Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Oh Gosh

I thought December would be quiet this year and I'd have a chance to catch up on things, but it seems it's been anything but. The proximity of my plans for the first quarter of next year has come crashing in on me, and I've found myself flitting from one thing to the next in order to keep track of them all. So while I've been doing lots, I don't really have anything in a polished condition to show off at the moment. So instead I thought I'd do a review of some of the projects I'm hoping to get to next year.

The Dreamstress has announced the challenges for the Historic Sew Monthly 2016, and I'm very tempted to push myself to complete something for every month this year. That involves more planning than I usually put myself to for my sewing schedule, but there's no harm in trying. 
Of course there's still the Mistress of the Wardrobe position to contend with. That and other SCA commitments will take up quite a bit of my time, but there's no reason I can't combine some of these with the above challenges. My personal SCA sewing is on a temporary hiatus at the moment. While I'm happy with my Hedeby reconstruction (allowing for the few bits that still need to be finished), I'm not happy with my current level of knowledge regarding my Italian costume, so 2016 will mostly be a study year for that

Beloved Coopershill is upon us again! I've organised a sewing weekend in January, and have purchased a couple of patterns to work on that weekend. I'm trying to be conservative in my plans so I can actually get a new outfit completed (the current outfit has already been worn two years running! I simply have to have something new, or I'll end up the scandal sheets! Though nothing will bring me to replacing my evening ensemble!). I would like to make a natural form gown at some point, and an 18th century ensemble, but those will have to wait for another time.

And finally, I've decided at last to dip my toes into the waters of cosplay. This one doesn't really have a set schedule; I've picked out my first costume, and I've started accumulating bits, but it'll be done and worn when it's good and ready and not a moment before. 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

30 Days of Yarn

So the month went quiet, as November is wont to be, but I achieved my goal of spinning for almost every day of the month. And this is what I came out with:

The yarns, from left to right are:
1 - 183 metres of sports weight Merino Silk (80/20), 2 ply. On this one, I didn't spin the two halves of the fibre bundle evenly, and ended up with an odd piece of single that I chain plyed and later knit up into a little pouch, which needs to be blocked before it can be shown off.
2 - 142 metres of worsted weight merino, 2 ply. My first blending experiment this. The skein doesn't show off the transition too well, but I'm hoping the gradation will be there when I knit it up.
3 - 178 fingering weight merino, 2 ply. The second blending experiment. Again, I'm hoping this one will show off it's shine when it's knit up.
4 - And finally, 178 metres of merino, chain plyed. This one gives me hope that I might yet be able to spin up yarn fine enough and well enough to make my own handspun socks![1]

The only problem I have with all of the yarns I've made above is that they all seem to want to be cowls. I'm really not sure I need that many scarf-type-object, but who am I to disagree with the fibre? 

[1] Having reconsidered how much effort is involved in a sheep to garment project, I'm starting to think socks would be an acceptable finished garment.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

30 days of spinning - week one

 So after the first week of the challenge, how's it been going? Quite well actually.

I finished the spinning on my Ashford Sliver, and learned a valuable lesson in splitting and spinning one's fibre evenly.  I imagine what happened here was that I was still getting used to the wheel, and ended up with uneven tension on each bobbin.

The finished 2-ply skein is approximately 180m of soft yumminess - I'm planning on making a cowl for myself with this so I can show it off.

The remained didn't go to waste though. Following a suggestion from Constanza, I tried chain plying the leftover single. There was much cursing and stomping of feet, but I finally yielded up about 35m of chain plyed yarn.. which I of course forgot to take a picture of.

The next project I had ready to go. I had a couple of colours of Bronte Glen Merino, and I wanted to try my hand at blending the colours to make a graduated yarn. My increments were 100% steel blue, 75% blue 25% white, 50% blue and white, 25% blue 75% white and 100% white, which I weighted out and combed to blend. I span each colour segment completely before moving on to the next, hoping this would keep the colour distribution even, and I think I got a little closer to being spot on in my plying.

