Who Am I? And Why Am I Here?

Elewys of Finchingefeld, GdS, JdL
Barony of Aquaterra, Kingdom of An Tir

This is a place to which I may post my research, my experiments, my successes...and yes, my failures...for medieval re-creation and research on my never-ending quest to learn and revel in knowledge and experiences.

I am a lady of many times and many places. Currently using a 15th century English name, dressing in a 10th century Danish dress, and camping in a Mongolian round house. "Lost" doesn't even begin to describe my persona.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Yurt Tono

Avelyn came by today and we made progress on her yurt.  She was fortunate to find a babysitter for the youngsters so we could work uninterrupted for as long as we needed to.  While her kids are delightful, they're just young enough to need a lot of attention.  She and her hubby, Michael fitz Geoffrey, finished all the ties for the tono at home, so today we assembled the door frame.  We did all the cutting a couple weeks ago but ran out of time to do the assembly.  Glued and screwed...and then of course, we got it all assembled, then realized that we forgot to put the hinges on.  Doh!  So we took off the last slat (the glue was still wet), put on the hinges, and put the slat back on.  Here she is, happily posing with her door frame!

Next we created a template for the eight quarter-circle sections for the tono.  We laid out our pattern, traced it onto the 1 x 6 boards, and started cutting them apart with the jig saw.

After carefully cutting out all eight pieces, we got side tracked with all the extra wood!  We cut four pieces 11" long and two much smaller ones, and built a little box!  The lid, to the left, is made of two pieces glued together to make it wide enough to cover the box.  It's crudely built and has some rough edges, but it'll be a nice little thing box for those little mundane things you need at events--contacts & glasses (a place to store them at night), keys (a place to keep them so they don't get lost), flashlight (for those late-night trips to the biffy), etc.  It'll be out of mundane vision and you'll know exactly where it is when you need it.

Then, getting back to business, we laid the quarter-circles out and discovered that we made the pattern about 1 1/2" too long.  Bummer....but not irreparable.  Checked the drawings again, we made the correction, trimmed the extra, and laid them out again.  Much better!  We stacked them brick-work style and it looks good!  Like the thing box, the work is a little rough, so we decided to call it a day until we could sand down the edges and make it look really nice before we glue and screw them together.

In all, it was a very productive day. Unfortunately, my back is bent (darn sciatica), my right wrist took a beating with the jig saw and I got two little cuts on my left index finger from the drill that looks like I got bit by a very tiny vampire.  It'll be a couple days of resting it before I get back to work.  Maybe I'm too old and out of shape for that kind of hard labor.

:) Elewys

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tyrssen's Tunics

I've been making tunics on commission.  Since the recipient is in Middle Kingdom and I'm in An Tir, it's an interesting arrangement.  We knew each other as pre-teens, but I moved away when I was 15 to a very small town 100 miles away.  I didn't hear from him again until a couple years ago, after the advent of social networking.  So here we are some 25 years later, both in the SCA, and I'm making tunics for him.  

He asked for detailed documentation, so I took pictures along the way.  Of course, you have to start with washing and drying the material.  This is especially true for linen since it has the tendency to shrink.  Next rule:  measure twice, cut once.  Luckily I did that...looking on the inside, you can see the pencil marks where I nearly cut it five inches too narrow.  Yeah.  Good catch.

Next laying out the pieces--first to make sure it looks right, and to make sure I have enough pieces cut out.  Two sleeves, two armpit gussets, four gores, front and back panels.  Check.

Sewed the pieces together and cut out the basic neckline.  I had a template for that left over from the previous "test" tunic (of which, I sadly have no pictures).  It was sent to the Midrealm to try on and ensure the fit.  A few adjustments were made and are reflected in this finished product.

Next up, finishing the seams.  This will extend the life of the garment through washing and wearing, prevent unraveling, and it just makes it look finished!  (PS - I love this camera.  I may have to steal it from my daughter....)

The finished garment!  I hope he likes it, and I hope it fits!  On its way to you soon, milord Tyrssen!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Yurt Progress Today

The day started out a bit after 9:00 when Jen & Darby arrived with their kids.  Emma was hired to babysit the little guys for the day while we worked outside--great experience as a babysitter for other people's kids to have the parents on hand for the unexpected.
The door was framed out in a probably rather unconventional way, but it should be plenty strong.  Glued and screwed, Mike Holmes approved.  The 2 x 4 is the threshold and the 1 x 3 is the jamb of the door.  I have already attached hinges to install a door later.  The tied ends of the khana will slide into the two uprights and attach there...somehow.  We'll figure out the details when we get there.

