Monday, November 7, 2011

My ancestry (old photographs...)

A new show is airing on tv here in Sweden, in which a bunch of americans rediscover their Swedish ancestry. Watching the show ("Allt för Sverige", which by the way is great!) has brought up thoughts about my family history, and I've been looking a lot at old pictures from the early 20th century. I find it interesting in so many levels! Obviously, since I am interested in historical fashion I look at their marvellous clothes. Then I think about their experiences, their lives and how they really are no different from us. I try to get a sence of their personalities, their quirks and interests... And how they in a way are a part of me.
As you can see, this picture was taken in 1913. The young lady to the left is my grandmother's mother Anna Eriksson, and sitting right in front of her is her husband Axel Eriksson, my grandmother's father. He was a fireman (and part time shoemaker!) and lived with his family in Uppsala. 

Have a look at this postcard. Axel's brothers Conrad and Werner emmigrated to America in the early 20th century, and in 1912 this postcard was sent from Palo Alto, California. The photo shows three lovely ladies and two very handsome gentlemen. The text text to the left explains that the man to the right is Conrad, and the lady on the far right is his future wife, Anna. Gorgeous, isn't it?!

I am also a bit fascinated by what is going on in the background of the picture... have look at this closeup. A boy who obvisously wasn't supposed to be in the picture is standing behind them, looking at what's going on. And behind him a man is crouched on the ground, doing something. Might he be polishing shoes? I don't know, but I love this little glimpse of the past.

If I'm not remembering incorrectly, the young lady in the following two pictures is Karin, my grandmother's aunt. I adore her pretty face, the curls in her hair and the slightly naughty look on her face! The first photo is from 1919, the second I'm guessing is a bit earlier.

This lovely gathering I don't know much about. They are sitting in front of "J Erikssons skoaffär" - J Eriksson's shoe store. Since my great grandfather was part time shoe maker, and I think his father was a full time shoe maker, I'm guessing this was their old store. I don't know exactly where this house is located though, and I'd love to visit it some day if it's still there!
Look at this close up... isn't it lovely?

 These three ladies I don't know anything about, I'm afraid. But they are in our old family album so I guess they are relatives. So beautiful!

 Some day I'd love to get in touch with the part of the family that moved to the US. Though I'm afraid that might never happen, as I think grandma has lost the information, all names and adresses. But I guess nothing is impossible, and who know... one day they might come looking for us?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

New skirt finished!

This week I made a new skirt for myself, in a grey wool-polyester mix that I just adore! As usual, I didn't have a pattern but created it purely from my own mind. And as usual I would have been lost without the help of my beloved husband. Here are a couple of pics... (Shirt from HM, belt from wherever, I don't remember, hat borrowed from Marcus!)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My old silverwork!

 I just realized that I've never shown you any of my silverwork! I haven't done much for the last two years or so, but before that I made quite a lot actually. Here are pictures of the pieces I still own (most were sold in the museum shop in Birka!): a silver necklace with an amber pendant, a pair of silver earrings with carnelion beads and a silver bracelet. Then, not in silver but in copper, is another necklace which unfortunately has gotten stained since I made it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Textile find from Norway: complete tunic from 300 AD

Good morning! Cathy at Loose Threads posted a link to a Norwegian site, which was so interesting that I just had to pass it along. For those of you who don't speak Norwegian... This summer, an almost complete wool tunic was found in Breheimen. The tunic is interpreted as a man's outer garment, worn with a belt and reaching down to the knees. It was found just by the edge of the glacier, where the ice has recently melted.
Check it out HERE, there are both pictures and videos!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lingonberry syrup part II: bottling and tasting!

As some of you might remember from THIS post, I have had a bucket of lingonberry syrup on the way since the 4th of september. Today it was finally time to strain and pour the resulting liquid into bottles, yay! The smell was lovely, and reminiscent of glögg (Swedish traditional drink, similar to mulled wine), while the color was a rich nuance of red.