This came out as a lovely springy worsted weight yarn, approx. 142 meters, though I haven't decided what I'm going to do with it yet.

And there may also have been a bun cake interlude. Because all this spinning is hungry work...

Sunday, 1 November 2015

November's 30 day challenge

November is always a busy month for me because of the day job, and this year it started early, so I haven't managed to get back to finishing off my Hedeby dress yet. I can anticipate late nights and increased stress levels as the month goes on, so I'm going to need something to keep my going in the craft department.

So that's where this month's 30 day challenge comes in. Inspired by the crafting of some of my friends over the past month, I'm going to try to do a little spinning, either spindle or wheel based, every day in November.

I have a fairly modest stash (though I've just realised I'm missing my Drachenwald A&S exchange fibre from the above picture), which Suzie has duly inspected for me to ensure quality.

In this picture, the front row has 7 silk tops from Oliver Twists, picked up from over the years at the Knitting and Stitching show. The second row has four 100g portions of Bronte Glen Merino, picked up at last years K&S show. On the far left of the middle row is an Ashford merino-silk sliver, which has already been half spun into the bobbin above, and one of my main goals with the spinning, is to complete the other half and to ply it up. The back row has on the left, another Oliver Twists silk top, which I've started spindle spinning, a Malabrigo Yarn fibre in Nube, and some scoured Gotland fibre gifted to me by Constanza last Raglan, which Suzie is very fond of. I've technically already completed today's quota, having spun up some fresh Gotland yarn, but a little more spinning won't hurt.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Hedeby Apron Dress

I didn't get the dress completely finished for event, but it was done enough to be wearable, and my hopes are high that there'll be another Norse themed event next year to showcase all the features I didn't get done in time.

In the end, I made my dress almost exactly as I'd cut Órlaith's. I did look into cutting my main panels in a A-line shape as per the Hedeby fragment, but the difference between my bust and hip measurements was so slight, I didn't feel it would have added anything to the dress.

My vague look of annoyance in the third picture was when I was questioning Órlaith if she was really going to keep taking pictures of me while I was adjusting my costume. She gleefully replied in the affirmative, and kept snapping. sigh

But this is my almost finished dress. The seams of the dress need to be sewn down, and I'm currently spinning up some scoured Gotland fibres for that job, and I didn't have time to place the darts and trim onto the back. The top of the dress was hemmed with a herringbone stitch, made from the inside to add a little give to the hem, and when trimmed with the tablet weave from my barter with Catherine Weaver of Thamesreach, was invisible from the outside. The belt is also made by Catherine Weaver, but was gifted to me by Baroness Caitríona, back when I had no intention of going Viking *ahem*. The brooches and hair pin were purchased from Pera Peris.

As Crown Princess Isabel of Drachenwald was in attendance at the event and rumours were heard of court to be held, I wanted my garb to have a "day" look as well as an "formal" look. I figured while beads and jewellery, while all well and good, would get in the way during day time chores, so I omitted the beads for during the day and wore the belt which will eventually have a great number of items suspended from it; for the moment my site token looks all lonely hanging there.

The formal look shows off the shaping around the waist much better without the best in place. One of my biggest surprises with this dress was that as I had decided not to wear modern underwear with it, there was still a surprising amount of support from the fit of the apron dress. And speaking of underwear, I've seen conflicting accounts speculating whether Norse women would have worn anything under their dresses. An unseasonally warm October weekend doesn't give the best of testing conditions, but a boat trip on Sunday morning over Lough Ree confirmed that you'd have to be crazy to not have something on underneath when the harder weather comes on. So a pair of simple trousers will be added to be sewing list for this outfit.

Overall I'm very pleased with this outfit. I think it looks well on me and the fit keeps the dress close to my body without tangling my legs. I was only really chilled on my arms and shoulders, where I only had one layer of linen to keep me warm, thought getting to work on a kaftan to wear while outdoors should sort that out. Given that we don't have enough of the dress fragments to have a single "correct" look, I feel confident that my interpretation is a good one; when I get it completed that is. But with a sewing list of fun projects for this costume as long as my arm, I've no fear of it not being seen through. 

