Thursday, November 4, 2021

making a pair of pattens

 This tutorial takes you through the process of making a pair of 14th century Pattens. It was high on my list for quite a while, and I was hesitant to try making them, but it was much easier than anticipated. It helped that we had access to an awesome wood shop, but using hand tools would not make it more difficult, just more time consuming. 

We made the pattens about 10 years ago and I lost some of the process pictures since them, but I think you can still get a good overview of our process. Enjoy!!

Making a pair of Pattens

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

How to plan a Fleece to Fiber project

 This is a video slide presentation of my class on how to plan a project where you start with a raw fleece and process it to a finished garment. This type of project is a big undertaking, but if you do your research up front, and break it up into manageable pieces, it is totally achievable.  

Planning a Fleece to Fiber Project Video!

Please Enjoy! 

Peace, Love and Happiness

Vivian / Heather/ Crafty Nara

A New Way of Teaching

 Greetings. I have been away from this blog so long, I was afraid that it had been deactivated. I had initially thought that I could use the pandemic time to catch up on all my medieval projects that had been put to the side, but like so many great plans, that did not happen. Now that my son has graduated from High School I have decided to take a break from theater costuming in order to focus more on my medieval arts and sciences. When I last left off I had several big projects in the planning stages and I was looking to really do some serious teaching. The projects can be easily picked up again, but I needed to reinvent myself as a teacher in order to deal with the new normal. 

I have spent the better part of the last year learning about making you tube videos for classes. I have experimented with powerpoint, voice over still pictures, and hands on demonstration. I have struggled through learning zoom and google meets. I have found a free for use video editing software and purchased a new computer, lights and microphones for better video quality. I have made a space with a neutral background in my living room where I can record. My hope is that I will now be able to regularly produce some instructional medieval videos. 

I also would like to do a fiber series where I talk about the history of a different type of fiber and show the making of a finished item with that fiber. I will start off with the fibers I talk about in the Complete Anachronist no 186 

The instructional class videos will also be offered to the Barony of Settmour Swamp You tube channel. I thought it would be good for me to have the classes all together on my channel as well. This way I can send my Crafty Nara Etsy customers there to see how I make my products. 

If you have an idea for a video you would like to see please let me know. I am happy to share any knowledge that you think is helpful. 

Peace and Love, Vivian/Heather/ Crafty Nara

Sunday, July 19, 2020

so what is new with you?

It has been a long time since I had the time or inclination to blog. However now that things have slowed down, I seem to have plenty of both. While the current times are EXTREMELY stressful, I am grateful for the chance to slow down a bit and spend more time with my immediate family. 
    Rather than start new projects I have decided to finish up project that have been sitting unfinished. All that garb that was started and abandoned when it didn't get done before the event I had intended to wear it to, etc.      
    In the past few years I have become increasingly busy with costuming with local theater groups. My son is a fantastic dancer, singer and actor and has been doing as many different show with many different theaters and it is a way that I can spend time with him and help support the local arts. Of course now during the pandemic, there is nothing going on with theater. I have mostly been sewing face masks and Scrub hats for a local hospital and have taken a fashion illustration course over the summer on line at FIT. I have always sketched out my clothing designs, but as a theater costumer, I have had to SHOW my drawings to so many people. I am quite embarrassed at how poorly I draw.  But like any other art, the only way to get better is to practice so I have very much enjoyed my online class. I have also found a You Tuber who has great tutorials on Fashion Illustration.
    In March of this year, I had the honor of being the Author of the Compleat Anachronist no. 186. Medieval Fiber Study. I took my Medieval fiber study that I had displayed at previous A&S competitions and through the guidance of the amazing editor of the Compleat Anachronist, I was able to get it published and hopefully it will help others with their own fiber projects. 
    I had signed up to teach a class at Pennsic this year based on this research called "Fun with Fiber". I started teaching this class in conjunction with the A&S project as a chance for others to experience spinning many different types of medieval period fibers. Pennsic has been postponed and they are going to do a virtual Pennsic University. They asked all the teachers to make a video of their class. I originally was not going to do it, as the "fun" part of the class was hands on, but i thought it might benefit some people to show how I choose what tools to use when spinning the different fiber types and also give a bit of history of the different fibers. I even purchased a microphone for my digital camera to help with the video. I should have also purchased an extra battery, as mine ran out of juice halfway through the video. So I sit here, in garb, waiting for it to recharge so I can do rest of it. 
    If the video works out (and I don't completely hate it), I may continue to do videos for each different type of fiber I have to spin. I could give the history of the fiber and show how I am choosing to spin in. 
I had always wanted to do some video blogging, so we will see how it goes. It might be a nice way to get my A&S medieval fix. I have found it hard to attend virtual events and virtual court, as I am just so sad about not being able to get together, and being on Facebook is just so difficult right now. There is just to much hate and division and that is more than I can handle right now. 
    As with all other hard times in my life, crafting will see me through. Making music is difficult for me right now, it is hard to get the energy for it, even though I always feel better after spending some time practicing, I just can't muster the energy. It is much easier to sit in my craft room (now with air conditioning) listen to audio books and draw or sew. 
    I hope you are all safe and healthy and hopefully by this time next year we will all be in a much better place. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

