Back to the Future

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We also had fun with cochineal and watching it change different colours. Oh, and I had a bunch of cool stuff.

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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

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I made over 30 or so of these all up, and also put them in our woodworking workspace.

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And of course I had some friends with me this year, two dedicated ladies with me:

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And some friends the dropped by:

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Further Adventures in Natural Dyeing

So I havent had much chance to do dyeing for the past couple of weeks. This past weekend I went to a reenactment event where I met up with some dyeing friends from Rafnheim who dyed a beautiful array of colours.

So I was itching to get back to some dyeing and yesterday I put aside half a day and played with some new colours.

First I wanted to play with some of my flowers, so I soaked some marigold.

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The first colours I got were a nice sunny yellow.

I read adding iron would make green.

So I added iron. I didn’t quite get green, so for the last skein I added a hint of gardenia blue. The results below.

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From left to right, the skein with a hint of gardenia blue, marigold with iron (three skeins) and just marrigold.

When I bought these inside today the middle ones did look a bit more greenish.

With the fustic I found I had to leave the skeins in the iron overnight to get the green to develop, so maybe I’ll have to try that next time.

Meanwhile, did you notice that purple in the earlier photo? I know, right?

While not a new dye to me, I bought some different cochineal from a different supplier. I ordered it from America and this came in bug form that I ground. I dyed one skein and I got this beautiful deep purple.

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This second photo is a little brighter than it is in real life, the other photos are more colour accurate on my monitor.

Then I had still colour in the dye bath, so I kep going, and so did the cochineal!

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I dyed three more skeins in varying shades of pink. I then dyed another skein! But there was so little cochineal left I added a smidge of my powdered extract and a small amount of cream of tater.

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I got the very bright colour to the left. Te middle is another marigold with gardenia (I dyed two, only one is in the above photo).

I tried dyeing with brazilwood. I should have looked up instructions because I just added some to some water and added my yarn. The brazil wood was powdered but all the bits stuck to my yarn, maybe it would be better to have chips and soak then drain? or try to pass the water through a mesh before using to filter the powder out?

But at any rate, I got a couple of pretty colours pictured below, and the one to the far right int he photo above.

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Here are all (except three) of my happy colours out on the line.

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Now I just need to hope I have time for dyeing next weekend and to decide what colours to do!

 

 

I’m not dead, I’m dyeing!

I know it’s been a while since an update, once again I’ve been busy.

At work I’m seconding in a position I hope to one day become permanent in (I work full time).

Our home business is growing in leaps and bounds, as is the time it requires. We’ve taken the shop to a few events recently too which is always a lot of work (but generally a lot of fun too!)

We have 5 and a half acres to maintain. We’re working on renovating our home, getting it up to the building code and extending it (land is huge, house is the size of a postage stamp and built in the 1950s with a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude to building safety. We’re talking stairs with no railings and doors that open into mid-air two stories up people.)

I’ve been growing and doing some exciting work concerning 15th century spinning and my presence at events.

Apparently I still have other hobbies and a life outside all of this- like family birthdays and my parents love me and want to spend time with me and how is it almost June already?

You’ll notice I didn’t mention housework anywhere in the above list. I’m also not inviting you over to my house any time soon unless you’re here to clean. Just saying.

Bu today’s blog post is about the point I glossed over above and referenced partially in the title- growing 15th century spinning.

Last year at Abbey Medieval Festival I had a little 15th century spinning display.

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It was a partial success, but room for improvement. One issue is I was really sick at Abbey and not up to talking all day. Another issue was I couldn’t be there all the time and couldn’t see the display when I wasn’t there, which meant every time I left it I had to pack down and set up again.

This year I will have a bigger tent that can be closed, meaning I can leave it. I also have some friends helping me so that there will always be someone there. I’ll have more crafts… including dyeing!

I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of natural dyes, some medieval, some not so, and have been dyeing up a storm.

Which brings me to the title of the post.

I’ve bought a large range of different dyes and am having a lot of fun.

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I’ve dyed a bit with cochineal, I have an extract as the shop I bought it from idn’t have the whole bugs.

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I’ve managed to get some really red reds from it, some slightly orange reds and some nice pinks.

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I’ve yet to get purple. I’ve ordered some actual cochineal bugs and am looking forward to seeing the difference in colour.

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I’ve really enjoyed the colours I’ve got from madder and want to order more.

You can see me talking about my results with madder and cochineal in my video.

I’ve also dyed a range of yellows and blues and greens, which I talk about in part two of my video.

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Something else which I’ve done recently is attended my first LARP event. I only went for one day (there was a three-way clash that weekend, so I managed to go to two out of three events). I really enjoyed it, it was interesting seeing the role-playing and quests. Some of the costumes were just fantastic. I only spend 15 minutes in the afternoon taking photos so I missed some fabulous ones. For example, there was one group dressed as cats and they had prosthetics on their nose and mouths to make them more cat-like and painted their whole face to look like cats! Just really awesome. So I thought I might share some photos of the LARP below.

