And the Manos Silk goes to…

Christine!  Who asked if knitting with Manos was worth looking into.  Well, now you can make up your own mind!

I’ve only recently started reading Christine’s blog, but I think it’s a new favourite already.  For a start, I love her blog design: it makes me feel peaceful and contemplative the moment I see it.  Secondly, she’s been inspiring me to actually start sewing again: it’s been a very long while since I made any clothes for myself.  Well, apart from last September’s Tudor Madness, anyway.  And that’s almost a year ago!

Thirdly, and certainly not least, she’s talking about knitting Rogue (again! – this will be her second!) sometime in the future.  Rogue was one of the patterns that inspired me most when I picked up needles again, back in – when?  2005?  Anyway, I put the idea to one side for a while, until I had more experience – and I never got around to starting it!  Anyway, she suggested that we could knit it together (and I’m sorry – I never replied.  I am a dreadful correspondent)..  Which sounds like a lot of fun to me!  Would anyone else be up for a mini-knit-along?

Anyway, congratulations, Christine: send me your postal address, and I’ll get your new yarn in the post ASAP!


67) The day after

I found the coif; it was in the Pile Of Stuff on the stairs, official status 'waiting to be put away', where it had been for the last fortnight.

The day went awesomely.  I finished pretty much *everything*, except the lacing holes in my sleeves.  The lack of this half-hour job meant that my sleeves were falling down all day, and, by the end of the afternoon, had pulled my shift sleeves down with them, so I was sporting the off-the-shoulder wench look.  Not my favourite, but I don't think many other people noticed.

I talked myself hoarse, and still have a badly sore throat.  This means I did my job well, and I am Pleased.

I have but a single photograph, snagged from Bob and Katy's photostream (I used to work with Bob!  Thanks, Bob!):


Yes, my sleeves are falling down.  I am knackered.  More to follow.

66) Losing it

It's Saturday morning; the event is tomorrow.  Everything is running smoothly.  Today will be full, but not crazy, and I should even be able to take the evening off.

Except I've lost my coif.  It's linen, white, completely handstitched, and quite small.  I have the pieces to make another – but I think they're vacationing along with the finished one.

I don't think I have enough linen left to make another.  Not in the right weight/colour, anyway.


65) The Thursday Tudor: photo updates

Here's the kirtle (the main dress) so far, on the dress dummy:


It doesn't really fit the dummy, despite being set to the same measurements as mine, because I'm squishable and the dummy isn't.  In that photo, the shoulder straps have been finished and the skirt cut to length (but not yet hemmed); to contrast, here's a shot of me in the dress when I was fitting the straps:


It laces a bit more closed on me, eh?  That's not the shirt I plan to wear under the dress, by the way; it's just the one I happened to have hanging around…

And a back view, again when the straps were being fitted:


I really like this shot!  I think the fit of the bodice is pretty good, the strap placement is great, and the pleats of the skirt look fab (or will once the fabric is ironed, anyway).  The one thing I'm not enamoured of is the big, horizontal wrinkle you can see above the waist.  I *think* I've sorted that one out by shortening the straps a bit, but only time will really tell…

I'm also really proud of the waist closure on the petticoat:


The cord is just a piece of finger-braiding (learned from here), but for some reason, I think the whole thing just *works*.

And I'm sure you'll also be glad to hear that I've not been neglecting the demo itself.  I want to be able to show spinning wool, flax and silk, and I've finally got the distaff fitted to my wheel and dressed:


Not the neatest job in the world, perhaps, but it's done.  And I can spin from it, which is a definite bonus. 

As for my day-by-day plan?  Well, that went a bit wonky.  For a start, it didn't include the whole 'sleeves' issue (yes – the fabric arrived yesterday).  Secondly, I had an evening off yesterday, and went out for dinner and drinks with friends.  So the progress stands as follows, with items in italics being things that I forgot to account for the first time round:


  • Cut hem of dress to final length – done!
  • Finish cone distaff, and dress it – done!
  • Attach cuffs to shift – half done.


