About a house and a cannonball

This pretty canal in my birth town Alkmaar has a very special monument. You can see it on the left corner by the bridge. Yes, that green house is almost entirely built of wood (except for 1 stone wall inside), and it is one of 2 wooden houses still surviving in Alkmaar.

According to legend, this house was built a few years before the Spanish siege of 1573. The owner was a preacher named Jan Arentsz. When the cannonball hit the house, only a spinningwheel and a tub got destroyed, and the occupants of the house miraculously survived without so much as a scratch….

Two royal children

This song “Twee Koningskinderen” about 2 children of kings goes all the way back to the Greek myth of Hero and Leander, who lived on either side of the Hellespont. Hero lit a lamp each night for Leander so that he could swim across the waters to meet his beloved Hero. One night, a storm blew out the flame in the lantern and Leander drowned when he lost his sense of direction. When Hero finds his body, she kills herself to be with him.

A very old and familiar tale of love! And one we have seen in Tristan and Iseult (dating from the 8th century) and of course, at a later date, Romeo and Juliet (written between 1591-1595).

The Dutch version of this song dates back to the year 1525; one of the singers in this clip is a familiar face for me from historic theme parc Archeon. I think it is marvellous! I am sharing the music score with you here, from the great Jan Wolters (who has tons more! check it out!)

Here is another version of this song, by two Flemish artists called Rum:

Decor for the pants from Skjoldehamn

A day after I wrote my last post, someone very justly pointed out to me that we have quite an excellent 2nd hand shop ONLINE, very similar to Craigslist. It is called Marktplaats and I had completely forgotten about it! Silly me….

It meant I was able to shop for 2nd hand fabric anyway to start recreating the Skjoldehamn breeches soon. I found a lovely light brown linen (my guess is that this used to be a curtain) at 6€, so I have now €30,50 left. I could not find white wool, like the original but such is recreating on a budget. The fabric is still in the mail, so I haven’t actually received it. You DO realise on moments like these that patience is only a virtue to those who have it…right?

Over the past few days I had also -sort of- decided a purpose for this garb set. I really would like to go back to cooking again and this seems to be the perfect outfit for it. I don’t know about you, but I find long flowing skirts rather spooky in an event kitchen. Also, it is ok for garb of non-authentic fabric to get stains from cooking; makes me feel less guilty 😉

As the fabric hasn’t arrived, but my hands were itching to do something anyway, so I decided to go through my left-over yarn stash to see if I could find something to recreate the decorative woven bands found on the Skjoldehamn breeches. You can see them here on page 113 of Dan Lovlid’s thesis.

The decoration includes embroidery, couching, woven bands and braids (page 109). This is my attempt at the woven bands, the colours of the original are brownish red, yellow and green, according to this pattern:

pattern woven band

The reconstruction by Lovlid can be found on page 153 of the thesis. This is my own reconstruction of the woven band. I have used 2 different colours of red, because I felt it was becoming a bit bland and I am quite happy how this is turning out! I very much look forward to your comments!

Quick update & quick project

Hi all! I am still alive and healthy. Like most people these days, the mundane world is demanding most of my time: homeschooling our amazing 11 year old because of the lockdown in this corner of the world and trying to stay on top of the household chores. Oh, and there is a job somewhere too….. Right, you get it: I am a tad bit busy.

With regards to the Skjoldehamn project, all the thrift stores are closed again, so I have to postpone fabric hunting. Stay tuned though and watch this space! I do have the numbers for you, in case you lost track. I initially intended to spend not more than €40 on the fabric, which I was all going to buy in 2nd hand shops. I made the hood out of fabric out bought, and the total was €3,50. The socks were made from donated fabric, so €0. It means I still have €36,50 left for the rest of the garb. All I need now is open shops….

I know that many of you are preparing for the next SCA event season nonetheless and more power to you! Don’t let this pandemic get to you. I would like to join those preparations by sharing an easy little project here. Have fun with it!

