A few weeks ago, when I was dressing the mayor for the Anglo Saxon fashion show at Kirkleatham, it seemed only fair that she should have something pretty to wear, so I dug out an old wimple that I very rarely wear. I do use it on a regular basis, as I display it as part of my embroidery display at events, but I don’t think I’ve worn it in the last decade.
It was made twelve, maybe fifteen years ago, and I decided it would be a good excercise for me to dredge my memory of the making process and air the old lady on the internet.
The viel is based on the one worn by queen Emma/Aelfgifu, who stands here to the lower right of the cross. At the time I was intrigued by the little tags hanging down from the back of the viel – I’ve never seen anyone else reconstruct this viel, perhaps because not being part of one of the larger Uk dark age groups I’ve always been allowed to be braver in my reconstructions than many group rules allow.
Since the detail on the manuscripts is minimal, but definately shows some sort of decoration on these tags, I decided to have fun with celtic puppydogs – I still love how thier tongues look like strings of sausages stolen from a butchers shop. They’re 60/2 nm silk, laid and couched work with split stitch, couched gold, coral and pearls on shot taffeta backed with linen. The pearl and coral fringe could perhaps be considered somewhat fanciful, but it does add a nice bit of extra wieght, which comes in quite handy at breezy outdoor events.
The other thing that appealed to me was the fillet round Emma’s head, which seems to show only at the front – suggesting that the back section is concealed beneath the viel. Now, this could well be a metal band or crown, but I had just learnt gold brocaded tablet weave at the time, and this was one of my very first pieces. If memory serves me its Birka 21 with a border added, done so the body of the band is plain silk with the brocading only showing on the forehead (the plain silk band fastens aound the head under the viel)
Because I was reconstrucing a Queens headdress, I felt justified in covering the entire body of the lovely soft yellow silk in a tiny pattern of silk and pearls. At the time I had two boy cats, Truffles and Newt, who decided to knock over my embroidery frame and “play” on top of it when I was inches away from finishing this ground pattern. If they hadn’t both already been castrated they would have been when I found that frame on the floor. Somewhere on this headdress is a very carefully concealed patch…
Sorry about the poly head – I find it impossible to take my own photo. You can get a rough idea though of how the whole thing drapes, although the tags should really hang down the back. I think it could be argues that the tags might be attached to the fillet ends, but to me the manuscript clearly shows them attached to the ends of the viel, which is how I did it
Sigh, I am having to sit on the floor to type, as Branston is hogging the sofa again…