Who is Racaire?
Well, I am just an ordinary girl who was born in the late 70’s in Warschau/ Poland. I moved to Vienna/ Austria in the age of 5 and spent most of my life in this beautiful and great city. In 2014 I moved from Vienna/ Austria to Kentucky/ USA to marry my dear sweetheart and live there ever since.
During my school time and the one year which I spent at an evening art-school for kids, embroidery & needlework was really the last thing on my mind – I think you could say that I really disliked sewing and embroidery while I was a teenager.
I rather spent my time with reading books about the medieval times, like the “Nibelungensage”, “Artussage”, … – about Parzival, Lanzelot and other great knights and their adventures. When I got older I also read Tolkiens “Lord of the Ring” trilogy & Marion Zimmer Bradleys “Darkover Zyklus”. I also used to play MERS (MERP – Middle Earth Role Playing) and many other roleplaying games as well as some live roleplaying games for several years. And well, I was also painting at my 40K Warhammer Chaos Army and was playing Diablo online – all this hobbies didn’t really leave much time for another time-consuming hobby.
Well, this changed completely when I rediscovered my love concerning the medieval times during the visit of my very first medieval market. I was about 21 years old when this happened…
How everything started
Actually it all started after a visit of a medieval market in Kaltenberg, Germany – I enjoyed the colors, the beautiful dresses, the tournament, the awesome atmosphere… and all this lovely colorful and medieval dresses of the ladies there inspired me so much that I decided to do something similar – that happened about 2000 / 2001.
Well, internet was already available during this time but good information (like tutorials, helpful blogs or websites) was really rare back then, therefore I started with buying some issues of a medieval reenactment magazine and hunting down every little piece of information I could find. I bought some linen fabric and because I had no sewing machine, I sewed my very first dress by hand according to a pattern which I found in a magazine called “Karfunkel” – I have to admit that the pattern didn’t work out for me, but with some adjustments it was quite nice and wearable.
As soon as my first medieval dress was finished, I thought it could need some nice extra decoration on it. I organized an embroidery frame, got me some threads and needles, took up my courage and finally made my very first embroidery stitches in the year 2001. I still love this dress and wear it from time to time, even though it is already more than 10years old and not very “period” (accurate)…
Well, that’s how everything started and one of the side effects of this embroidery project was that I enjoyed working at the embroidery so much, that I also started to embroider more and more things…
And the more I embroidered with my “medieval-inspired” patterns, the more people told me that I should start with “period medieval embroidery” – based on medieval embroidery techniques. What shall I say, one day I gave up my resistance and started my research of medieval embroidery techniques and I also started my blog – Racaire’s Embroidery & Needlework.
Based on the fact that many people tell me that my medieval embroidery is outstanding and should be displayed in a museum, I might have done a really good job in the past years since 2001 concerning learning and practicing medieval embroidery techniques…
I don’t think that my life is interesting, but some people tend to say that my embroidery is…
At this point I would like to point out Jane Stockton and her websites “In Prayse of the Needle“, “The Needles Excellency” and “Historical Needlework Resources“. I thank her heartily for kindly answering all my medieval embroidery related questions, for encouraging me and helping me with my very first handout about Refilsaum while I was still a newbie to medieval embroidery…
Thank you very much, Jane Stockton! 😀
My medieval embroidery techniques
I learned the medieval embroidery techniques “Refilsaum” (also called Bayeux-stitch or laid and couched work) and “Klosterstich” (also called cloister-stitch or self-couching technique) mostly based on publications about this medieval techniques as well as based on close up photos of the period examples. I started to collect more and more books, photos and publications about period medieval embroidery, went to several museums all over Europe to see the extant embroidery in real and to take close-up photos when possible.
Though I already managed to learn some very interesting medieval embroidery techniques, I think that there are plenty period embroidery techniques which I still have to discover for myself and I have plenty embroidery projects on my mind for the future to keep my hands and mind busy for a rather long time…
My favorite medieval time frame and “field of expertise” is medieval embroidery from the 11th to the 14th century. I especially fell in love with the period embroidery techniques for medieval wallhangings from this time frame.
Attended workshops for medieval/historical embroidery techniques
- 2006 March – Kurs “Es muss nicht immer Kreuzstich sein” – Einführung in historische Sticktechniken
Workshop “It doesn’t always have to be cross stitch” – introduction to historical embroidery techniques
Bayerisches Nationalmuseum / Bavarian National Museum
- 2008 April – Kurs “Zaubereien in Weiß” für historische Sticktechniken*
Workshop “Magic in white” for historical embroidery techniques
Bayerisches Nationalmuseum / Bavarian National Museum
How my blog started
Short summery: I started my “Racaire’s Embroidery & Needlework” blog with my very first blog posting at the 5th April 2005. About 2.300 postings and nearly 9 years later I decided to take my “old” blog down because of the misuse of my work and pictures by other blogs. I started a membership page to protect my future photos and works.
Where you can find my works and photos
From time to time I get requests for permission of usage when someone wants to use my photos or handouts. I get requests of usage for my museum photos as well as for photos of my projects – following you will find a list of my favorite picture usages till now:
- 2008-9 – my museum photos used in a thesis:
“Een gouwen rync ende een ransse” : de gerimpelde hoofddoek in het modelandschap van de Lage Landen der late middeleeuwen : een interdisciplinaire studie by Isis Sturtewagen
I am very happy to say that I could provide some museum photos to a great thesis about frilled veils by Isis Sturtewagen.
