Rose (on the right) with Lady Zsuzsanna the Magyar late last year. Photo by Lady Raziya bint Rusa
Mistress Rose Otter passed away on January 29th. A longtime resident of Carolingia, Rose was well known in the fencing and arts communities of the East over the course of her more than 20 year SCA career. For many people, their first introduction to the SCA was Rose’s kind and generous presence. She leaves behind many who will miss her including her household, Sharc Pit, of which she was a founding member.
Mistress Rose was recognized on many occasions by both the Eastern Crown and the Barony of Carolingia for her talents and her service to the East and her beloved Barony. She was awarded arms at the first court of Tsurunaga and Genevieve in April of 1993 and was recognized as a companion of the Order of the Laurel seven years later at Pennsic XXIX by Balfar III and Luna III. She was also a companion of the Maunche and the Silver Crescent. She was given the Queen’s Order of Courtesy by Isabella II in 2003 after a trip to Tir Mara during which the airplane’s engines burst into flames and Rose helped keep the passengers calm, then took care of her Queen in the airport bar. Rose was inducted into the Order of the Burdened Tyger by Darius II and Roxanne II for her work on an event at Pennsic for Their Majesties. In addition, she was a member of Carolingia’s Orders of the Perseus (for courtesy and skill on the fencing field), the Moon (for her achievements in the arts), and the Daystar (for service). A highly skilled needleworker and knitter, she shared her gifts with many, both by teaching and by giving away her work. She also published research on a recreation of A 16th-Century Style Knit Purse in Tournaments Illuminated in 2004.
We are pleased to share the following remembrances of Mistress Rose. We welcome anyone to add your own memories of her in the comments. A memorial service will be planned for March. Letters of condolence to the family can be sent to Mistress Eleanor Catlyng, who will forward them. They should be addressed to Anne McNulty c/o Lisa Goldthwaite, 579 Winter St, Framingham, MA 01702.
Rose on the way to her Laurel elevation. Photo by Mistress Nataliia Anastasia Evgenova
From Mistress Alys Mackyntoich
One could talk about what Rose did in the SCA: she fenced, she sewed, she embroidered, she dabbled with anything that interested her. One of her greatest joys was making elevation cloaks for her friends. For Rose, anything worth doing was worth sharing. She was generous, immensely practical, and as dependable as the Rock of Gibraltar.
But none of these things really sum up the essence of the woman. In thinking about her all day today, the thought that keeps coming to me again and again is that Rose Otter was laughter. It was incredibly easy to make Rose laugh, but her laughter was infectious and always shared, never mean or harsh. Giggles, chortles, full belly laughs — she had them all and they were all wonderful. Her laughter animated her and made her beautiful.
Rose’s Laurel vigil was how Sharc Pit learned never to set up a vigil
so that the candidate could see outside of the tent, because the boys
went above and beyond themselves to make her laugh while she was
supposed to be seriously contemplating her future as a Peer. I can
still picture here sitting there in the tent holding back giggles
until she nearly burst. And when the vigil was done, she said that her
friends making her laugh helped take away some of her fears about
assuming the mantle of a Laurel.
Keeley von Aachen in her baby harness and the harness. Photo by Dame Elayne Courtenay
From Dame Elayne Courtenay to whom Rose was apprenticed
Mistress Rose Otter’s skills with the needle and giving of herself is best illustrated in a gift I received from her. Inspired by extant needlework and a baby harness for King James I (if I recall correctly back almost two decades since she gave me the harness), she cross stitched strips of linen and backed them with silk. The strips were joined with rings so that the two smaller ones crisscrossed the child’s torso and joined the lead at the back. The fine detail can be seen in the accompanying photo of a section of the lead. The hours that went into skillfully covering every inch of a fine gauge linen still astound me. That she would give of her time to create a beautiful piece of needlework on a utilitarian object meant to be used to keep a toddler safe in the big wide world of Pennsic speaks to her giving nature. The world is diminished without her skills and grace.
Rose in a lighthearted moment. Photo by Mistress A’isha bint Jamil
From Baron Aquel of Darksted Wood and Baroness Johanna Dudley
Aquel and I remember Mistress Rose for her gentle nature and generosity and for her many contributions to the barony during our time as Baron and Baroness of Carolingia.
Carolingia was her home, and we were all part of her family. She served as a fine example. It was important for her to do the right thing, and she did it with kindness. Rose spoke her mind with care and concern when it was necessary. She was quick of wit, with a sly sense of humor, and she was always first to offer a helping hand. She eagerly volunteered for many projects, teaching and encouraging others along the way.
A very skilled seamstress, at one time it seemed like she’d clothed the entire barony. She made and assisted with countless garments. She sewed everything from wee baby cloaks to protective fencing hoods. To this day, Aquel still treasures and wears several garments she lovingly made for him.
Beading and embroidery done by Rose for the Pelican cloak of Master Alexandre Lerot d’Avignon. Photo by Mistress Eularia Trewe
Rose was also the head of the baronial Needleworkers’ Guild during that time, fostering her love of needle arts locally and throughout the kingdom. I have fond memories of sitting together to embroider on the Great Carolingian Tapestry project, which she often set up at Fenmere fighting practices and at local events. Rose also created a knitting traveling show, and was very generous with her time and patterns.
In my mind, I am picturing Rose, blushing scarlet at some merry jest, and giggling until the tears of laughter rolled down her cheeks. We’ll miss her terribly.