Friday, March 30, 2012

The Newbius Meme

 I met Newbius in Charlotte, NC, at the NRA convention, and had the honor of sitting next t him for a good part of the evening. In a room full of well-known names, Newbius took the time to make this  shy new blogger feel welcome. He was gracious and smart, and a wonderful example of how to welcome someone into the fold. In honor of Newbius, and all the wonderful things being said about him, I’d like to start a meme so that fellow-bloggers can hear those compliments first hand. I could go on and on about most of the people on my side-bar, but I’m only going to pick a couple. I’m not tagging anyone. Say something nice about another blogger if you like. Run with it or not.

My blog-father, JayG. He let me hijack his blog when I needed to ask about buying a pistol for a four-year-old. I didn’t know y’all very well yet, and had visions of someone calling the police. Instead I got a lot of advice and even more encouragement from JayG and his readers. JayG encouraged me to start blogging even though I didn’t have a clue as to what I’d write about that anyone would find interesting. He’s unfailingly polite, and generous to a fault. When asked, he’s given useful advice on everything from guns to model cars to kids. When I met him at the 2010 NRA convention, he greeted me like he’d known me half his life and introduced me around when I was feeling shy around all the cool kids. JayG has shown me that it’s okay to come out of my shell and join the party because, well, why not? It’s a party.

Breda. She befriended me at the blogger dinner in Charlotte, and allowed Sweet Daughter to monopolize a good part of her evening. Same thing in Pittsburgh. SD all but surgically attached herself to Breda’s hip for a good part of the afternoon, and  Breda was marvelous about it. She’s one of those rare people whom I won’t be in touch with for weeks, but when we do touch base we pick up right where we left off without any whining as to why I haven’t been in touch - don’t I like her any more?? She is a marvelous role model for SD who adores her, and one of those people I want to be like when I grow up. But taller.

Michael W., whom the reenacting world knows as Dr. Mike. I met Mike in 1994, and was invited to join his reenacting group 10 years ago. To this day, I’m still not sure why as I don’t do, or have any interest in, a medical impression. In addition to his encyclopedic knowledge about 18th century medicine, dentistry, knotwork, ad infinitum, he’s a man of many talents – Cutler to the Stars®, gunsmith, horner, leather worker, firearms instructor, to name a few. He can also tell me what I may or may not want to hear what without pretense or pulling any punches. He’s not subtle, and occasionally he’s not tactful, but I can count on him to have my back at all times, and to give me the shirt off his if I need it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sweet Daughter (ahem) cooks

At MTA Sweet Daughter watched our cook prepare this amazing salmagundi.

I know, I know. Navel oranges hadn't been developed yet.
Later that day, she decided to make her own "salad". She took the redware pan we'd make the venison pasty in (with bit of crust still attached) and asked for contributions. There was a heel of cabbage, and a leftover carrot and parsnip. I pulled some onion slices out of the fire (a.k.a. trash pit) and the cook donated the top of a leek. There are a few red potato slices as well.

For the finishing touch, she added grapes. She then wanted it placed over the fire. Our cook graciously indulged her, and added water.

Chock full o' vitamins!

After a while, it was taken from the fire and allowed to cool. I was then asked to sample it. Uh ... I thought this was all "pretend", hence the vegetables salvaged from the fire pit.

"Try it, Mama!"
I tried to distract and redirect, to deflect, to otherwise figure out a way I could weasel out with my honor intact. It was impossible to even try. What self-respecting mom could say "no" to this?? Not I. So knowing the history of the grapes (washed before being added to the melange), I chose to impale myself on that particular sword, figuring that the whole thing had been heated pretty thoroughly, and I wasn't likely to die from a few grapes. Well, I'm typing this so I can affirm that I did not die, or even get ill, but those were some interesting grapes. They were still hot and completely infused with the flavor of onion. With a hint of venison.

For the event at Petersburg next month, I'm planning ahead. There will be kid-friendly food to prepare and if I have anything to do with it, grapes and onions never the twain shall meet.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Patching a shirt

So, our cook had an unfortunate incident at MTA last year. As he was bending over the cook fire, the fire went all Rice Crispies on him with a snap, crackle and pop. Fire do that all the time, right?

Well, “… man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” As he was bending down, some sparks went up, which, from the cooks perspective was down his shirt. But he didn’t know it at the time. He stood up and felt something warm. He looked down and saw nothing. Then he felt hot. And saw his waistcoat smolder. From the inside out. He yelped for help, and I grabbed the hem of my gown and shoved it down inside his shirt between him and the ember and patted it out.

