The State of the Estate
The end of December and early January have been quite busy over here at Neep Manor. Read on for more.
New Research Resources
I have discovered and added to the Online Research Tools the University of Pennsylvania LIbrary’s OPenn Manuscript Portal (BiblioPhilly) with over 160,000 pages from 475 manuscripts accessible online, for free.
I had one of the best Christmases in recent memory, to include some amazing and thoughtful gifts from and to the family. We spent most of it off work, sharing time. I enjoy the one on one time more than the gifts, though some of the gifts were fantastic. Karley had a pewter mug engraved with my device on it for me. I drank much wine from it in her honor.
In continuation of my previous commitment to upping my martial ability, I am participating in the 30 for 30 Swordplay Challenge. Though I have been bad about the check-ins, I have spent thirty minutes in either active swordplay, physical conditioning, or martial study every day all month.
The medieval march, marches on!
I have kept up with my idea of doing monthly, period dress marches. In the future, I should publicize my intent better, as I believe many skipped the last couple because they believed it was living history dress only. My intention was never to exclude those who wanted to come and wander with us and talk history from doing so if they didn’t have the requisite gear yet. I hope the one in February is better attended as I make it more clear. The walk went well, either way, just Karley and I. We powered through it and went two and a half miles in nearly an hour on the trail. Despite the colder temperatures, it started at 38 degrees, we began to overheat in our layers and needed to vent once we worked up a bit of steam. It is all a learning experience, and I am developing a better sense of what medieval clothes I would need in which temperature bands based on my anticipated activity. This is something we all develop an intuition on in our normal clothing but requires active thought and experimentation to do accurately in clothes we may only wear a few times a year.
Weather Specific Study
Preparing for these chilly winter walks, and expectations of possible snow during some of them, I have been doing reading on winter survival in medieval outfit, to include some standby articles such as Warm, Dry and Happy by Johan Kaell of Exploring the Medieval Hunt. I have spent quite a bit of time on his blog and Facebook page generally, as my interest in the Medieval Hunt continues to grow.
Boots and Hose
In the past, I have used Facebook, and the various medieval-themed groups I am in, to voice questions or thoughts about medieval culture, living history, practical and theoretical topics, etc. All these conversations lead to great conversations and I learn something every time. Many of them are the seeds of new articles, or they are ways for me to work through ideas to see if it is a topic worth writing about. The conversations do tend to happen across multiple groups, private conversations, and emails. In early January I had one of these conversations about an issue I have had with getting my boots on and off over my footed hosen. I received enough feedback I am going to write an article about it, and have added it to the discussion topic list below.
The other big discussion topic I had going on throughout the Facebook groups was on how to pick a good sewing machine for our purposes in living history. While not worthy of an article on its own, I gathered some great information across multiple communities and promised to provide a summary of my findings.
The overwhelming through-line in all the advice was to buy all metal sewing machines. When sewing heavier fabrics, leather, wool, etc. smaller, plastic built machines fail under the strain. The preference in the community seems to be towards pre-1970’s machines, as the 70s was the turning point where even the most reputable brands began to include plastic parts for the sake of cost. Currently, modern all-metal machines are out of most people’s price ranges. However, older vintage machines can be purchased for reasonable prices second hand. Reputable brands from turn of the century pedal powered ones to 50’s and 60’s era electric include Janome, Singer, Kenmore, Husqvarna, Berninas, and Necchis with the first two being by far the most popular.
I was also advised in multiple parallel conversations to ensure the machine you buy can do both a straight and zigzag stitch, but any other type of stitch (such as surging or automatic buttonholes) are features you will never use for medieval sewing. It is also important to be able to adjust the tension and find ones with walking feed feet attachments.
Continuing with my martial study I worked through basic poleaxe with Ben and Reece of Pursuing the Knightly Arts. They were able to work through teaching materials they were developing for an upcoming class on the subject, and I was able to get some reps in. I am trying to use my medieval garb whenever I am doing medieval things, and you can see in this short video I represent in gambeson, hose, and turn shoes. The last part is most important, as I want to develop my footwork and balance while wearing the shoes I will have on my feet when in a deed of arms.
I am pleased to announce to those who are not already aware, I am one half of the dynamic duo of the new medieval-themed podcast How Two Medieval, a how-to guide for novice and veteran reenactors, living history folk, and medieval enthusiasts of all sorts. The home page of the podcast is on Anchor, though the podcast can be downloaded on Breaker, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Radio Public, Spotify, or through your RSS feed. There is also a Facebook Page for the podcast. The second episode should release on the 20th.