As it happened, it was a good thing I'd planned for a formal look to my dress too. While I was at the event, HRH Isabel invited me to become her Mistress of the Wardrobe for the coming reign. I was breathless! It's such an honour!. The whole Kingdom is going to be seeing my work, and I need to find ways to step up my game. 

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Bits N Pieces

This week my friend Vuirneen suggested that we take a trip to Beads N Bling, a fabulous jewellery and millinery supply store in Dublin that is sadly closing it's doors in a couple of weeks time.

There's so much I would have loved to pick up, were credit and storage capacity unlimited, so I had to content myself with a book, some trim and a few beads and things. They had such a treasure trove of a shop, I really am quite sad to see them go.  

And no, the fabric still hasn't been cut out yet.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Planning the Apron Dress

In the making of my own apron dress, I wanted to make a more fitted dress than those styles observed in the other parts of Scandinavia. As I've already mentioned, my research led me to the Danish-German settlement of Hedeby, and the evidence of darts found there. Unfortunately, when making this style of Apron Dress, there are very few hard and fast rules. Yes, there exist fragments from Hedeby, but of only one dress panel. This means any possibly re-creation of the dress is based on one's own interpretation of the finds. So here I present my thoughts on the matter.

Firstly, there is the matter of the Hedeby find. This is composed of two fragments, both of which show evidence of a dart, with trim sewn over the dart on the outside. Hägg posits this fragment as a side back piece, lining up the seams of the piece with the side and centre back lines on the body. Other re-enactors have suggested that the piece was actually a side panel, with the dart matching up to the side seam on the body. Of the two, I agree more with Hägg’s interpretation of the placement. Under the arm is a high friction area, and adding a braid to an already raised area would result in faster fabric abrasion. Now, given some of the two part-sleeves also found in Hedeby, maybe this was exactly what happened. But as the trim goes from the very top of the dress and continues the length of the dress fragment to presumably the full length of the dress, while on the found sleeve fragment the partial piece lies to the outside of the arm and away from the potential abrasion area; I don't think this is a likely arrangement. Based on this my own dress will feature darts towards the back of the dress rather than the sides. Further to this, the felted hole near the top of the fragment may have been an attachment point for straps, and placing this fragment as a side piece places this hole almost under the arm.

Going back to the apron dress find from Hedeby, the found piece we know to be a complete piece due to evidence of sewing holes at both sides, and from this we can attempt to surmise the rest of the garment. If we assume the piece was one quarter of the total dress, with a chest measurement of 64cm and a potential waistline only 15 cm below this, this gives the piece at fitting quite a small torso, and some re-enactors have speculated that this indicates the piece was originally worn by a child or young adolescent. I originally considered that this would necessitate a different cut for an adult garment, but throughout history, children seem to have been dressed in mini versions of adult clothing, so there's no reason to think this small garment can't still be used as a template. As a template in would indicate A-line shaped pieces, though the addition of gores may be required to fit this adult woman's curves. Other finds from Hedeby confirm the use of gores in items that may have been tunics or serks (underdress), but more importantly it means the style of gores was in use in the region; an important factor for how my underdress is constructed and for how I plan to make my apron dress.

So where does this leave me and how I plan to construct my own dress? I'm a great believer of conspicuous consumption in historical formal wear, even in modern wear for that matter. That is, the use of fine fabrics and accessories in a conscious display of wealth. For that reason my theory is that the front of the dress is cut in a single, unbroken piece. Although Norse looms would have regularly been able to produce quite wide fabrics as well as narrower widths[1], I believe that a smokkr, fully adorned with brooches and beads, could serve as a statement for the fineness of the fabric used for this dress. I've seen tantalising references to an "Old Norse laced dress" or "dragkyrtill", with the reference given as laz ar siþu, Falk 1919, p 158, but not being able to find any more information on this it remains a vague reference. And much as I'd love to find reason for a laced smokkr, allowing for how small the textile finds usually are, I haven't seen evidence of lacing loops or metal rings or even sewn eyelets in Norse garb. So I have to conclude, unless more information is uncovered, that the dress was semi-fitted and not laced tight.