  • Finish partlet – nearly there – needs ironing and a hook/eye closure
  • Hem shift
  • Mark neckline for shift
  • Wash sleeve fabric – done


  • Hem shift neckline
  • Attach ties to shift cuffs and coif
  • Dye sleeve fabric


  • Hem skirt and lining
  • Warp loom
  • Finish getting all demo materials together
  • Make sleeves
  • Stockings??


  • Anything left over…

64) The Tuesday Tudor – Always blame the medication

OK, feeling much better about this whole thing now.  And I think my mini-meltdown on Thursday can be blamed, at least in part, on some weird and freaky antibiotics that I've been prescribed.  The listed possible side-effects include various mood disturbances, including 'an urge to self harm'.  Although I haven't suffered that particular kind of fun, I was certainly withdrawn, cranky and very much on edge for the six hours after taking a dose for the first few days.  I seem to be tolerating the stuff better now, which is just as well as I have another ten days of the course to go, and I've also shifted the times I take the meds, so that I'm asleep for one of the two unpleasant periods per day, and at work for the other.

My must-do list now looks like this:

  • Hem petticoat – done!;
  • Add fastening to petticoat – done!;
  • Sew shoulder straps on dress – done!;
  • Hem dress – hem is hanging;
  • Make lacing for dress – in progress, and I've also found an alternative;
  • Organise equipment and materials for the actual demo – in progress.

Which, I think you'll agree, is much, much more sane that it was on Thursday.  In addition, the partlet is nearly done, and all the machine sewing is complete on the shift.

Unfortunately, the fabric I ordered for the sleeves has not (yet) arrived, which is cutting things really fine for Sunday's demo, especially since I'll have to dye it.  I might have to go for an alternative, or try adapting some that I already have.  I'm going to go for a day-by-day list today, just to see how my remaining time is likely to block out:


  • Cut hem of dress to final length
  • Finish cone distaff, and dress it
  • Attach cuffs to shift


  • Finish partlet
  • Hem shift
  • Mark neckline for shift


  • Hem shift neckline
  • Attach ties to shift cuffs and coif


  • Hem skirt and lining
  • Warp loom
  • Finish getting all demo materials together
  • Stockings??

Phew.  That all looks rather achievable.  It doesn't include anything about the sleeves, of course, but there should be enough wiggle-room around the edges to fit that in, as long as the fabric shows up today or tomorrow…

63) Even I’m getting sick of the Tudor thing now.

Right.  It's Friday again – and I have another three-day weekend.  I've booked off this coming Monday (for sewing and other preparations), and next Monday (for recuperation).  I've been working my socks off on the Tudor outfit, and I don't feel like I've made all that much headway on the to-do list.

In fact, last night was the first time that anxiety and stress has made a significant appearance, and I felt like I was slogging on with the work, rather than launching myself at it with energy and enthusiasm.  I was scaling up a pattern for a partlet, and nothing – nothing – seemed to be going right.

I got there in the end, and even cut out the fabric and pinned it together.  It looks good.  But it wasn't fun.

I think the problem is that nothing is actually finished.  The petticoat needs hemming.  The kirtle (the main dress bit) needs its shoulder straps finishing, and its skirt needs to be cut to length and hemmed.  The coif needs ties attached.

And then there's the actual demo materials.  None of those have been sorted yet.

So.  I'm going to update the list that I've been using all along, then try some prioritising.

  • Stockings (optional) – not started;
  • A shift (optional) – cut out;
  • A petticoat – machine sewing complete, waistband attached;
  • A dress – skirt and bodice attached;
  • Sleeves – not started.  Fabric has been ordered, but it hasn't arrived;
  • A partlet – cut out;
  • A coif – just ties remain to be done;
  • A hat;
  • Shoes;
  • Belt, pouch and other accessories, like a knife.

So, that's what has been done.  What still needs to be done?

Absolutely must:

  • Hem petticoat;
  • Add fastening to petticoat;
  • Sew shoulder straps on dress;
  • Hem dress;
  • Make lacing for dress;
  • Organise equipment and materials for the actual demo.