On the 7th I completed the monthly maintenance of the resources and links section of the site, moving dead links to the morgue and cleaning up the Rapa Armorial page. I will add the armorial to the regular maintenance, as before I had confined myself to only clicking on the links in the groups, merchants, and resources sections. The Armorial required a significant overhaul, as it was formatting poorly for mobile and my ability to edit the site has improved since it was originally published. It took a few days to get the Armorial back online, as it did require rebuilding from the ground up.
The Patreon Ask-Me-Anything
“Do you reenact battles or just do personas?”
I always present historical impressions and have never participated in a specific battle reenactment. I have seen many reenactment events centered around a specific battle or siege which looked to be a ton of fun, such as some mass reenactments of Agincourt. I would participate in something along those lines if able. Unlike more contemporary reenactments, especially modern wars or even many Civil War battles, the farther back in time you go the actual play-by-play of how the battles transpired is more difficult (but not strictly impossible) to recreate with authority and accuracy.
Join on Patreon to participate in future Household-Only events.
Articles and Research Projects
A Research Exercise: Behind the Name
If you missed it, January’s article was a deep dive into sound practices for researching aspects of living history by highlighting and demonstrating the processes I used to vet and study names applicable to a living history impression. I also tried something new with this one, adding a video introduction instead of simply a text-based one. I’m not fully satisfied with the process, for several reasons. As it stands I do not have a high enough membership tier with WordPress to embed videos into the top of my articles yet, so the video has to exist independently of the article. There is a workaround I only discovered after I originally posted and promoted the article, which requires posting the video first to YouTube (which I have not created a channel for, yet, but I suppose I should, now) and then posting a link to the YouTube video in the WordPress article, which then automatically converts the link into a video pane where you can view the upload. However, until I can upgrade my subscription here on WordPress I cannot use videos as Featured Images, so when I share it on Facebook or Instagram I have to upload the video separately to Facebook. Then the link to the article gets buried in the text, and it is inelegant. I am experimenting with ways to make this all work with the tools I have available to me now. I also have to improve on my presentation, as I received some feedback indicating the video intro led some people to believe it was leading to a longer video, and not to a text article. I intend to improve on both of these things in the future. My content will remain primarily article and text-based, as it is my preferred medium, but I do enjoy and find practical application to supplementing my content here with summary videos in the same way I use pictures to support and refine my message.
The projects below have no specific order of urgency, so this is an opportunity to voice your suggestions or requests on upcoming content.
- A “Behind the Metal” interview featuring Trevor Clemons of the Kansas City Sword Guild, focusing on his considerable expertise and success with creating a crossover HEMA and living history group.
- A personal musing on making “consolation” purchases when you cannot wait or afford the perfect piece of armor or kit; exploring the boundary between “settling” purchases and ones simply “good enough for now”.
- I have a simple, slender belt from Lorifactor I could review. Anything I wear I could review. Do you want more product reviews?
- In the past, I hand drew some diagrams/floor plans for tents to establish an idea to what extent concepts like “headroom” and “floor-space” exist in any given tent. With access to a CAD program now, I have some far superior drawings of a series of Tentsmith Conical tents I could share as a resource. These drawings are very time consuming though, and with how many size/shape variations exist among the preeminent manufacturers of medieval tents, it will take me years to work through them all (or sufficient support to work on the website full time.)
- A personal pet peeve of mine is how product photos for medieval clothes and items usually only have one model. My idea: a line of “Red Carpet Reviews” of people in their outfits to show what clothes and items from various merchants look like when worn by various people, with the bonus of some explanation as to why the wearer chose the item and how it fits into a coherent and cohesive impression. To springboard the series I would write one about all the elements of the picture of me wearing the sword looking off into the distance, and while it’s easier to write them about me and take pictures of me, I’d try to feature a variety of personalities. (This is the one I’m currently polishing and will probably publish next week unless there is an outpouring of interest in something else.)
- I have mentioned once or twice in the past, especially regarding building the elements of my impression and pulling from sources such as effigies, I resist the idea of portraying a specific person. I suspect I am due to put something up which defines what I mean by the statement and my thoughts on unique portrayals versus reenacting historical figures.
- Mentioned above, I went on a mission to find out if there were accepted fixes to a persistent wardrobe malfunction where my hosen would bunch up on my feet and bind with the rough leather of my boots when putting shoes on over my footed hosen. I received a list of possible solutions, some of which I have tried and some of which remain to be experimented with. An article on the subject would include trying and documenting my experiments with all the suggestions.
What article would you like me to prioritize for you? What are you seeing on the website or the social media accounts you like or dislike? Drop me your feedback by comment or email.