Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Settling Down

I'm slowly getting used to the new turn my life has taken. I believe things will work out nicely. My family will take care of my cat, so that's one burden of my shoulders. I love my Mum :) I just have to get him there somehow.... Until then, he's taken care of by a friend of mine.

And I like living in my friends' family; they're kind, accepting and I feel included. I've known them most of my life, so that helps.

Today, after a long day in school and spending most of the evening working on an assignment, I started a new project. Well, strictly speaking I started it last weekend, when I cut it out, but today I took out needle and unbleached linen thread. I'm making a late 14th century kirtle, front laced with buttoned sleeves. It will be in a sort of mustard yellow pure woolen twill, a colour that could easily and inexpensively have been got with onion peels or beach bark. I've had it for about three years, knowing all the while what I was going to use it for, but never got round to making it until now. I think I just like having my shelves full of untouched fabrics.... I started on the buttons tonight, but I'll finish them some other day. It's a bit late, and I'm tired.... They seem to be just the size I wanted them to be, though, so that's a good thing.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

An Unexpected Event

On Wednesday afternoon I got a phone call from one of Sweden’s eldest and most prestigious universities (founded in the mid-1600’s), saying I had a place at the study programme I’d applied for a couple of weeks before (three months to late), due to some people not showing up, and so loosing their places. I had applied just to have something to do, not thinking I’d get in until next year, since I applied to late. I was soooo surprised! I had to get a cat sitter, somewhere to stay and then get on a train that night, and go to the university. I've been all in a flurry, but so far it has turned out all right. There are a few unanswered questions as to what I’ll do with my apartment here, and where I’ll find a new one closer to the university. For the time being I’m a lodger in the family of some friends.


But all that are minor problems that’ll sort themselves out somehow. The important thing is that I have been accepted to an education I’ve always wanted, at the university I wanted to study at. My classes so far have confirmed that I’ve made the right choice, it feels just right.
In a year (if all goes well) I’ll have a Master One Year Degree in Nursing, with a specialization in Paediatrics. Next to having a family of my own, it’s my dearest ambition to work with helping other families, educating and giving advice on how children work and what they need both physically and psychologically. There are so many parents today who are unsure of themselves and need support and confirmation that they are doing the right thing, or help on how to change their behaviour or way of thinking. There are also (regrettably) many children that are being neglected or abused in various ways, who need someone to notice and act. I want to be a nurse who see these children and have the courage to help them. But first of all I’ll have to get through school.
Just a couple of days before I got that phone call I was talking with some friends about how little we know about what the future holds; all of a sudden something happens that you had never expected a month or so earlier. Still, I didn't think it would happen to me just like that.... this is certainly something I hadn't expected a month ago. It's nice when unexpected things are also pleasant things.

Of course I’ll have to bring some kind of sewing project down there which I can work on when not studying. Good thing I prefer hand sewing, since I can only bring a few things.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Missing My Sister

Five years ago today, my 14-year old sister died after struggling with cancer for seven years. It was a time of sorrow and loss in my family, but also a time for quiet joy. My sister had been in so much pain, and now she was at peace - was not that a cause for joy, even at the cost of missing her for the rest of our lives? To the last her faith in the Lord was strong, and it carried her cheerfully through many of her hardships.

"My Child" by David Bowman


At this most difficult and painful time in my life, nursing my sister, then sewing and help clothing her in the dress she was to be buried in, I felt the truth of the Resurrection so powerfully. I still miss her, but there is no doubt in my mind that my sister is safe, that I will meet her again when it's my turn to leave this world, and that we all will rise again, just like the Savior did, perfect, with no illnesses, pains or handicaps, to live as a family forever.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalms 23: 4, 6

Saturday, 16 January 2010

18th Century Mitts

Last Tuesday I started knitting a pair of 18th century woollen mitts. The reason: my hands get so very cold while sitting at the computer, sewing and other such things. I needed something to cover my hands but leave the fingers free for working. 18th century mitts seemed ideal. Of course, I could have bought something similar on H&M, but where’s the fun in that? Besides, I already had the yarn at home, so it was more economical to knit them myself. Also, this way I can use them with my 18th century outfit (whenever I get that finished).