Would really, really like to:

  • Finish the partlet;
  • Finish the shift;
  • Make sleeves;

Nice, but not crucial:

  • Make stockings;
  • Make ties for the coif

So, this weekend. Priority: Make the lace for the dress.  Without that, I can't try it on properly, so can't finish the bodice/shoulder straps to the right length.  Second priority: equipment and materials.  I have a choice of some or all of the following:

  • My Saxony wheel, which keeps throwing its driveband and is loud and clunky.
  • My Traveller wheel, which also has a distaff.  But I've never spun flax before.
  • Various spindles.
  • Naturally dyed wools.
  • Naturally coloured wools.
  • A four-shaft loom with handspun, naturally dyed wool on it.
  • Various wool prep tools.

Tomorrow, I'm due to go to Rampton for a spinning day.  I'm thinking about taking the Saxony, which I haven't really spun on since getting my Traveller.  I've been playing with it tonight, and frankly, I'm amazed I ever managed to spin anything on it at all.  Maybe some of the good folks there can offer some help and advice, so I can get it in fine fettle for next weekend.

61) The Tuesday Tudor: falling behind

I only managed to complete three out of my six goals for the weekend:

  • Complete the bodice shell – YES, including eyelets;
  • Attach the dress skirt to the bodice – NO;
  • Cut out the partlet – NO;
  • Find my lucet (to make ties for the coif) – YES;
  • Decide on and order sleeve fabric – YES;
  • Get some wool onto my Saxony wheel – NO;
  • Find (and hopefully set up) the distaff for my Traveller – YES.

Which means things are getting serious.  I only have one more weekend to complete this outfit: the demo is on the following Sunday.  I do *not* want to be doing anything except finishing touches and packing on the day before the demo, so it's time to push ahead.  I can see that I will have a wearable outfit in time, but there is still a lot to do.  In the meantime: photographs!

This is the petticoat so far, and the hat I will be wearing:


I'm rather proud of the petticoat; the pleats look pretty awesome.  It's not hemmed yet; that's something I would rather do by hand, but will most likely run out of time for.  I'm leaving it till last because I can easily and quickly put in a machine hem if needed.

I bought the hat at an SCA event a couple of years ago.  It's styled on some pictures from earlier manuscripts, but straw hats are peasant wear, and as such, didn't really change all that much over the intervening centuries.  I'm happy with it.

The bodice for the dress itself is looking good, too:


This thing is the reason so little else got done.  Each of the three pieces (two fronts and a back) has been covered twice: once with linen (the lining) and once with the grey wool.  The eyelets (which are just visible in the photo) are hand-bound.  Once complete, the pieces are whip-stitched together along the seams – and all of that is hand sewing.  Machines just cannot do it.

It took far longer than I expected – each eyelet takes about 15 minutes to bind, and there are 16 of them – and my fingers are needle-sore from gripping and pulling.  One day, I will learn to use a thimble, but this weekend was not that day.

This morning, I was up early, so I pressed the waistline of the skirts, and pleated them.  I used knife pleats on the petticoat, but am using box pleats for the dress.  The whole thing is now a complete pin-fest, because a pleat is, in essence, three layers of whatever you're pleating, and I can only get my pins through two layers of skirt:


So I have to pin both the back and front layers of the pleat to the middle layer.  I'm going to sew the pleats into place tonight, then take out the pins and try to attach the skirt to the bodice.  I don't want to think about the number of times I'm going to stick myself on pins in the process: sewing is so much spikier than knitting.

One last photo:


This is the wool yarn that I'm hoping to get on the loom in time for the demo.  It's singles, spun by me from fleece prepped by me, and dyed (by me) using elder leaves harvested from my garden.  In reality, it's quite an intense warm yellow colour, but J did Something to my camera this weekend, and I need to find out what, and undo it.  The reason I'm so keen to get this on the loom is that I feel it really represents the way that peasant woollens would have been produced in period.  The fact that I have done it all myself, using native breed wool and a native plant for the dyeing, is Just Right.

60) All Tudor, all the time

Woo-hoo!!  A three-day weekend beckons!