I'll be cutting my dress more or less as Órlaith's was cut; that is as a central front piece, two back pieces and including side and back gores for width and swish. As I haven't her height, I'll be cutting my pieces a little wider, more in the A shape and bringing the apron dress to mid-calf, rather than full length, so as to show off the hem of the underdress. Hmm, guess I can't put off the cutting any longer.

[1] - Medieval Scandinavia: An Encyclopedia  By Phillip Pulsiano, Kirsten Wolf

Monday, 28 September 2015

First Dress Experiments

Among the other projects I was involved with at the Garb Weekend, one was an experimental project with Lady Órlaith.
At this point, I was just starting to agonise about how to construct the Hedeby Apron Dress based on the few fragments found, when Lady Órlaith, also seeking help, volunteered herself and her fabric as test subjects. We had a brief discussion about my ideas so far, and she agreed happily to the one I wanted to try. Handing over her beautiful jade green linen, I snipped it into a one piece front panel, and two back panels, pinned it, and handed it back for sewing. Darts in the back panels and hip-length gores in the back and sides swiftly followed, all sewn up by Órlaith. Truly this was the best of partnerships, with each of us feeling that we'd gotten the better end of the deal.
The finished dress is a fitted linen sheath, shaped to the hip, and flaring out thanks to the gores and is almost completely self-supporting even before the straps are added. Unfortunately, I misread some of the Hedeby information, so the darts lie to the inside as per the modern aesthetic, rather than the outside of the dress. The lady herself seemed utterly delighted with it, for all that it was, in my mind, full of "first dress mistakes". Truly it was very generous of her to allow me to experiment on the dress that she'll be wearing. 

The final effect this experiment had for me was to set my mind down the path it needed to go to consider the Hedeby dress. I've seen various reenactor versions featuring 3, 4 or even 5 panels, and arguments against each. And there being no final say which one is correct, I needed to make up my mind how I was going to attempt my own final version, and I'll cover my thoughts on that in my next post.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Finished(ish) Hedeby Underdress

At the Garb Workshop hosted by Dun in Mara last weekend, I had thought since no-one had requested my aid, that I'd be able to spend the weekend concentrating on my own stuff. But three impromptu classes and a whole lot of sewing and cutting advice later, I still managed to I made respectable progress on my Hedeby Norse costume.
It's amazing how much focus a room full of like minded people with similar tasks to hand can provide the drive needed to get moving on a project. For me this involved winning the fight I'd been having with the dress gores, drafting a sleeve pattern and setting them, and finishing the neckline. I had a bit of a Moment when cutting the sleeves and managed to cut them without seam allowance. Given that fabric was short, I decided to cut some gores from the scraps and added these at the top and bottom of the sleeves, reasoning that even this would have been more reasonable in period than scraping the whole thing. I had been concerned previously that the dress would end up too short, but the hem just overlaps the top of my najlbound socks slightly, so it's worked out rather nicely. Overall I'm rather happy with how this is coming along. I believe my construction is reasonably accurate, and it's a very comfortable garment to wear. 

The final underdress has some slight shaping on the torso to make it a little more fitted; with an hourglass figure there's only so much fitting you can do if you still want the dress to pull off over the head without any additional openings. The dress has side gores to the waist line and front and back gores to the hip line. The hem at the wrist and end of the dress was cut on the fabric selvage to minimise work with hemming, though this is my own invention. I haven't seen any evidence to support the idea, but I can see no reason why they wouldn't have done it if they could. The sleeves are gored to make up for my earlier mistake, and are fitted as per the Hedeby finds, though apart from the last minute gores, I decided to cut the sleeve as a single piece, so without the secondary piece seen in the Hedeby sleeve finds. Similarly, the neckline is a shallow scoop shape found to be particular to Hedeby rather than the keyhole shaping found in other towns. If I'd used a wool I may have been able to get a better fit, but given my fabric restrictions, I think it's turned out well. The arms and side gores still need to be felled, but if I run short on time, I at least have a wearable garment for the event.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Norse Socks

Progress, of sorts!

