20.000 clicks

… well, its closer to 22.000 when I write this, but it went so fast at the end there we didnt have time.

I never really thought that the blog would get this many clicks at all, even lesser in such a short time. But we said that if we got 20.000 hits we would do a video about something not very serious. And so we did.

So, here it is:

♦Ten ways to wear your hood!♦

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Winter is upon us.

10922461_903329519712312_2446594680176877832_nYesterday I woke up to a snow white landscape. I knew it would be one of those precious winter outings, my favourite. All seasons in the woods have their charm and beauty, but I have come to especially like cold weather because of how snow and ice really puts my kit and my skills to the test. I like to use my gear in different weather conditions to see if my craft and gear hold water, sometimes quite literally.

This was not only our first outing in snow for a long good while and Basilards first one ever. It was also première for our new grey kirtles, the winter clothing for hunters as recommended by Gaston Phoebus.

IMAG4615We had a heavy snowfall the day before but it was not very cold, just about -5°C/23°F. That means cold enough for nice dry snow, but not so cold it hurts if you dress accordingly. Dry snow is lovely to be out in, but wet snow can be difficult. Thaw is soon absorbed by our thin leather shoes and becomes freezing water. It makes your hose soggy and your feet hurt with cold until they numb. After some time walking in this state of misery, the damp permanently damages the shoes as well.

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Dry feet in dry snow.

You can never know if the weather will change when you are out, so I always grease my boots the day before a planned outing and it helps a little. As long as you keep moving it is usually alright, but even in dry snow our shoes absorb some water after a while. The thin leather sole is then half frozen, constantly warmed by the foot and cooled by contact with the ground. This gives you a better grip than you might expect if you are used to walking in rubber soled shoes on ice.

Boots with many buckles like mine are not the most common ones in period pictures. When they appear they seem to be worn only by the most wealthy in society. I had mine made for me three years ago after archaeological findings of shoes from 14th century Stockholm. I too feel that they are a bit luxurious, but usually I’m very happy with them.

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Before.

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After!

However, on previous winter outings I’ve sometimes had trouble with snow getting trapped in the shaft and slowly melting there to my discomfort. It happens when the shaft is too low or not tight enough around the ankle. Recently I had a friend who is a really good shoemaker help me put on an extra pair of buckles to solve the problem. It worked out very well, kept the snow at bay and I think it looks great. Thank you Sofia!

I had been looking forward to this outing for some time, longing for snow. Now I plunged my way through it with childish delight and Basilard seemed to enjoy it as well. He was on his best behaivour all day, but I doubt he has ever seen so much snow. This was really good training for him and I’m glad that he goes so well together with Johans Boudica.

10917330_902327219812542_6400472687767569062_nThe forest was so heavy with snow on some places that young trees arched down over the track just like the ceiling in a gothic cathedral. Stunningly beautiful, but also treacherous as the forest dropped little icy surprices over us when you expect it the least…

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Fur lined hood makes one happy hunter.

Both Johan and I had put on our hoods lined with rabbit fur for this occasion and agreed that it is the best winter garment you can get. It is easy to regulate the warmth by pulling the hood up or down and it protects your neck from snow dropping from the trees. The fur gives you that instant warm fuzzy feeling that makes you all glad when your ears are nippy.

Except for my hood for warmth I also wore fur lined mittens and three layers of wool kyrtils. The most thin and soft one closest to the skin to keep me dry and then increasingly more thick and coarse fabrics on top to keep the snow out. The new grey kirtle got heavily felted when I dyed it and turned out almost water-proof. The massive width makes it drape nicely and the folds of the fabric make little pockets of air, soon warmed by the body. I didn’t freeze one bit.

IMAG4598_1Johan was happy with the extra long sleeves on his new kirtle. Gloves and mittens are sometimes a bother when you are out and about, holding horns and spears and dogs and whatnot. But folded down, the sleeves keep the warmth around the hands even without gloves, and you will not likely loose them in the snow.