More tomorrow, I'm sure!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mid-June report

This is a commission for a Middle School friend who recently joined the SCA.  Tyrssen lives in the Middle Kingdom, which is many weeks' travel from here by foot or horse, but  we have been in communication in recent weeks.  He sent me his measurements and I made a tunic in some inexpensive fabric for him to try on.  He ordered four cuts of medium weight linen, which arrived the other day.  I made a few adjustments and will be finishing the seams on this tunic and sending it to him.  Hopefully the adjustments make this a perfect fit!  If it is, I'll make the other three using those final measurements.  Hopefully it DOES fit!

I began a pair of Turkish socks using the Fancy Feet book.  The instep has the pattern on page 21 ("Mirrors") and has a chevron sole.  The yarn is 100% alpaca from Norway that I picked up in Portland, OR about a year ago.  It's just silky soft and wonderful to work with, but I don't know if I'll be brave enough to wear them;  I'm afraid that I'll tear them apart on the first wearing! But they're very pretty!  And it's ITHRA colors!  

I've finished the khana phase of the yurt.  It took  about 58 yards of leather lacing and more than 12 hours of knotting, but it came together nicely.  Next will be the door frame, which we will be working on tomorrow.  This will measure 5' high and 3' wide.  I'll have to check with my resident woodworking expert to see if we have the best tools for the job.  The part that we're really stumped on right now is the tono (roof ring).  There are several different ways to construct it, but you have to make sure that it is both strong and lightweight.  

One of the things I wanted to do this year was present some items at Costumer's Guild for the challenges.  I passed the first two levels--Junior and Senior student--but I have to start doing more for my Journeyman level.  I have two items in the teaching/writing category that I can present (one on socks, and I wrote a bunch of articles for a newsletter a couple years ago), and I'm sure that I can pull together two garments, and possibly two accessories, although they'll be pretty plain.  That's six of ten.  I also have to find items from various regions and time periods...luckily I've changed personas often enough that I can pull from previous experience to make new items in period styles.  

Off to research Japanese costume for my big kid!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Photocopy Confessions

I hate that books go out of print.

Especially books on traditional arts, which makes finding opportunities to do research even more difficult.  These books can sometimes disappear from libraries and the persons who check them out claim to "lose" them and pay the small fine, which doesn't come close to the replacement value, thus making it much cheaper to do that than try to buy even a used copy online or anywhere.

Such is the case with a book called Fancy Feet:  Traditional Knitting Patterns of Turkey, by Anna Zilboorg.

I had started knitting medieval socks--Coptic and plain old women's knee socks (I found it listed somewhere as English Commoner's socks, but I think it's commoner's socks from just about anywhere in Europe), and was approached by Mistress Anastasia with a copy of this book (which I had never heard of before) and she said, "I don't knit, but I saw this and figured some day I would find someone who knits who could make me a pair of these."  She asked if I could make a pair of socks from this book.  "Sure," I said, and took the book home to drool over it, covet it, and wonder how I could get a copy.  After a little research, I found that a used copy of the book was going to cost me over $50, and that is really poor condition; $100 for decent condition.  I wanted to be sure I could look at it later and return the book to Mistress Stasi while it was still in good condition, so I confess.  I scanned it.  The whole thing.  Cover to cover, complete with the index and the title page.

Now, I have no intention of posting the book in its entirety, nor do I intend to publish or sell copies--it's not my place.  But do I feel bad for copying an out-of-print book?  No.  Not in the least.  If the book were still in print and were easy to find, I'd rather buy a copy.

So I spent a big part of today looking for the scanned images on my hard drive, and with the help of my devoted Lord Husband, I found it!  I printed it out and will be putting it in a binder for my own personal use, but if someone wants a copy of a particular page, let me know.  I'm pretty sure that falls into the realm of acceptable use, just as if I had found the book at a garage sale for a nickel and then copied a page for you.  Or even five.  I think five is OK.  I should probably look into the copyright laws.