But what about the taste?! It says in the original recipe from 1873 that the lingonberry syrup is supposed to be mixed with drinking water. This had me thinking of sweet, modern lingonberry syrup that is too concentrated to drink as it is, and must be mixed with quite a lot of water. But this lingonberry syrup is nothing like it's modern counterpart!

First of all, mixing it with water just ruins the taste (at least that's what both me and my husband think). Drinking it as it is, however, is a real treat! The taste lies somewhere in between glögg and mead, spiked with lingonberries! And there is definitely alcohol in it, without having measured it we're guessing at some 6-8 %. The cardamom and cinnamon gives a sense of Christmas, and I think this will be very well suited for winter consumption. On the other hand, it would suit just as well during a warm summer evening, with the elegant taste of lingonberries and mead. Together with the lovely red color which makes the brain associate it with wine, the general impression is great. In other words, this was a recipe I'd be glad to use again, and would recommend to all! (The recipe is in the original blog post, linked at the top of this post!)

Wool dress finished - my own pattern!

I hope everyone is having a marvelous Sunday! Me, I am just about to tidy up at home before getting some company from a dear friend. Usually we do a whole lot of tidying up and cleaning at Saturdays, as to get Sundays completely stress free, but I wound up sewing all day yesterday. Yes, all day! And the result: a dark green wool dress! The pattern is my own (top half based on a waistcoat I bought a couple of weeks ago), done with a little help from my wonderful husband. 

The colors aren't perfect in the pictures below, you will just have to imagine the dress being a bit more green... almost dark olive! Underneath I am wearing a simple light pink shirt that looks almost white in the pictures and white wool tights. And, not to forget the real star of the photo shoot: Balthazar the Norwegian Forest Cat! 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Finished Wool Trousers

Good evening! My new pants are just finished and I thought I'd amuse you with a few pictures. Now I'm no model, so don't look at me, look at the pants.

As you might have guessed, these pants weren't made to be fancy. They were made to comfortable, and nice-looking enough to wear to work. As I explained previously, I used an old pair of linnen trousers as the pattern, though the new version I made of a lovely 100% wool fabric. However, I must have been a bit too generous with the margins because the new trousers are definitely a bit more loose than the originals.

Now the picture below shows a whole lot of creases in the front. In reality, I don't think it's as bad as it looks in the photo. Or maybe it is... I'm not sure. But still, I'm pretty happy with the result. And I'm glad to have learned how to make pants (first time!), and especially how to make the pockets. For next time I'll try to make the fit better

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Making More Mead!

Here we go again!

The mead we made this spring was such a success that we decided to start a new batch. Once again, we use Kalle Runristares recipe, described in this old blog post of mine. This time, however, we don't have to use a plastic bucket! (Which, by the way, will still hold the batch of lingonberry syrup for a month or so until that's done...) We got two old dame-jeannes from my very kind relatives, one of which we used today. Not only does it look a whole lot better than a plastic bucket, and feel way healthier since no nasty chemicals will be passed along from glass as can be from plastic... it also contains a whole lot more! So this time we could follow the recipe all together, not sizing it down in any way. Which meant 17 liters of water and 3,5 kg of honey. Which hopefully will turn into lots and lots of marvelous mead!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Textile Gallery with great pics of antique textiles

Good evening! Just today I came across this great webpage, and I immediately thought that I just have to share it with you all. Available in swedish and english, a textile gallery from Nordiska museet - Sweden's largest museum of cultural history. Especially those of you who are interested in 19th and 18th century textiles and embroidery... you have to check out the very detailed pictures in the textile gallery! Just type in a word such as "silk" or whatever and see what comes up. Have fun!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sewing a pair of trousers - considering practicalities, sentimentalities, and also sustainability!

For several years, my favorite trousers were a pair of rather loosely fitted, green linnen pants my mother once bought for me. I used them a lot. After a while, they started getting scruffy and were only fit to wear while working in the garden or just relaxing alone at home. At the end, the holes were so big they barely held together (I definitely couldn't leave the house with them, as my private parts were showing!), and this summer I decided to scrap them for good.

