|A Wandering Elf||
The Holidays are upon us and I thought I would share some ideas of things the Viking Age reenactor in your life might enjoy as gifts (and, of course, the wonderful vendors from whom you can purchase these items).
Feed the Ravens is quite possibly my favorite vendor ever. I love the exceptionally high quality leather work and pottery that they craft and the assortment of jewelry and tools that they carry. They also often have unique items that one rarely sees elsewhere. Currently in stock they have period blacksmith tools, brass chain for suspending tools from brooches, reindeer antler drop spindles (I have two of these that are my favorites for spinning flax), and jewelry! They also have leather goods and pottery. I recommend talking directly to Maggie or Scot about what they have now or perhaps to place a special order for the exact item that the Viking in your life has been coveting. (And yes, I confess, this is my personal favorite vendor ever!)
Timeless Textiles sells EPiC wool yarn. This is a 2/18 wool yarn, dyed dozens of wonderful colors, that is very smooth and quite strong. I find that this works exceptionally well for both tablet weaving and for use on other types of looms. Unlike some other brands of similarly sized yarn, this is a true worsted spin and does not have little flyaway hairs that will cause your warp to bind up. They even sell a sample pack of swatches so that your favorite weaver can keep it on hand for project planning. (And bonus, they also sell Bocken's linen thread in colors! This is great for hand sewing.)
Historical Glassworks, this artisan carries glassware that represents numerous time periods and locations, from Roman, to Viking and into the Renaissance (and later)! They also have a wonderful selection of handmade gifts that can appeal to those who are not interested in recreating the past. Their holiday ornaments, candle sticks and glass bracelets immediately come to mind as beautiful items that many would enjoy.
Crafty Celts, well, what can I say beyond the fact that I have long been a fan of this vendor. Do you need a new Knight's chain? Celtic animal pendants or brooches? Bracelets (that, honestly, look just as great outside of a historic setting as they do inside)? Also, this is the vendor to hit up if your Secret Santa target is a fan of the History Channel's "The Vikings" as they supply much of the jewelry used in the show.
The Practical Viking is a really cool shop to visit at Pennsic. They provide a great atmosphere and sometimes even have dyeing demos or other happenings in their booth. They carry an assortment of items that appeal to Vikings such as hoods, legwraps, cool cookware and even adorable Viking dolls!
Oxbow Books is not a vendor of handcrafted items, but rather is a publisher of academic books. They carry many of the volumes that help the us piece together the past. Most reenactors that I know have a long list of books on their wishlists, so it might be worth seeing what they would love to read next and purchase that as a gift. (Note that they also have a fantastic section of sale books that can be a real bargain.)
I had no idea until today that I have never shared this here before (though I have talked about it many times on Facebook). Reproduction silks have become very popular among Viking reenactors, thanks to several companies, including Sartor. The problem with most silk textiles that we use is that they fray like crazy (and the shreds will cling to everything, and pull more our of your precious investment as you work).
My solution to this issue is to prevent the fraying even before I cut my cloth. To do this I mix a small amount of white glue into some water. It should be some what thin. I lay my cloth flat on a nonporous surface and draw my cutting lines on the cloth with a pen or chalk. I then take a paintbrush and paint the glue mixture over my cutting lines. I allow it to dry fully and then cut the fabric as normal. If you cut before you treat, the cloth edges will wumple up as it dries. Painting the lines on before cutting prevents that.
Note that I do NOT use fraycheck, or other types of liquid stitch products, as they can eat away at silk. Also, if you drip it onto the cloth, the cloth will forever have a spot on it, whereas you can use some water to further dilute the white glue and get it out of your fabric before it is damaged. Plain white (elmer's) glue also has no fumes.
In case anyone here hasn't figured it out, I love exploring different types of headcoverings for my period clothing. I agree with others about how a headcovering (or proper hairstyle) can really complete the look of any historic costume, but I really love the experimental archaeology factor that comes with testing different things that work (or don't work) for my Norse kit.
I have mentioned before that so far my favorite headcoverings are sheer, fine wool. The drape of a wool veil is fluid and beautiful. I still have many linen veils, cloths and caps as well that I use. Some of these items I have woven myself, but I also purchase handwoven and commercial items from others to try them out (and share my findings here). So I have two new findings I want to show off today.
