Thursday 24 March 2011

The Event of the Summer

In 1361, Danish king Valdemar invaded Sweden’s biggest island, Gotland. The people tried to defend themselves, but lost to the professional soldiers of the Danish army. Thousands died. This piece of history has been the base for a yearly event since 1984, called Medeltidsveckan (the Medieval Week). The event is from what I’ve heard – never participated myself, a mixture of the good (lectures by historians and archeologists) and the not so good (fire-eaters and acrobats in jarringly inaccurate costumes, mostly bad markets, and tourists in crushed velvet dresses or sack cloth tunics). The main redeeming quality of it has been the case that Visby, the town where the event takes place, has the right “air”, because of its many medieval buildings, and so, every year, a few serious re-enactors and living historians participate.

This summer, though, a really good event will be located there. It’s 650 years since the battle in 1361, and this will be commemorated by a brilliant re-enactment, The Battle of Wisby. The standards for participation in the battles and staying in the living history camp are high, and since the organizers are all avid reenactors (including a few members of Albrechts Bössor, the group I’m with), I know it will be a really good event. Most Europeans with an interest in medieval living history and re-enactment probably know about this event already, but I still wanted to mention it.

Varberg, 2010. Picture by Elin.

Just looking at the pictures from the one event I managed to attend last year have me longing for this summer. Tobias and I really hope to be able to go to BoW, but it’s dependant on us getting time off from work.

So Passes a Great Hunter

Anyone remember my cat Nils, that moved to my parents in the country when I started school last year? He’s lived there in happy freedom, coming and going as he pleased, with good hunting grounds, lots of people to pet him if he wanted, plenty of soft, warm places to take a nap in (preferrably a bed, armchair or sofa with a fuzzy blanket in it) and food to eat. He was a tiny little thing when I got him, but after running around outside for a year, he was a big, strong happy cat, and a very skilled hunter.

Nils, when he was a little cat living with me.

Last night a neighbour came by to tell my parents that Nils had been killed by a car. He is now mourned in various degrees by the whole family (from the sober “who’ll get rid of the mice and moles now?”, to much crying by my youngest sisters and brother). I didn't see him very often since he moved away, but I still feel a bit sad. At least I hope his death was a quick and painless one after a year of complete freedom.

Sunday 20 March 2011

Regency Stays - Eyelets

We had lovely spring weather today, it was almost warm. I didn’t feel very well, so I had stayed behind from church, and for a little while I sat in the sun just inside the open balcony door, with a shawl over my shoulders, and a blanket over my knees, looking through “Nineteenth century fashion in detail”, which I borrowed on the library the other day. The sun made my head ache, but part from that it was lovely.

This week I have had a lot of school to do, and I’ve had a headache for four days. Still, I’ve managed to get some knitting and sewing done. I have sewn slanting boning channels on the back panels of my regency stays (the stays I’m mostly inspired by had them), and made the 32 eyelets. They are not the prettiest eyelets I’ve ever made, but they’ll do. The stays will be spiral laced, as that was most common. As you see, the eyelets are set far from the top, since I intend to cut it lower than it is now.

I hope I’ll get started on the bust gussets next week, but we’ll see. I start working tomorrow, on a paediatric ward. I’m really looking forward to it, but I’m a bit nervous as well. The ironic thing is that I’ve been a patient at that same ward almost 24 years ago, as my family lived in this town for a year or so back then. Some of my new colleagues (from what I’ve heard) may well have worked there at the time.

Even though I appreciate the opportunity to be working with what I’ve studied for, I can’t help feeling a slight regret that I won’t be a “housewife” anymore. This past month has been very precious to me. My irregular work hours mean that some days (like tomorrow) Tobias and I will hardly meet at all, and that feels very, very sad. I look forward to the time (somewhere in the unknown future) when I can be a stay-at-home Mum. But, since I also have the last course on my specialist nurse education to finish, and I’ll be doing that parallel with working, I’ll only work three days a week for a couple of months. I’ll hopefully be able to be at home some of the rest of the days of the week. And that possibility feels good :)

Tuesday 15 March 2011


A couple of days ago it was my birthday. Tobias made me a surprise breakfast consisting of chocolate fondue with fresh apple, pear, raspberries and strawberries. That was such a nice way to start the day.

We had a pleasant, quiet day, both of us working on different projects. I made a pattern and mock up for an 18th century shortgown. I had wanted to make the pattern for a couple of weeks, but couldn’t face putting on the stays. Now I did, and the fitting went very well, but when I took out the fabric I had thought to use for it (leftover from my 14th century mustard kirtle), it wasn’t enough. Bleh. Well, at least I’ll have a pattern that fits perfectly when I do get a good fabric. I’ll use the other fabric for something else instead, most likely something 14th century for Tobias. I don’t really want us to be wearing the same colours, but if I make something smallish, it might do.

That day we also made cinnamon rolls, vanilla rolls and apple/almond paste rolls. They were very tasty and very many. We brought some over to my in-laws, where we were invited to dinner yesterday, and we’ve put a lot in the freezer.

I made a “wedding shelf” in a cabinet in our living room. The Willow Tree figurine was a wedding present from my parents, and I’ve put my bouquet and wreath, and Tobias’ boutonniere on leftover scraps from my veil (not wanting to risk damage to the real thing). It looks nice, I think, and since we haven’t ordered any wedding pictures yet, this is our only visible memory of the day for now.

More interesting sewing posts will come, I hope; school will intensify the coming couple of months, and with luck, I’ll start work very soon.

Sunday 6 March 2011

Looking Forward to Spring

The first two weeks of marriage has gone by fast, and we’re both adjusting to it very well. It hasn’t felt strange at all – the strange thing has been that it’s felt so natural.

I’ve started working on our wardrobes for the summer. I’m sewing a 14th century shirt for Tobias, in bleached linen. I only have a little hemming left on it.

I also finished a wimple I started on years ago - it’s made from the same half bleached linen the veil I wrote about last summer, and like that one, I’ve hung it up in the window to bleach a bit more (I would prefer it if they match). I’m a bit excited to be wearing a veil, like a proper married woman.

Both Tobias and I would like a garden eventually, but in the meanwhile, we’ll try to grow some herbs and veggies in our windows, and when it gets warmer, on the balcony. This week we sowed tomatoes, parsley, dill, and a few other things, and (after being from home since yesterday and nothing was visible) several little seedlings had come up this afternoon.

The tomatoes especially seem to grow quickly, they're an inch tall already. Interesting how thrilling such a simple thing can be.