torsdag 23 juni 2022

A cushion for one of my benches

Camping events always makes you inspired to make more stuff for your medieval camp. And I have now made a bench cushion.

 In 2001, when I made my large tent my stepfather also helped us made a large table and benches, which has been used by both Nylöse and Gotvik, the two medieval groups that I have been member of for many years. They're very sturdy, and easy to take a part.

But it IS nicer if you have a cushion to sit on too. So when I found this embroiderd piece of fabric in a charity shop in the beginning of June I started thinking about making it into a cushion. 

The box, and the towel which you can see a little of was also from this charity shop, Erikshjälpen.

But, for something to sit on you want a sturdier stuffing than for a normal pillow, and I was thinking about what to use. Traditionally wool, cotton batting or feathers would have been a solution.

But then, while at another charity shop last week I saw all the cushions intended for outside furniture, and realized that the easiest way was to take one of those, cut it down, and use it.

And luckily, this Wednesday at Mölndal's second hand I found one that already was the right size.

Since ti would be stupid to have the emboridered fabric all around the cushion - after all the underside gets worn, I used another charity shop find: handwoven flax tow yarn twill, from Lindra Wieselgren.

And here is the finished project, on top of a chest, because the benches are down in the storage, and taken apart, and that would be just too much work just to take a photo,

lördag 18 juni 2022

Apprentice number two

 So, after much thinking, I decided just before I went to Double Wars, to ask my friend Alfhild de Foxley if she wanted to be my apprentice. 

This photo is from the Barony of Gotvik's picnic today, showing us together. Like Branna Alfhild got a painted glass with my badge on it, in the same style as mine, and with her heraldic device on it. 
And she also got a green belt. The leather belt was a gift from my Mistress, Mistress Helwig, upon my Laurelling, and the I bought the pewter buckle and belt end from my frist apprentice, Branna's shop, at Double Wars. This is also the first time I've fitted a buckle and belt end to leather - as they say in Swedish: You learn as long as you have students.

As with Branna, my first apprentice, I didn't, and still don't really know what and how much I can give to an apprentice, with my exhaustion and general bad health. But it appears that both my apprentices want the same thing: help to do more research and scholarly writing, which at least is something that I am good at.

So, overcoming my feeling of inadequacy, I have now asked two talented people, and two friends, to be my apprentices. And both of them said yes. Well, Branna asked me first, but that was years ago, and she could have changed her mind. 

A Laurel-apprentice relationship can take many forms. When I was apprenticed to my Mistress Helwig it was most of all a way to bind us together closer in our friendship. I don't live close enough to her to learn tailoring skills, and research I could already do. It was a way of formalizing the closeness that we've felt since we first met, many years ago,

I think that that is one of the things  that Alfhild's and mine Laurel-apprenticeship is about too. We already do lots of projects together, including holding all A&S meetings and courses in Gotvik. We are not exactly in the same field,  though overlapping, but we support and inspire each other. And as her Mistress I give her a place in my household, a plays where she belongs, where she is home. While she lives further away I hope that I can be that for Branna too in some sense.

This photo taken by Margareta Arvidsdotter is an excellent one of me and Alfhild - always talking about different medieval and early modern material culture, and things that we want to make.

tisdag 7 juni 2022

The Cocharelli project

 Since a couple of years I have realized that I am not satisfied with making one dress inspired by this wonderful 1330s illumination from Genoa, now at Cleveland Museum of Art - I want to make them all!

Finding striped brocade is very, very hard, so for a first attempt at the red and gold outfit in the bottom centre, I had to settle for much less bold colours. 

More about that outfit here.

But I have now also made the blue, more normal, blue outfit. It is made from blue silk, unlined cotte, and the surcoat lined with silver grey silk. of course, after buying all that silk to line the dress, and lining it, I realized that the blue gown actually isn't lined. Typical North European mistake. Because it looks like dress north of the Alps, I assumed that it would be lined. Well, it will be warmer, which can be nice.

Next on my list is the white outfit. I will probably use fine cotton, which was a known luxury fabric imported from the Muslim East (unlike half cottons or coarser Italian cottons). I also have lot of gold trim to use. However,  this trim bleeds when wet, and a white gown will need to be frequently laundered. I will have to think about that.

torsdag 2 juni 2022

My apprentice

 Since it was Double Wars last week I finally got to meet my apprentice Branna - more known as Linda from Handcrafted History in the physical world, and give her the green belt that I was given by my mistress, Mistress Helwig. I had also painted a glass for her. It has my badge on it - the antler with with flowers on each tine - just like my own glasses, and a similar design, to symbolize that she now belongs to my family, but also a raven, which is what her SCA name means.