I tried long and hard to find a decent picture of these pants, to show you... all I could find was this one, of me working in the garden one really hot summer day. Not the prettiest, but you get the point.

Though these pants certainly weren't wasted (being in use for so long!) I still found myself hesitant to just throw them out. So I decided to take them apart, seam by seam, and make a pattern out of them to use for a new pair of trousers. So that's what I've done during the past few evenings, and all that's left to do at this point is sew on the zipper and the waistline. 

I love this little project for so many reasons! 1, I know the fit will be great since they're based on my old pants which fit perfectly. 2, the fabric (a very thin, dark grey wool) is lovely! And 3, actually using the scraps of an old garment to create new ones is one small step towards small scale sustainability! Of course I will also save the pattern together with the original pieces for future sewing, this probably wont be the last time I use them. 

Now if I can just figure out how to handle the zipper... I bought the smallest one they had in the store, which was 15 cm, but that still turned out to be about twice the length I needed. So I am wondering if it's actually possible to cut the zipper in half... some way... without it looking a mess. Do you have any idea? Any ideas are greatly appreciated!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Embroidered scene from Codex Manesse

After last week's adventures in modern dress making, I thought I'd show you my latest embroidery project. Since I first saw them, I've adored the love scenes from Codex Manesse, from the first half of the 14th century. Once again, I am using split stitches, each stitch splitting the one before it.
Yes, once again I'm doing the embroidery on a piece of pink linnen. Why? Well, that was the colour of the linnen I happened to have at home... and I think it's pretty! 

So far I've used colours similar to those in the original, though the purple is a bit too light. The eventually I will have to decide which is best; to keep the background as it is, or cover it in stitches as well... It might look good? Or it will just be a whole lot of work not worth the trouble. For now, I'm thinking I'll let it stay pink. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A bit off topic but I just gotta say it...8000 year old brain!

I just read this very interesting little post in the blog "Ting och Tankar", written by archaeologist Åsa Larsson. Since not all of you speak Swedish, let me summarize it for you...

The stone age excavations in Motala (in Sweden) have resulted in some very interesting finds. For example, skeletal remains appear to have been placed on poles, sticking out of the water, some 7500-8000 years ago.

Now what's REALLY interesting, is the lump of organic material inside one of the skulls... Which has turned out to be the remains of a brain!

Yes, you heard me. A brain. 7500-8000 years old! Isn't that incredible!? And they are currently analyzing it in the search for a method to detect brain damage in unconscious patients... Wonderful!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Red taffeta dress finished, yay!!!

It is done! My first piece of modern sewing, a red silk taffeta dress made specifically for my cousin's wedding this Saturday. It's not perfect, but I've learned a whole lot and I really like the result.

I am especially fond of the collar and neckline, I feel incredibly comfortable in it! If only the lining would stop popping out... I have hand sewn around the neckline which made it look much better, but still the lining pops out. I guess I should place some stitches further in, keeping the flimsy fabric away.

Now, it doesn't look like it in the pictures but just before the photo shoot I carefully ironed the skirt... But obviously the taffeta doesn't want to stay neat and tidy, as it took about 10 seconds to undo the ironing.

Now, I can't wait to get started with my next sewing project!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hemline stitches according to my grandmother

When I was a kid my grandmother showed me how to sew hemlines properly. I have no idea what the stitches are called, but it works just fine. The red taffeta dress I'm working on of course needed to have the hemline stitched by hand (I really didn't want a visible seam at the edge!) so I thought I'd take the time to show you what my grandmother taught me.

First, you do a tiny stitch above the hem, from the right to the left.

Then, moving the needle to the right, do a larger stitch through the hem (without penetrating the outer fabric), also from right to left. Then do another tiny stitch in the fabric above, further to the right. And so on and so on.