We now keep a linen rag in the buckets of water we keep by the fire.

Anyhow, the shirt needed help. In the 18th century one didn’t sew a square of fabric over the hole and call it a day. Precious little remains of original utilitarian garments. They were used, repaired, repurposed and then sold to the rag man. Near as we can tell, holes were patched from the back in fabric that matched as closely as possible to the original, and done in a neat and workmanlike manner.
Sewing a rolled hem. Ugh - I should have worn my glasses - this is horribly uneven.
Since I made the shirt to begin with, I kept the remnants of the lovely cambric linen, so I was good there. I matched the damaged front edge to the undamaged edge to see how much had been burned away. I took a scrap of cambric and made a new hand-rolled edge and positioned it in the gap and stitched it in place.
Completed rolled edge.
Patch pinned in place.
Then I pinned the edges of the shirt on top of the remnant. I trimmed off the singed edges, turned the raw edges under and carefully stitched them to the patch. Then I turned the shirt over and trimmed the excess patch away, leaving no more than a quarter inch. Then I turned the edge of the patch under, and stitched to the shirt.
Partially sewn - from the front.

Done. And now that I look at it closely, I'm not that impressed. So much for "neat and workmanlike". Next time, less of a rush and I'll wear my reading glasses. *sigh* Note the slight difference in color? The linen will continue to bleach as it's washed and exposed to sunlight.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Brief update

Wool gown sewn for MTA?


Weather forecast for 80 degrees?


Resulting in frantic sewing on dimity gown?

Gown bodice from the back.

Dump the responsibility for the cooking competition to include documentation on our cook?


Mend the hole in the cook's shirt from where a stray spark took up residence between said shirt and skin?


Tie for first place in the cooking contest?

One of our entries in the cooking competition - Salmagundi. There are greens, chicken, ham, anchovies, egg whites, egg yolks, anchovies, orange slices, fried chicken skin, rose petals, and butter in the shape of a pine cone.

Check. (Previous best has been third place. Twice.)

Frantic sewing this week for a coworker who “Fights With Foam”? to include a both linen and woolen fighting tunics.
Underarm gusset
The sleeves were lined with a linen blend and hemmed with this nifty stitch that keeps the wool from fraying but doesn't add bulk.

Triangular gore added to the center front and back. Quality materials make this so much easier.


Need to start a gown for Sweet Daughter’s best friend (birthday party next Saturday).


Oh, and at some point, after spending a morning in the wind selling Girl Scout cookies in February, I decided our table needed to be upholstered. Sweet Daughter picked the font for the lettering. I am so not like other moms.

More when I come up for air.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I'm not dead, I'm just sewing.

I knew that Sweet Daughter had outgrown her shifts for reenacting, and while shoveling out my sewing room, I somehow came across no fewer that four in various stages of completion, all of which fit in some manner. I got them all done. Score!
Horrible picture. Oh, well.
I thought SD could get one more season out of her gowns -- after all, they laced all the way shut last October, and you can leave a 2" gap if necessary. Somehow, I had a brief moment of lucidity and decided to try them on to confirm.

Apparently she's been in the midst of non-stop growth spurt since September. She couldn't even get her arms in the sleeves. I found one hand-me-down gown that fits, other than being a bit short, and being of the mindset that it's better than nothing, asked SD what she thought. She clearly had some sort of issue with it, but was sucking it up and said it was "fine". I finally got her to tell me what was wrong. She hated the shade of pink. So some red dye, and a little black dye (it looks like grape juice when I mixed it up), a crock-pot and about 45 minutes gave me the following ...

After. No more Pepto Bismal pink. It's actually a lovely shade of rose.
Since out first event of the season is in mid-March, and the weather can range from sleet to short-sleeve weather, I decided to start with a wool gown. I figured that if we prepared for the sleet, we'd get 80 degrees.
Bodice from the back. The sleeve is turned up with a remnant of a more expensive cotton print. The lining is done with another remnant. There is boning up the center edges, and eyelet holes for lacing the gown shut.

Growth tucks along the bottom. The hem is finished by binding the bottom with twill tape. This reduces bulk and is more wear-resistant than the wool, and can be replaced if worn through. As SD gets taller, I'll pull the stitching out of the pleats to lengthen the skirt.
Just two to go ... one in linen, and one in dimity.