Sunday, July 24, 2011


So, I had every intention of sewing my black wool hose this weekend, but that didn't exactly happen.  I cut the hose out and sewed the back seam on the legs of each using my black linen thread and a backstitch.  I realize now that I don't like backstitch very much.  I think I got spoiled by how well my running stitches hold on the huvet, that the backstitch just seems wasteful.  I used it, however, because the London hose fragments indicate that hose was one of the only typical uses for it.  So now I'm at the dreaded step- sewing in the 4 gussets.

I'll admit.  I've been procrastinating.  But I truly had planned to tackle those this weekend.  Except that on Saturday, I got it in my head that I needed to make new tunics for the twins.  So the entire afternoon was spent making one of those.  And I went a bit overboard.  Some time ago, I stopped really paying attention to the materials I use for my children's garb, pretty much because I only have linen, wool, or linen/cotton blend laying around in large enough remnants to use for kid's clothing.  I also picked up so may spools of silk thread when they were marked down to 75% off that I have more silk than cotton thread these days.  So I ended up using a natural colored 100% linen and a red silk thread for finish stitching.  And did the whole thing by hand.  Finished seams and all.  And if this blog has indicated anything about my sewing habits, finishing seams is not my forte.

Just my luck.  It ended up being a little too small for either of the twins.

But I'm proud of the effort I put into it, and now that I have a completely finished garment under my belt, I'm that much more likely to follow through on finishing seams from now on.  In fact, it ended up being such a nice little tunic, I'll be make a gift of it rather than holding onto it for baby #4.

That left me with today to do the gussets.  Then, sometime a bit before lunch, when I would have probably otherwise picked the hose up, Dearg press ganged me into converting an old long-sleeve tunic of his into a sleeveless one.  Since he's outside in the sun at the archery range most of the day, the sleeveless tunic is more comfortable for him.  The original tunic was the first one I'd made for him, and my craftsmanship left something to be desired.  Since I was removing the sleeves anyway, I ripped off the old collar and trim, re-cut the neckline, inserted a new collar piece and hand-stitched it all into place using both yellow silk thread and yellow pearl cotton.  It ended up with "wings", since the sleeves were no longer in place to weigh the shoulders down, but since he raises his arms up to shoot anyway, they'd stretch out that way in the long run.  Check out the transformation:

We'll see what next week brings.  If I can stop procrastinating, and focus on my own garb, it should bring a new pair of hose.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

New Blog

This weekend I made the decision to close my other blog, The Anachronits' Encampment, due to a veritable lack of having anything to post there.  When I started it, we had a different financial situation, but shortly afterward, we had to channel our extra funds to other projects and improving our kit ended up being at the bottom of the pile.  I had really hoped for that blog to be successful, but it's difficult for anything that relies on money to be successful these days!  Thank you to all of you that supported it while it existed!

The decision to close that blog was also instigated by my desire to start another.  I'd like to introduce you to Growing Up Medieval, a new blog dedicated to the "lifestyle" of being an anachronistic family.  I will be sharing a wide range of things, including experience and advice, but also projects and inspiration.  I've outlined a few of my plans within the first post, and I expect to add more as the blog grows.

I know that my experiences with children at events aren't unique.  I hope that, by sharing my perspective as a parent with such an "unusual" hobby as medieval recreation, I can help other anachronists find the balance and fun in including children in our hobby.  There's an important line, however, that I also hope to show.  Our children, especially young ones like mine, must understand the difference between (in my case) the SCA world and the modern "real" world.  We all want our children to be well-liked at school, and helping to define the boundaries between our pretend world and the mundane world is a challenge and a requirement.  Growing Up Medieval, therefore, will approach child-rearing from the point of view of a modern family with a medieval hobby.

I'll begin posting regularly in mid-August (after giving everyone a chance to settle back in after Pennsic).  If you're a "modern medieval" parent, please check it out.  If you aren't, please share the link anyway!

I will, of course, also be maintaining this blog, but please bare with me over the next month as I get my ducks in a row between the two.  I don't have any projects to share with you this week (I focused on modern sewing this weekend), but I'll be starting my black wool hose this week.  Stay tuned for that!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Project Complete: Saint Birgitta's Cap

Throughout this project I've been referring to my new Saint Birgitta's cap as a "huvet". The term "huvet" is a French word that Camilla Luise Dahl & Isis Sturtewagen list among the many they located in their research into the possible origins of the extant linen cap now known as the "Saint Birgitta's Cap". Limiting the name of this type of headdress to an extant example doesn't do its somewhat ubiquitous presence in the Gothic period any justice. A huvet, being any number of a variety of linen caps belonging to women, is a term more open to individual interpretation, and, therefore, recreation. The huvet I have endeavored to create for my garb quest is similar in appearance to the Saint Birgitta's Cap, but it is not THE Saint Birgitta's Cap. It is Edyth Miller's Huvet, created through contextual research into my particular time period and class. I encourage all of you to think about your recreations (of any item) with this perspective- it's a great exercise in persona development.

