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What we’ve been up to …

Here is a brief recap of the trouble we’ve gotten ourselves into the past year:

  1. Still working on our historical romance novel.
  2. Taking a stab at learning biblical Hebrew and sucking at it, royally.
  3. Discovering QueenAnneBolyen.com and the possibility of doing some writing for them.
  4. Became a Downton-head
  5. Becoming obsessed with Game of Thrones.
  6. Hosting Minibreeze and well, costuming him.
  7. Holding Egar da Kitty reluctantly hostage. (long, lame story)
  8. Knit a pint-size Doctor Who scarf for our twitter friend, Zack Rabbit.
  9. Discovered “Meals in a Jar” and making my own!  and No, I haven’t gone prepper.
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Sci-Fi Pawty Prize donation – Wecanhas … scarf the fourth?

Doctor Who 11th Theme Music  For the full experience, click the link, you know you want to.

Being the proud and fur-covered mother of her four rescued felines, it is my privilege to help where and how I can.

So with that now being said, I asked myself … what does a Whovian period costumer do to incorporate her three of her four passions of Sci-fi, costuming and supporting animal rescue charities on a shoestring?  She hand-knits the Fourth Doctor’s iconic Scarf and donates it as a prize for Boris Kitty’s 5th Annual Sci-Fi Pawty. The SCIFpawty is a virtual Science Fiction Convention on Twitter. The hashtag #SCFIpawty The proceeds will once again benefit One By One Cat Rescue in Kutztown, PA a no-kill, non-profit organization.

So what does a person or more specifically a Whovian need to know about the scarf featured below?

  1. This scarf is by the book. As outlined in my blog post entitled  A Whovian’s …err “Delight”? — making the fourth Doctor’s Scarf I use the “Official BBC Enterprises Knitting pattern for the ‘Doctor Who’ Scarf,” which can be found here: http://www.androgums.org/scarf.html.
  2. Yes, it really is 12 feet long.
  3. The scarf is knit in 100% acrylic yarn, specifically:  Lion Brand Yarn’s “Vanna’s Choice.”  I love this yarn.  It is soft, has a good hand, has a wide color palette and best of all, is machine wash and dry.
  4. The colors are cannon.  I’ve used the color resources at Witty Little Knitter.  If anyone has done their homework, Tara Carstensen certainly has.  [Dudes, seriously. She took an OTT Light and a Pantone color book with her when she got the opportunity to have a hands on with the Shada scraf.]  Here is her template and list of yarns.
  5. Pictures [below] — we fussed over which phone took the best and most accurate representation of the colors.  The husband’s iPhone won.  We took pictures against both a black coat and a warm, dark brown coat to give you the best opportunities to see what it will look like before it arrives at your home.
  6. Hand-knitting — I hope in stating that this scarf has been hand-knit by yours truly would imply that there might be an irregularity or two in the knitting process.  There are three or four little “burps” in the stitches.  Now when you consider everything that Four put his scarf through, these are nothing; however, I did feel compelled to mention them.
  7. Cat Fur — the cats have made their own contribution to this project.  Thus, there is small small quantity of car fur that has unavoidably knitted into the scarf.
  8. The scarf has been washed in 7th Generation “Free & clear” it get out all of the awful sizing and the aforementioned cat fur as possible.

Doctor Who 4th Scarf - Black coat right side up Doctor Who 4th Scarf - Bown coat right side up

And as a sneak peak, here is our annual #scfipawty avatar: our 3 of 4, Obi-wan as his name sake.

May the #scfipawty force be with you.
May the #scfipawty force be with you.

 

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NaNoWriMo, anyone?

So it’s only September 22 and #nanowrimo doesn’t start for another 39 days but who’s counting?  But I’ve continued to work on the the novel I started some ten months back, which in truth is a storyline that began to take its shape back in 1983 when I was developing the backstory for my middle class Renaissance Faire personae.  Yep my peeps, it’s a bucket-list item — I always told myself that I would finish this dang thing and now I am committed to doing just that.  It’s original working tile was “Summer of Splendour” and now currently “Lament” and yes, I’ve gotten myself an editor [a fair trade for the Eleanora of Toledo gown] who is very excited about it and lots of doors have been opening.

Now two things to note:

First and dearest to my heart Foxes Period Costumes will make recreating all of our heroine’s note worthy gowns

Second, in doing some research for the novel, I decided “what the heck” and Googled the gentleman who played opposite to me at Faire and discovered that he too is a fledgling writer and oh yeah, he started writing at about the same time I did.  He’s published about a half dozen short fantasy story stories, which works out to my current word count.  For those who knew the both of us 25-30 years when we were a quasi-couple back in the day wouldn’t be too surprised but a little disturbed that we were doing the same thing at the same time …from opposite ends of the state.