A really cute project for those left over scraps of fabric is to make Wax Covers. I don’t have to tell you that ‘back in the day‘ there was no aluminium foil…. Wax covers really come in handy when you need to cover food during a camping event, or any other SCA event!

So, here is a list of items you need:

  • left over fabric (linen works best)
  • an old frying pan/ skillet
  • beeswax (at least 100 grams)
  • a place to dry the wax covers
  • old newspapers to protect your floor

How to make them: Melt the wax in the pan, when it is all melted, put the scraps of fabric in the hot wax (be careful not to burn yourself!) until they are saturated and then hang them to dry. Put the newspapers on the floor for the dripping of the wax. When the covers are dry you can use them time and time again.

When you are not using them, store them in an air tight container.


What’s a person to do on a boring Sunday afternoon? Well… make socks! I really wanted to make some progress on my Skjoldehamn garb project but on a Sunday all thrift shops are closed where I live. So, I rummaged through my fabric stash and found a lovely wool.

Dan Lovlid’s thesis has quite an fantastic analysis of the socks on page 123. Please tell me you have bookmarked this document by now! Anyway, page 123 is what you need for the socks. The fabric pieces that were excavated are a tabby colour, the original colour was either white or a very light yellow.

To be quite honest, I don’t understand how a seam right under your heel (top part of the pattern image) can be comfortable. This also goes for a seam right on top of your foot where your shoe is…. This type of construction, the way I see it, only makes sense if the sock is made of left over fabric and therefore consists of ‘shrapnel’…..

Back to the drawing board. I am not making socks like this, I can see blisters in my future…. I didn’t want to abandon the idea of a fabric sock, so I started drawing a new pattern, that I am happy to share with you here.

Ok, so in PURPLE is the actual foot. The ORANGE line is the seam allowance. Please don’t forget that because you do need a bit of room to get into your sock. The pattern piece on the right is for the instep, as you can see, I added 2cm on both sides to create a comfortable instep.

Now, sew the instep to the sole. Leave 0,5 cm because that is where you need to attach the ankle shaft. The ankle part is a rectangle folded around your ankles, from one point of the instep to the other. So, it is a shaft open on one side. This is the only piece of the pattern I used following Lovlid’s finds: 17,5cm high.

The shaft, as you can see on the pattern, is not a perfect rectangle. You must cut 2 corners here, to fit the curve over your foot, attached to the instep. Please send me a message if this is unclear!

I really had fun making these! They need a bit of decoration but I will get to that. A boring Sunday afternoon wasn’t so boring after all!

On baskets and being proud

I began writing historical articles back in 2016 but most are still gathering dust. Slowly, but surely, I have started on that path called publishing.

In June of 2020, my first ever Compleat Anachronist came out and just this week, my article on how to line a basket was published in Tournaments Illuminated. Ava is happy, peeps!! Read all about it here, on the Articles page of my blog.

Skjoldehamn hood

Right, so there I was, off to the thrift shop; because that was what I had promised myself and you! Yay! To the Batpoles!! But, soon my heart sank in the first 2nd hand shop … I mean, look at this … nothing but jeans….

jeans….jeans….. jeans…..

What was I getting myself into? Mission Impossible? The idea of making a garb set very similar to the original find is a great idea, but perhaps it can only be that: an idea. On the spot, I decided to just use any wool and/or linen fabric I could find, to keep the project realistic and FUN for myself! The first garment I wanted to recreate was the Hood.

The original hood was made of brown twill (see page 39 here; the reconstruction is on page 159). Fingers crossed I could find brown wool, if not… something else then!

On to the next thrift shop, where I was lucky enough to find some rather fantastic yarn (for other projects, mind) AND different clothing (yay! no jeans!) as in skirts, dresses and such. They also had plenty of left over fabric. I picked up the yarn, a great looking plaid skirt and some rather bland looking soft fabric, wool-like but not that.

The original hood was made of one layer of fabric. I prefer to line my hoods, I find that more comfortable, but that is just me. Also, this plaid is a little bit too modern, but I am just going to go ahead and sew.

