was living in the Barony of the Western Seas. I thought it was pronounced “Eye-assa,” and there were not any vikings in Hawaii, so no one knew how to pronounce it. I have learned that it is not pronounced that way.

What kind of arts do you do, and your favorite?

I dabble in lots of things. I sew, viking wire weave, stained glass, make banners, do calligraphy, illumination, print on fabric, lamp work beads, tablet weaving, embroidery, cake decorating, glass fusion, quilling, and I am still learning more. I also want to add blacksmithing to that list. I think it’s interesting. I want to do blacksmithing to make blades, because I really wanna make my own knife. Mostly because I think it would be pretty cool to be able to say “Look what I made!” I know that it isn’t going to be something that I would really do a lot of, but I think it would be cool to learn how to do it.

Purchased art is an art form, right? Haha! The thing I honestly like to do the most, making garb only coming in second to it, is illumination. I have only just started that process recently, but I am falling in love with illuminations because I love making things for other people and giving them something pretty. That is the biggest thing for me is to make art in service to others. I love making things easier for other people, and making it easier on them. I do not specialize in any one thing, really. There are people out there who are really good at one or two crafts, and that is what they are known for. I am just not that person right now, because I am willing to try anything, but I would not say I am an expert in anything.

An example of me feeling the need to fill a need is with the Corona Related awards that were being handed out. I really enjoyed personalizing those, because when I received a few to paint, I was told to make them pretty, but I didn’t have to stay in the lines. I really got into it. I made one that looked like a samurai, and I did it to just change things up a bit. I had a lot of fun seeing how far I could take those scrolls.

When we had moved to the Western Seas, we were just starting again after taking a break for 3-4 years. We needed it because we had kids. When we moved from Atlantia, we needed new garb, and I had to make some for my kids as well. Western Seas is a palatine Barony, and every year there is an alternating tournament. One year is a fighting tourney, and the next is an arts and sciences. In order to hold one of the fighting tournaments, we needed to have at least 5 fighters. We only entered so that there would be enough entrants to hold the tourney, and we won. We were unprepared. I had to make a lot of garb very quickly. The night before the event, I was making garb out of a bed sheet, and an apron dress. And when we won, I stepped up in a bedsheet dress, and no shoes. All of my art for that year was just trying to keep up with needing outfits. I was really proud of myself during that time because I was making an outfit a day to prepare for the Great Western War as Baron and Baroness!

What have been your experiences with competitions?

The first time I competed, it was in June, and two weeks after we had moved here. I didn’t know what to expect when we moved here from Western Seas. Western Seas is a barony that has about 45 members total. Before moving, I was just coming off being baroness of western seas, and I did everything; fighting, arts, autocrat-ing, marshaling, etc. It was not unheard of to only have about 10-15 people at an event there. You wanted people to go to an event, so you would have to do everything in an event. When we moved here, I did not know what to expect, and I just wanted there to be everything at this event. So when i went to it, i brought something to contribute, and it was humbling when going, because there were more people at one event here that were in the whole Barony of Western Seas. I was happy to see this. I just wanted to put something into the artisans showcase.

The second time I competed, I knew a little more about what to expect. I entered in my own processed honey for that. We were keeping bees, and I researched a lot of things about keeping them and processing honey. It was my first gathering of honey that I had entered. At the time, it wasn’t something a lot of people were doing in our barony, so I did it for the want of exposure to this cool thing with bees. I entered the Showcase level, and it was really cool to hear people’s feedback. It was also really cool to just go around and see everything that people were making.

What would you say your path looks like?

I don’t think I will ever be a Laurel, because I have really bad ADHD, and I don’t think there would be any one thing that would capture my attention long enough to be known for that one thing. And I know there are a lot of Laurels out there who do a lot of different things, but they do those things really well. I just don’t have the desire for that like others do. My first arts award, the Flower of the Desert, came from Golda when she was Queen of Atenveldt, for doing the work on her dress and learning an art form and using it almost right away. I helped make a lot of trim for her, and it was a very basic card weaving pattern, and it was that way because I had just learned how to warp a loom. I had made this trim to go all over the dress, and make a belt out of the extra things. It was 12 yards of this trim. I was just having a good time helping make the dress and hanging out while making it. Knowing where it was going makes it really cool. Then, when I was called up into court for getting the arts award, I didn’t honestly feel like I deserved it. But, golda said that going out and learning a new craft and being willing to just do it was part of why she gave me that award. It’s really cool that I was asked to do this interview, but I do not consider myself an artist. I do things that need to be done. So, really, my art is service to me.

Family is always a big part of inspiration, who else would you say inspires you?

My peer, Golda, has been so inspirational and motivating to me. I begged her to take me on as her protege, and she didn’t think anyone would want her as a peer. I basically threw myself at her until she took me on. She helped introduce me to people, for the purpose of helping them! And make friends along the way! I don’t like being in the spot-light, but if there are things that need to be done, then I will do them. I made pillows and banners for the barony (need pictures). And when another Barony saw the work that was done on those, and said they wished they had some like that, I made them and sent them to the barony of monks. Golda helped me expand on that ability to continue helping people all around.

What is something you found yourself most amazed about when joining the SCA?

This is where all your money and free time is going to go. But, joking aside, I have skills now that have been helping with keeping me busy during the covid times. I am really grateful for that.

I think that another cool thing about the SCA is that you can walk up to and ask anyone what they are working on and how it works, and they will be happy to show you, teach you, and share it with you. I walked up to someone at a Great Western War once and they showed me how to do tablet weaving. I have honestly learned everything I have because I have walked up to someone doing the art and they show me. They will even sometimes just hand it off to me and have me try it out. I have taken a lot of classes at Great Western. When I moved to Atenveldt, to the Barony of Tir Ysgithr, the first thing I did was enter an A&S showcase. I had made a viking apron flap with my sea serpent embroidered on. I had people come up to me and give me some pointers on it. The next event that I went to was just before Southern, and I was walking through and trying to find a place to put my stuff down. Mistress Dairynie called me over and chatted with me about the art that I had entered into the A&S Showcase. She really took me under her wing after that, because she told me at that event that I would be camping with her at Southern Crusades. And it was all because I “once did an art thing” as she said when she first spoke to me. She helped me learn about period cooking and doing a lot of period styles/forms of art.

At my first Southern Crusades, I was working at a volunteer point and met Lady Cyneburga Thorisdohter. She came in to check in, and I was talking about how cold it was. I don’t do cold well. And she told me I needed a bed, and she said I should go over to her house to learn how to make a bed. And she told me that she would teach me, but she would not do it for me. So, since I was not working at the time, I went over and made our bed that we still use, instead of using an air mattress.

What is some advice you would have for a new artisan?

Honestly, I think I would just tell people to just start something. Learn from me, it is not always going to come out the correct way the first time. I have learned so much from making things poorly. I have learned all the things not to do. I would even offer my knowledge as a resource for people. I personally will still see people doing something I have not tried before and find myself drawn towards it. My husband tells me I am not allowed to have any more artistic hobbies, but he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Lol!

Other people can be your resources as well. The thing is, what i have learned, someone will always be out there who does art “better” than you. You can’t stop doing embroidery because you see someone else’s work being so elaborate. If you like it, then great!

Biggest thing to remember for anyone new to sewing: Wash your fabric before you do anything with it! Serge your seams!!! There are people out there who will help with that!

Written By: Artisans Now!

This is Artisans Now! We interview populace all around in the Kingdom of Atenveldt for their talents and knowledge! Lots of fun, lots of Arts/Science, lots of populace!

August 7, 2021

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