Sunday, April 14, 2019

Celebrating My Current Favorites

It’s easy to spend a lot of time thinking about the things we would like to have, or the things we want to make. It’s kind of a status symbol these days in historical recreation when we can brag about a huge project list, and we like to compare wishlists with others. I’ve certainly done my fair share of that. It seems like we’re constantly asking the question: What’s the next thing that I’m going to spend my time, energy and money on?

We spend so much time doing that sometimes we can forget to enjoy the things we have. We end up being so focused on crossing the next thing off the list, that we can go through entire seasons or years making things, wearing them once or twice, then moving on like they never even mattered. Especially if you’re someone like me who has years of creating new things on an iterative process to do better and have better things, you end up with a fairly full closet of gear. You then go through phases of liking certain things more than others. I’ve be doing this long enough that there are things in my gear and wardrobe that I’ve abandoned, but then some event will come along and I’ll realize that item is the perfect thing. So it will get pulled out and used again and cycle through a few events, while other things take their turn at the bench. It’s nice to have that option, just as much as it’s nice to have those new things.

In the past several months, I haven’t made or gotten anything new. Mundane life is taking most of my attention. I haven’t been producing anything new. Yet there are still events I need to go to. I still need to make choices on what to wear, but I can’t get caught up on the thought that I don’t yet have some things that I would like. I have to “make do” with the things that I have. It’s different, though, to be in that mode in this late stage of playing in the SCA, as opposed to having this mindset when you’re new and you have to make do because you have very little. I have a number of things, I’m just limited from making more.

So I think it’s healthy and helpful to take a step back and say, “I don’t need to make more.” It’s not even “making do”. That’s the wrong way to think about it. I like what I have. I like the items I’ve made, and I enjoy the garb I have available to me. Especially with my newest pieces, I did a really good job with them and I enjoy showing them off! It’s exciting to have pieces like that.

I should not feel bad about not being able to move on to the next new thing when I have such great things already.

So I thought it would be a fun exercise to think about the things I have that I love, that I feel good in and that I really like to wear at events. A celebration of not having to make do. These are things that I enjoy and that I reach for often. These are the favorites. This is about being happy- joyfully thrilled even- to have these things. Glad that I can reach into my closet and grab them, and feel good about how I look, how I portray my period and myself, and having fun.

1. Blue herringbone wool cotte
I made this cotte in the mad dash to prep for my vigil, and despite a few shortcuts, I loved how it turned out. After my elevation, this one turned into the cotte I reach for when I'm in a playful or goofy mood. There's something about it- maybe it's the combination of the pattern, color and the way it fits- that always suits the silliness that lies just under the surface of my quiet demeanor. Generally, I wear this one with the skirt hiked up in my girdling method of choice.

2. Apple Green wool cotte
My most recent clothing project, which also took several months of patience to complete, this cotte is perfect in nearly every way. I love the way it fits, the fullness of the skirt, the unbeatable color of course, and the buttoned sleeves. I like this one for every occasion, and I'm enjoying the chance to wear it while it's still seasonable enough for the densely woven wool.

3. Saint Brigitta’s style cap
This cap is coming up on being 8 years old. At the time I made it, it was the culmination of a long-suffering journey to get this cap style right, and so far, it hasn't been beaten as my go-to cap. I love the herringbone embroidery along the binding. I've had to adjust the length of the strap a few times as my hair length has changed over the years, but this one is still holding strong and doing its job really well.

4. Black wool open hood
I have made a LOT of open hoods. Not only is the style one that I've studied extensively, they are fun to make. Yet, despite the ample choice of colors, materials, weights, etc. that I have in my collection, this one, the original, is still the one I like the most. It goes with every dress, the weight is perfect for most of the year, and it's got that well-worn quality of a favorite pair of jeans.

5. Herringbone wool square hood
On the other hand, my square hood is also one that I have to actively tell myself not to wear to every event. It's not at all perfect since it was intended to figure out the pattern, and the beta always has bugs, but it's got that quirky/cool quality that I love to have in my wardrobe.

6. Teal hand-knit hose
A much newer addition to my garb wardrobe, this amazing pair of teal knit hose were made for me by my student Audette, who has developed a specialty in period knit socks. They are made from superwash wool (so I don't have to worry too much about ruining them with normal use), and they fit insanely comfortably. I'm really proud to have these as an option and I love showing them (and therefore my student's awesome work) off.

7. Dark gray knit hose
When I don't want to wear the handmade socks, I reach for a commercially-knit pair of dark gray wool hose instead. These came from Hero's Haven, and I highly recommend checking them out for hose. I've made my own fair share of fabric hose in the period fashion, but in the end, I much prefer and feel more comfortable in knit socks (which I mentioned in a previous post about the ways I'm not authentic). This pair, in particular, is great and my favorite because of their authentic color and the way they fit.

8. Light teal wool woven garters
It took a few years before I figured out that I needed the fine-tuned adjustability of woven garters. Before that, I would literally kick my leather garters off as I walked because I could never get them quite tight enough. I made this pair myself using an inkle weaving pickup technique, and I still love them. They haven't stretched out, they handle the random pokes of the buckle's prong very well, and they stay exactly where I need them to every time. It's unlikely that I'll be replacing or nixing these anytime soon.

9. Linen veil
Having a basic white linen veil is one of the things I most highly recommend for anyone doing female recreations from the 12th through to the early 15th Centuries. I'm down to one rectangular veil and a large oval veil that I usually double up, but since my hair isn't ideally thick or long enough to pin up and leave bare (nor is that correct for my period social class), the veil helps give me a polished look AND conceals the crazy things that happen under my cap.

10. 15th Century style belt knife
This was gifted to me by one of my closest friends and is one of my most prized possessions. I have found a small handful of images that show that some middle class women wore belt knives in the early 15th Century, and the best example I have shows the slim blade sheathed in dark leather and suspended from the belt with a red cord. I love having this item to add that extra layer of accessory to my outfits.

11. Selected Jewelry
I have a few period-correct items of jewelry, but it's really just veil pins with glass bead heads or the ones I have with twisted wire heads that I will wear with every outfit. They are necessary to keep veils and hoods in place, so I always bring my pin case along and decide at the event which set to wear. The only other item of jewelry I'm currently wearing often is a dainty pewter Laurel wreath pin that I purchased from Fettered Cock (no longer available). Out of all the pins I looked at, this one was casual and small enough to suit my tastes (and budget) perfectly.

12. Leather turn shoes
I have 2 pairs of period turnshoes- a brown pair that is more closed and a black pair with a strap. Both were purchased from Boots by Bohemond. I tend to prefer the brown pair slightly more than the black, but I've worn them so much that I've worn holes into the sole. Doesn't stop me from loving them, though. Eventually I'll invest in 2 new pairs, aiming for somewhat more correct styles based on my research, but for now, I'm always glad to have these. I use a felted wool insole for these as well to help cushion them.

I realize the mindset that your current kit is enough isn't one everyone can take. Like I said, I’m not new at this. I have dozens of projects under my belt. It's also not to say that I no longer have a wishlist or project list that I eventually would like to start attacking again. If you’re new, if you've had recent weight changes, if you're working toward more authenticity, or if you’re actively trying to learn or improve new skills, a project list is absolutely the best tool you have to get what you need and gain more knowledge. Even still, I encourage you to identify your favorites and allow them to exist and be useful in your kit even if you're headed toward making new things.

BTW, I've uploaded more photos of these two outfits to Facebook along with some outtakes for my Blooper Reel.

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