Page 41 of Dan Lovlid’s amazing thesis gives you the measurements! There are 2 squares of 28x28cm and one rectangle of 30x120cm. These are the original measurements of the excavated hood! Aren’t you in archeological heaven? I know I am!

First job was to take the skirt apart and start measuring. I realised quickly there wasn’t enough fabric in the skirt, but luckily this meant I would have to lose only a few centimetres (the lesson here is buy the XXL size garments!). It would still be big enough to fit me! I cut 2 squares of 27x27cm and 2 rectangles measuring 28×60. I cut the lining (remember the boring bland wool-like fabric?) according to the same measurements.

I first assembled the pieces cut from the plaid skirt. I then placed the lining on each ‘area’ as I planned to flat line the hood. I am not sure this was the preferred method of lining in the Skjoldehamn region in the year 1050 CE, but we must keep in mind (please) that this project is also for newcomers in need of garb that looks authentic. As I said, a lining makes a hood a tad bit more comfortable!

I picked up some bone needles not too long ago and I really wanted a chance to use them. This project was the perfect try-out. I can honestly say that sewing with bone needles is just lovely. The needle goes through the fabric with ease. As you can see, I used a wool/acrylic mix floss to sew the hood.

The hood, being a small piece of clothing, was done in just a few days. Here is a gallery of the finished item.

In my very first post about this Skjoldehamn project, I said I wanted to spend no more than 40 euros on this; again to give newcomers (and maybe long term members in rough financial waters) an idea of how to tackle cool garb. I paid 2 euros for the skirt and 1,50 for the lining fabric. This hood cost me a total of 3,50 euro; I have 36,50 euros left!!

On to the thrift store again, to see what else I can find…. depending on my finds, I can make a shirt or….

Recreating the Skjoldehamn textile finds

I am forever curious about excavated textiles. The first thing I look for in a museum, any museum, is excavated garments and shoes. It fascinates me to no end.

In 2019, I finished my Golden Egg project in Drachenwald and it was so inspiring. For this reason, I have decided to embark on a new research & recreating adventure: the Skjoldehamn clothes.

I have been doing Viking re-enactment outside the SCA since 1994 and one popular item has always been the Skjoldehamn hood. Back then, I never really looked into it. I had enough handmade authentic looking garb already.

When I re-joined the SCA in 2011, I became more curious about the Skjoldehamn clothing because, to my surprise, a rumour had begun to spread that the garments COULD have belonged to a woman. Wait? REALLY?

The Skjoldehamn body was found in a bog near Andøya in Norway in 1936. The body was found wearing a hood (kaprun), outer shirt (kofte), under shirt (skjorte), trousers (bukser), a belt, ankle wrappings (ankelkluter) and ankle straps (ankelsurringer), socks (lester) and shoes (sko).  The body was wrapped in a blanket (teppe). To this day, it remains a mystery whether the body died in a sacrifice or in a battle.  

Back in 2008, MA archaeology student  Dan Halvard Løvlid, from the University of Bergen in Norway, got interested in writing a marvellous thesis, which formed the basis of a new complete empirical study of the Skjoldehamn costume. 

New study by Dan H. Løvlid and his team showed the garments are dated to approximately 1050 AD. You can read the English version here; the Norwegian version can be found here.

Art by Berit Løvlid

I get help with the Norwegian translation from Lady Ekaterina Vasili (https://www.arnfriduri.xyz/) and Lady Emoni de la Fère.

I will recreate most of the garb set: hood, outer shirt, under shirt, trousers, belt and socks.  

I will not recreate the burial blanket; I am still alive after all…. Joking aside, I have a warm enough cloak already that fits with the style and era. The perks of doing re-enactment for a very long time!

The second challenge that goes with this project is to make something out of thrifted fabric. I want to spend no more than €40. Not only will this hopefully help a newcomer who wants to test the waters before investing, it might also help a longterm member without breaking the bank. Let’s not forget  the environmental & sustainability perspective! Recycle! RECYCLE! Help Mother Earth a bit.

And now? I am off to the thrift shop!