Monthly Archives: september 2015

Not the best of writers

So, if you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m Swedish. And therefor I’m pretty lucky when it comes to learning languages, especially English. I’ve studied English since the age of 9, I think. And since then I’ve heard English every day in songs, movies, TV etc. And because of that I have a pretty decent vocabulary and I’m quite confident when writing and speaking.

And still, I make mistakes, and now when I’m getting into some new things with this blog, I’m challenging myself and my use of the English language. So I’m about to do a lot of mistakes, I’m going to do some direct translating that won’t be correct English. Buut I hope you’ll understand me anyhow!

I think this is a good opportunity for my historical re-enactment and how I present it. In SCA we talk a lot of English and when we have contests and presentations in Arts and sciences they’re in English. So doing this blog is a good practise if I want to engage in that kind of things.

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Book tips with a big B

Okay, for my birthday, one of the gifts was the new and amazing book by Marion McNealy, who did a lecture I went on at Medieval week on Gotland!

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The book contains three 16th century Austrian tailors’ guild masterbook manuscripts which gives us patterns to both mens and womens clothing, tents, banner and ecclesiastical fashion! I’m so in love with it and I want to do every garment in it… And you guys will be the first ones to see it when it happens… Sometime..

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You can (and should) get it, for example from Amazon! Click here!

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Silky deliciousness

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Yesterday we visited K.A. Almgrens silk mill on Södermalm in Stockholm. We learned about the history of Jaquard’s invention from year 1804 and how the machine ended up in Sweden, how silk is made and and that a silk thread is 0,02 mm. That’s thin.

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In the middle ages the silk came to Sweden from Asia via Lübeck, Hamburg and Bremen. And there is even findings of silk before that, in Birka (the Viking city near Stockholm) there is findings of silk in more than 50 graves.

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This fragment is from China and found in a grave of a wealthy man in Birka, dated 10th century.

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When fully grown the larvae begin spinning their cocoons, that takes 4 days and silk fibres are formed from a protein from the larva’s silk glands. When the cocoons is finished the silk reeling can begin after the silk fibres is dissolved in hot water.

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The silk threads are so shiny and luminous!

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These patterned silks makes me want to do a lot if Italian renaissance gowns..The sheen in the fabrics is amazing and even though the jacquard technique is later then the periods I work within, the quality’s of silk is the same, soft, shiny and beautiful and it offers a lot of inspiration!

The guide was very good accept that she said that before the 17th century everyone was dressed in animal skins.. We had to mention linen and wool and that people had woven fabrics long before the silks in the baroque era.

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I leave you here in the candy store of silk and if you want a quick lesson in medieval fabrics and silk visit the Medievalist 5 minute fabric guide!

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Lazy guide to drinking

So, in SCA there is a brewing guild where the members make beverages such as mead, beer, ciders and liqueurs. Some of it is good, some is bad, but it’s always fun to try new things and sometimes to laugh about the bizarre. And some more HA then others, like this recipe.
For 5 years ago I got a recipe from my friend Agnes for home made cider. I’ve used it two times before, the first batch went okay, the second not so much. No explosions, just some strange flavours…

When we moved into the house last year we didn’t use the apples from our apple tree, so this season I really wanted to make something with them, thereof cider. When eaten they are not very sweet, and that’s a good sign when making cider I think, I don’t wan’t it too sweet.

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The recipe is quite simple (good for us lazy drinkers):

5 kilos of apple
300-400 grams of caster sugar per liter cider
1 tsp ascorbic acid
25 grams citric acid

  • Rinse the apples in water, you don’t have to peel them
  • Cut them into quarters and but them in a bucket
  • Boil 4 liters of water and pour over the apples
  • Add the ascorbic acid, diluted in some water
  • Let it rest for 7-10 days (possibly longer if needed, the fermentation starts after approximately 3 days)
  • Stir every day and mash it a bit with a big wooden spoon
  • Sift through a piece of cloth or a colander after the 7-10 days. I like some pulp so I just sift it through a colander
  • Measure the liquid and add the sugar to half the batch. I used 1000 grams of sugar for 4 liters of cider.
  • Heat the batch with the sugar on the stove until the sugar dissolved
  • Take it of the heat and add the citric acid, diluted in some water and give it a good stir
  • Let it cool and mix it with the rest of the batch
  • Pour into bottles (glass or plastic)
  • Keep opening them every day until they stop popping, to reduce pressure, or until you drink it up!