I purposefully made the cap a little over-sized so that, come next spring when my hair is longer, it will not be too small when I wear it for my A&S entry. The cap is 3.5oz white (bleached) linen from, and was sewn by hand using 100% linen thread (white, size 60/2) from Wm. Booth Draper (machine spun). The thread comes unwaxed, so I had to run each length of thread over a beeswax cake before sewing. The embroidery along the front binding is also linen, a slightly off-white, hand spun 16/2 thread, that I also manually waxed. My mother picked that up for me at an event from White Wolf and the Phoenix.

I closed the center seam instead of filling it with the woven herringbone stitch from the extant cap. I closed my previous attempt as well, but this time I did not add any decorative embroidery. The primary reason for this, in the context of my garb quest, is because it is intended to be worn as an undergarment, and going through the extra effort of applying embroidery to an unseen area of the cap would not have been appropriate.

The embroidery along the front binding is a modified herringbone stitch that I sewed through two layers of the binding on top as well as the cap itself. The stitching is then covered with the rest of the binding on the bottom (inside). This helps to keep the binding from shifting or twisting during wear.

One thing that I discovered as I went along is how critical the gap is at the end of the center seam. I originally left about a 3 inch gap, then stitched it shut, thinking that it was too large. When I finally got the binding in place and tried it on (before the loop itself was attached), I realized that I'd left no room for the cap to overlap in order to make it tight. That meant ripping out the stitching to open the gap back up. Turns out the my original gap was exactly right. We'll see when my hair is longer if this is still the case.

Perfecting my craftsmanship is a huge aspect of this garb quest, and the fine quality of this particular piece was a great way to set the bar for myself. I tried very hard to keep my stitches tight and even, and to make the entire cap a well-finished and sturdy piece. I don't feel the band is quite up to par, though. The stitching is good, but I only used two straight pins that I moved along the band as I went, and I realized a bit late that some ares of the band are wider than they should be, and there's also a twist in the band (which is very surprising, since I was trying to pay attention to that detail.) I do want to remove the band and do it again, but I'll have to save that until the end of the project, since I can't devote any more time to the huvet right now, or I'll risk not having the quest completed in time.

There is much more I can say about this cap, but I'll save it for the end of this project, when I make my complete documentation available. In the meantime, however, I would be happy to answer any specific questions you may have through this post's comments.

I'll be moving on to the black wool hose next, as well as a few minor projects laying around that I need to complete. Now that I have a successful pattern on the hose, though, I imagine they will come together fairly easily- knock on wood.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Internet Round-Up: July

This month's Internet Round-up focuses on some of the websites I enjoy browsing through when I need that extra boost of inspiration.

Most of these sites are personal websites of other folks doing medieval recreation, and all of them are involved in groups with stricter authenticity standards than the SCA. It can be helpful to use the resources provided by these more authentic groups to paint a picture of where you'd like to be in your own authenticity journey. I love getting lost in the photo galleries provided on these sites, and I imagine my next event with the beautiful clothing and kits these people have created. I'm thrilled that they don't mind the anachronism of cameras at their events so that we can get a glimpse into their worlds.

First is Diu Minnezit, the website of Jens Börner and Myriam Gateault. They recreate 1250, 1350 and 1475, with different personas in each year, and primarily deal with German recreation. Their site, not surprisingly, is in German, but Google Translate does an OK job of translating it. Along the side and top are several links (which are images and don't translate) that go to a wide range of information. Of particular interest is the "Galerie" link. In addition to sharing images from recent events, they also share photos (and some research) of the items in their kit (accessed using the links along the left after you click "Galerie".) Their events are often demos, which is good for us, because it means they show a lot of different crafts and goodies. I usually find my self pouring over every photo, looking at all the details going "ooooh- I'll take one of those, and those, and definitely that!"

The second is the page of Nina and Konrad who mainly recreate the 15th century and operate a merchant group called Jazwiec. They haven't updated for a while, but take a tour through their past event gallery for some great images. Nina also shares some of her documentation and crafts on the site as well.

I've only recently found the website of The Company of Saynt George (which several of these other folks are members of, btw), and I wish they had a branch in the US. The company is very much like a specialized, smaller, more authentic version of the SCA, focused very exclusively on the late Burgundian era (1460 -1480). They don't offer many photos on their website, but the site is very nicely organized and the blog is worth keeping an eye on.

Deventer Burgerscap is another specialized, small group of reenactors, this time focused on the late 14th century. They are members of the larger Die Landed Van Herwaert Over, a Dutch group, and they specialize in recreating the year 1370 in the German city of Deventer. They don't have too many photos on their main site, but they often post project and event photos on their blog. In addition, a few members also share photos on the Medieval Silkwork blog.

There are many other sites out there, and I suggest taking a look at Atlantia's A&S Links for Other Living History Groups, which are broken down according to the years represented.

Another good source, of course, is the hundreds of bloggers sharing their medieval recreations. You can start with any of the blogs I have listed in the right-hand sidebar, and literally spend hours surfing!

I'm thinking that next month we'll look at headdress resources. If you have any suggestions for future Internet Round-up topics you'd like to see, please let me know!

In other news, I've finished my huvet, but Dearg has the camera this weekend, so you'll have to wait until my regular Sunday post to see it!