The first is that I bought two new veils for my new Slavic dress at Pennsic from Feed the Ravens. A light blue one is 80% merino and 20% viscose. This thing drapes beautifully and is very soft against my face and neck. Unfortunately, the only photos I have of it were during Atlantian Court, where I wrapped my head just outside of the building, and the drape was a little snug, but I truly love both this outfit and headcovering. (The temple rings and band also came from Feed the Ravens. Note that their shop is offline for the rest of August, but they will be back soon!) I also got a silk blend veil from them that I plan to use in a similar fashion. These fine cloths would also work well with Norse headdress.
When I came home from Pennsic, I was searching Etsy for something totally unrelated to sheer fine cloth and came across some very fine, open weave, linen scarves that I thought would work perfectly for veils or headcoverings. The price was fantastic so I ordered several to check them out. The vendor is LinenWorld8 and I am delighted with the quality of what I received.
The solid burgundy one is a bit more fine than the three with the strips on the edges. These will be cool and comfortable but do not have the glorious drape of wool, so I will likely cut them down into smaller rectangular veils, headbands or caps.
I actually need to sort through my bin of veils this fall and start to resize some of the pieces that are too large right now to use in the manner I prefer. Hopefully I can also pick up some more interesting textiles for headcoverings in the coming year as well!
To see all of my articles discussing headcoverings, click here: awanderingelf.weebly.com/blog-my-journey/category/headcoverings
A friend just shared this blog post about SCA Research Papers and I have to say that I really like the way things are laid out. I plan to use some of the notes in it for future organization myself.
Thanks to Baroness Sibella for the thoughtful resource!
This post is in reaction to a blog post a friend made about a very bad experience she had at the Pennsic A&S Display a few years ago. You can read that post here: https://annasrome.com/2018/07/05/remember-the-human-dont-be-that-guy-at-as-classes-and-displays/
She made great points about the people displaying, but I want to add onto that. When you attend an artisans display at Pennsic (or anywhere else) you should keep in mind that those presenting are likely to be a variety of levels in terms of skill. Some might be new to the SCA and are jumping into the deep end and displaying during their very first year. Some might be veterans who are exploring a new art. And, most importantly, some might actually be displaying something entirely other than what you think you see.
Usually the first two categories will become apparent once you engage with the artisan and you can handle advice accordingly. That last category though, can be tricky, but you should always ask yourself - and the artisan, if necessary - what it is they are showing. I can use myself as an example, I study Viking Age Norse textiles. I have a nice display of wool, textile tools, a small scale loom and books that house my research. What I was NOT actually displaying was my woodworking skills on the loom that I made for the display. What I was NOT displaying was woodwork or pottery for my spindles (which I did not make at all). I was also not displaying weaving or spinning (though I had woven samples and spun wool there as well). What I was sharing was my knowledge of Norse textiles, how they were made, and also the context in which they existed in period. I know that people do not take time to read piles of papers at events, so I illustrated every item with something tangible on the table. (Realistically, you could say Research, and Illustrated Research, as well as Experimental Archaeology, are my actual A&S "things" in the SCA, not weaving or costuming or any of the other things I do. My geek is in the research and experimenting with what I learn.)
I also have a couple of friends who make and display textiles tools. These people are, in fact, geeked up over making period tools, though they may or may not actually be interested in spinning and weaving full lengths of cloth for garments. This is actually a very period practice (especially as you get into later history where there was a greater division of labor and people were more apt to specialize, meaning that a Renaissance era woman would labor to spin fibre, but would be procuring her spinning wheel from an adept craftsman who specialized in that trade). If someone builds a loom and displays it, it is fine to ask if they have woven the cloth for a garment on it, but it is also fine if they say they tested it to see if it works, but they have little interest in weaving 5 yards of cloth.
If you are attending a display, please keep in mind that what you see in front of you might not be what it seems on the surface. Remember that just because you prefer to do things from sheep-to-shawl (including making all of your own tools), please remember that not everyone has an interest in doing every tangental aspect of their craft themselves (and it might not be period for them to do so). This is NOT a competition where you get more points for each item one fashions by hand. You will learn more about someone and their art if you are willing to walk away from assumptions that you might initially make when you learn that those assumptions were off base.
