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måndag 22 september 2008

New suede(?) shoes, part 3

Lets try it again. I'll just post a lot of pics, and then I'll comment on them in the bottom.

The first picture shows the tools of the trade. There is a ruler for measuring and drawing straight lines (who would have thought that you could do that with a ruler?), harness needles (they are blunt - not sharp - for a closer look, check out the second picture), waxed linen/flax thread - the really sturdy type, a sharp, thin awl, a thimble ring and a sharp (really sharp) knife. I also use some type of material to protect the table from cutting and piercing - a chopping-board usually does the trick.

Next picture shows the harness needles. They are blunt, and they are two! They are blunt, because they are not used to pierce holes in the leather. The awl is used for that. The needles are used to guide the thread through the holes. They are two because you make turn-shoes by stitching them together with a so called saddler's seam, where two needles are used for the same thread - one needle in each end. The saddler's seam is presented further down this post.

Next picture shows the three different pieces of the shoe in question. There is a overleather (1), a gore (2) and a sole (3). The colour markings show where they fit together. The construction is a bit tricky, and it is easy to get lost when trying to figure it out. I stitched the gore in place at the overleather (green to green and red to red - yes - it takes a whole lot of folding and shaping to get it straight), before I did anything else.

Next two pictures show a piece of the sole. The awl goes in at the top, but it doesn't go the whole way through it - it changes direction, and goes out on the side - the sole is thick enough for this. The reason for this is that the thread would be worn out (off?) in less than a day if it were to be placed directly under the foot (between the foot and the ground).

Next two pictures show how the above is made in practice. This example shows awling technique for a so called flesh edge seam, which is the most common seam for stitching together pieces of the overleather. The thread is not seen on the outside when the seam is finished. The only difference between the flesh edge seam and the saddler's seam is that the flesh edge seam really only goes through the edges of the leather, when the saddler's seam can go straight through the leather, from top to bottom.

The next picture is a detail of the flesh edge/saddler's seam. Both needles go in (one at a time) the two holes made by the awl, one from each side. When each needle has been pulled through, you just tighten the thread, and go for the next set of holes. The last picture shows how the flesh edge seam looks.

When stitching the overleather to the sole, the saddler's seam is used.

fredag 19 september 2008

On the nature of Blogger

Blogger sucks. At first, when I published an article, one of the pics came out wrong. When I tried to edit it, only the first third of the article was visible, and when I posted the corrections, everything I had written, except for the first third, disappeared. So I took it all away. Maybe I'll re-write it next week.

torsdag 18 september 2008

And now for something completely different

I am no longer on trial employment! I am no longer on trial employment! I am no longer on trial employment! I am no longer on trial employment! Yaya! A real employment! That isn't depending on season or projects! With a real contract! I shall have me a good drink when I get home - because I am a working man now! I am not a kid anymore! I have a job! I am respectable and I can support myself and my family! Rawk-and-rowl!

New suede(?) shoes, part 2

As I promised, I'll post more on the making of these godly vessels of foot protection.

In the beginning, there was the foot. Plain, smelly and rough. Thereafter I put one of my hose on it, and after that, a real thick winter woollen sock. I finished with a tube sock over it all. I then had a very warm foot.

Next step in this footy ordeal, was to take 1o centimetre long strips of gaffer tape, and completely cover up my foot - not too tight though. I was trying to follow the structure of it all, not of the foot inside all the socks and tape. When I was finished with it, I looked up a nice shoe in the Shoes and Pattens book from London Museum (I recommend you do this beforehand), and used a marker to sketch the cutting/outline of that shoe on my gaffer taped, socked foot.

What I did next was to gently make some room between the tape/tube sock layer and the warm winter sock, and used a pair of scissors to cut the tape/tube sock away. When I did this, I cut along the lines I made with the marker, quite obviously.

When I was finished doing that, I had the pieces cut out for a gaffer tape shoe. Then it was time to trace my foot for the sole. I put my hose-clad, but otherwise liberated, foot on a piece of paper, and traced it down with a pen. Next time, I'll be sure to trace it further under my instep, so the sole gets that classic narrow cut in the middle of the foot. Anyway. When it was finished, I measured the whole thing, and compared it to the measurement of the overleather. They should of course be the same, otherwise they won't go together. It is easier to adjust the sole than the overleather.

When they fit together it is time to re-sketch the again. Make the toe a bit longer on both the sole and the overleather, and make the shoe as a whole bigger by maybe a centimetre on all sides.

Then re-sketch it on a big sheet made of gaffer tape, cut it out, and whip stitch it all together loosely with thick, durable thread. The gaffer tape works a bit similar to leather, and when you are finished, you have a good mock up shoe. Try it on, and adjust if too big or too small. Remember that the leather you will be using should be much thicker than your tape mock up, and that means it will also be closer to your foot. If the mock up is just a tiny bit too big, then it is probably OK. When you are happy, trace it all down on paper, and you have your personal shoe pattern!

