I'm not really a big event person - I turn into a shy, anti-social clam and usually end up with a migraine to boot - but I'm very happy I went to Azincourt this summer. I mean, a 600-year anniversary only happens once!
|Why did the reenactor go to France? |
To stand slouching forlornly in a muddy field. In the rain. Apparently.
As usual, some of the stuff being sold was mostly for the tourists, but a great many merchants were there for the reenactors, which was really nice. As more and more merchants arrived, those of us staying in the camp could actually say "Let's go down to the market and see what's new today!" Some of my fellow Swedes went shopping crazy, but I tried to stick to my (questionable? stupid? vain?) decision to stay away from All That Fancy Stuff. We don't do personas like they do in the SCA, but I'm quite sure "medieval me" wouldn't be anywhere near a high status lady. My reenactment group Albrechts Bössor portrays a company of mercenary gunners and I myself (obviously) have a strong leaning towards textile crafts like spinning and weaving on a more or less professional level. So no overly conspicuous consumption for me, as long as I hang around with mercenaries or do the work of a middle class artisan/craftsperson...
But I did spoil myself with a small, slightly 'out-of-chatacter' item, something I've wanted for a very long time: an ink pot.
|The Azincourt Loot. Wool, a wooden mug, the ink pot, thread reels and spindle whorls|
Well, back to the wool. I really like spinning dyed wool, it always puts a smile on my face to look up at the distaff and see a brightly coloured ball of fluff sitting there. The spinning of dyed wool is never shown in medieval artwork, though (not that I know of), but it was done. There are medieval finds of raw wool from Hull, England, that were dyed with an indigotine dye (most likely woad) (Armstrong & Ayers 1987) and according to John Munro, dyeing could take place during any stage of fabric production; as wool, as thread and as finished cloth (Munro 2003). The 15th century English translation of the 13th century manuscript De doctrina cordis - The Doctrine of the Hert - says that cloth that was dyed in the wool never lost is colour, "but þe cloth þat is died in cloth, it wille oft tyme chaunge colour" (Woolgar 2006, 160). The Doctrine of the Hert is a devotional text for nuns, so the statement is probably used allegorically, but it's still an indication of the actual practice of dyeing in the wool and that it was considered to create a good and fast colour.
|The wool turned into big rolags. IT'S SO FLUFFY!!!|
The wool I bought from the Mulberry Dyer was dyed with madder (the red and pale pink), woad (the blue) and woad/weld (the green) on white Shetland wool. She didn't have very much dyed wool to sell at Azincourt, so I simply picked the shades that I could get more than 10 grams of. My first thought was to use the yarn as singles to add stripes to a fabric on the Big Loom, but I eventually decided to make the yarn two-ply instead and use it for tablet weaving.
|Spindle and distaff collage. The colours, THE COLOURS!|
Most of the green thread was spun at the 100 Jahre 14tes Jahrhundert event at Ronneburg at the end of August. My distaff was nicknamed The Muppet, for obvious reasons. Who knew muppets were such a joy to spin?! ;-)
The Muppet also forced me to stretch my meagre skills of speaking German to the limit as it generated quite a few questions from the visiting public: "Ich spinne. Handspindel. Rocken. Schafwolle. Gefärbt. Mit Reseda und Waid. Ich mache faden." I also did a bit of wool combing, but it was too frustrating not being able to quite explain what I was doing (one member of the public thought I was making a wig!), so I decided to stick to spinning after a while. The result of the combing will be the focus of a future blog post though, but for now I'll just post a few more gratuitous pictures of pretty wool.
Oh, and while I have your attention - check out this insightful blog post about historical threads, written by some friends of mine:
The Crucial Thread (text in both Swedish and English)
|It's not easy being green. The Muppet: spun, wound onto reels for plying, and plied|
And here's how I make the big rolags:
Armstrong, P. & Ayers, B. 1987. Excavations in High Street and Blackfriargate. Hull old town report series no. 5. East Riding Archaeologist vol. 8.
Munro, J. 2003. "Wool and Wool-Based Textiles in the West European Economy, c.800 - 1500: Innovations and Traditions in Textile Products, Technology, and Industrial Organisation". In Jenkins, David T. (ed.) 2003. The Cambridge history of western textiles. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Woolgar, C. M. 2006. The Senses in Late Medieval England