Archive for November, 2009

I don’t think well in three dimensions. I have a lot of trouble translating shapes to patterns, or interpreting patterns to understand how they fit on a body. That’s partly why I love the unstructured early period clothes based on making best use of fabric through rectangles and triangles. I can cope with draping as a pattern technique, but that’s about my limit.

Yesterday, I was thrilled to discover two websites that make sense of how to fit the bodice of a cotehardie and, even more importantly, explained the arms and armscyes.  They can be found at http://www.cottesimple.com/ and http://www.mathildegirlgenius.com/FittingAndConstruction.htm.

Both dressmakers waste a lot of fabric, which I think is inconsistent with historical practice. Also, I need to do a bit more digging to understand the relationship between the dresses they are designing and the gores I have seen on many examples, which reach right up to the armscye. The difference may be explained by the fact that I prefer the earlier cotehardies, and these dressmakers are looking at styles well into the 15th C. I think I will use my old rectangle and triangle technique, with the full gores, and then do the fitting on the gores – that matches the artefacts I have seen.


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It has been a crazy few weeks, with very busy childrens’ schedules, home renovations, and starting a new job. I am still not much further along the cuff of the mitten, despite going to many hockey games; I got sidetracked on a cross-stitch project and using some time at the rink to read papers for work.

Now, however, I have a bit of time to myself so it is time to re-engage. I started spinning the leicester wool again this morning, with awesome help from Max, who wanted to sit on my lap and bite the yarn. I thought I had been making great progress until I noticed about half my stock piled on top of a china cabinet. At least I know I’ll have enough for a belt.

After lunch with my sister, we went to her favourite wool store and this time I was seduced by washable combed merino.  I only bought three yards, but that should keep me going for a bit.

Now that the renovations are near an end, I am looking forward to cutting out fabric again. I’m starting to get itchy to sew. In the meantime, I will just use my spare time to spin up the wool collection and get on with more naalbinding, even though the temptations to go haring off in another direction are everywhere (from my computer, I can see the hemp for the fishing net, my big lace pillow, a bag of alum for dyeing projects, and a bottle that should be down with the others for the yet-to-be-started mead).

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I dug out another drop spindle tonight and started working with my leicester. I tried combing it, as instructed, but that just seemed to make a mess. After examining the rolag for a bit, I decided that it had been combed, or at least carded smoothly enough that combing wouldn’t make a huge amount of difference. I am able to pull the wool into very long fine fibres, so my thread is quite consistent and about the thickness I would like for weaving. It is overspun, but I am told that this is better than underspinning. I haven’t done much yet, so I’ll work for a bit longer. Luckily, there isn’t too much wool in this sample. There should be enough for the weaving experiment. If it works out, I’ll get some more and try dyeing some before weaving, and use some for tablet weaving as well. I understand that tablet weaving can put even more pressure on the warp than inkle weaving. We shall see (eventually).

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Feast of the Hare

The biggest feast in our Barony is Feast of the Hare, held every year in early November. The very first feast I cooked was Feast of the Hare X, exactly 20 years ago. As it was Hare XXX, we decided to go with an aphrodisiac theme. All the dishes served were relatively hot and dry according to humour theory, and were believed to have aphrodisiac qualities.

The menu included fine bread, olives, oysters, nuts, eggs, dried fruits, chicken romania, goat in sauce of gold, veal tarts, roasted carrots, fava beans, mixed vegetables with either sausages or chickpeas, saffron rice, nucato and trifle. All the foods were from young animals (youthful vigour), with lots of eggs and nuts (fertility), beans and root vegetables including onions and garlic (promotes wind and swelling), luxury items such as high quality white bread, spices and honey (to encourage fond thoughts about the person providing the wealth), and gross meats of the type eaten by peasants (because they are sturdy, lusty, and keep breeding). Two exceptions to the hot and dry theme were tongue for the head table, suitably decorated for their amusement, and trifle, which is basically whipped cream with sugar and spices (enough said).

Now that feast is done, I may go through my recipes to sort out my own redactions and start publishing them.

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As part of a splendid day hanging out with my sister, we went to a wool shop near her house. It turned out to be the best place in town so far for buying the kinds of things I want. There were felting supplies, some natural dye materials (indigo, madder, cutch, osage orange, cochineal, logwood, but no woad or weld), rovings and hemp cord. I bought some black-faced leicester (I think – it was definitely black-faced something, with a lovely long staple) and enough hemp cord to make a good start on my fishing net, if not the whole thing. The roving may need to be combed before spinning, but that’s fine.

It turns out my sister is fascinated by felting, and that’s why she knows about the shop. She has even prepared some lichen dyes in anticipation of a felting project. She doesn’t have wool though, or much enthusiasm about undertaking a project in her crowded house. I have invited her to come to my house and use up some of my huge pile of wool, which is perfect for felting. We can also try dyeing it with the dyebaths I prepared during the summer. I really want to try felting but none of my planned projects are particularly large, so I welcome the opportunity to send vast quantities of wool out of the house with my sister.

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