Progress on the Tudor outfit has been S-L-O-W this week.  In fact, the overall progress list looks very similar to this time last week:

  • Stockings (optional) – not started;
  • A shift (optional) – not started;
  • A petticoat – machine sewing complete, waistband attached;
  • A dress – bodice in progress, skirt has all machine sewing done;
  • Sleeves – not started, no fabric;
  • A partlet – not started;
  • A coif – just ties remain to be done;
  • A hat;
  • Shoes;
  • Belt, pouch and other accessories, like a knife.

This is partly because sewing the dress bodice is all about fiddly hand-work, with lots of pins and checking and stretching and re-checking and clipping fabric into curves.  I just forgot how long it could take!

I've also had a bit of a reality-check this week, where I realised that my job at this event is to demonstrate weaving, spinning and/or dyeing.  The public are not there to see my clothing, but rather, what I am doing.  I need to start getting my demo kit in order!

So, this weekend,
I will be spending some relaxed quality time with my long suffering other half and the two dogs.  But I really need to make some serious progress on the Tudor.  I shall aim to:

  • Complete the bodice shell (eyelets optional);
  • Attach the dress skirt to the bodice;
  • Cut out the partlet;
  • Find my lucet (to make ties for the coif);
  • Decide on and order sleeve fabric;
  • Get some wool onto my Saxony wheel;
  • Find (and hopefully set up) the distaff for my Traveller.

Bonus items:

  • Find yarn and plan the warp for the demo weaving;
  • Machine sewing on the partlet;
  • Pattern the stockings;
  • Make lucet ties;
  • Cut out linen for the shift.

Again, I
will aim to check in again on Tuesday – hopefully with a few more things checked off on the Big List!  I love working on big projects like this, and checking in on a regular basis keeps me accountable and honest.

59) Tuesday’s Tudor Update (yes, it’s Wednesday)

First a quick status update on last weekend's goals, which were to:

  • Make an official pattern for the bodice (for future reference) – DONE
  • Complete the bodice interlining (two layers of fabric, plus boning); – DONE
  • Cut out the main fabric layer and lining fabric layer for the bodice; – DONE
  • Cut out the skirt (main fabric and lining) for the dress; – DONE
  • Machine sew the skirt for the dress; – PARTIALLY DONE
  • Make a decision on the sleeve fabric. – NO

Bonus items:

  • Wash the white linen for my new shift – DONE
  • Cut out the partlet; – NO
  • Any and all possible hand sewing. – finished the waistband on the petticoat

I've just realised as I was typing this up that I should have sewn the two skirt layers together before putting the machine away on Monday.  Darnit!  Once that's done, I can do a temporary pleating job and hang the whole lot on the mannequin for the hems to drop.  I need to do that with the petticoat anyway, so perhaps that's this evening's job.

Now, onto the pretty bit of the post.  I realised that I haven't shown you the fabrics I'm using for this project yet!  So, here they are:


Green: Petticoat.  Grey: main dress fabric.  Russet: dress lining.  The grey is a lambswool blend; the other two are linen.  The green was white when I bought it; the stuff dyes beautifully.

I need to email Herts Fabrics
to see what wool they have in stock for sleeves.  The sleeves are separate
to the rest of the dress, and can be a contrasting colour.  I'm thinking a mustardy yellow might be fun?

Oh!  And the shoes!


Pretty convincingly Tudor looking, eh?  I'm really pleased with them – they're very comfy, too.  Another view?  OK:


See the label?  Yep, Clark's.  Not a reenactment shoe at all, but very comfy, and they definitely have the right 'look', as long as you stay away from the crepe soles.  I'm really pleased with this find; reproduction shoes would have cost about the same, but these really can be worn with my jeans, and ordered without a special fitting, to boot.

Currently, I'm working on the bodice of the dress.  The front is
lightly boned: three strips at each side of the centre, one at the side
seam, and a diagonal armpit-to-bellybutton bone just to keep things in order:

Bodice pieces

What you see in that photograph is the interlining for one of the side pieces, lying on top of its own lining and outer fabric.  The interlining is two layers of heavy canvas, stitched together to act as a single piece, and with the boning channels created by more lines of stitching.  The bones are lying on top of the whole thing, and further back on the table is the interlining for the back of the bodice, folded in half, with its lining.