I have the first part of my Norse outfit completed; a pair of najlbound socks. I started these just after Raglan, while the post-event energy was still low, but I wanted something to play with. Having attended Mistress Rogned's class on Roman style najlbinding, and having made many pairs of socks before, I dove straight into making a pair for my first najlbinding project.

Oh my, I learned a lot in making these. The socks are currently a little loose around the ball of my foot, but fit comfortably on the rest of the foot. I'm not too worried about that, as having worked with this yarn before, Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted, I know it's fond of felting when it's in heavy use, so I expect with time and wear these will become a much snugger fit. 

I found documentation supporting Norse women's socks coming just over the ankle, or having a gap in front to allow the sock to be pulled on. As I didn't want to end up with yet another quarter ball of yarn hanging about, I just kept going until I ran out of yarn. Who would've thought it was possible to get a whole pair of socks out of a single ball of worsted weight yarn! And they're so soft, and think and cosy. Even if they don't end up being worn for the even, they're going to make a fantastic pair of winter socks for round the house.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Norse Underdress

Unfortunately my garb making has not been going as well as I'd hope this month. I had originally hoped to have my underdress done by the garb workshop this coming weekend (not a hope), and be able to work on the apron dress there. But as you can tell from the picture, weellll....  I'm a fair bit off from finished.

To make my Norse under dress, I'm using the information from this previous shared link, specifically the couple of paragraphs on the Hedeby/Haithabu finds. This page shows a possible layout for a Hedeby style underdress based on finds.  I've come across various cutting diagrams for Norse style underdresses in my searches, but I find it very hard to believe that a dress where every square inch of fabric had to have spun and woven, would have been cut with large waste pieces. So to this end I've been making this up so far by using a rectangle system of fabric cutting to use the fabric as efficiently as possible.


If you'll forgive my dodgy paint skills, I've made up a basic, if wonky diagram of how I cut out my pieces.
  • The front and back pieces are half the width of my hips, plus seam allowance, and the length is the full width of the fabric, so it may be a little short when worn.
  • The width of the fabric halved is longer then my arm length, so I cut a strip of fabric which is measured at my bicep, plus seam allowance, to become my sleeves.
  • Lastly, I folded the remaining fabric in half, and cut out my gores, measured from my wasit to the hem of the dress, so I'd get the maximum width possible for bottom hem. Gore pieces 1 and 2 will be the side goes, while gore pieces 3, 4a and 4b will be shortened slightly, and become the front and back gores. Gore 4 will have a central seam to join the two pieces, and because of this will be place in the back.

This is the diagram of the fabric as adapted for the width and amount I had, and my own body shape, but it really is worth measuring and adapting these kinds of layouts to your own shape in order to get the best of your fabric usage. This isn't necessarily the most period method of construction, especially as modern fabrics are generally a lot wider then pre-industrial ones, but it's efficient. This has left me with a small amount of leftover linen that is destined to become a hat trimmed with white rabbit fur - in keeping with the colour scheme.

Ah yes, the colour scheme. While I've been endeavouring to ensure the correct shape for my garments, my fabric selections are a little less realistic. Partly due to the fabric being what I had available, and partly due to the required Shenanigans colour scheme, I have a purple linen for the underdress, where an undyed linen was more likely in period, allowing for the few samples that seem to contain traces of blue or brown dyes. And for apron dress, I have a thick cream fluffy fabric, which a burn test concludes is mostly cotton, but which could conceivably fool the man on the galloping horse into thinking it's a wool from a distance.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015


My dress is progressing slower than I'd like at the moment, so I thought I'd post about my bready experiments instead. At the upcoming Norse event, the feast will be a potluck, with a simple system to tell attended what they should bring for a good variety on the day; my item was bread. So I got it into my head to try a vaguely period recipe.