This is her, with the belt and glass, taken inside my tent the day I arrived. There was also Rotkäppchen, nice German bubbly.

I look forward to many more intellectual, craft-y, and entertaining moments in the future.

måndag 30 maj 2022

A 15th century Italian gown from a vintage sari

A year ago, or so, my friend Caroline and I bought a bunch of used saris on eBay. I made "modern" clothing from one of them, and I still have two left that may become Regency gowns, or possibly something 1920s. But this one, which has silver flowers on green, just like my SCA device, definitely had to become something from within the SCA-period.

I wanted to use the border for the bottom of the skirt, so I had to piece the skirt at the top. I also wanted the silver borders in front of the bodice, which, as you see, is worn slightly open. This took some patterning, but luckily there is so much fabric in a sari, that I had some to play with. The sleeves are made from the pallu, so thay have much more silver in them than the rest of the gown.
The bodice has twio layers of sturdy thrifted linen bed sheet as lining/interlining, and a pice of hemp cord is stitched to the fron edges to keep them straight.

Since the silk is really sheer, way too sheer for this type of gown, I also had to make a new camicia to wear under it. I usually make my camiciae calf lenght, but this oen needed to be long enough so that you didn't see my legs through the skirt. This one is made from thin cotton, but normally they would have been linen,

Under the camicia I have another shift, with a tight bodice from two layers of linen, and laced in the side, to keep my boobs in place.

These photos were taken just before court on Tuesday night at Double Wars, a big camping event in the SCA kingdom of Drachenwald. I also took a close-up of my hair etc, when I was back in my tent.

I braided a scarf-like piece of fabric into my hair, and then tied a silk ribbon with small metal leaves sewn on, that symbolises the Order of the Laurel, and which I made just before Double Wars. It si multi-period, which is nice. The leaves are from a necklace that I got a women's clothes shop.

söndag 17 april 2022

A new woollen bedspread

 I am a very entusiastic medieval camper, and I want everyting in my tent to look - if not perfectly medieval, then at least, not modern.Fur lined bedspreads were popular in teh Middle Ages, I found quite a lot of them in Swedish wills when I did the research for my PhD. So of course I had to make one. That was maybe 20 years ago, but it's still going strong. It's made from fulled wool, and lined with faux fur, and it features the heraldic devices of me and my husband.

Here modeled on our bed at home.

And in the tent.

However, this year hubby isn't coming with me to Double Wars, and I might not even be able to get my tent down there. If I can't brign ti I will share a tent with at least one other person, so I am now working on ways to create a little space of my own.
I have plenty of curtains, as can be seen, and I will hopefully bring one of my chests. But I won't bring my 120 cm wide bed. Instead I will have a narrow modern camp bed (you can see it in the photo where I'm lying on the bed) and a horsehair mattress. And then the red and yellow bedspread will definitely be too big.

By chance I had just been gifted some fulled wool from my sister, which was too little for a gown, but just perfect for a bedspread.
I had lighter green wool leftovers from making a skirt and jacket to wear with my folk costume, and some white wool from a dress I made for my eldest daughter in 2015.

It was quick work actually, the owl and the flowers on the shield were sewn  mostly during an oneline swing meeting for Drachenwald.

Then last Thursday, at the Barony of Gotvik's sewing meeting I embroidered the contours  of the owl with linen yarn in split stitch, sewed the shield to the darker green wool, and outlined it with a grey cord, and, finally cut out plenty of wool flowers to spread over the bedspread.

Then the next day I was off from work, since it was Good Friday, so with help from my cats I sewed all the flowers to the green wool, while enjoying the sunshine on my balcony.

The same evening I cut the fur (more like teddybear fabric) lining, which is made from 80 % wool, so much nice than the all plastic fake fur, even if it doesn't look as pretty. It actually looks quite a lot like the woven shaggy pile known both from medeival Ireland and Iceland.

Since fake furis horrible to sew I wanted to pin the two layers together very carefully before stitching them, rightside to right side on machine. Unfortunately it was WAY too much fun to walk and jump on the green wool with fur under it, so I ended up having to shut the cats into a bedroom to be able to do the pinning.

