On the weekend of April 22-25, my little brother Kyle and I went down to Ravensborg Viking Fortress in Missouri for the Viking Celebration of the return of spring. It rained. THE WHOLE WEEKEND. So much for sunny spring weather!
Aside from that, however, it was a good weekend. We spent the whole weekend living like Vikings, and got a better idea of what life would have really been like dodging leaks in the roof and mud puddles. The hem of my good white underdress was about 6 inches deep in mud spatters by the time the weekend was over.
Of course, Kyle had a birthday the weekend after we went to Ravensborg, so he got new Viking kit a little early for his birthday:
So, as you can see, he is quite a rich Viking– bright red tunic with yellow embroidery, undertunic, baggy wool pants, leg bands, and all the other things that make a Viking respectable. All of it is completely hand-sewn and embroidered, so it is almost one-hundred percent accurate! I didn’t think the red would come out quite that bright, but I suppose it was inevitable. I just hope it fades out a little bit, and if that fails, I know it won’t fit him this time next year, and I can make him something a bit more understated. His undertunic is already a bit too small– I took his measurements a month before I made his kit, and while I made the overtunic big enough for him to grow into, I made the undertunic his size. Big mistake. He almost outgrew it, while the “too-big” overtunic is the right size. I guess I know what I’ll be doing before the next Viking event!
As for myself, I just sewed a lot while I was there- there isn’t much to do while you are sitting inside. First I worked on a Byzantine tunic, before any of the public got there. It is a really bright saffron-colored cotton, and while colors like that did exist in the Viking age, I decided it would be best to keep it hidden when the public was there so as not to confuse them.
Later, when it stopped raining for a while, I sat outside and worked on an underdress for a friend of mine. Notice my new bling! (Yup, I got new brooches. They’re pretty.)
I didn’t finish the underdress until this week, but I got a great start on it at Ravensborg! Making something all hand-sewn is a bit of a new thing for me, something I hadn’t done much until the gambeson. Granted, I knew how, and had done a few smaller projects like aprons completely by hand, but a dress? A tunic? A gambeson? A pair of pants? These are all things I had never done completely by hand before and now have. I still don’t have the nice 16-stitches-to-the-inch standard that the pioneer women of 1800’s America held themselves to, but I do have a fine strong stitch, and I have actually found that making slightly larger stitches and back-stitching every few stitches holds just as well and is less likely to pucker.
Here is the list of my sewing projects finished in the month of April: the gambeson, two pairs of Viking pants, two tunics, one undertunic, an underdress, a linen pillowcase, and a lot of mending– all by hand. I never got my sewing machine out his month. I feel accomplished!
Of course, it wasn’t all sewing down at Ravensborg. Kyle and I also fought a bit. It was fun.
(That’s not Kyle, just for the record.) And then I ‘died’.
We also did some shield wall battles.
I am not a very good fighter yet. . . I need practice, and practice, and practice. At least Kyle and I now both have saexes and shields, so we can practice a little at home.
Saturday morning, we got to ride around in the lake in the Yrsa, Sam’s Viking boat. It was fun, except Kyle was afraid of falling in the water, since he can’t swim that well, so he didn’t go. He sat on the bank and watched.
All in all, it was a great weekend, and we made a lot of friends in the Jomsborg Vikings from Texas!
Here are a few more favorite pictures from the weekend:
Later, I will tell you about my foray into Nalbinding. . .