Given that sourdough has been around in one form or another for several centuries, I decided to try that. I used the Paul Hollywood organic grapes recipe to make up my starter, and the hardest part of getting that going was trying to find somewhere to sell organic grapes. I learned since that any organic fruit of veg that tends to develop a white film can be used to seed the starter with wild yeast, but having spare grapes to snack on was no hardship. It took about a week to properly dial in on the recipe, to get the water temperature and flour quantities right, but my starter seems very happy with me at the moment, with a scent that varies between natural yoghurt and home-brewed beer. I don't follow exactly the feeding measurements given in the recipe above. I vary my flour and water quantities on any given day to keep the mixture at a thick batter consistency.

After the requisite four day start up time, I started using the "discard" in the Classic Sourdough recipe to make up my loaves. I brought two loaves down to CoLD with me, where they were promptly devoured, and I got many compliments on the flavour and tang of the bread. My oven is a little on the old side so my loaves are coming out a little dark. I almost have my cooking time perfected.. maybe just a little more work so they come out golden rather than mahogany...

But uplifted by the reception at CoLD, I decided to try and a little experimentation, and sought out some sweet flavours to try. The white chocolate & raspberry loaf was again one of Paul Hollywood's recipes, though the walnut & apricot and the chocolate & berry loaves were my own inventions, taking the basic classic sourdough recipe and adding the extras. The chocolate loaf also has some added dried yeast, as the cocoa can inhibit the natural yeast and sometimes a booster is needed. I think I may have added the fruit too soon in the kneading step, and this has resulted in a rippled effect, most noticeable in the white chocolate & raspberry loaf.

Overall this is a really interesting experience. Though I love baking, I rarely do it everyday, but now that I have the starter stable, and am using it roughly every second day, it means I'm baking enough to really dial in on what the starter and the bread dough need to come out perfect. Clearly there's more science to be done.. tasty, tasty science...

Monday, 7 September 2015

The New Champion

This weekend just gone saw my shire of Dun in Mara host the Champions of Lough Devnaree event, and as, at the time, current A&S champion, the A&S competition to decide my successor.

The competition format I decided on drew from the Drachenwald Kingdom artisan competition. I invited the artisans of the isle to enter as many entries they wanted in as many categories as they liked, and the winner of each category would receive a prize, with the person with the best average score overall becoming the new A&S champion.

There was such a wonderful response! I had enquires about entries and format, but unfortunately, some people ran out of time. But there were a total of twelve entries covering six of the categories! And the quality of these entries were wonderfully high, and their scope varied. I had many wonderful judges to help me review the items, and it was a close run thing; I would not have been able to call the winner before the numbers were totted up. I felt almost more nervous than last year, when I was competing, but I was delighted to name Lady Órlaith as my successor with her many wonderful entries, and I look forward to seeing what competition she comes up with next year.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Dressform Adjusting

I started my 30-day challenge in a bit of a round about way.

With wanting to base my Norse dress on the Hedeby tailored look, there's going to be a lot of fitting involved, and trying to fit a dress onto one's own form can be an exercise in sheer frustration. I do have an adjustable dressmakers form, but it was bought so long ago that even at it's greatest extension, it can't match the curves I sport these days. So changed had to be made.

I picked up a couple of metres of 4ox batting from my local fabric store, and got to work sewing it on in layers until it matched, or was close enough to, my current measurements. And then I applied a bit of trickery.

The half finished form, you may notice, is a bit flat on front. I was concerned you see, seeing as I do several different eras of costume, how adjustable something stiff like a batting stuff bra might be on the form. So I opted to follow an idea of American Duchess's, and installed bean boobs!

I used about 1.5kg of pearl barley as I had it to hand already for a leather working project, and an old pair of tights from an old costume, and voilà, adjustable boobs!