Useful Online-Links for Advanced and Premium users:
More about frilled veils: Isis postings on the blog Medieval Silkwork about her frilled veil adventures – <here>
Online – thesis: You can find her thesis online: <here> – this link includes a link where you can download her thesis – though it is not in English, it still contains many pictures and great information.
…btw. now you can also find this links listed on the page “Helpful Online Book-Links” located in the header menue.
- Winter 2008-9 – photos of my work & part of my handout in a newsletter:
The dignified Needleworkers Guild of the mighty Kingdom of the West (SCA) featured my Klosterstich work in their beautifully made A.S. XLIII Winter issue of their newsletter Filum Aureum.
Useful Online-Links for Advanced and Premium users:
Filum Aureum: You can find this and other issues of the Filum Aureum online here: Articles about embroidery
…btw. now you can also find this links listed on the page “Helpful Online Book-Links“ located in the header menue.
- 2012 – photos of my work in a book:
“Nadelbinden Was ist denn das?
Geschichte und Technik einer fast vergessenen Handarbeit
by Ulrike Claßen-Büttner
You can also find pictures of my modern nailbinding work in a book.
Ulrike Claßen-Büttner included pictures of two of my modern nailbinding projects in her book “Nadelbinden Was ist denn das?” about nailbinding.
Abb*. 151 & Abb*. 153 – you can find them on page 112.
Hint: Unfortunately the book is just available in German, but it contains really good basic nailbinding instructions. I think the instructions are very well and clearly written and supported by easy to follow step-by-step photos. I consider them very suitable for beginners who want to get started in this craft.
It also has a really great section about extant nailbinding pieces and contains some very interesting photos of extant pieces – for example:
– Abb. 38 – the cap of Saint Bernhard from the 12th century found in Niederwerth, Germany.
– Abb. 39 – the cap of the Saint Simeon from about 1000 from the Domschatzkammer Trier.
(*= short form for Abbildung which means picture in German)
Amazon.de: Nadelbinden Was ist denn das?
- November 2012 – my handout in a newsletter:
The great Barony of Bryn Gwlad in the Stellar Kingdom of Ansteorra (SCA) featured my Refilsaum handout in a special edition of their newsletter “The Halberd”.
- 2013 – one of my museum photos on tv:
Deals From The Dark Side – Season 1 / Episode 11 “Harem Belt“
One of my museum pictures made it on tv – an international broadcasting company used one of my pictures from the Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer in Vienna for “Deals From the Dark Side“.
- 2013 – one of my museum photos in an re-enactor magazine:
Moyen Âge 95
Un témoin des modes et mentalités médiévales : La ceinture, 2ème partie.
Tina Anderlini from France used one of my photos for her article “Un témoin des modes et mentalités médiévales : La ceinture, 2ème partie.” for the French re-enactor magazine Moyen Âge (pp 32-41; the picture can be found on p. 39)
- Further use of my handouts & photos
Some nice ladies got the permission to teach classes at SCA events using my handouts as well as a lady who thought a class based on my handout at an European textile symposium.
If you are living in England or Germany you might have already seen one of my pictures without even knowing it – some local SCA groups got my permission for the use of several photos for demos,…
More about mundane Racaire
In the mundane world – when I am not working at my embroidery projects, the calligraphy of a new scroll or blogging… – I am an office manager / personal assistant with completed apprenticeship as office clerk and a project management diploma.
Short summery of my SCA biography
On the 28th of July 2004 I became a member of the SCA.
Shortly after I joined I also took over the office of the Minister of Arts & Science as well as the Webminister of my shire for several years.
I retired from this two offices in order to become the guild head of the Dragon’s Needle Embroidery Guild of the SCA Kingdom of Drachenwald (September 2007 – December 2012).
SCA-Awards I received till now:
- Award of Arms – July 2005 / Hunting Season / Kingdom of Drachenwald
- Order of the Panache – Oct. 2006 / Crown Tournament / Kingdom of Drachenwald
- Order of the Meridian Cross – Sept. 2012 / Meridian Grand Tournament / Kingdom of Meridies
- Popular Company of Sojourners – May 2015 / Double Wars / Kingdom of Drachenwald
- Order of the Velvet Owl – Sept. 2016 / Meridian Grand Tournament / Kingdom of Meridies
- Grant of Arms – Sept. 2017 / Meridian Grand Tournament / Kingdom of Meridies
- Stella Nova A&S competition at Magna Fair (Dec. 2015, Kingdom of Meridies)
Entered my “Weiberlisten Wallhanging” – perfect score for the embroidery project as well as the project documentation. My wallhanging project won the Stella Nova competition by popular choice.
- Champions A&S competition at Gulf Wars (March 2016)
Entered my “Weiberlisten Wallhanging” due to royal invitation for the Kingdom of Meridies. The embroidery project and the project documentation scored 24 out of 25 and 25 out of 25. Unfortunately due to a severe weather event Gulf Wars was cut short and no winner of the Champions A&S competition was announced this year.
…and last but not least – many thanks to the awesome guys from Austrogate who sponsor this blog.