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So that’s all for today, I know I have some lovley messages and comments to catch up on- I feel bad when I can’t reply to them all so I tend to leave them until I have time to reply to them all… You know how it goes.

But look out for future dyeing posts as I have lots of yarn left to dye and lots of dyes to try!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abbey Medieval Festival- Sunday

Things started slow on Sunday morning. While I got to bed at a reasonable hour some of our group got to bed at 4am! It’s not unusual for people to be getting UP at about 4:30am. And no, it wasn’t just the young ones! Lol.
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I had a little more time on Sunday as we didn’t have the tournament and I was feeling a little better.

I managed to visit the 14th century encampment where I took a few videos.
Here is my friend tablet weaving:

The other videos I’m yet to edit, but I took some in the fantastic Historia encampment where they had a lot of artefacts on display. You can see some snippets of these videos in my highlights video here:

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I also had time to watch (and video) my group running the Tournament of Strength and Skill, which I’m still editing the individual videos for but you can see the overview here.

Once again I had my fingerloop and spinning demos.

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I was also really happy to see my first ever medieval dress worn again. This dress is about 13 years old and still has a lot of life left in it:

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Actually, a few of my dresses were worn by people other than me. The tally over the weekend also included:

My green and gold silk cioppa (you may have spotted it on my friend in the first photo of this post.
My gold silk sleeves
My green sleeves
My jaffa dress (orange gironea)
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My pink wool kirtle

I have a friend who has borrowed my brown giornea for the past few events but she had a new kirtle of her own for this event

I was really planning on doing some videos of me spinning, but unfortunately I was too sick on Thursday and Friday (also it was raining on Friday) to get them done. At my demo on Sunday I did manage to give and film an impromptu spinning lesson.

Now things are finally settling down from Abbey. Taking the shop is a lot of work. I had the event itself off from helping on the shop, but am still involved of course in the pre and post work which is significant.  But I hope really truly to do some more videos soon. My husband bought me a bunch of spindles from a new (to me) shop so I hope to do a video review of each of them.

Abbey Medieval Festival Wrap-up

I know it’s been over a month, but I have finally gotten around to blogging about Abbey Medieval Festival 2017. Sadly a few days before I came down sick so my experience and participation was somewhat diminished this year. That, and the rain on Friday resulted in my not being able to do my planned videos, but I hope to take some more soon.
This year we packed the truck on Wednesday (thanks to my fantastic friend Amy who not only came over to help pack but also cleaned my kitchen for me because I felt too sick for packing or cleaning!) and drove up on the Thursday and started setting up. Fortunately we got all our tents set up on Thursday, because Friday was raining.

I was feeling pretty sick on Friday but still managed to ‘make an appearance’ for my friend’s knighting ceremony by throwing my gown over my modern clothes… then went to bed pretty early.

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Saturday

 

Saturday was a busy day. First we had parade, then we hung out at the castle as we only had a short break between parade and our show. (well, everyone else hung out while I ran back to get my camera). I did manage to film our show

 

Then it was back to the encampment for lunch, then to go straight into the fingerloop demonstration and my spinning demonstration was the last of the day.

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(please excuse the crappy veil in the photo, my coif which I spent a long time ironing fell out of my suitcase when I was packing and it was too hot for me to tolerate my red wool hood)

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Saturday afternoon a friend from a neighbouring group was knighted. This year my group decided not to have a feast on Saturday night, so the other groups around us brought the feast to us!

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Of course, Saturday night is the night for shenanigans. First of all us ladies held the court of love, which is where we typically talk about all the horrible things the menfolk have done and come up with a punishment for them. Horrible things can include stepping on a lady’s dress, accidently swearing in front of a crowd or losing their hat (one year every time we found a hat or hood not on a head or put away us ladies picked it up and stowed it in a safe place then presented this as evidence for their carelessness. We were accused of ‘stealing’ their hats, lol!). Punishments vary but my favourite was when we asked them to perform swan lake for us. They gave us a dance from the Nutcracker with the music provided by themselves singing ‘da da da da da but I was so impressed they knew some ballet.

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In this year’s court of love we decided that we couldn’t fault our men, and came back with praise, and asked they honoured us by giving us a performance of their choosing. Unfortunately for us, the court of chivalry had something to say about us ladies, which you can see in this video…

Following this the boys gave us a presentation of the movie ‘The Terminator’ and as our punishment we ladies were asked to give a presentation of the ‘The Termanitor 2’. Unfortunately none of us ladies new the plot so we improvised. We had one lady play the fire (by waving candles around), one lady play The Termanator (complete with terrible accent performed with gusto), me playing John Connor, another lady playing Sarah Connor and finally two ladies playing a pot and one lady playing a spoon.

