Archive for January, 2011

My daughter has pretty much given up SCA activities as she normally has ballet classes on Saturdays, the most popular time for events. As a result, I have decided to remove the items I had planned for her from my list. Instead, I will be outfitting the daughters of a friend for Pennsic this summer. The girls are 5 and 10, and I have a few pieces of broadcloth, and some velvet and brocade. The broadcloth will be made into simple tunics, while the other materials should be enough to make simple Elizabethan garb. I haven’t made Elizabethan for many years, and I like the idea of being able to make corsets for girls who don’t need boning.

As I was sorting out my fabric stock, I rediscovered a large pile of burgundy velvet that dates back to the 1960s or earlier. It came into my household in about 1973 following the closure of a local theatre. The velvet stage curtains from that theatre were converted into bedspreads and curtains at home, and some eventually formed a cotehardie, sideless surcote and cloak for me. Once the first set of girls’ costumes is done, I am seriously considering sideless surcotes or other simple outfits for the daughters of my apprentices.


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I hosted an Arts and Sciences afternoon on Sunday, which finally spurred me to start working on my brooches. I want to make a pair that looks something like these: http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/html_En/04/2007/hm4_1_162_8.html

As near as I have been able to research, each brooch was individually cast, so I am carving two wax models, using only a whittling knife.

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The ham is hung

Figuring out how to hang 20 lb of ham was more complicated than I had anticipated. I finally rigged up a bit of a net using jute twine. So far, it’s holding. Now I just need to wait for many months, checking periodically for nasty moulds, and moving into the unused basement bathroom once the weather heats up my storage room.

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The mead is bottled!

In my last post on the mead, I was fairly certain it was turning out horrible. Today I decided to test it and discovered it is actually fairly decent. I now have three bottles corked and aging in my basement. If I get inspired tomorrow, I will start more.

One of the most important lessons I have learned from this experiment is that I should do more mead in a single go. I lost quite a bit because it got mixed up with the lees. The next batch will be two gallons (because that’s how much honey I happen to have on hand). After that, I think I want to try playing with fruit meads.

I am less impressed with the cider. It’s drinkable, but not great. My lessons on that one are “don’t lose the instructions” and “don’t start the cider when you won’t be available for bottling at the optimal moment”.

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I have decided I need to challenge myself. I always make socks the same way, and mittens are usually done the same way. I know a variety of stitches, but I never use them to build textiles except in the round, always starting from the closed end (eg toes of socks, or finger ends of mittens). I am going to force myself to try varieties such as starting at the wrist on mittens, or working the soles as flat pieces, then building up the sides on socks. I’ll post pictures as I go along. I won’t start until the current pair of socks is done, but I wanted to write this challenge down so I can hold myself accountable.

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I have been falling a bit behind, due to recent surgery, but am starting to get back on track. My latest pair of mittens is almost done, but I need to spin more wool of just the right thickness, using the lovely new bronze reproduction Viking spindle. In the interim, I have started working on a pair of naalbinding construction socks. These are made with the simplest of stitches, nothing more than a blanket stitch. The white wool is hand spun by me, but the grey was purchased in Newfoundland. I have some red that was spun and dyed using madder, and given to me by Kadlin, for the red bands around the ankle. I have also cut our four bone needle blanks in preparation for a course I will teach on naalbinding in February.

My orange cloth socks are done, and I have made two fingerweaving braids. I find the chevron pattern difficult to pull out without beating the weft quite tightly. Also, I was working with a very basic pattern that didn’t have a border. The next piece will be wider, so I can experiment with borders (or even multiple chevrons). Depending on my schedule, I may offer to teach fingerweaving at Forward Into the Past, an annual event in Kitchener.

I also got the cider bottled up, thanks to my sister and her boyfriend. It had gone a bit longer than recommended, as I was in hospital, but I think we have salvaged it. It`s not bad, just not as sweet as I would like. I intend to repeat the experiment. They also did a second draining of the ham for me. It should be ready to hang by the end of next week. So far, it is looking just fine.

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One sock is done

Here is a closeup, showing the seams a little better:

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