I'll describe more of the making as soon as I start with it.

onsdag 17 september 2008

New suede (?) shoes - pics

And now: What you've all been waiting for! The lace holes haven't been made yet, and I'm currently adjusting to a new camera - i.e. focus on these pics might not be the best. I hope you can see it anyway.

tisdag 16 september 2008

New suede(?) shoes, part 1

As my old shoes, made in january 2004, have been stepping closer to death each event, I have often thought of making myself new ones, in thicker leather, in a different model and with more correct techniques. But I think a lot, and do a whole lot less. No new shoes have been made - I have rather turned them inside out and fixed the as good as I could. But on our last event in Seeth-Ekholt it was finally time to let them go to their final rest. I ripped the leather off the soles (its not the soles that are falling apart - I'll re-use them some other place), and buried them peacefully in a hole we dug in the ground (not for the shoes, though, but for our kitchen waste). There they await the archaeologists of the future, who will have a real hard time telling 21st century from 14th :-)

So I really, really need new shoes. I bought the leather some time ago, but I really haven't got around to it. You know how it is. The problem is, that Albrechts Bössor, our company, is arranging what we call En djävul i skogen, translated "A Devil in the forest" - for short we will call it Djävulen (The Devil) henceforth. Djävulen was originally put together to test out ourselves and our equipment. It consists of one or two days march through the forests, carrying every single piece of equipment the company would need on campaign - including armour, pavise shields, weapons, cooking equipment, tents - the lot. We use a couple of sumpter horses to carry the bulkiest stuff, but otherwise, we carry our shit ourselves. And we walk. And walk. And walk. Then you'll need a sturdy pair of boots, and as Djävulen is coming up in less than a month I thought I might have to fix me that pair of shoes.

So that's what I am doing at the moment. The shoes are based on a London find, with details lent from similar Swedish examples. I turned the first of them yesterday night, with the help of a hammer, a broom stick, coarse language and my wife. What remains is making lace holes - no big deal. I am really, really happy with the first one - it might be one of the best things I ever made (apart from the leather just being a tiny bit too small at the instep - it leaves a small hole just above the sole - excellent for letting in water, snow and muck. Yes, I have already cut the other leather - exactly like this one. I guess I'll just have to put a patch there). They fit better than I thought, but in spite of them being a bit small at the instep at the level of the sole, they are a bit too big farther up the shaft. I know what changes I will make when I cut my next pair, if I ever get around to it. I will post pics as soon as I get back from work, and I'll post comments on the making of the next one, so you in your turn can comment on all the mistakes I make.

onsdag 10 september 2008

Seeth-Ekholt, chapter 4

We set out on the Autobahn. Me and Eli had the maps and took the lead in our overpacked Volvo, with the other guys in the other car following us. We hadn't driven that far when we suddenly became part of a queue. I wasn't certain wether it was a queue for people exiting the Autobahn or just a general queue, so I drove past it. I realised Simon (who was driving the following car) didn't, and I wondered why. Me and Eli guessed they would catch up, but we couldn't figure out why he stopped. It turned out that Simon was right - it was a general queue, and I had to sneak into it with cheeks full of shame. Our two cars were connected via walkie-talkies, but they had very limited range, and we could figure out what had happened to the others. As we drove, we slowly closed in on our exit and hoped that the others would catch up. They didn't, so we drove of, and hoped that we could catch them when they were closing in. We called out on the radio time and time again that they were supposed to exit at our particular exit - they didn't have any maps and therefore they couldn't figure it out for themselves.

Me and Eli parked the car at the roadside and put the emergency lights on. We waited for about 30 minutes, but we couldn't make contact with the others. Suddenly I saw a cop car in the rear view mirror, driving by at the street connecting to ours, and I cursed.
"I hope they didn't see us!" but the siren told another story. The cop car backed up and I had a lump in my throat. And in my stomach. The cops stopped behind us and stepped out, as did I.
"Guten Abend!" I greeted them, and they replied with the same courtesy. As my German isn't very good, I'll take the rest of the conversation in English. Please enjoy, as I didn't...

"What seems to be the problem?" (or for you Swedish guys: "Hur var det här då?")
"I'll tell you." I said, knees shaking just a tad. "You see, my friends are going to Hamburg, even when they were not supposed to." I felt my heart sinking; this wasn't going well at all. It was quite clear that my German wasn't at its peak in a stressed situation. The officers glanced at our clearly over loaded car, filled with axes, handgonnes, blackpowder, spears and German booze. Then they looked at me, and I felt inclined to continue:
"Well, we are waiting for them. They are turning, to get back to the other way..." I stuttered. The officer looked concerned and puzzled at the same time.
"Do you speak any English?" I tried, as it was clear that my message wasn't clear. He shook his head, slowly. The buttons on his uniform shone in the blue lights from the cop car. I swallowed.
"This is a bad spot, you see." he said. "This is the Autobahn. Would you mind waiting somewhere else?" 'Autobahn?' I thought. 'I just exited the Autobahn. This is just at crap piece of road.'
"No sir! I wouldn't mind at all!" I replied. He pointed at a parking lot some 100 metres away.
"Is that a good spot?" I nodded. "Well, turn your car around and park over there."
"Yes sir!"

