Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sewing: Lotta Jansdotter's Everyday Style

I was looking to freshen up my wardrobe, so I picked up this book last fall...

...and I've made several projects from it since then. The book includes patterns for several basic wardrobe pieces, including accessories. It goes through each season, showing ideas for how to customize and style different pieces for that time of year.

Elsa Bag

I started with something simple, and I have an addiction to bags anyway. The Elsa bag is a very simple, roomy tote with leather handles. I really like the look of the handles, and they are just riveted into place. It was not difficult or expensive to get the required tools and supplies to do this. I picked up the rivet tool, leather, and copper rivets at the Tandy store. 

The fabric is a piece of canvas-weight upholstery with a Persian motif that I had in my stash. I can fit books, magazines, lots of stuff in there. 

Esme Tunic

I wanted a dress that I could wear in cold weather with leggings, so the next thing I made was the Esme tunic. I scaled the pattern up a bit from the largest size, and adjusted it for a large bust. 

The fabric is a medium-weight wool melton that I originally got for making viking garb, but decided to repurpose it for mundane wear. It's very comfortable and cozy to wear in the winter, with boots and fleece-lined leggings. 

Tedra Skirt

Having invested in boots and leggings, I decided to add a skirt to my winter wardrobe.
This was a large scrap of wool tartan from my stash. I had just barely enough to cut the pieces out on the bias, but it didn't take much for the short skirt.

Patchwork Scarf

In addition to the patterns, there are instructions for making accessories, like this patchwork scarf:

This was a great opportunity to use up some of my smaller scraps, and put some fun combinations together. It's a good scarf "recipe." I will probably make a few more of these.
That's all for now. So far, the book has been very useful. The patterns are basic, but versatile, and they look good on a variety of body types. You can change the look of each piece by using different fabrics and making some of the accessories. 

With warmer weather coming, I'll probably make some lighter-weight stuff to wear through spring and summer. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A couche for making bread

So another thing that's new is that I've been baking bread without a machine. Not only that, but I've been hearth-baking the bread: baking it on a stone in the oven, rather than placing the dough in a pan. One way of proofing free-form loaves like that is by using a couche, which is just a piece of cloth that is used to cradle the loaves while they rise. You can buy a couche, but I have skills. I sewed two rectangles of linen fabric together, like you would to make a placemat, and viola!

Educate and Inebriate!

A rainbow of bittersweet Italian liquors. We have gotten really serious about this. Like, reading books about it and everything. Aperitivo time is a thing that we are totally down with. 

Cleaned out a closet and found this. Didn't know what it is or where it came from, but it is probably a leftover from when I used to host a lot of parties (many years ago). I looked it up. Mandragora means "demon." It is a sweet liquor made from the mandrake root, and it reminds me of Absinthe. We are keeping the bottle around as a "curiosity."

Speaking of cleaning out closets, I also found several bottles of mead that I brewed umpteen years ago. I was very skeptical that it would still be palatable, but it was indeed still good. Very smooth and mellow. I savored every drop as I reminisced about that time period in my life. 

Homemade Negroni. Yum.

The Scarf

Did I mention? I finally finished that Doctor Who scarf for my bro, not quite in time for Christmas 2016, but soon enough after that he could use it during the winter. And, I'm only just posting about it now. I have some catching up to do with this blog. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A curious ancestry

Yesterday, I attended the funeral of my great aunt Sarah, who was my mother's father's sister. I only met her once in 2008, but I grew up hearing stories about her, like the one time at Thanksgiving, when she shot a fox off the hen house from the kitchen window...that sort of thing - and she is one of my heroes. She was an amazing wonderful person, and I'm glad that I made the trip with my mom to Addison, PA, for the funeral. It got me thinking again about where I come from, who "my people" are, etc. 

A quilt and puzzle that aunt Sarah gifted to her pastor.

During that visit in 2008, Sarah got out the photo albums and documents, and told us about our ancestry. I captured my notes on it in this journal entry. That's important because, recently, my uncle (my mother's brother) had an ancestry DNA test done, and the results that he told to my mom were surprising because...

I grew up in a family that made much of it's Irish-German ancestry. When ever I asked the question, "what is our ethnic background?" the first answer was usually Irish, with German being a close second. That was probably because most of my relatives on my maternal grandfather's side called themselves "Pennsylvania Dutch" - a cultural group formed by early German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania. We definitely had the culture, in the form of traditional food and recipes that were passed down through my family. And, that branch of the family is Lutheran.

So imagine my surprise when...

I don't see any German in there, specifically. Unless, it's tucked away in that Western European bit. The 25% Irish is no surprise. The large share of English is not that surprising, but I wasn't expecting it to be such a large part. Italian and Swedish? Where the heck did that come from?? Interesting. 

Now, this is second-hand information. I should probably confirm it with my uncle. And, I'm curious enough to think about doing the test myself (or having my brother do it - to get the Y chromosome in there). My father's side is mostly Irish and English as far as I know, but who knows what kind of surprises might turn up? 

Apparently, my Lakota ancestor is so far back in there and so isolated, that it doesn't show up at this level of granularity. 

The Western European bit - probably comes from this: I'm a direct descendant of John Minear, 1730 - 1781 - from the Palatinate area of Germany. 

Yes, I am curious now. 

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Vikings in the Woods: Making the Goods

I just got back from an immersive SCA event that I really enjoyed. The group that hosted the event is forming a new SCA guild devoted to "Viking Hiking." I spent the weekend learning skills like how to start a fire by using a flint and steel, cooking over a fire, building a smoker, making bread and skyr, identifying useful wild plants, and more. Here are some photos:

Monday, May 02, 2016

Achievement Unlocked!

I just got back from a work-related trip that had me in Madrid, Spain for one week, and then Bangkok, Thailand the following week. I managed to circle the globe in 15 days.


  Madrid 2016

Monday, August 17, 2015

Pennsic 44: metal working

All of my photos from the event are on flickr here - https://flic.kr/s/aHskipusAL

So metal work seemed to be a theme for me this year. I went to classes on tinsmithing, wire weaving, and silversmithing. I was surprised by how easy it would be for me to get into any of those hobbies. They don't require a lot of tools and skills that I don't already have. 
In the tinsmithing class, we learned how to cut, shape, and solder pieces of tin, using simple tools.
I put together this hurricane lamp in a matter of hours. 
Viking wire weaving is a way of making chain.
I put the small length of chain that I wove in class on to a leather thong to wear as a necklace. 

I especially like the results from silversmithing class. 

Tools for basic silversmithing - not that difficult to obtain.
An easy first project - setting a cabochon into a bezel.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

New corset!

I like a challenge, so I decided to make a corset for a friend of mine who has an extremely hourglass figure, and has difficulty finding corsets off the rack that fit right. I like how this turned out.

She is an F-cup or something like that, but I don't go by that. I made a duct tape double of her, afterwhich I did one in-person fitting and determined that the waist needed to be taken in by about 4" from the size I started with, and I let it out in the hips by about 4".

The finished measurements on the corset are 52"-38"-48".

Once again, I used the tried and true Laughing Moon corset pattern, with adjustments as noted above. I got much heavier than normal steel boning for this one, too. 
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