Sunday, August 16, 2015

A dozen (or so)

Pennsic is over, for another year.  We've just barely started unpacking and putting things away- let's not speak about the laundry- but I've gotten my new fabric washed and dried.

I have no idea how many tunics I've made since we've started in the SCA.  But somehow, when it came time to pack this year, I had three (one made this summer) and Adam had two, one of which is actually a dress that I way overshot on size and he appropriated.  Through the years, all our norse stuff has been outgrown, loaned and not returned or gifted to newbies for their starter kits.  It's strange that our viking wardrobe is so scant, as we're actually Norse personas, and not Roman as we like to pretend when it's 90+ degrees out at Pennsic.

This year at war we both got our AoAs, which was very exciting.  Since we've wanted to be more involved with the SCA for awhile and this year the mill is finally in a place where we can, getting our awards at Pennsic was an awesome surprise and more incentive to get our butts to events, which will require some clothes.  And since I've been on the archery range a lot more this year, I've discovered that dresses with bare shoulders in the sun whilst trying to maneuver a wheelchair, a bow and a quiver is not a great time.  My roman dresses are nice, but trying to stay covered with a himation while shooting a bow is a comedy of errors.  At least for me.

So...tunics.  I pretty much went into Carolina Calicos and begged them to take my money in exchange for a couple yards of everything blue, green and gray in stock.  And now we have twelve tunics to be made over the next twelve months.

My pile

Adam's pile

And so I don't forget what I meant to do with the cotton threads I got at White Wolf and Phoenix for tablet woven trims:

Monday, May 25, 2015

Fort Frederick Market Faire

Finally getting around to posting our 18th century clothing from our trip to Fort Frederick Market Fair last month.  It was our first foray into American history and anything not SCA related, so it was a lot of fun to play with something completely different.

Adam made his own coat, and I did the shirt, vest and pants.  The pants gave us a little bit of trouble, as we were using a Simplicity pattern and the first try was huge on him.  He definitely had saggy diaper butt syndrome.  We had to take it in a lot.  The vest was made out of a really beautiful plaid wool he had been hiding in the stash for awhile and the pants were black wool.  We got the buttons from Jas Townsend, pewter on the vest and black horn on the pants.  The shirt is plain white linen.

His shoes we got on Amazon for less than $30.  They reek of whatever synthetic stuff they're made of, but they look pretty decent.  

His coat is entirely out of linen and he did everything himself, other than a couple minutes of help with the sewing machine and figuring out the pattern. The pattern was not very well written.

My stuff was a bit more complicated.  I started with the stays and even made a muslin out of duck cloth and tried it all on and made adjustments.  The only problem was that my muslin lacked the bones.  I didn't think it'd be a big deal at the time, but because of my spinal cord injury, my core is very weak.  The corset supported me, but when I was sitting up properly in it, I was stretched taller than I can accomplish otherwise.  So it was too big on me.  Not a huge amount, but enough it wasn't supportive anymore.  I honestly tried to make a new set of stays with two weeks left to go, but they didn't get finished in time.  I ended up making a bed jacket instead and wearing it without stays, which I think was both period accurate and not.  As a married middle class woman, I wouldn't have been traipsing about without my proper undergarments in public.  However, being wheelchair bound,  I probably would have been considered an "invalid" and thus it might have been more socially acceptable.  

The jacket is made from a Waverly upholstery cotton, lined with linen.  The trim was dark green ribbon I got at Walmart for 10 cents and ruffled and then stitched down the light green satin ribbon in the center.  My chemise is cotton.  There are two skirts, one cream and one red, both out of linen.  

I really liked how it came together, but here's the downside.  It was freezing.  It was barely 50 degrees with a lot of wind, so I was very very cold. I had planned on late spring in Maryland and assumed it would have been just a bit warmer.  I bought the hand warmers out of desperation!  So maybe next year my dress will be wool.  And have long sleeves.  

My shoes came from Fugawee.  I went about a size and a half too big, because I wanted to be able to wear warm socks with them (which I wish I had thought to bring).  They're actually pretty comfortable, but I'm not walking in them, so I'm not a great judge.  But it was a lot of fun and we're excited to go back next year.  

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Winter Hat

This was a relatively quick and fun project.  The hat is made with cream wool and lined with wool.  The trim is a bit of fox fur that I got from Pennsic.  

The pattern was the hardest part to figure out, because the first two mock ups were a little small.  The final project is still a bit snug, but doable, mostly because it fit the fur exactly and I didn't want to cut up a new one for a single inch of trim.

My embroidery (clearly not my forte) was done in a single ply of Icelandic wool that was left over from the mill.  The single ply presented problems because it wanted to keep untwisting, but it (mostly) did the job.   

Friday, October 31, 2014

Rus Norse

This is the outfit that I constructed for Fasching this weekend, by layer.

The under tunic- made out of cream lightweight linen

Dress:  Green medium weight linen with bands of silk dupioni and inkle trim.

The silk was hand stitched into place and the trim was laid over top.  

The coat is heavy weight navy blue wool with a cream linen lining.  The mantle and cuffs are shaved beaver, which I got at Pennsic this year.  The trim is inkle woven from Forbidden Apple Presses.  Eventually I want to get some wider trim of the same color and pattern for the bottom.

Sewing the fur was a huge pain, and I was lucky.  Adam's great grandfather was an incredibly talented tailor and did a lot of work with furs, and Adam inherited some of his tools.  His furrier's knife was incredibly helpful at cutting the leather without making bare spots in the fur.