To finish, I slipped a cheap t-shirt over the top to help everything stay in place and make the batting a little more resilient to pin-abuse. And now that I have a dress form that's a curvy shortarse just like me,  I'll finally be able to get on with all those draped projects I've wanted to do!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Norse Shenanigans

When I first set out to make myself a set of Norse garb, I said to myself that this would be a throw away project; I was going to make something that had the look, but I was not going to put time and effort and research into it, because damnit, I didn't have any... and here's what I found so far...
I didn't have time for original research, drawing my own conclusions from finds, but there's a hell of a lot of information available as it is. Firstly, and unsurprisingly, there are many different flavours of Norse wear. Between Hibernian-Norse, Saxon-Norse and the many flavours of Scandinavian Norse, each has it's own subtle differences that lends each a unique look, once you know what you're looking for. I already knew that with the fabrics I had available for this project, I wanted an underdress with apron dress arrangement, so I wanted to look for something that matched what I had in mind, and see how much project adjustment would be needed to get it right. 

This site came in very handy for that. Unfortunately many of the links on that site are broken, but if you have an idea of what you're looking for in Scandinavian Norse garb, it's still a very handy reference tool to compare the list of your ideas with the commonly worn garb from each settlement. From this, and from other sites I happened across, I initially thought I was leaning towards a Birka style garment, specifically the more fitted apron dresses of the 10th century. 

That was until I read this article from Tournaments Illuminated 186 about garments from Hedby, which seemingly had a much more fitted apron dress or smokkr through the use of tailoring, than the smokkr worn at other settlements. Another article,Viking Women: Aprondress By Hilde Thunem also compared the Birka and Hedby style smokkr's, while going into great detail regarding grave finds, so I was able to conclude I was on the right track for what I wanted to achieve. In mundane clothing I very much prefer clothing to be fitted, or at least not loose about my midriff, so a fully tailored apron-dress sounds ideal.

So I was decided, an underdress of exact pattern yet to be determined, and a tailored Hedby style apron dress. Now, I have seen a couple of references to a third layer, that or a tunic, short or long sleeved, which went over the linen underdress, and under the apron dress. However, due to fabric constraints, I've decided to just make the two layers for the moment. The third layer I can add in later on if I come across a nice fabric. 

When it comes to constructing the underdress, it comes down to personal preference of which particular tunic you want. A friend of mine has made great progress in research into and development of the Moy Bog Dress, but I want something fairly simple. I came across a couple of articles which have various methods of underdress construction, some with styles and patterns broken down by region or era, such as: 
When it comes to the apron dresses themselves, even though I've decided on my format, I thought I'd share a couple of the links that I came across along the way.
When it comes to my own construction attempts, I'll mostly likely try a combination of my own pattern drafting, draping and the old fashioned winging it. Even though this is a new project, I'm going to start on it in the spirit of the Drachenwald 30-day challenge, where you take 30 days to learn or improve on a skill. I've never attempted Norse clothing before, and I've an event in October I hope to attend, so I'm going to use the challenge to see how much of the look I can complete within the month. Though yes, I've already been working on the najlbound socks...

Friday, 21 August 2015

Barters and Shenanigans

I'm currently testing out the wi-fi at the airport, and while I can confirm it's pretty good, the airport makes for a  lousy place to take pictures of najlbinding; at least when one is trying to take them against a sunny outside world to try and get some plane into the shot. In short though, najlbinding makes the perfect in flight project; packs up nice and small and gave no hassle getting through security. Though ask me again how perfect it is when I'm getting funny looks for the other passengers for continually trying on my sock as I work on it.

While at Raglan, I collected my half of the barter exchange, and I'm able to share that with you now.

This is a custom made piece of tablet weave, made by the wonderfully talented Catherine Weaver. She designed the pattern specifically for me and the project I'm working on, and I'm chuffed to bits with it?

Oh the project? Oh, that'd be the shenanigans you may have heard me mention previously. This is the first clue as to what's it's about. A cookie to the person who figures it out first....

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Raglan XI review

I had meant to post another prep update before I left, but after I was laid low by a viral infection and and another matter of delicate nature which persisted throughout the holiday, I counted myself lucky to have gotten almost everything done.... and I still managed to leave a few non-essentials behind. 

My Raglan this year was a primarily A&S one, as my bow ended up coming along just for the road trip. As well as being the A&S co-ordinator, I taught two classes - a two part Italian flat cap class and a Viking Wire weaving class, and took as many classes as I was able. But the A&S didn't start there!

