Friday 15 June 2012

Medieval Festival in Lund

Last weekend we went to an event in Lund, a two day festival. I had made one more shirt and two more bibs for B, and a simple, but slightly creepy looking cloth doll, which is a good and rather liked chewing toy. 

I also started on another cotte for him on Thursday, and finished it on Saturday, as he was taking a nap in my lap. It’s partially lined with linen as his other cotte, and closes with seven cloth buttons. It’s made from the little fabric left from making my yellow kirtle, and Tobias’ yellow liripipe hood.

The site for the event, a park in the town, was a rather nice one, large enough not to feel crowded, but small enough to not make the distances too great. It’s location in the town was good in that it made it easy for lots of people to come to the festival, but less good in that we had our night sleep disturbed by loud passers by once or twice (the most memorable being some kids shouting something about the Lord of the Rings when startled by stumbling on our camp). The park has plenty of beautiful old trees, and during the early morning and late evening hours, animals came out to graze. One very big hare in particular caught our interest.  

 Picture by my father in law, J.W.

The weather was good for the most part. The rain poured down just as we were driving to the sight, and a few drops fell as we pitched our tents, but up till the hour before the event closed, we hardly had any rain at all. The temperature was a bit tricky though. At times it was quite hot, at least in the sun, so B wore nothing but linens, but at other times, wool was very comfortable to wear. I put B in modern tights and/or needlebound socks when it was cooler, as well as his cotte and, occasionally, hood. 

 Picture by my father in law, J.W.

As with most medieval festivals in Sweden, it’s more of a children’s festival with a “medieval” theme than giving a good representation of how a medieval market might have looked like. The same is the case with the visitors. The majority is wearing modern clothes, of course, and most of the people dressed up look more like something escaped from a Disney movie than anything remotely medieval. Apparently, anything not glaringly mainstream 21st century has got to be medieval. Ah well. Some people were doing a pretty good job, and a couple of times our eyes were gladdened by the sight of a few truly well dressed people. Tobias jokingly compared ours being the only group truly trying to be period with us being like the early Christian missionaries coming into the Nordic countries to convert the heathen. 

 Picture by my father in law, J.W.

 I don’t mind it being a children’s festival, but I do mind that the organizers claim they aim for everything to be as period as possible, when most things are not. A greater knowledge of history is clearly needed on their part.

We as a group had a good time though, as always with such lovely people; cooking, mending equipment, working on our different crafts, and in the case of me, Tobias and another couple of parents, tending to our babies. B was an angel, being in a good mood most of the time, sleeping well during the nights (warm and cosy in two layers of clothes, warm socks, mittens, a winter hat, sleeping with me on our big straw mattress, sharing my blankets, with Tobias on our narrow straw mattress right on his other side), and tolerably well during the days. He looked adorable in his little outfit, and he and the other baby must have been our best attractions, poor things. 

 Picture by my father in law, J.W.

Tobias took part in the weapon and fighting lectures, worked in the camp and was generally agreeable, which is more than what could be said for me.

 Picture by my father in law, J.W.

I was very tired, my back hurt like mad, and B wanted to be in my arms most of the time (not surprising with so many strangers and so many new things going on around him all day), so I missed quite a lot of what happened, couldn't help with the work in the camp, and all these things combined made me rather cross. On Saturday evening the tiredness and back ache was so bad I claimed I would stay at home from our next event, and never do living history again. Ever. Of course, by the following morning, after some sleep and subsiding of the pain, I thought living history the most charming hobby in the world. 

  Picture by my father in law, J.W.

There is something very agreeable about hearing wood being chopped, and smelling the smoke from the fire as you’re getting up. Wearing wool dresses in the cool morning hours as the sun is rising and drying the dew from the grass, conversing with friends – it really is a pleasure. I’m still ashamed of my bad temper and poor behaviour though.

 Lessons learned:

- Bring a baby sling next time, to save your back. I had planned to buy twill linen or hemp for one (the ones we have being far from period), but the trader didn’t have the fabric I wanted with them, but on another festival, in Norway. Too bad.

- Put B on a blanket more. I did this when possible, but as the weather had been less than fine all week, the ground was damp, and as we were using all of our blankets when sleeping, I didn’t want to get them wet. So, bring an extra blanket next time, and avoid back ache.

- Bibs are good (if we hadn’t had any, we’d have had to change B’s clothes a number of times), but having enough of them is better. We had to wash bibs several times, to make sure there was a clean and dry one when needed. I finished a new one yesterday.

- Something to cover the nappy is a good idea. Not necessary, but a good idea if there is time and energy to make it. With such a small child, the cotte or shirt rides up easily. Most visitors don’t mind (they’d probably have minded much more had we used period cloth nappies), but it would look better.

- Bring chocolate. Combating a bad mood is easier if your blood sugar is not too low. Raisins did a tolerable job, but chocolate being chocolate, it always cheers you up, no matter what the cause of your bad temper :)

- Don’t stress with last minute projects. Begin in good time, so you’re not stressed and tired as the event starts. Consider if the item you want to make really is essential, or would just be nice to have. If a project has you stressed from running out of time, drop it. It’ll make you more relaxed as the event starts. This one I’m not very good at…

Saturday 2 June 2012

Baby's Wool Hood

I have gotten far less sewing done than I had hoped lately, but quite as much as expected, as B is teething and thus rather clingy from time to time, my poor dear. Nothing for it but to give him a lot of attention (besides singing and playing, he likes reading – will he grow to be a bookworm like his parents?) and cuddles when he’s awake, and try to get house work and sewing done when he’s sleeping – which because of the aching teeth has been less than usual. Thank Heaven for modern pain medication when things are bad, or he’d hardly eat or sleep at all some days. I know all mothers (hopefully) feel like this about their little ones, but B really is the most adorable, lovable, beautiful and sweet baby boy in the world. I am so blessed to be his mother.

Anyway, this morning I finished B’s wool hood. It’s made of the same fabric and in the same style as my London hood. Now, buttoned hoods seem to have been more of a women’s fashion in the 14th century, but after carefully weighing the pros and cons, I decided to make it buttoned anyway. A buttoned hood is much easier to put on and take of, especially if B should happen to sleep, and the clothes of very little children don’t seem to have been all that gender specific. 

I wanted to line the hood in wool, as linen gets cold and icky when damp, and our Swedish summers are chilly and wet as often as they are hot and dry. As the weather forecast for our event next weekend looks rather less than promising, warm, comfortable clothes are an absolute must. I wanted very soft, non itchy wool as lining for the hood, and ran into the perfect thing in a charity shop a while back. It was a fine, thin, soft, 100% wool scarf. 

 I sewed the lining to the hood in the same way as in my own hood, and as the scarf was brown, and the lining in my hood is brown, we will have a sort of Mummy and Baby fashion thing going on. That was certainly not the plan, but one uses what one has at hand.  

What I had at hand wasn’t all that much, so the hood is pieced here and there.

The hood closes with thirteen small, self fabric buttons and buttonholes. I didn’t feel like measuring where to place them, nor how big the buttonholes should be, I just wanted to get the hood over and done with, so I placed pins at roughly even spaces, cut and sewed. Neither did I care on witch side the buttons and buttonholes ended up - it wasn't a thing one seems to have thought about much at the time. Not my prettiest work ever (I doubt two buttonholes are the same size), but it’ll hardly show on a child in constant motion.

The whole hood is hand sewn, of course, using waxed linen thread. It is pretty large for B at the moment, so he ought to be able to use it for the next couple of years as well.