Saturday 31 August 2013

Heathen Peas - 14th Century Sweets

Tobias and I had a sort of lecture, for want of a better word, in our church last Wednesday, on the 14th century, as there is a medieval fair in a neighbouring community this weekend, which many attend. To add interest we served “Heidenische Erweiz”, Heathen Peas, based on Peter’s interpretation of a German mid 14th century recipe - go there for more information.

"If you would like to make peas from Bohemia, take almond kernels 
and beat them very small and mix with a third as much honey. 
and mix well with good spice, so it is at its best. 
this food can you give cold or warm."

I made some slight alterations to the recipe. As I was tired and running out of time, I used almond meal instead of grinding almonds myself. I suppose the meal was a bit finer and drier than freshly ground almonds would have been, so I had to add a bit more honey than the recipe said. It turned out very well indeed, I think. I took a lesser amount of black pepper than of ginger, and it seemed to be a good mix – even little B loved it.

I spread the hot mixture on an oven paper and let cool. 

I had planned to do the simple version, and just cut squares, but I don’t think I’d boiled the mixture long enough, so it was still rather sticky. I decided to make “peas” from the soft mixture after all. To prevent them from sticking to each other I rolled them in almond meal. It both looked and tasted very nice, and was quite popular at the lecture.

 So there you go, 14th century sweets.

Thursday 22 August 2013

From Blouse to Pillowcase

What with my pause from historical sewing (on which I’ve done very well indeed, though I say so myself: but my head is full of ideas and plans) I don’t really feel like I have a lot to write about… Sure, I’m working on a few contemporary things (and I use the word in it's broadest possible sense), but they’re not yet ready to be blogged. I do however have one tiny thing.

A couple of days ago I cleaned out my wardrobe; a few things I’ll give to my younger sisters, a number of things have gone to a charity shop. Some things were so worn and faded they were not fit to use at all. I scavenged the buttons and let the rest go the way of all the earth. A few old blouses were too small for me, or in a style I don’t really use, but had bought because I liked the fabric. These I put aside. Some of them will end up in quilts, some might be made into baby dresses if ever I have a daughter. And one I made into a pillow case, with a ready made, working buttoned opening and all. I ripped the dart seams, measured, sewed, cut and finished the edges. Simple as that. It's actually hand sewn as I did it while watching a movie.

You can still see the marks from the darts, but I hope most of them will go away in the laundry. Now, the pillow is not in it’s best element in our sofa – on a white bead spread in a bright summer room I believe it will look delightful. And it’s reused, which feels good. The scraps that are left will also be used, as with so many scraps in my home, in a quilt.

Thursday 15 August 2013

Researching Swedish Folk Costumes – a Short Guide

One of my most popular, and most commented, posts is A Long Post on Swedish Folk Costumes. A lot of those who ask for help researching Swedish folk costumes are Americans with Swedish ancestry. To help you I’ve put together a list of a few good search words.

Made in 1891, but the costume is from about 1800-60. Headdress missing.

Before I present the list I will first point out a few things. First, not every location in Sweden had a traditional costume, far from it. Actually, most places did not – the people there wore a local, simpler take on the current fashion. (During the late 19th and long into the 20th century, areas that had no documented folk costumes created their own, sometimes based on one piece of clothing, at other times based on nothing at all but what the comity thought would look nice. In those cases it will of course be impossible to find any solid documentation.) 

 Second, the costumes that did exist did not look the same through the centuries or even the decades – they may have evolved slower than the regular fashions (as a set of clothing - especially festive clothing - was often supposed to last your whole life, and was frequently inherited by your children), but they did evolve. When wanting to make a costume you have to decide on when and where (narrow it down as much as you possibly can) it’s supposed to be from, so that all the individual garments will make a proper outfit. 

To illustrate how a certain style changed over time while still retaining some of it's characteristics, the pictures in this post are of bodices from the same dräktområde (meaning an area where the costumes where much the same), under close to a hundred years, from about 1770 at the earliest to 1860 at the latest.

Maljor (buckles) for lacing, silk ribbon trim (very frayed) 
and a linen valk (the padded roll at the bottom) for the skirts to rest on.

Here’s a list of names on different garments:
Särk: shift
Strumpor: stockings
Skor: shoes
Liv, livstycke, snörliv: different names for a sleeveless bodice, laced, buttoned or hooked closed
Kjol, klocka, stubb: different words for skirt or petticoat
Livkjol: a bodice and skirt stitched together, often, but not always, made from different fabrics
Förkläde: apron
Tröja, kofta: jacket
Mössa, hätta: cap
Klut, huvudduk, huvudkläde: head kerchief
Halskläde: neckerchief
To complicate matters, Sweden has a lot of different dialects, and so the names of clothing often had local varieties. I do not have knowledge of them all.

Some words that might be useful regards the materials used in the clothing:
Lin, linne: linen
Bomull: cotton
Ull, ylle: wool
Halvylle, verken: a fabric woven on a linen or cotton warp with a wool weft
Silke, siden: silk
Sammet: velvet
Spets: lace
Läder, skinn: leather

Some useful words describing methods of closing are:
Snörning, snörhål: lacing, eyelets
Hyska, hyskor: eye, eyes
Hake, hakar: hook, hooks
Knapp, knappar: button, buttons

A good place to start searching is DigitaltMuseum; a database used by several museums, most prominently Nordiska Museet. You can specify your search by period (tidsperiod) or location (ort).

I hope this quite short list of words may help you in your research. Google Translate will help you further, but some of the words listed here are a bit too specialized for that. If there’s a word you wonder about, please drop me a comment and I’ll include it in the list if I can.