This past weekend I attended Abbey Medieval Festival as a 15th century reenactor with my new and improved textile workspace. Having a place I could permanently have my stuff set up in and having a few friends in the workspace with me worked much better than last year.
There were some things that went well on the weekend, and some things that didn’t go as planned, but I’ll start with the positives.
I had a rainbow of woo! The naturally dyed wool got a lot of love over the weekend and it was great to see people interested. It got people talking about the colours of the middle ages and people were interested in both the actual science of dyeing as well as general discussions about the relative cost of different colours.
Speaking of dyeing, my dyeing vats were fit for purpose and lasted the weekend. I got a lot of compliments on my “clay ovens”. Of course, what they were was a pot from bunnings, turned upside down and assaulted by an angle grinder, standing on an inverted bird bath top.
I also managed to get the madder to the right temperature, which considering I had only my hand as a thermometer and a fire in a pot, I was pretty proud of.
I had a lot of fun with the magic of indigo. I discovered that people were continually stopping by so rather than dyeing big skeins of wool, a small bit of cotton string worked well for showing the same thing 50 billion times.
We also had fun with cochineal and watching it change different colours. Oh, and I had a bunch of cool stuff.
And yes, my dyes and mordants actually made it there and back in glass jars with no mishaps.
I really liked the signs I made
I made over 30 or so of these all up, and also put them in our woodworking workspace.
And of course I had some friends with me this year, two dedicated ladies with me:
And some friends the dropped by:
Finally I took a photo of me wearing the same outfit as painted in my sign which I’ve wanted to do for a while.
While I had a great time, there are some things I want to change for next year.
First of all, we were meant to be set up by midday Friday, and due to a series of events that didn’t happen. This meant that I didn’t spend Friday doing videos as planned, nor did I spend it getting my dyeing all set up (I planned on getting some dyes soaking and some yarn mordanted ready for saturday morning). This put me half a day behind with my planned dyeing and meant I didn’t do a lot of dyeing that I wanted to do. We have taken note for next year what and when slowed us down and the elements we can control will be changed so next year we can plan to be ready earlier.
My spinning wheel looked fantastic, it was built by my friend who had never seen a spinning wheel before and he finished it the day before we started setting up. We were meant to spend some of Friday trying to tweak it to get it working, which didn’t happen. On the positive side I did receive some advice on the weekend and we know what needs to be done to get it operational.
I also should have laid some of my stuff out more neatly, I meant to but didn’t get around to it. oops.
Group photo- we planned on taking a big group photo of all of us. Group photos are very hard to do at events, by the time everyone has had breakfast and is dressed and ready it is close to 8:30 and the public are in and you’ve got to be working. Especially this year, it was so cold I lazed in bed until 6am! Two and a half hours isn’t long when you have so much to do and need to get the fire started so you can make breakfast (not to mention hot water on to boil so you can wash up after breakfast). Everything takes longer in the 15th century.
Now I’m back to the future, and coming back to reality. There are many things I love about the future, like being able to have a hot coffee before I properly wake up. Or plugholes. You know, after you have finished with a sink full of wash water you just pull the plug and out it goes? No need to carry it somewhere away from camp to empty.
But of course, I’m already talking and planning the next event. I’ve applied to be a presenter at the Queensland Living History Federation’s conference, I presented the year before last (last year they ran it the weekend I was getting married so I obviously didn’t attend). So (Hopefully) the next event I’ll be attending is that where I’ll be presenting, but I haven’t heard back yet from the organisers so we’ll see.
What a wonderful experience. Each time presenting you learn so much and have fun too! What a life! It all looks really great …. I am glad the public has a way to see what they normally could only read a dry description about.
Thank you Kim! Yes, a lot of fun and a lot of lessons every time 🙂
Wonderful natural colors and your setup is great. We do a similar textile production program in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park; the period of interpretation is 1821 – 1872. So far, I do the dyeing behind the scenes. You may inspire us to try dyeing at one of our summer special events.