I’m Still Here!

Exams are over (possibly forever if I don’t get a postgraduate degree), and the crafting has taken over! So, whilst watching Django Unchained and Les Miserables on glorious Blu-ray, I’ve been working solidly at all the re-enacting things I need to get done for the next show I’m going to – Bolsover Castle, which is this weekend! 

It’s one of English Heritage’s new tournament shows, which I have only heard described as a “rugby match with shields and chainmail”. Needless to say, if I don’t come back, you all know why. There promises to be some living history at this show, as well, so I should be able to spin and weave in my new outfit (I would say it’s “peasant”, but I only have a white wimple and a leather belt, so I’m higher status than that….)! 

After that, next week is also the show at Tintagel, which promises to be at the very least interesting. Last year has gone down in the history books as god-awful (flying tents, terrifying stairs, ballista bolts flying backwards…. You get the idea), but this time around English Heritage is supplying caravans for the re-enactors, and there is talk of pub food every night. Needless to say, I am going to enjoy it a lot, no matter what the weather. 

I’ll be back on the Friday, but then on the Saturday we’re doing the Vale Festival with the University Guild of Students. I am going to be VERY sore on the Sunday.

Basically, I’m still here, but I am going to be very busy this next week.

So you soon!

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Loom-pouch

One of my old pouches gave up on me a few days ago. The drawstrings snapped, rendering it pretty much useless.
ImageThe thing is, I really liked the pouch. It may be odd, but I like the decoration on it – simplicity is king, I always think. So I was thinking of ways to re-use the decoration. After my recent purchase of Agnes, I noticed that between projects my heddle, shuttle and beater could very easily go missing. 

This is my solution:

ImageIt’s made of green wool, with 100% wool plaited drawstrings and wool decoration from the old pouch in the middle. It looked a bit bland, so I decided to embroider two red crosses on it and do a border in blanket stitch with yellow linen thread. I don’t know how authentic it is, as it’s used crewel wool, chain and blanket stitch, and french knots.

I was really quite proud of myself with this, as I hand stitched all of it in linen thread – normally I just get the sewing machine out and have done with it in five minutes. This time I thought I would put some effort into it, and I’m pretty proud of it.

It’s become a bit of a trend with my crafting recently – I seem to actually be spending more than half an hour on small projects, and I think that’s because I’m trying to be as authentic as I possibly can. I was even toying with the idea of hand-stitching my peasant’s dress in linen thread! When that project materialises I shall let you know what happens with it.

 

 

The new addiction: Agnes, the loom

So I may have a thing with naming my re-enactment stuff. My long axe is Damage, my sword is Audrey, and now my loom is called Agnes.

Agnes!

Agnes!

She’s not a full-sized loom, but is designed for doing heddle or tablet weaving to create braids. The society I’m involved with has a  dire shortage of braids (and after experimenting, I’ve decided the profit margins for selling braids are insane), so hopefully this will help solve the problem!

Agnes is made by the wonderful Lucy the Tudor, and is made so you can weave (or ”loom”, as it has come to be called in my house) braids on your lap whilst you do living history. So you do your normal heddle/tablet weaving, but wind the braid across so you don’t use so much room. With the Great British weather as it is at the moment, that’ll serve well in the probably wet summer.

I’ve now experimented with my heddle weaving with both non-authentic yarn (to get used to the motions) and 100% wool yarn (to see how authentic yarn works as a braid). I’ll post an image of how I’ve been doing heddle weaving, and hopefully you guys can let me know what I’m doing wrong or give any suggestions. A lot of what I’ve been doing has been guesswork, so hopefully any help will make the braids lovely 🙂

The next stage is now decorating Agnes so it’s definitely mine – another member of the group has one, and it would be a good idea to differentiate them. I’m also going to make a little bag for the heddle, beater and shuttle so I don’t lose them in between projects.

Florentine

Normally, I use a Dane Axe for training. I’m not amazing with it, but I’ve passed the safety test for it and I’m not awful at it. I just need to be faster.

I decided I really ought to try something new. Considering how I am naturally slow, the choice was not one you’d expect. Yes, I chose florentine.

I decided to use both a hand axe and a mace. It was….. interesting….

I actually had to run a lot more, just so that I could get in range of people to do some damage. It was also a bit of a mindfuck (excuse the language). I could actually use my shield arm for attacking! A lot of this “attacking” was just pushing weapons aside with the heavy mace and hit someone with my axe.

Because of this realisation of just how heavy my mace is, I’m going to be cutting some off the end of the shaft and then re-painting it, so pictures shall follow soon!

I also looked at my hand axe afterwards, and it was more battered than normal. The wood at the top of the shaft had been hit so badly that it was more likely to cause an injury than the blade! So I also will be covering that bit of the axe with leather to try and stop it from being so damaged that it’ll shatter at the first hit. Again, photos shall follow.

What I also didn’t realise was just how tiring it was. If you are using sword and shield, you only need to use one arm strenuously, and the other can rest every now and again. Dane axe, whilst being more physically intensive, still gives your arms a rest mid-way through the swing or you can rest it on the ground whilst still looking awesome. Not so with florentine. You have to keep both arms up at all times for defense, and when you’re tired, you can only put your weapons on your shoulders if you want to still look awesome (a key factor, as you might have guessed). So your arms are never rested unless you’ve actually put your weapons down or sheathed them. So during a 3 hour training session, it took it’s toll. Of course, I couldn’t tell just how much of a toll until the next morning, but still.

I still found it a lot of fun, though. I’ll definitely be using it a lot more, and I might even get pretty good at it! I might even get some kills during competitive fights for once!

The message from this post is: fun=pain

Return to Crafting

I haven’t done any crafting for re-enacting in a while. I’ve been caught up with other longer-term projects (mainly a cushion that I’ve been tapestry embroidering for over a year), university work, and I pretty much have a full set of men-at-arms kit anyway. At the moment I just need to make padded hoes and attach the maille, buy a proper full-face, and adjust my maille shirt so that I have full knight’s kit. Basically, I’m pretty set for a character, I just need to get a higher status character so that I can fully participate in the knight’s tourney’s that we have all Summer.

However, I have found an excuse to fit in more crafting! I have a module on Roman Luxury Arts & Crafts, and I had to do a presentation on clothing. What better excuse to make a Roman Early Imperial tunic?

In terms of making it, it was ridiculously simple. You basically take two rectangular pieces of cloth measuring roughly 1m x 1.5m, put them together, sew them up the shorter sides whilst leaving holes for the arms, and then across the top whilst leaving a hole for the head. Ta-da! You now have a Roman tunic – all you need now is a belt to cinch it in at the waist!

the more high-status ones had two thin purple stripes as well, one on either side of the head-hole, but to make that authentic you have to actually weave that into the fabric, and I have neither the time nor the money for that….

Hopefully this will re-ignite my crafting bug and I’ll finally get on with my padded maille legs…. Wish me luck!

Introductions first

Looking at the title of this blog, obviously the first reaction is “oh, another femi-nazi”. No, it’s infinitely more complicated than that. 

I am a re-enactor of the Crusades, specifically the 11th to early 14th centuries.

I thought in this blog I would marry my two loves, feminism and re-enactment. Under one collection of ramblings about current affairs, discovering history, crafting, where to get supplies, and maybe a few rants along the way, hopefully I can marry the two in an understandable format.