So here's what I wanted to do:  knit a new pair of socks!  Turkish socks!  The same thing as last year at this time; while the kids were in soccer camp last year, I was sitting in the car knitting Turkish socks.  Must be a seasonal thing--the weather gets warmer and suddenly knitting smaller items seems like a great idea.  Small, portable items.  This is the pattern I want to try this time.  It's a two-color sock design (three, if you count the cuff, which is a two-color design, too), but I think I'll use a better contrast than blue-on-blue.  Maybe red and yellow?  I have some alpaca yarn that's been festering in my yarn stash for some time that I've been wanting to try.

The pattern is fairly simple, as you can see.  They call this pattern "Cranes".  I don't see cranes, but OK.  It's pattern number 8, which is my favorite number.  Funny how these things sometimes work out.

I guess this would be part of my depth of research for knitting in my 50 for AS 50 challenge.  Maybe I should just call this my 50/50 challenge...sure would take less typing.

Now...where did I put those size one needles?


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

50 by AS 50

I had started the 50 in AS 50 challenge some time back, but haven't really done anything in recent months.  I made a few beads, but I am not a jeweler, so all the beads are just sitting in a box right now, waiting for the skill of a jeweler to help me through the next step of making a wearable piece.  I'd like to have a couple of strings to put on my broaches for my Viking garb, but I think I'd only wear them for fancy dress occasions--I know I'll snag them on EVERYTHING.  

I can, however, make lots of clothing.  I made this little tunic for Lottie Blacksmith (my 9 year old).  Don't adjust your screens, the sleeves are half-length so she will keep cooler and they'll be out of the way for working at Master Grendal's.  Brown is a good color for a blacksmith's dress, too...the blackness won't be nearly as noticeable.  The pink ones I made last year were pretty grubby after a weekend around the fire, but I anticipated that.  It's made from a simple woven fabric...a mystery blend.  It could be linen, or a linen blend, but it's fairly scratchy.  I'm hoping that it'll soften up after a few washings.  It's a simple rectangular construction with triangular gussets on the sides.  Due to lack of available material, this is as full as the dress could get.  It has a simple rounded neckline and no other embellishments.  It'll get its first life as a costume for a play (she's a villager for the play...I think it's the Pied Piper story), and it'll get more wear this summer at events.

I guess another one of the 50 would be this yurt...or this pile of sticks that will eventually be a yurt.  I still have about 600 holes to drill yet.  It's a work in progress, obviously.

I'll have to go through my list of projects that I started earlier and see how many I have actually finished since the challenge began.  The list to the right contains most of the items that qualify for this 50 in AS 50 challenge, but I think I'll add a bunch of photos to document my progress.  That'll be a later post, I think.


Friday, June 3, 2011


A couple I know decided they wanted a period tent, and I always wanted to build a yurt, and after some discussion, they decided that this would be the best kind of tent for their family as well.  They have three young ones--one of them is just 2 years old--so this will help to keep the little ones contained.  The yurt is built like a giant circular baby gate with a door on it, then wrapped in canvas.  It's used in some of the most inhospitable areas of the world--Mongolia--so if you wrap it in wool and keep a small fire going inside, it's a very cozy little home.

We started with 2 x 2 lumber and ripped it in half twice, making four pieces of approximately 3/4".  It took three of us taking turns about three hours to rip it all into a pile of sticks.  

Each piece was 8' long, and we started drilling holes, the first 2" from the end, then every 8 1/2" down the length.  We got the first three holes drilled into each stick on Monday.  This pile of lumber is for TWO yurts--one will be 18' in diameter; the other will be 12' in diameter.  Ours is the smaller one that I am building for the kids to sleep in at events, but can easily be set up by one or two people if necessary.  

Today I continued on with the drilling holes, and it took about four or five hours to drill another 750 holes into the 150 or so sticks.  

The next big parts, after tying all the khana (wall) pieces together, is to try to build the tono and the door.  Kelly has some ideas for building the tono (the crown of the roof), but I also have a couple of back-up plans, should his plan not work.  I suspect his plan *will* work, but I've never made laminated wood before, so I'm not sure how that'll work, or how expensive it will be.

But for now, I'm beat.  My body needs a bit of vitamin I* and some sleep.


*Vitamin I is Ibuprofen.

New and Improved

Welcome to the new and improved Finchingefeld's Fancies!  Due to space constrictions, I was not able to post any more pictures, so I have moved to this new blog location.  New pictures will be posted in the near future...but I have to rebuild the entire list of links.  That'll take some time.

See you soon!