We stopped for a light meal as usual, but this time we skipped making10354590_10152571715607765_3887943407287273709_n a fire.  We were both warm enough anyway and most wood was deep frozen. If there had been a need for it, we could probably have found usable branches up under firtrees, but we didn’t feel the need to scavenge half an hour for it. Instead we gave the sausages meant for cooking to two very happy dogs and just had the wine and cheese for ourselves.

The tracks we saw told us that we were alone in the woods that day, apart from its inhabitants of wild boar, hare and roe deer. All in all, it was a lovely day out.

Want to see more? Check out our FB-album.

/ Emil

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The Manuscript Challenge: A boar hunters outfit.

This post is about the making of my new outfit, my answer to The Manuscript Challenge. I’ve done an interpretation of the dog-handler in a boar hunting scene from “Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio”, the King Modus manuscript from ca 1370.

I admit that this outfit is well within my comfort zone and not very different from what I already have in terms of gear. But I like how it looks, it fills a gap in my wardrobe and I thought that it could be fun to interpret something exactly from a picture in my favourite medieval hunting book. In this way I can be sure that what I’m wearing are things that are meant to go together and hopefully well suitable for the activity depicted.

1797515_10152160197582765_4688588845508775182_nAs you can see, this hunter is wearing a tight liripipe hood (the making of it is described in detail here) and matching hoses with fashionably pointy toes. Like many hunters on foot during this period, he is not wearing any shoes. That might lead us to suspect the hoses being soled with leather. Tiny stripes on the horn suggest that it could be carved decoratively and the thin baldric is crossed below the waist. He is also wearing a thin black belt.

The hunters blue kirtle is very well fitted and buttons down the front, probably also on the sleeves. It has a generous cut over the chest to achieve the masculine Gothic ideal, a muscular “dove-chest” contrasting the narrow waist and straight fit over the hips. The kirtle on my manuscript picture reaches to mid thigh where it ends with a softly dagged edge.

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To short and to tight!

I made the pattern myself, fitting my toille in front of the mirror. Being a bit to eager to get started, I made two stupid mistakes. Firstly, I didn’t take any pictures of this step of the making. Secondly, when I had stitched the kirtle together and dagged the bottom edge, all by hand, I realised that I had cut it to short and a bit to tight to begin with. I looked stupid with my breeches (linnen underwear) showing to much and it would be hard to do any hunting with dignity in such a tight kirtle. (Admittedly, I have no ambitions of really doing any real hunting or anything requiring dignity at all. But I’d prefer if it didn’t show to much. 😉 )

I had to insert a gore in the middle back to expand the fit over the hips. The first dagged edge was sacrificed. I cut it off so that I could add an extra piece of fabric, following the lines of the pattern and lengthening the whole garment about 25 cm. When that was done, I had to re-do the dagged edge, now wider. All this was about three extra days of work, re-doing things I knew I should have done from the start. In the end I had a kirtle that was a slight bit longer than I had planned in the first place, but it looked very much like my original picture.IMAG2278IMAG2279It is bitter and tedious work, mending up a mess you’ve made yourself. But once I got the length right, I celebrated my victory by turning my attention to things I actually enjoy doing: details like buttons, buttonholes and pretty edges. The thin woad blue twill was a dream to work with and I hand stitched everything with silk or waxed linnen thread.

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Curvy cut over the chest and a pretty tablet woven edge in silk.

A strip of linnen lining the inside and a tablet woven edge on the outside strengthens the buttonhole edges. I used silk yarn in the same woad-blue for the weft and ended up with 63 buttonholes all in all. 10 in each sleeve and 43 down the front. The buttons themselves look like little blueberries…

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Slowly getting there, still a few more buttons to go…

The kirtle is deliberately cut with a light curve over the chest and has medium size “grand assiette”-sleeves with a gore inserted over the shoulder in the back. This allows for maximum freedom of movement in arms and shoulders but still gives a nice tight fit. I also added a small standing collar because I like how it looks. It doesn’t show on my manuscript-picture because of the hood, but low collars like this one are seen on other pictures in King Modus.