The Jewelry:  The beads all came from Fire Mountain Gems.  I got a couple assortment packs of glass beads to play with, since there is a huge variety in the colors and patterns on Viking beads.  This is a great resource to help figure out the types and amounts of different beads to create jewelry that's visually "correct."  There's a lot about the clothing and accessories that we don't know, and a lot of liberties are taken, but it's nice to have the existing research broken down in a way that's easy to understand.  The lunula came from Nord Emporium and is strung with amber beads.  The pin is Adam's and came from Raymond's Quiet Press.

Temple band a rings.  The band is just a bit of trim; the rings are jewelry findings.  They don't carry the same weight as some of the really beautiful hand crafted temple rings out there, but they were also only $16 for all six.  

So tomorrow everything gets a trial run and hopefully I can get some pictures of it on an actual body.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


So I started this year's IRCC with the best of intentions, like all projects.  But halfway through July, when I hadn't sewn anything and all my time was being eaten up with mill work because all Adam's time was being eaten up building a house trailer for Pennsic, I started to have my doubts.  When I realized that as soon as I got back from Pennsic, we had a fiber festival to prepare for and I was tired of being stressed... I quit.  Sewing should be fun, not that nightmarish thing you dread.  I save that for trips to the dentist and getting bloodwork done.

But now the festival is done and over and we have Fasching coming up this weekend.  And the weather is supposed to be about 34 degrees, so my normal Pennsic garb of Roman chitons is not going to cut it.  And while I have a decent amount of generic Norse stuff, I had fabric set aside for some nicer winter clothes.  So I've been busy making dresses, jewelry and a coat.  Hopefully with pictures to come.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Quick Update

The yarn is finished spinning and is skeined.  I got half of it mordanted and dyed with osage orange and logwood purple.  The other half is waiting for indigo and lac.

And my chemise is done.  Not a very exciting part of the project, as it's a pretty basic camicia.  The sleeves are extra long so hopefully they'll poof through the gown sleeves nicely.  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A bit of yarn

So my very plain camicia is actually done, but the bigger project of this week was getting the yarn to make the knitted stockings.  I know that the holy grail of Italian knit socks is Eleanor of Toledo's burial stockings, but knitting has been depicted in art since 1345.  Given that people have been applying the fiber arts to footwear since at least the fourth century, I don't think it's a huge stretch to assume that humanity didn't just suddenly start knitting socks in the year or two prior to Eleanor's unfortunate demise and she happened to be buried with one of the first sets of hand knit socks, hot off the needles.   Plus, I'm way better at knitting stockings than I am at sewing them.  So I might as well make something I stand a decent chance of wanting to wear again.

In the effort to keep this low cost, buying sock yarn was not in the budget.  And as my typical sock yarn tastes tend toward the wild and colorful, nothing in the stash would work.  However, I actually have a yarn factory in my backyard.  Literally.

We happen to own a cottage sized fiber mill and our day job is processing fiber for local farmers as well as making our own very small batches of yarn and roving.  So while it's not as historically accurate as spending a couple of months drop spinning, plying, skeining and dying, I'm lucky enough to be able to custom make my own yarn for my competition project.

The fiber I picked is from Adam's parent's farm.  They had just sheared a few of their sheep and in exchange for processing some alpaca that his mom wants to work with for her, free of charge, we get the fleeces to turn into yarn for the shop.  This fiber is what you would find on a yarn label under the grand description of "100% wool."  It's a Finn/Jacob/Southdown cross and we added a bit of last year's Romney to it. If the sheep was a dog, it would be one of those Golden Pomer-Labradoodles.  In short, mutt.  It's not very soft fiber at all...

But it scoured out to a very beautiful white.  Great for dying.  So first it gets run through the washing system, which is set to 140 degrees to melt off the lanolin.  It air dries for a day or two, depending on the weather and the humidity in the mill.

Then it gets run through the picker, which has big teeth that open up the locks.  The opened locks get blown into the picker room.

From there they get gathered up into a basket, and weighed to go onto the carder.  The carder is like a huge version of a drum carder that some fiber artists have at home.  It gets all the fibers going in the same direction.  We weigh out each feed, so that there is the same amount of fiber between each blue line on the belt.  It keeps the machine from jamming up and helps prevent uneven spots in the feed.
The wool goes in the carder as loose fluff

and comes out as orderly roving ropes

that are neatly wound into barrels to make the next two steps easier.

From the carder we run two barrels together into the draw frame.  The first pass through the draw frame helps eliminate any thick or thin spots that might have happened in the carder and stretches the rope about 2.8 times.  The second pass further evens out the fiber for spinning and stretches the rope an additional 2.5 times.

Before I can start spinning, the machine has to be calibrated for length of fiber and the size of the finished yarn I want.  Off the rope that came out of the draw frame, I estimated that I would need to draft the fiber to about 1/10 its original thickness.  I set the twists per inch at about 7.  If the machine isn't calibrated for the right length of fiber by moving all the rollers at the top, it'll either slub and get thick and thin spots, or cyclone and gather into tightly wound "cocoons' of fiber that create a nightmare in the finished yarn.

Single plys are wound onto bobbins

that are spun together in the opposite direction to make a two ply finished yarn.  If I did everything correctly, my finished yarn should be fingering weight.

Of course, you have to take a break between machines sometimes to pet Fiona.  It's a very important step in the yarn-making process.