So I got in the car, started it up, and drove off to find a spot to turn the thing around. And suddenly - we were at the Autobahn again! We had been parked at a slip road connecting to the Autobahn - and I hadn't the slightest idea this was the case. I drove off into the beginning night, sweating like... like... myself in a tight spot, and hoping they wouldn't chase me when I didn't park where I was told to. We called the others by phone (the phone bill arrived some days ago - it cost me about 80 euros altogether) and decided we should meet up at a suitable spot. They were ahead of us by at least 30 minutes. I drove a bit faster to gain on them, and on some dark highway, well of the Autobahn I was flashed by a speed camera and cursed a bit. Again. Finally we caught up with our friends, and drove all the way to the ferry without any troubles. We handed the ticket collector the tickets, and drove slowly towards the awaiting ferry. This is where the troubles started again. The other guys couldn't find their tickets. And we unknowingly went on the ferry without them. And the ferry departed. And they were still on German soil.

Me and Eli waited on the Danish side, and together we drove the last hours through Denmark, until we crossed the bridge over Öresund, and were back in Sweden and Malmö. And that was the end of it.

torsdag 4 september 2008

Seeth-Ekholt, chapter 3

Sunday. The day of going back to Sweden again, but also another day of one of the finest events in years. Breakfast with sausage and bread (and - coffee - you can take a man out of the modern time, but you can't take the coffee out of the man).
The bagpipe maker arrived about an hour before opening time, and told us that he didn't mind at all that we used his bench and table. We started chatting, and I admired his pipes; I have always wanted one, even when I was little, and these were really, really nice. So I asked him:
"What di you charge for one of those little, simpler pipes?" He dodged the question and told us all about bagpipestuff, which was really interesting, but I wanted to know how much money I would have to save to get me a pipe. So I asked him again. He shifted, and said:
"Do you know Marianne, the woman over there?" I told him I did. "You know," he continued "I'd rather trade than have you buy. Marianne made a set of clothes for my wife. Do you think you can do the same for me?" For those of you not into reenactment I can tell you this is a common way to do business - a craftsman offers you some of his work, and you give him some of yours - and all are happy.

The observant reader, however, have remembered that I am not a craftsman. I am a reading man, a drinking, feasting, eating man. But I am not a craftsman. I can make stuff for myself, but not for others - my stuff isn't good enough to trade for a bagpipe (to trade for anything, really), so this wasn't what I wanted.
"I can't say that I can." I admitted, feeling my spirits sinking to the muddy ground. Dammit. Another bagpipe lost in fantasies. Suddenly I heard a familiar voice. It said:
"But I can." Maria had entered the conversation.
"Pardon?" I said.
"I can make stuff for you." she told the pipe maker. I turned to her.
"This is your game, and you better stand up to it if you make promises."
"I will." she promptly stated, with a shadow of a smile across her face. I gasped when I finally realised what was happening. Maria offered her supreme skills as a textile expert for my bagpipe to be. She continued:
"You'll have to pay me for the raw materials of course, and help me out when I make the cloth."
"You got it!" I told her, and turned to the pipe maker.
"Would you like a Herjolfsnes no. 63?"
"Why yes, that is exactly what I had in mind!" he answered happily.
"And a pair of hose, I guess." Maria said. The bagpipe maker nodded eagerly, and asked:
"Peter, would you like to have wood carvings on you pipe as well? It is common to have King's heads or animal heads carved where the chanter connects to the bag. You can design that pipe anyway you like it." He didn't have to ask me twice - I decided there and then that my pipe should have the face of King Albrecht carved on it. Me and Thorsten the bagpipe maker shook hands, and made a deal. I am looking forward to having my pipe this christmas, and I am looking forward to the making of a grand old Herjolfsnes 63 jacket. The bagpipe maker (or rather his pipes) can be seen here.

I was a bit dazed by the prospect of finally having my very own bagpipe. I slowly walked among the booths, looking at the artisans and their work. I was feeling like cotton inside, and my mouth were aching from the idiotic smile I had on it. It was hardly mid day yet, and I was in my best mood. For some reason (I suspect drinking water) I didn't have any hangover, and the weapons display went really well - even better than the day before. The girls all had their go at the gonnes, to everyones amusement; it is funny how people turn to drooling children when they get to fire the handgonnes. It is something very primitive about it, that connects to our inner savage, and makes you want to burn and pillage. Or something the like.

Finally it was time to pack up and leave. Our simple camp was as always very easy to pack up, and we were finished in a couple of hours. We took a fond farewell of our friends, and were a bit troubled by the news that another Seeth-Ekholt event will not be held until 2010. We had ourselves some burgers before setting out for home in the late summer afternoon, where the evening gloom were slowly beginning to fall.