Because, really, who can endure a three hour boat trip without something to work on? The something for me was the start of a pair of red woollen socks, made to a just post period pattern. 

I travelled this year via Holyhead, and made a trip into Abakhan for their fabric bargains. Alas, it was not a good season for linen or wool, but I picked up a piece of printed knit and some satin back dupion, which are currently whispering to me of Edwardian and Victorian visions.The printed knit is a much richer, darker emerald than the picture shows, it's just quite difficult to get it to show up properly. 

The first full day of Raglan saw my hat class, of which I had two very dedicated students... even if one kept trying to put the cut fabric on his head and declare the job a good one. 

Thought I didn't attend any classes on the Sunday, that does not mean I was idle! Having left my earrings in my tent, laziness dictated that I make new ones rather than fetch the ones left behind. These are based on earrings in a portrait I've been unable to find since, but I'll post the link when I find it. Unfortunately, the ribbons from one earring fell apart by the end of the days wear, so when I revisit this style it'll have to be with some sort of glue to keep the ribbon knots in place, while also keeping the ribbons from sliding down the bar of the earring.

The first class I attended was Short Mead in Two Parts by Asbiorn inn Eyverski, with the product of the class being drunk at the Raglan farewell on Sunday night. Quite tasty it was too. I think the rose petals did come through a little, though maybe that was my imagination; my taste buds are not that well refined on non-chocolately substances.  

On Monday I also snuck in a brief, private lesson in sprang, something I've wanted to learn for quite some time. Having purchased a frame from Jahanarabanu Vivana, she offered me yarn and instructions and I set to work. In hindsight, I really should have taken a picture while it was still on the frame. But this way I get to show you a section of sprang without multiple design features. 

Tuesday's class was Njalbinding in the Roman style by Mistress Rogned Steingrimovna. My brain quickly interpreted this as so similar to a detached buttonhole stitch, one of my favourite embroidery stitches, that I found myself tearing away at it and am now contemplating making a pair of socks for an upcoming event. 


Wednesday's class was Crewelwork Embroidery 101, taught by Baronessa Lucrezia-Isabella di Freccia. I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed this one. I often find it hard to get embroidery projects to click, but I had the sampler of this done in only two days. I missed the Baronessa's gold-work class, but I purchased a kit from her later in the week to enjoy at home. 


Thursday was another quiet day, which allowed me to finish my personalisation of the cushion I'd been gifted with for my savonarola. I used a couple of different colours of cheap cotton yarn, as this was my first attempt at tassels, and I'm quite pleased with how they turned out... until someone pointed out that the lion head mouths on the arms are drilled through, so I really should make another two to hang there...     

Friday morning I gave my Viking Wire Weaving lesson to a full class, and managed to miss Catherine Weaver's tablet-weaving class yet again. 

However, to top off a week of A&S, I found myself interrupted at the MOAS meeting, by a summons from her highness. Court was begun before I was dismissed so I waited, confused, until I was summoned by the herald to receive my Order of the Silver Marlet, the principality A&S award. The calligraphy and illumination were done by Órlaith, the images based on a 16th century Venetian panegyric - but I shall leave it to Órlaith to give you all the detail, while I admire the token, the bell, already sewn into place on my saccoccia.

Saturday was taken up in its entirety by the Coronet Tourney, meetings, more meetings, and an almost missed Investiture Court, as the heat became a little too much for me. But I returned to the court in time to see the granting of the premier Order of Luna to a very, very deserving lady, and to take my oath to the new Prince and Princess as an officer of Insulae Draconis.

There were other random bits of A&S during the week, though perhaps not period appropriate. A gift of fabric from the most wonderful of champions (which, given that she's now gifted me with this *and* poetry, means I really need to get into gear to make her a favour). A 19th century knitting pattern book which will have to come along to my next Irish Historical Costumers meet up for perusal. And my own little ceramic pot, one of which was gifted to all of the teachers at Raglan, and was my great honour to deliver them to each one.