Egen1I finished the whole kit just in time for an event this past weekend. I’m so happy with how it turned out, but also surprised by the princely 10479940_10152625157110708_7587428764304000842_olook it gives me. The kirtle look so much more glamorous than I expected! But as I’ve worn and torn it during this weekends adventures, it starts to feel more like me.

Johan carved the horn that I carried with the rest of the outfit. I love how it is decorated with winding bands of wine leafs, happy hares and playful greyhounds. It has got a characteristic smell of tar, beeswax and gunpowder that I wouldn’t mind having as a personal signature scent.

I made a simple thin baldric for my horn but have already started to work on a larger and wider one to be more elaborately decorated, in the style of Livre de Chasse. (More on hunting horns is hopefully coming in a later post.)

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Photo: Annie Rosén

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Photo: Annie Rosén

So this is it for my first manuscript challenge. It was fun and intense to make the outfit, all hand stitched and with extreme attention to every detail. Slightly challenging to correct my mistakes by enlarging the pattern for the kirtle at such a late stage and lots of extra work, but not very difficult.

I find it stimulating to work towards a tight deadline with a very clear picture of where you are going, so the manuscript challenge suits me very well. But now when I’m done with it, I think I’ll want to start over again with a new picture of a hunter in another manuscript and go for something harder for my next attempt…

Rather close, don’t you think? If you like my work, please let me know. If you like the dog or her chain-mail collar more, do tell Johan who let me pose with her, and not me. 😉

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  • Estimated time to make this hand sewn kirtle: + 80 h
  • Material needed: Blue twill wool, ca 1,70 meters, plus scraps of unbleached linnen. Sewing thread in silk and linnen, beeswax. The 63 buttons was made of leftover cloth. I had all the material at home when I started.
  • Total cost to make: ca 400 sek / 40 eur

A square hood.

Yesterday I finished the last item in a whole new outfit and I’m so pleased IMAG2068with how it turned out. My new kit consists of hoses, a tightly buttoned blue kirtle, a dashing hood and a hunters horn. All of it will come to good use this weekend when Johan and I have new kinds of awesome planned.

I will tell you all about my new outfit in devious detail, every piece of it, but I’ll start from the top and from the beginning. My new kit began with my love for the look of this hood.

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All the illustrations for today’s post are from one of the first copies of one particular manuscript (ca 1370), “Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio”, meaning roughly “The book of the hunt according to King Experience and Queen Theory”.

It is my favourite among the medieval hunting books I’ve studied so far and that is why I turned to it for inspiration when I needed a new outfit for our upcoming event, The Feast of St Eustace.

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The gathering of the hunters, just like we will do for the Feast of St Eustace.

 

“King Modus” show hunters and falconers in very late 14th century fashion. I especially like the cut and the colour of the hunters clothes.  I think everyone looks very sporty and smart in their tight buttoned kirtles. And then there is this unusually petite buttoned hood… 10513429_10152160197552765_2504682716337842305_n

The hoods in King Modus are very small and buttoned down the front. The cut of the “collar”-part is usually is more square than round-ish and it has crescent-shaped take outs for the shoulders. That means that the hood leaves parts of the shoulder bare. This arrangement locks the hood in place while it also allows for freedom of movement for the wearer.

If riding fast while hunting, I’d not like to have my hoods collar be flapping about up in my face. Because of the narrow cut, these sporty hoods are not so easily caught by the wind. And they sometimes even have small straps under the arms, to secure it further which also makes it possible to wear the hood opened and unbuttoned.

One picture that especially caught my eye features a riding man wearing a brown hood with some kind of edging in a contrasting colour. I have a thing for details, such as extra well worked edges. I immediately decided that I needed to make one exactly like it.

Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio (1354–1376)

Brown buttoned hood with edges in a contrasting colour.

There is something about the design that appeals to me. 10334440_10152915768687926_3643521291128983755_nThe extra tight fit, the straps and the neat cut over the shoulders helps to keep the hood in place when hunting, running or carrying stuff over your shoulder.

I interpret it as something very much like medieval sportswear and I love the idea of it.  It didn’t take me long to make one for myself and soon found that it works extremely well in action.

1607093_10152912185057926_1529879692656500492_nJohanAmong other things I’ve tried running and jumping, throwing spears, building barricades, loading and firing a handgun. You can do basicly anything without being disturbed by a hood turning round your neck, trying to choke you.

I cannot claim it to be a hunters hood exclusively, it does appear in other contexts and other manuscripts as well. But I think it fair to call it a King Modus hood, since it is so commonly seen in this manuscript.

To make it I used the mock-up pattern of another hood I’ve made before, but I made it much smaller and tighter. Hunters hood EMIL I also cut away crescent-shaped bits for my shoulders to fit in and added the optional straps.

I used a heavy brown wool twill, the leftovers from making the hoses you see above. This hood doesn’t take much fabric at all. As it is supposed to fit real snug around my face and neck, I added a thin soft wool lining. (And don’t you even think of using linnen for lining a hood. Even if it is soft to touch, it gets cold and wet because the flax fibers keep water.)

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Tablet weaving the edge that joins the outer fabric with the lining.

 

After fitting everything properly together and making sure the lining wasn’t bulging or creasing anywhere, I backstitched it all together with waxed linnen thread by hand, the way I usually do things. Buttons are made by leftover cloth and I did not put them closer together than strictly necessary, as I want the hood to be real fast to put on.

I used a period method for lining that is as beautiful as it is simple. You only get a glimpse of it here where the seam allowance of the outer fabric is folded over the lining. Then it is sewn down over filler threads to make the seam more durable.

Lastly I finished off the edges all around the hood with a tablet woven edge, just like some of the hoods from Herjolfsnes are done. It means in this case that the outer fabric and the lining of the hood is joined with a woven edge. It is sewn on to the hood while weaving, with weft for sewing thread.

My friend Bertus Brokamp made a hood like this some years ago and recently wrote about it here. Check it out for further references, he has done some genuine research!

But what about the rest of my new outfit?

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Once I’d gotten as far as finishing a King Modus-style hood in the same fabric as my hoses I had to change my target picture. I realised that for several reasons, this picture of a hunter on foot with a horn over his shoulder and a dog in leash suits me and my reenacting much better. And the brown hood and hoses are still game!

I only needed a buttoned blue kirtle and a horn. I had all the fabric I needed. So, there I was, contemplating a thin woad blue twill that had been warming space in my fabric storage for years. I had just started to cut out the pieces for my new kirtle when Maria came out and challenged me and the rest of internet to take on “The Manuscript Challenge”.

The manuscript Challenge rules, in short:

  •  Choose one picture from a medieval manuscript, and choose wisely.
  • Publish your picture, stating that you take on the challenge and describe the outfit.
  • Create your outfit according to the wearer’s outfit, as shown in the picture.
  • Let others in on your progress! Upload pictures of how you proceed, blog about it!
  • Ask for help, tips and advice if you feel the need and wish to do so.
  • Use whatever materials or techniques you wish. The idea is to recreate a visual copy of your chosen image.
  • You have one year to finish.

If you’ve followed me so far, you’ll see how well the project suits me and how close I was to finish already when I picked up the challenge. I sure got a head start!

But the glorious goal for me is to re-create not only the clothes but also the picture I used for inspiration, the one with the dog. I’m not properly done until that picture with me as doghandler is published here. The gear is done. I only need a large white dog of the right type and a cooperative photographer. I hope to be able to make the photo shoot happen sometime this week.

Until then, stay tuned and I’ll give you a sneak-peak of my kit…

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/ Emil