Each piece of the bodice will be completed separately – interlining wrapped around with lining and main fabric – then the finished pieces will be whip-stitched together.  This feels like a really scary construction method, cos the whole bodice is basically held together only with your own hand-sewing, but it's worked in the past, and I'm sure it'll work this time.  It also avoids nasty, bulky seams involving eight or more layers of fabric.

Speaking of boning, I'm using giant cable ties.  And when I say giant, I really mean giant:


(The scale on that tape measure is in inches, by the way.)  I use tin snips (also pictured) to cut them to length, and to round the corners.

I spent at least two hours faffing with the bodice last night, and I don't think I'm any further on than I was at the start of the evening.  Oh – my mistake – I have marked the positions of the lacing holes.  I need to punch those through the interlining before I go much further with the bodice, so I'll try and do that tonight, too.  Then I have no excuses for not making more progress.

And that's about it for now.  See you on Friday for the weekly Tudor Check-in!

58) Checking in on Project Tudor

(I've been holding off on this post, hoping I'd get time to snag a few photos, but no luck.  I figure I might as well post now, and then do photos later, as and when…)

So, my aims for last weekend were:

  • Order my shoes,
  • Finish the coif, and
  • Dye the petticoat fabric

And, if possible

  • Cut out the lining for the partlet (the wool has yet to arrive, but that would be a bonus),
  • Cut out and machine sew the petticoat.

As of now:

  • My shoes (and nearly all the fabric I need) have arrived, and they are wonderful.  Turns out the quickest way to ensure that all black wool contains the household quota of dog hair is to wash it in the washing machine, but I digress.
  • The coif isn't finished – it's been my portable hand sewing project this week, so that works fine
  • The petticoat fabric has been dyed
  • All the machine sewing has been done on the petticoat.

Last night, I located the pattern for my Florentine Renaissance bodice (must get better pics of that outfit; the loose hair and headband look was strictly temporary, and they're just rong.)

However, the bodice is sorta-kinda the right shape.  Straps in the right place, waistline in the right place.  Lacing in the wrong place.  This bodice will lace up at the centre front, because as a farm-woman, I wouldn't have a maid to lace me in in the mornings, and I can vouch for the fact that the side-back lacing is not practical by yourself.  So I cut out a variation on that original pattern, sewed on my temporary lacing strips, and proceeded to pull various muscles in my back and shoulders, as I attempted to fit the new pattern on myself with only a small mirror for help.

I think I got there.  Which means that the hardest, most unpleasant part of the project *should* be done.

This weekend, I plan to drive all over the local countryside in order to pick up a car load of alpaca fleece.  However, I need to crack on with the sewing too, so I shall aim to:

  • Make an official pattern for the bodice (for future reference);
  • Complete the bodice interlining (two layers of fabric, plus boning);
  • Cut out the main fabric layer and lining fabric layer for the bodice;
  • Cut out the skirt (main fabric and lining) for the dress;
  • Machine sew the skirt for the dress;
  • Make a decision on the sleeve fabric.

Bonus items:

  • Wash the white linen for my new shift (which is an optional project, but washing is easy);
  • Cut out the partlet;
  • Any and all possible hand sewing.

I will aim to write another blog post on this project by Tuesday, at the latest.  It's interesting: although there are a lot of items on the original list which have not been started, or which are nowhere near finished, I still feel like this project will be achievable in the given timeline.

So, here's the list, with three weeks to go.  Optional items are italicised, completed items in strikeout.

  • Stockings (optional) – not started;
  • A shift (optional) – not started;
  • A petticoat – machine sewing complete;
  • A dress – bodice patterned;
  • Sleeves – not started, no fabric;
  • A partlet – not started;
  • A coif – handsewing and ties remain;
  • A hat;
  • Shoes;
  • Belt, pouch and other accessories, like a knife.
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