And please, please, remember that many people love the research aspect more than any other and their displayed craft might just be to test theories, it might just be to help illustrate the folder of papers sitting in front of them. If you are interested enough in their work to stop and talk to them, you should be interested enough to accept that they might be more interested in sharing their research with you rather than the fine details of a machine sewn costume that is only there to help people visualize a paper they composed.
And for the artisans, I recommend that if you make modern substitutions (let us say buttons for your costume), but you have no interest in metal casting to make your own, that you still learn (and include in your documentation if it is a competition) the historic source of the buttons. Would they have been locally crafted or imported? Was there a guild for this? Were they expensive? (This type of knowledge can also help you better place your garment into historic context.)
I look forward to seeing this year's display. It is an amazing day of geeking out with others and learning from them!
Maggie and Scot from Feed the Ravens have an amazing offer out there for an SCA fighter who very much wants to improve the authenticity of their kit but who cannot for financial reasons or just because they do not really know where to start. Information is below:
Are you an SCA Stick Jock? Do you defend your crappy kit while secretly wishing you could make it better AND more historical? Feed the Ravens is looking to sponsor ONE SCA Viking Age persona fighter who has a super shitty kit due to personal life trials, financial distress, or lack of time due to extreme work hours. Must be willing to show a minimal (or lack of) paycheck, not have been participating in the SCA more than 10 years, and show a willingness to devote a little more time and effort toward our mutual goal. Getting your kit 25% better by the end of 2018.
To apply, please send photos of your current soft and hard kits (meaning armoured field kit, and what you wear around camp), and show us at least one project you have already done in the past 2 years to add to your current SCA kit(s)
We will provide the following:
You will be responsible for:
I challenge my other more experienced friends to do the same as us, many of you already do this for friends and people of your households, but why not take on someone you don't know at all?
Occasionally I realize that I have totally lost my mind. Clearly this is one of those times.
Last year I decided I wanted to come up with a super easy, one layer sort of loose garment that I could do in linen that is more period than my typical bog dresses. (My "bog dress" is a modified version of the typical two-flap style that involves less fabric, less bunching, and some pleats for better drape. It is plausible, but is "inspired by" rather than based on an actual extant piece. My instructions are here: http://awanderingelf.weebly.com/blog-my-journey/sca-standards-the-bog-dress) awanderingelf.weebly.com/blog-my-journey/sca-standards-the-bog-dress
I prefer linen at War, but the issue with linen is that its drape does not lend well to garments that have a lot of fabric bunched up at the waist. Linen has a very beautiful crisp hand, and tends to fall away from the body rather than flow over it. Linen is also typically a tabby weave. Tabby also tends to fall away from the body, whereas a twill will better flow.
Both linen and wool are wonderful, as are both twill and tabby. They, however, have very different looks and are suited to different things. For me personally the linen tabby does not make me happy with a Huldremose or Zweeloo style bog dress because it is simply too much cloth (that does not flow well) gathered in at the waist.
I recalled awhile ago that I was deciding on what to do with some lovely mid-weight wool, twill plaid, and tested a very hypothetical garment out in that cloth. The bulk was too much, but just maybe it would work with this mid-weight linen...
In my massive stash of books and articles I have one entitled "Visions of Dress. Recreating Bronze Age Clothing from the Danube Region". This is by Karina Grömer, Lise Bender Jørgensen and Helga Rösel-Mautendorfer. I tend to collect articles by certain authors, in this case it was Bender Jørgensen that is responsible for this one being in my stash. It discusses a fantastic find from the Bronze Age in Austria and what the plausible costume construction for the fantastic (and dangerous, lol) jewelry could have been.
One of the options (Variant 4: Pustopolje type) is a very simple wrapped garment made from a rectangle of cloth. I have to take a moment here and note that it is expressly stated in the article that "none of the recreated outfits can be considered as 'the truth'". This is very key, they are all exceptionally hypothetical (and the methodology is laid out in the document itself, which I shall link further down). It does, however, work amazingly well and is quite beautiful in the linen that I tested! (There really is not enough to back this, even with this article, to give this garment enough to pass muster as an A&S project, but it certainly works for events like Pennsic, where I want to stay cool and comfy!)
Below are some tests I did. This is 2 yards of 5.3oz linen, un cut and unhemmed. I tried it with and without a belt and both styles are secure. I can walk, climb stairs, get up and down off the ground and chase cats in it. For this test I simply used kilt pins. In reality I will hem the cloth and use my Crafty Celts Belt and Fibula set (which dates several hundred years after this, but I have it and it is stunning).