The plot went that Sarah was at home cooking and the terminator came home declaring he was ‘soo tired from being at work all day doing noooothing’ that she had to drop what she was doing right away and get him some water. Unfortunately while he attended to his needs the spoon caught fire and burnt and he was angry. The next day the same thing happened, but Sarah remembering the day before did not abandon her cooking, and the terminator died from dehydration.

I really wish I had videoed our performance because I’ve never laughed so hard, but I was busy playing John Connor (who was too busy playing video games to help the terminator or Sarah)

After this we played some games and enjoyed some recitations and generally had a really good time.

The court of love and chivalry are all in good fun and do kick the evening off and encourage people to get up and contribute to the enjoyment of the evening.

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And because this is a long post already, I’ll do Sunday in a separate post…

15th Century Spinning Will be at Abbey Medieval Festival 2017

Once again I’ll be at Abbey, so if you’re in QLD, Australia, come and visit on the 8th and 9th of July! The official program isn’t out yet but I should be on at 3:45pm each day. I’ll also be doing fingerloop braiding around 1:15pm each day.

 

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Once the official program is out I’ll link it and show you on the map where I’ll be.

I really hope to be able to get some more vidos of me spinning at the event, with any luck I will actually have some time on Friday after we’re set up and I also hope to get some during the event. I’ve had a request to do one on different types of grasped spinning and I’ll try to get a friend to video my shows, but if there’s anything else you’d like me to do a video on, please ask.

Video Wednesday- Busy Not Spinning

I’ve been pretty busy these past few weeks.

First I got married.

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Then this past weekend I attended History Alive, a multi-period re-enactment event that sadly got mudded out on the Sunday due to excessive rain on Saturday night and early Sunday morning. The rain eased early but the mud was there to stay and the mud made the entrance to the grounds and the car parks unsafe.

I did manage to enjoy myself on the Saturday though, and had the best time I’ve ever actually had at this event. The morning I spent helping with our shop, Make Your Own Medieval. The afternoon I spent visiting some other re-enactment groups and talking to them about their crafts and activities.

I visited my friend Rosalie from Rosalie’s Medieval women and saw her display of artifacts.

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The ladies of my re-enactment group had a go at fabric stamping at the encampment of Karvan-saray and now have plans for fabric stamped wall hangings.

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I took a short video of the fabric stamping.

My friend and I then decided to attend a shoe making workshop, but took a wrong turn and as we walked past a display of coloured wool we stopped to ask if it was naturally dyed. Well, it was and the group spent almost half an hour talking to us about their crafts- it was like a private show.

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I took some video of this as well.

My friend is also interested in researching 15th century dyes and doing some dyeing of our own, so I’ll see if we can get something happening at our reenactment group’s den after the reenactment season.

After this we watched a woodworking display, which I videoed but haven’t yet put up (I might not, there were a lot of people in front of me so the video might not have come out too good and an inkle weaving workshop done on modern inkle looms. The looms were for sale and I was very tempted, as I was last time, but I don’t think I have room or time for another modern loom. I’d rather a box loom I can use at home and take to events.

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I planned on spending Sunday doing some spinning videos but due to the cancelation I had to pack down the stall in four inches of mud instead.

My schedule is pretty jam-packed for the next few weeks, but I hope I might be able to get some video at Abbey Medieval Festival in July- we’ll see, I’ve got a couple of shows planned each day and things can get pretty crazy at Abbey.

Video Wednesday- Drop spindle vs European Suspended Spinning.

Drop spindle spinning is the name we give to a type of suspended spinning that is very popular amongst modern crafters. We give it this name to differentiate it from other types of spinning. There are other ways to spin suspended. I don’t always spin suspended but when I do it’s different to the drop spindle spinning you might be familiar with. In this video I talk briefly about the difference.

Video Wednesday- How I Dress my Distaff with Wool

I get asked a lot to do a video of how I dress my distaff with wool. I haven’t, because there are already great blog posts and videos out there, and I just ‘put my wool on’. I haven’t really researched much about distaff dressing.

But people still ask so at AROW I took the chance to do a quick video of how I dress my distaff.

If you’d like to read a great blog post on dressing a distaff I recommend you read Ode to a Distaff.

 

 

What can female reenactors can do?

I read a blog post recently saying one of the down sides of re-enacting was being a female reenactor as they weren’t allowed to dress as a male off the battlefield and women were only allowed to do four things in their camp—and spinning wasn’t even one of them!

So I thought I’d start compiling a list of historically accurate tasks, crafts and roles for female personas and make a page for these on my other blog.

So, if you have anything you’d love me to add to the list, leave a comment!

 

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Photograph of Cathelina di Alessandri spinning thanks to http://rosaliegilbert.com/