The mitts where knitted in the round on metric size 2 (US size 0, UK and Canadian size 14) knitting needles. I didn’t have a pattern, but used various sources on the internet while making them, using a little information here and a little there. What helped me most with the actual knitting was a post on this blog. I didn’t follow all of her instructions, but they were good to use as a reference. I also consulted a few books I have at home, describing crafts in (manly) 18th and 19th century Sweden. They might not be 100% accurate, but they look rather good to me. The purl stitch décor at the top is inspired by mittens from the late 18th- early 19th century in one of my books.


These are not fine mitts for representative purposes, but for managing with the cold in an everyday situation for a higher working class/lower middleclass woman, so them being in a greyish-green colour, and rather coarse don’t bother me. They won’t show dirt that easy, and they’re quick to make, and easy enough to mend.

A couple of hours ago, when it was still Friday, I finished them. It only took four days. I am very proud of myself; before this I never knitted mittens in my life. It was much easier than I’d expected, not hard at all. I must try this again sometime, with something more complicated….
And they do keep my hands warm :)

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Velvet New Years Dress - Pictures

A few days ago I finally took some pictures of the New Years dress. I don’t really have anything to add, I’ve already told pretty much anything there is to say about it. It is floor length, has a zipper closure at the left side, and is lined with a polyester satin (the only material not used before, but I did have it at home).




















For those who haven’t read the earlier posts on this dress, it’s all made out of reused materials: the velvet used to be a couple of curtains, the white satin and tulle in the sleeves were leftover scraps from sewing my friends wedding dress. The material for the lattice work on the sleeves and the zipper came from an old dress of mine.


It didn’t really cost me anything to make. It’s based on the old, no-longer-in-use Swedish court-dress, but I changed the colour from black to dark blue. The original black court dress would not have been used by a dancing lady at a ball though - white was the colour for balls at court. The dresses still had the lattice sleeves, but all in white. The ladies wearing the black court dress at balls where the ladies in waiting on "active duty" (without trains), and non-dancing ladies - the chaperons (with a train). I rather like this dress, I think the sleeves are pretty.

Monday, 11 January 2010

London Hood, Part 2 - Finished

Saturday morning I finished my hood. It was finished the night before, but for the last four buttons, which I was too tired to make then.

Even though I messed up while cutting it, I’m still rather pleased with it. It’s comfortable, not as tight as I thought it’d be, and very cosy. It’s likely I’ll be wearing it at home sometimes, since my neck and shoulders are often chilly. Just one thing annoyed me a little; I had planned to have the buttons on the other side, but my thoughts must have been somewhere else when I started on the buttonholes… Never, ever begin something that is irreversible late at night when you’re tired! I’m now done with being annoyed, it won’t help anyway. It would seem that the right and wrong sides for buttons and buttonholes weren’t as established then as it is now, so I should (hopefully) be able to get away with this.

And I know I look dead tired in the pictures. The combination of period clothing and hair with modern make up is a bit amusing as well, but I was to lacy to wash it of before taking the pictures. My kitchen isn't a very 14th century setting anyway :)

Side view:

The brim folded back:


Side view with folded back brim:


I took some detail pictures of it as well. How the lining was attached to the outer fabric, which I described in my last post:


The lining:

The buttons and buttonholes. Each button is made solely out of a circle of cloth, which edges are folded down, sewn and pulled tight, until it stuffs itself. Sewing the buttons to the very edge of the clothes is a period correct practice.

I’m quite proud of myself for not being distracted by other projects, but actually finishing this one quickly. It was a battle, I must say, I wanted to make a short jacket for my 18th century outfit, but managed to resist. I did some research for it, but didn’t start sewing it. Good girl!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

London Hood, Part 1

The summer of 2008 I was going to a Viking age event, and I made an apron dress for it. Tricky, since what we know about them is very, very limited. I can't say mine was historically accurate, since, so far, there's not been found one surviving apron dress to show what they looked like. There's pieces and fragments of varying sizes, but considering the many different interpretations people make, those fragments are not enough to get a clear picture. I made my interpretation based on the little information there is. It might be completely wrong, but it worked, looked pretty, and is, in my opinion, not too unbelievable. (No, the baby isn't a relation of mine; I just like to babysit.)