The only issue I have so far found at all was that the top-front (neckline) tends to ride a little high on me. That can be easily fixed with a small brooch or fibula in the front that would serve to gather just a bit of that fabric (pulling it a bit lower).
2018: NOTES FROM THE AFTERMATH - I made and wore one of these several times last year at Pennsic. In practice, I learned that this garment needs to be a bit shorter than I am showing in the trial images below, to be completely functional. No longer than ankle length, with slightly shorter being better, allowed this to not bind up around my legs while walking when it is belted (I have a long stride). I was able to take off my belt and help someone set up a pavilion last year and and despite getting up and down off the ground a number of times, I was never in danger of flashing anyone, as the dress stayed secure and coverage was complete.
For sizing, I am typically an 8 or a woman's medium. I use two yards of cloth (before hemming) for this garment. My recommendation is to start with cloth that is double your bust size, PLUS extra. Wrap the garment and you can tell from there exactly how much you will need, and you can trim off the excess.
Last year I pushed the fibula through the dress fabric itself each time. This year I might add small hand sewn eyelets to pin through to help preserve the cloth.
I know that I wanted to over complicate this exceptionally simple garment, and was pleased when I figured it out exactly how easy it was. Below are steps to complete this look yourself. Note that the fabric requirement will change with size and body type!
(Warning, this is a very preachy post, you can avoid it if you prefer. None of us are perfect, but this is, in part, also a reminder for me to think twice as much as it is anything else. Further, this is NOT about clear cases of someone mistreating others at events, it is merely a commentary on the importance of not assigning motive to those behaviors.)
One of the most important things that I learned in conversations with my Laurel was how dangerous, and detrimental, it can be to apply motive to someone else’s actions. Of course, all of this actually makes sense when you think about it, but I guess I had just never really spent the time on it until a couple of situations came up and we discussed them. It never actually occurred to me how damning (for all parties involved, including the person making the assumptions), that applying motive to someone’s actions can be.
Over the years I have seen it commonly come up in forums, these situations where people are assuming that someone shafted them for some reason (which they do not ACTUALLY know, in most cases) venting about the injustice of it. I have also seen it in person. I know someone who loved to vent about how she was garb snarked at an event once. That a certain Laurel saw her kit and made nasty comments about it. Well, the reality of that situation was that that person was behaving like a total ass at that moment, and she merely got an eye roll over the very poor public behavior (the garb in question was actually wonderful stuff, lol).
So, I want to put an example out there, about how damaging applying motive can be. Here is an example:
At an event Shapoopee (thank you to one of my dear dance teachers for that example name) and Shapeepee are talking to Lady Artisan about their garb. Shapoopee and Shapeepee have only been playing a couple of years and have not yet been awarded an AoA. Lady Artisan has been around a bit longer and has her GoA for her costuming work. They know each other in passing, but not well enough to truly consider each other friends yet.
The three women are all in the center of a room chatting away. Lady Artisan seems a bit distracted a few times but is carrying on her end of the conversation.
Across the room, in full view by all three, is a door and note here that the room is getting more crowded as more and more people enter (perhaps this is the social area of an event, or maybe dayboard is about to start). Eventually through that door comes Laurel Costumer and Laurel Feeder-of-Masses. Shapoopee comments on their entrance because she is in awe of Laurel Costumer's new dress. At that very moment, Lady Artisan cuts off her conversation rather abruptly, and with a quick excuse, makes haste towards the doorway.
Now, Shapoopee and Shapeepee are somewhat stunned by this (rightfully so) and immediately turn to each other and in hushed tones are asking each other “What the hell was that?” They are both a bit hurt about being suddenly abandoned. They come to the quick conclusion that Lady Artisan ditched them in favor of the pair of entering Laurels.
They might tell this story to others, about how they were snubbed because they have no awards, or how Lady Artisan was trying to suck up to the Laurels. The end result is some very damning rumors about Lady Artisan that some might hear (and wrongly) take to heart. Another result of the chatter is that Shapoopee and Shapeepee end up looking quite petty to others. And beyond that even, Shapoopee and Shapeepee might start avoiding Lady Artisan, which could ruin a potential friendship, or they might lose out on some wonderful information because they will now not take her classes.