This recipe makes a quite intensive cider and it’s good to dilute it with some water, with around 1 part water 2 parts cider. But try it and find your own balance!

 

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Get in the boat! Oar else…

A couple of weeks ago Peter and I went to the Vasa museum, because it was a couple of years ago and they have a couple of new exhibitions! Luckily, besides the cool ship, there is some clothing that they managed to find in the ship and on the bottom around it. All I had was my phone to take photos with, but hopefully you can see something anyway.

Discoveries like these give us a great insight about what things and clothing really looked like in the 17th century and how they were made. And they absolutely make history more real and comprehensible, more alive.

Click on the pictures for bigger size.

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The evolution of the bumla

Bumla is a modern created word that is connected to the women that followed the 16th century landsknects, german lego soldiers. The women was a part of the tross, the mobile military household, and they did almost everything except the actual fighting. In many cases they were women who followed their husbands or women who made a contract for a campaign or two. When they joined the tross they needed comfortable clothing that wasn’t in the way when they worked so they often took their normal clothing and shortened it and slahes the armes for more mobility. Simple, useful clothing.

In my case I wanted to make something more generic 16th century german. There was a lot of the same shapes and trimmings in the first decades of the century.
The first things I did the first year that I joined a landsknecht-group was the under garments. As a student I didn’t have a lot of money so I couldn’t do all of the garb at the same time. So the first year I wore a shift (the shirt), an underskirt, a headscarf and a hat. Me to the right, without the hat though. But I felt fabulous!

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The skirt and the headscarf was in the same linen fabric and the shirt was made in a red raw silk, not very HA, but oh so pretty. I didn’t make the smock myself (and I still don’t) and the sleeves was to short, but I still love and wear it anyway.

The next layer was the dress itself. When I looked at paintings and portraits of the ladys I wanted to look like I saw a lot of dark colours and black trimmings and when my favourite fabric retailer had a sale I bought a dark grey wool with discrete red narrow stripes that I’ve got a lot of compliments for over the years.

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I also made a new matching hat, but I didn’t have time to make sleeves. And a new white headscarf.
It took some time to actually get around to make some sleeves and in the time I bought a couple of shifts from friends and had one made for me.

When I made the sleeves I decided to do them like separate, to tie on the dress, so I can decide if I want to wear them depending on the weather. I also decided to make them with cuffs, which is quite common in the paintings.

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Tied on sleeves with cuffs. And one of the bought shifts. White with black narrow stripes. Lazy reenactor girl with the braids hanging loose…

The last layer I’ve made is a short jacket, inspired by the Flemish 16th century jackets. Made in dark blue wool and lined with a golden yellow raw silk. Closed with hooks and eyes. Picture taken by my good friend Jan-Erik and I was cold and tired, thereof the strained smile.

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I fold the dress sleves cuffs over the jacket and I also had a fur gollar made for me by a friend.

The next plan I have for this outfit is a wool underskirt for those cold events. And my intent with this entry is to show that you don’t have to do everything at once, for the first time you wear it. You can do it in steps, one thing at a time, over a long amount of time. The first items I made the summer of 2011. And the last thing I finished was this spring.

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Organization smorganization

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Today the family finally pulled ourselves together and reorganized the sewing room a bit, rearranging the shelves and the fabric cupboard. Along with that we cleared out the fabric stash, sorting out the ”this could be useful” and just keeping the stuff we actually wants to use. Which lead to five bags of fabric that we’re going to take to the charity shop and one bag of throw away stuff.

Then we marked the reserved fabrics and sorted out the stuff that is free to call dibs on. So now the shelves contains, from top to the bottom, linen and silk, reserved wool, ”undibed” wool, coloured linen and velvet and at the bottom mundane fabrics and sheets for toiles.

The ”free” wools is often the left overs after a project that is big enough to make something of. So if anyone wants to make a garment, they can first look there to see if any of the fabrics are useful!
I want to make a Sköldhamnshätta e.g. But I don’t have a fabric for it, but now I look in the ”free shelf”! A leftover for someone can be a perfect fabric for someone else.

(Photo by Babs)

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