The dress was made from a green and naturally black woolen fabric with a herringbone weave, cut to be open, but overlapping in front, with gores in the sides to add enough fullness to walk. Actually, it was just a rectangle with gores sewn in where the sides would be. The dress hung from linen loops (very short in front and long at the back), which was then joined by oval bronze brooches. In the front I had four very short loops, so that each brooch held two front loops - that's how I made the dress overlapping. Some finds indicate that double loops was used at the front, and this could be one way to do it. I think woolen loops are prettier, but linen ones seem to have been more common in Denmark, and since the part of Sweden I was born in, and where the event was held, was a part of Denmark at the time, I did them the Danish way.


A couple of months ago I took the dress out, and to my horror big holes had been made in it by carpet beetles! Had it only been one hole I could have mended it and used the dress anyway, but the way it looked, that was not really possible. My other woolen dresses was mostly unharmed, luckily. I wrapped the destroyed one in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for a week, to kill the remaining dress murderers, and sat down to think of what to do now.

Between the holes, there was still quite a lot of fabric that could be used. So the day before yesterday I decided to make a late 14th century hood. I did a bit of research, and the hood will be based on one of the several found in London, dated to late 14th century. It has a gore at each side, and a button closure at the front. Herringbone weave is not what you think about when talking 14th century clothes, but it's what I had at hand, so it has to do. I can't really imagine a whole continent suddenly giving up on weaving that pattern, even if it wasn't the most fashionable... but that is my very un-scientific thoughts. I'll avoid making any other 14th century clothes in that kind of fabric, though.

I then made the pattern and cut out the top fabric. I messed up... I wasn't careful enough, so when I had cut the pieces out, I noticed that a hole was at the top of one of the hood halves. Idiot. I had to trim it away enough not to be seen when finished, and that left what will be a hood that is slightly to tight. Annoying.

The lining will be in what I'd call a soft woolen flannel, brown, that I had leftover pieces of at home. I have an old, early 14th century cotte made from that wool, and it's a very comfortable fabric, not at all itchy. Both the top fabric and the lining had to be pieced in several places for it to work out, but that's a period practice, so I didn't mind, except that it's rather boring sewing all of those little seams. The top fabric is only pieced in two places (not including the gores at the shoulders - they are part of the design), but the lining is pieced in five places. I decided not to have a liripipe on my hood. Had I had one, that would have meant even more piecing, but it wasn't the reason I decided against it. I just get annoyed with a liripipe, I took it of the last hood I had.

I basted the layers together before sewing, since I planned to sew the lining to the seam allowances of the top fabric. That way it will be perfectly smooth, the same size, and won't pull in a different way than the top fabric. This is the way I do it: after a seam in the top fabric has been finished and the seam allowances sewn down, I fold the lining so that they meet at the seam which with the top fabric was sewn together. I then make sure to catch a few threads of one lining piece, then a few threads of the top fabrics seam allowance, and finally a few threads of the other lining piece, in every stitch. It looks tidy, and the lining won't move at all. A bit difficult to explain, hopefully you'll understand what I mean. Not sure if it's period for 14th century though.... still, it's better than baglining it would have been. Unbleached, waxed, linen thread is used for this project.


Before I went to bed last night I had finished all but the back seam, the bottom edge hem, and the buttons and buttonholes. Hopefully I can get most of that done today.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Winter Wonderland

Late last night I came home. I've been away for more than a week, first a few days at my parent's, and then a few days in Stockholm, on a church Young Single Adult activity. Being at my parent's was lovely (but busy, as I had to finish my New Years dress), and being at the YSA thing was fun, with meeting a few friends I hadn't seen for a couple of years, dancing and playing games. My New Years dress got a lot of compliments, but I haven't got a single decent picture of it so far. Hopefully one of my friends will have one. One girl even recognized it as the old court dress, though not noticing I had changed the colour. Still, it was more than I had imagined anyone doing. Today I'm really tired, since I've been working, and had to go up at 5 am. Not much sleep last night.

It's been (and still is) cold and snowy. Many of the smaller streets are covered in ice, it's really dangerous to walk down them. Still, I love how beautiful it is when the world is dressed in white. I took the opportunity, while visiting my parent's, to get a picture of my winter coat. I made it some five or six years ago, and then it had bell sleeves. I altered the sleeves last winter, wanting some change, and not able to afford the fabric for a new one. Next year I'll really need a new coat, this one is all but threadbare. It's not as warm as it was when it was new. It's made of a wool blend, and trimmed with rabbit fur. I would like a woolen coat all lined with fur.... I get so cold in the winter, perhaps that would keep me warm. With some luck I'll find a second hand fur I can use.