So from my National Novel Writing Month’s novel recap page, I give you:

Lament

Synopsis

Exploring the natural evolution of two (very, very retired) Renaissance Faire characters in the form of your basic trashy historical romance novel — One part Skye O’Malley, one part Once Upon a Time.

Excerpt

Lady Katherine sighed deeply as she thought of the details of her life that had brought her to this place. She tucked her fur lined velvet throw tightly around her legs to help block out the cold night air. The roaring fire in the hearth did very little to keep her warm, but it was certainly warmer than where she would be headed in a few short hours to answer for her alleged crimes.

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I hate computers!

Having spent too much time trying to figure out how to conform my perfectly good (albeit 10 years old) e-commerce software to my current host …I’m ready to to jump ship.

Hey, computer nerds, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!!

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Something about the ’60’s going on here…

So what does a Renaissance Faire refugee do, she marries a MOD. So after this mad costuming dash for opening day of the So Cal Renaissance Pleasure Faire and a 1560’s attire, times three [pray for me and my sanity, people], it’s off to the 1960’s for some MOD-o-icious fashion for my honey because I’ve just bought two very cool vintage patterns circa 1965 to make a couple of shirts for him and if they meet his exacting standards, they’ll be added to the shop as we expand the collection.

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My 2 cents on Showtime’s “The Tudors”

WARNING: The following contains a RANT. I hereby tender my apologies to all the might be otherwise offended.

Furthermore, this has been copied over from my other blog from 2008, and while updated because the show’s costuming department cleaned us their act and as each season got better, I still have issues, but it still bears repeating in a more appropriate arena.

I just finished watching “The Tudors” on Video on Demand. In addition to really wishing that the love of my life knew more about 16th century history, I spent even more time constraining myself from yelling back at the telly about the very pretty to look at, but oh so horribly wrong costuming […like the TV could do anything about it.] Dudes, you do not spend half of your adult life getting paid by people to research and make and oh yes, beta testing patterns for Reconstructing History and not end up without learning a thing or two about Tudor and Elizabethan clothing.

I ask the somewhat rhetorical question:

How it is possible that with the plethora of readily available resources of books, innumerable portraits and bona fide professional Tudor and Elizabethan costumers who have meticulously produced patterns from extant garments which they sell on the freakin’ Internet no less (Ninya Mikhaila and Jane Malcolm-Davies, authors of The Tudor Tailor and renowned English Tudor era costumers and Kass McGann of Reconstructing History in the United States), that so many things could be so horribly wrong? The answer lies within the costumer’s very own words: it was deliberate.

To the costumer on this show, I commend you for your efforts of having to coordinate such a volume of work, but it stops there.

I watched your interview on Showtime’s website. I fully understand your desire and felt need to make the clothing accessible to the modern viewer. I really do. I did Renaissance Faire costumes for performers for nearly 25 years and yes, certain concessions were made to help convey a sense of class structure to help the average Faire goer distinguish between peasant, middle class and nobility. And yes, other concessions were and are still being made because of the climatic differences between 16th century England and 21st century United States, specifically southern California.

However, because so many of us have grown up on our local Faires, and have seen the multiple Oscar winning “Shakespeare in Love” innumerable times, and have seen both “Elizabeth” movies (both not without their faults, but still brilliantly done), and will be seeing “The Other Bolyen Girl” shortly as well as numerous other 16th period pieces: this era of clothing is not new to us. Early Tudor attire might seem a bit odd with its strange sleeves and ladies’ hats that look more like bird houses than hats, but still….

Yes, I agree that the King and his nobles were the equivalent of rock stars in their day and that their clothing would and should reflect that. No argument there. What I take issue with is:

    1. Mixing eras: The theory is that this drama is set in the 1520’s and perhaps even as late as1530. However, I saw clothing that was decidedly Elizabethan in design rather than Tudor. A 1580’s doublet is not quite the same as the gown men were wearing in the 1520’s. The character of Sir Thomas Bolyen was dressed far more appropriate for the period. Contemporary portraits of Henry VIII prove that. These two examples 1520, two years prior to Anne’s arrival at Court and http://tudorhistory.org/henry8/younghenry.jpg and 1526, when it is purported that Henry first took notice of her http://tudorhistory.org/henry8/henrymin.jpg. Another example is a somewhat famous portrait for 1536, the year Anne was beheaded. http://tudorhistory.org/henry8/holbeincopy.jpg.
      (As a side note, it should be noted that Henry was 45 years old at the time. Anne was a mere 27 …34, depending on your sources. So the actor playing Henry is a bit too young and besides, the actor cast as Buckingham would have been a much better cast both in physical appearance and “presence” — I’m agreeing with my Pastor on this one — gotta sex it up for the ignorant masses …grumble, grumble.)
    2. Hair: Men’s hair was too short and the women’s hair was down. Find me a source or non-allegorical portrait to prove otherwise. The wearing on women’s hair down is a 20th century development. Something about it being a sin for a women to show her hair in public.
    3. Hats: Where were they? Not nearly enough hats. Everybody wore some type of head covering at almost all the time. Anybody aware of the fact that Henry passed a law that everyone in the realm must a wool hat on Sunday or be fined or imprisoned? Something about it being a sin to have your head uncovered for anyone but the Lord?And what’s up with the flocked fishnet veiling Anne was wearing?And for that matter … where were the French Hoods that she brought to England from the French Court that it’s said that she wore nothing else. Please do not tell me that those tiaras-thingies that the actress wore are French hoods.
    4. Sleeves: Again, where were they? No one would have been seen sleeveless. Again, exposed bare flesh was right out. Not a single one of those funky false hanging fold-back sleeve to be seen.
    5. Chemises: Again, where were they? (Yes, yes, I’m sounding like a broken record.) We’re talking about a time period that didn’t bathe regularly and when they did, they did it in their all-purpose undergarment know as a chemise. Again, exposed bare flesh, yadda, yadda, yadda.
    6. Necklines: Way too much cleavage being flashed about. Clear examination of portraits prove that. The best way to simply describe Tudor era necklines is to locate your armpit, and then connect the dots as it were between the armpits across the chest and you’ve got a proper neckline.
    7. A visible zipper placket: self-explanatory.
    8. Recycled costumes: I’m down with the idea of saving time and money and taking advantage of Western Costumes when you can. But if you’re going to rent costumes, could you make sure that they weren’t worn by Gwyneth Patrow in Shakespeare in Love? (The orange velvet picadilled jacket and tapestry skirt when she met with Wesicks and slapped him for kissing her and the pale green surcoate / dressing gown that she wore throughout the movie.)

Here’s the thing, the key to good period costuming is to recognize that whatever we do that it is an interpretation of historic design – a sentiment that I used as my business’ tagline for many, many years. We can never fully reproduce clothing in the manner that they did then and make it cost effective for any sort of production. Personal costumes where we have the luxury of hand-sewing is another story. The fact of the matter is there are weaving and construction techniques and fabrics that have been lost to us five centuries later. What we can do is be a faithful as possible to dutifully convey the details of the period as accurately as possible. There are times where we must substitute fabrics because the period fabric has been lost in time or is completely cost prohibited. Been there, done that … However, as I progressed in my craft I learned what and when to substitute and how to do it convincingly.

Perhaps more importantly, we should never “dumb-down” our work and make concessions to audience to the point where we suddenly become Doc Brown dressing Marty McFly in 1950’s western wear (from Nudie’s Rodeo Tailor, no less) to go back to 1885 and expecting him to seamlessly blend in. It never works and I believe we lose a certain amount of integrity in doing so.

And to answer to unasked question: YES, yours truly is available for hire as a consultant or outside contractor. Travel on Sundays is always out of the question.

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In the beginning . . .and nearly two years ago

Recently my Pastor preached a message and amongst the salient points were “returning back to your first love.”  I’ve had two great passions in my life, both date back to around the same time: God’s Word and period costuming — the former a subject of a different website.

Even more recently, the two have come together and after five years of retirement, I am now making period costumes for a religious documentary (for lack of a better thing to call it).  Yes, I really did make a commitment to “share materially” (pun intended) with the one that taught me some eight years ago and now, God’s apparently going to hold me to it.  I don’t know the final destination for the project, and honestly don’t want to know the details. . . just tell me what to make and how soon you need it.

Now why the blog?  First, I’m going to be making things I’ve never made before so I want to document it.  Second, because of brain-burps in the not quite so recent past, I want to document the work I’ve done — especially the things from scratch — so I can remember what and what not do to again . . . like letting a cute kitten use 5 yard of wool as a bed and then have to vacuum out cat fur three and half years later.

Now, how much will religious references appear in this blog?  As often as the Spirit moves me.  My apologies to my fellow costumers that do not share my faith, but I’ve taken the time to research others and can safely say that giving praise and thanks to the Creator of all for just enough fabric in one’s stash shouldn’t offend anyone: just insert the name of the deity of your choosing and rejoice with me.  Now for theology ramblings, I’ve got a whole domain for that and my cats have their own twitter as well, so the plan is to keep things at the minimal but you know it is who I am.

What’s first? 14th century peasantry and scholastic wear