Now, the question really is - what actually happened here?
Lady Artisan was distracted during the conversation because her young daughter was across the room near the door way playing with some other children. They were all getting a bit rough and rowdy and were getting closer and closer to creating some sort of inadvertent child disaster. At the moment that the Laurels entered the room, she saw the kids romp into a nearby table, spilling the contents of several goblets on it. Lady Artisan was dashing off to do damage control and was more concerned about the idea that the children might have damaged someone’s property than making polite excuses to other adults for abandoning a conversation.
The reaction Shapoopee and Shapeepee had was a natural one to being abandoned, and they missed what else happened because they were (rightfully) a bit stunned. But the point is that, however natural the reaction might be, the assumptions they immediately came too were wrong.
What else could have happened?
Maybe Lady Artisan was just not feeling well that day. Maybe she felt as though she was going to be sick and needed to make a hasty exit. Perhaps, even as she was dashing out of the room, Laurel Costumer did indeed grab her attention to complement her on her work for a split second (before she could once again finish that needed retreat to the rest room). Maybe Shapoopee and Shapeepee saw that and it confirmed their “theory” (which was still, in fact, wrong).
Or perhaps this?
Lady Artisan was actually waiting in the room within view of the door because she had been asked by Lady Costumer to make something special for a Vigil that was happening that night. Lady Artisan should actually have left the event much earlier, as she had to get home after getting a call that the babysitter needed to leave early for some reason. She wanted to make sure that the item got to the proper person and was distracted because she also worried about being late. When Laurel Costumer arrived, she wanted to pass off the item and leave. She was not snubbing anyone, and her only possibly wrong was the lack of grace she showed in her hasty exit.
Or what about this one?
Lady Artisan is at a bit of a loss on some social situations and had more than her fill of peopling for the day. Shapoopee and Shapeepee had a habit of cornering her at every event and talking for hours (often about things well outside an SCA context). Lady Artisan likes these women, but is not very close to them because she feels their personalities do not mesh well. She is getting to a point where she cannot cope with the chatter and attempts (somewhat ungracefully) to make her leave to go see Laurel Costumer, with whom she is actually friends in an effort to calm down and resort her own thoughts.
I could go on.
I could make up these scenarios all day.
I could go on so long I would run out of plausible fictions and I resort to tales of alien abductions or time travel or trips on the Enterprise. And the reality of it is, that unless Lady Artisan actually tells me what happened, I will likely never, ever know the reality of it.
I know that in the SCA, especially on forums where people can ask Peers questions, as well as in conversations amongst Peers about candidates that we love to discuss PLQs. To me, it is critical to try to remove “assumption of motive” from any of these conversations, and from any angle. It is not always possible, and sometimes, yes, there is a long standing pattern of behavior that might offer more insight. But the reality is that we are all doing a disservice to not only the Society, but to each other and ourselves by assuming the worst when we, in all reality, cannot actually guess at the underlying cause of a behavior.
I love this event. I love camping at this event even more. It is so much smaller than Pennsic, but there is a wonderful vibe. I love walking (weather permitting) in the Pennsic grass in my barefeet and visiting friends I usually only see at War on cool nights. This weekend was no exception.
The weather ended up amazing (unlike the last two years). A bit of rain Friday, pretty much perfect Saturday. Cool temps (I could wear WOOL!) and crisp evenings. I got to get my Beast and Boar mug early, and had a pre-Pennsic dinner with them. Only breezed through the merchants on a walk-about (which was fine as I was out of money, lol).
Sorcha and Seamus were great camping buddies. Sorcha delivered piping hot cinnamon rolls to us Saturday morning, followed by Scotch eggs. We all dined together that night on grilled fresh keilbasa and perogis.
Friday I got to take a class on basic enameling. The instructor was lovely (Dasani from the Middle Kingdom). I have only done it once before and this was two different techniques than I tried then, so it was fun. I don't think this will be my next hobby, but it is nice to experiment. I am highly tempted by her cloisonné class though. Maybe at Pennsic I can try that.
That night I went to (now) Mistress Gwen the Graceful's vigil. It was a lovely affair, with wonderful food and it was great to chat with people I usually see at War. We almost did not make it to WP, but was delighted to be able to attend after all, if only for my ability to go to the vigil. It was my first time speaking with a vigilant as a Peer, and I was honored to be able to do so.