Saturday I sewed it all together, and with this fur fabric it actually wasn't hell at all, it went quite smoothly. I turned it so teh rigth sides came out and sewed the opening shut by hand - and by that time the sun had moved to the other side of the house, so I really needed it on the balcony.

I will be so warm and comfortable at Double Wars.

onsdag 16 februari 2022

Knitting a 14th century Acorn cap

By Mesterinne Aleydis van Vilvoorde/Eva Andersson

This cap is inspired by 14th century Italian art, where you sometimes see both women and men wearing small skull caps. One example, shown below is the Birth of the Virgin by the Master of the Ashmolean Predella c 1365-137

Photos by user Sailko on Wikimedia Commons, reproduced according to the Creative Commons terms (CC BY_SA3.0)  

You can see a much better quality image on the Ashmolean web site.

While we do not know if these caps were sewn from fabric, felted, knit, or made by some other technique like sprang, knitting is a plausible interpretation; given both how they look, and the fact that guilds for knitters of caps and gloves were present in many European countries in the 14th century ( Turnau, Irena, History of knitting before mass production, Akcent, Warszawa, 1991, pp 20-23)

Yarn and needles

I used 2 play sport weight wool yarn from Kampes (300 m/100 grams or 328 yd/3.53 ounces), a Swedish spinnery, but any non superwash wool yarn can of course be used. Since it is important that you will be able to felt it a little, superwash will not work. There are yarns specially made for felting, but I used what I had at home. Felting will shrink the cap, depending on how much you felt it.

I used a 2,5 mm (US 1 ½) cable needle, and when the decreases made the cable needle too large, 2,5 mm double pointed needles. Magic loop is of course also an option, in which case you won’t need the DPNs except for the I-cord in the end. 


Cast on 136 stitches

Join, mark the start of the row with a marker, and knit until the cap has a height of 6 cm.

Next row:

Knit 15 stitches, knit two together, repeat until the end of the row

Knit 3 rows

Knit 7 stitches, knit two together, knit 14 stitches, knit two together, repeat, ending with knit 7 at the end of the row.

Knit 3 rows

Knit 13 stitches, knit two together, repeat until the end of the row

Knit 3 rows

Knit 6 stitches, knit two together, knit 12 stitches, knit two together, repeat, ending with knit 6 at the end of the row.

Knit 2 rows

Knit 11 stitches, knit two together, repeat until the end of the row

Knit 2 rows

Knit 5 stitches, knit two together, knit 10 stitches, knit two together, repeat, ending with knit 5 at the end of the row.

Knit 1 row

Knit 9 stitches, knit two together, repeat until the end of the row

Knit 1 row

Knit 4 stitches, knit two together, knit 8 stitches, knit two together, repeat, ending with knit 4 at the end of the row.

Knit 7 stitches, knit two together, repeat until the end of the row

Knit 1 row

Knit 3 stitches, knit two together, knit 6 stitches, knit two together, repeat, ending with knit 3 at the end of the row.

Knit 1 row

Knit 5 stitches, knit two together, repeat until the end of the row

Knit 1 row

Knit 2 stitches, knit two together, repeat until the end of the row

Knit 1 row

Knit 2 stitches, knit two together, repeat until the end of the row

Knit 1 row

Knit 2 stitches, knit two together, repeat until the end of the row

Knit 1 row

Knit 1 stitch, knit two together, repeat until the end of the row

Knit 1 row

Knit two together, repeat until the end of the row

Knit 1 row

Knit 1 stitch, knit two together, repeat until the end of the row = 4 stitches

Move the 4 stitches to one DPN, make an I-cord c. 2-3 cm long.

Making the I-cord

Knit all stitches.

Slide the stitches back to the beginning of the DPN.

Bring your yarn around the back and start knitting again. Make sure to pull the first stitch tightly, drawing the loop closed.

Cast off and weave in the ends with a darning needle.

If you sometimes end up with extra stitches by the end of a row, just keep going, it will probably end up right in the end, otherwise just make a decrease during one of the knit rows and it will all work out.

This is how my cap looked just off the needles.

Felting and shaping

Fill a basin with hot water with soap (I use såpa, a liquid Swedish soap) an put the cap in it. Let the cap soak up the water and pull it to even the tension of the stitches.

I use my feet to felt the cap, but you can also use your hands of course – kneading and rubbing the knit fabric to make the wool fibres lock together. You can also wash the cap in the machine, but then you, of course, have much less control of the felting process.

When you have felted the cap as much as you like, you shape it - I used an upturned bowl that I let it dry over.