The result is a very flexible seam that is hardly visible from the outside. Do any of you know what the stitches are called?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What I have learned (dress making problems)

I have to admit it, I'm completely inexperienced when it comes to modern sewing. Yet, the trouble I've had with the red taffeta dress aren't really due to the modernity of the piece... Last night when the dress was almost done and I tried it on I was completely disappointed, it didn't look good at all. After all of this work I felt incredibly frustrated (and I still do!) but I will try to learn from my mistakes and do better next time.

What I have learned (checklist for future sewing)

  • Make absolutely sure that you have enough fabric for the pattern! No guessing, measure!!!
  • Don't attach the lining to the outer fabric until the very end, as to make sure that NO seams are visible!
  • When attaching the skirt to the top... make absolutely sure that it's sewn onto the correct height, by pinning it on first while wearing it!
  • Buy enough thread for the entire piece. 
  • Have enough time to re-do at least a few of the seams, as some things will probably always go wrong.

As you might have guessed, I haven't finished the dress yet. I'm bringing the dress to work today so I can untack a couple of seams which I must re-do tonight, if I can just get a hold of some more thread. Keep your fingers crossed... I have to finish it tonight, no excuses!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Continued sewing

Isn't the blogging community wonderful? When it came to sewing the zipper to the back of the dress I didn't have a clue of how to proceed. The store clerk who helped me pick out a zipper guided me to a hidden sort, that's supposed to be more or less invisible. But how on earth is it done? Well, I simple googled "sy dragkedja" (Swedish for "sewing  zipper") look what came up - a wonderful little tutorial from a blog called Josefin Design. Thank you Josefin, you cleared it all up for me!

So now the zipper is in place. I just spent way too long trying to get the pleats on either side of the chest symmetrical, and what's left to do with the top is fix the sleeves and cuffs. The collar is already done (and I love it!) and the lining is fastened to the taffeta.

I'll try to get the sleeves and cuffs done tonight, and then the only thing left for tomorrow is the skirt (which I haven't even cut out the pieces for yet!). Hopefully this time plan will work, because I really want to have the dress finished before Monday.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dress making - cutting out the pieces

 The other day I finally cut out the pieces of my new dress, in this gorgeous red taffeta. As usual our two fur balls demanded to be a part of the process, watching and interfering a bit now and then. Gosh, this is definitely the scariest part of sewing! I just can't afford to make mistakes at this point...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

How to weave edging strips with a rigid heddle while at the same time selling insurances

1. Put your headset on!
2. Put your feet (or at least one foot) up on the desk.
3. Fasten one end the warp on your big toe, and the other end around your waist.
4. Start to weave.
5. Don't forget to keep talking to your clients!
6. Ignore weird looks from fellow office workers.
7. Sell enough to make the others jealous.
8. Explain for the hundredth time that weaving while working actually helps your concentration.
9. Don't bother to untie yourself from the warp while on a coffee break (everyone already thinks you're a bit weird), just let it hang from your waist.

So I finally finished my first edging strip woven directly onto the fabric, with a rigid heddle. The result is a small pouch, the perfect size for keeping my hemp head cloth out of harm's way while I'm not using it. I'm pretty pleased, although the linen fabric in itself turned out to be a bit too easily unraveled. This meant I had to take rather large stitches into the fabric, or else the edging strip wouldn't have stayed on, so it might not be the prettiest in the world. But for a first try I think it's pretty good, or what do you think? 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Unicorn embroidery finished!

...or, at least it's almost finished. The actual unicorn is done, but then of course I will be a lot more work later when I attach it to the dress. Then I have plans for even more embroidery which will go on the same outfit... But for now I'm happy. It's a bit too cute and princessy but together with the rest I think it'll work just fine.

If you didn't read my earlier post about this embroidery and the 14th century original, here it is

My version looks quite different despite my attempts to follow the original closely. As I mentioned before I had some trouble with the head, where the lines were drawn just a mm outside of where they should be, resulting in the head looking 'thicker' than the original. I really wanted to fix that but I couldn't, not without redoing the entire head. But other than that... Well obviously I had to create the parts that were too worn off to be seen in the picture, and I chose to add the same kind of tail and horn as can be seen in other medieval unicorns.