Yes, I will point out now (again, lol) that I love the pomp and circumstance of the SCA. I love the traditions and the pageantry. I enjoy the processions and Court and was happy to try to live up to my role by taking part as an an advisor as did so many who chose to come to my own vigil.
Saturday started with the above mentioned breakfast and then a meeting, and then I made my way to the Artisans Playtime. I had a great time looking at the displays and talking with a few people and was really impressed with the Scribal area. I loved seeing everyone working on things, and new folks trying things out. I was talking to Lady Shirin about her display (which had some very nice work on period pigments, along with a fantastic chart) and then was asking some questions about what I would need (bare basics) to try my hand at Illumination and she sat me down with a blank she had already started and showed me how to paint it, and then send me home with the paints, the scroll and a brush! I immediately ordered the Finetec gold to finish the scroll and that has already arrived at my office. Hopefully I can sit down and paint some more tonight. Not sure it will work up well enough to give out, but I am beyond excited to try my hand at this!
Later that afternoon I walked out to the battle field for a bit, and then went to retain for TRM then on to our little in-camp feast of Polish food and then Court. So funny because I went from long-ago being someone who ran from Court to someone who very much enjoys it. I was honored to welcome our new Fleur and Laurel and to retain, if only briefly.
After that was the best part of the evening, a walk-about to the lake to visit my Lusty Wench and Chalkman friends. Sitting there with my drink and friends that made me laugh till my sides hurt was wonderful. The walk back was brisk, but I swung by "home" (E17) and am just amazed at how sleepy it all seems right now, when I know how it will bloom to life in a few months.
I wish I could have an event just like this every couple of months! I think my soul would constantly be renewed and I would continuously feel inspired!
As it is, I will now lay low and catch up on the many projects (mundane and SCA), while I wait for Pennsic. I need to finish my class materials, craft new garb, experiment with patterned beads and paint this scroll. I think that should be enough to do between now and then!
Unfortunately, I have been far to busy to write about Crown before now (and even today this will have to be brief). Suffice to say, the event was lovely (and the weather even managed to sort it self out before the tournament).
The event was full of pageantry, good fights, and closed with a lovely Court. One of the things that I found to be rather fantastic though, was how quickly people were willing to step in and help.
When I arrived on site with the goods for the hospitality tent on Saturday, Master Morien McBain was there to assist as well as a newcomer and her daughter. The truck was quickly unloaded and we were able to get things set up so that the first round of coffee could be ready for those in need.
Later that day I was enchanted to listen to Mistress Morwenna explaining Crown (and many SCA traditions) to another newcomer, who had also pitched in to help that day, and her daughter also spend much of the day helping in the kitchen.
Petra (a fairly new SCA member from my household) baked a huge amount of what was served at the hospitality tent. She helped set up and worked there all day AND was helping in the kitchen. Once we closed up that tent for the day, she dashed off to the kitchen to help clean up there. This was only her third (I think) non-Pennsic event. (I also know she spent her entire first event helping with the Queen's Lunch and then all day in the kitchen!)
Lady Rosamund also contributed wonderful baked goods and sekanjabin, as well as her camp coffee expertise to the day.
Finally, when we went to break down the hospitality event we had all the assistance we could have wanted. People who had come by several times for beverages and snacks made a point of coming to help us break down. I also had people who I never saw there stop to assist. It was very smooth. I thank everyone for the help (and that goes for the awesome Sylvan Glen set up crew as well).
This willingness to pitch in and volunteer (especially from newcomers!!!) is really what makes the SCA an amazing place. Thanks to everyone who made the weekend spectacular!
I dance, race cars, play video games and am on a fantastic journey to recreate the past via costume, textiles, dance and food.
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Blogroll of SCA & Costume Bloggers
Below is a collection of some of my favorite places online to look for SCA and historic costuming information.
More Amie Sparrow - 16th Century German Costuming
Gianetta Veronese - SCA and Costuming Blog
Grazia Morgano - 16th Century A&S
Mistress Sahra -Dress From Medieval Turku
Loose Threads: Cathy's Costume Blog
Mistress Mathilde Bourrette - By My Measure: 14th and 15th Century Costuming
More than Cod: Exploring Medieval Norway