How to keep your Veil on your head

Crafty Nara’s Tips for Keeping Your Veil On

Modern medievalists know that when it comes to garb, there is often a good reason that they “don’t make ‘em like they used to”. As modern humans we are used to stretchy fabrics and modern closures that help us keep our hats firmly on our head. But fear not! I have found some excellent period methods (and one modern one that stays hidden) that can help you wear your veil as comfortably as possible.

 I have tried these techniques on dry un-washed hair as well as on wet freshly washed hair and it works equally well. I like to run some gel through my hair in either case, just to keep the fly away wisps to a minimum.

Item 1 Hair Fence

 This is the secret to my veil success. This is what keeps your hair back out of your face and gives a stable foundation for the headband and veil to be fastened to. It works equally well on both thick and thin hair

It might take a couple of tries before you are comfortable using the hair fence, but it is worth the effort. If you plan on wearing earrings, put them on AFTER you put on your hair fence!!

Step 1: Unhook your hair fence and position it so the closure will be in the back of your head. Alternately you can close the hair fence around your neck in the front and spin it around to have the closure in back. Either way you want to have the closure in the back having it on top can cause it to unhook while pushing it on.

Step 2: Push back the hair fence so it pushed all the hair back. Take care to move the fence over your ears. Once you have the fence over your ears, make sure to place it back into your hair so it can grip that hair too .

 Step 3: Position the fence so it is just a few inches back from your hairline and only far back enough from your ears to be comfortable.

Item2: Linen Headband

The linen headband hides the hair fence and gives the veil a base fabric that can be pinned to for added stability. I use a linen headband regardless of the material my veil is made of. Linen helps absorb sweat and the texture helps keep a silk veil from slipping as much.

Step 1: Using the hair fence as a guide, bring the headband around your head and tie it behind your head. I have made my headbands to be shorter than the actual circumference of my head, so you can get it really snug using the ties.

Step 2: After it is tied arrange the headband, so it is completely covering the hair fence.

Item 3: Veil Pins

Pins will keep your veil in place. You could use small straight pins if you want them to be discreet, but I never pass up a chance to add some bling. Longer pins give more stability because you can run them through the fabric more times.

Step 1: take your veil of choice and position it where you would like it lay on your head

Step 2: add 2-3 pins and pin the veil through the linen headband, and back through the veil

These items above will keep your veil in place. You can add a circlet or coronet for extra decoration and stability, but they should not be relied upon to keep your veil where you want. Over the course of the day you will probably have to remove the pins and veil and re tie your headband, so it is snug fitting again. This is especially true if you have a very long, or heavy veil. But having to adjust 1 or 2 times during a day is a LOT better than constantly fighting with a veil that is slipping off your head.

I hope you find my veil tips useful. You can email me with comments and questions at

You can find all these accessories at my website

Thanks to Lady Lydia for being my Lovely Veil Model

Peace, Love & Happiness

Crafty Nara 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Finding my Focus

It seems that more has been happening for me in the past 3 years of my A&S journey than had happened in the previous 20 years combined. I have always been passionate, committed and hard working when it came to the arts and sciences. I also always put  research at the center point of all my projects, so looking back I have to wonder what has changed for me? I don't have to look far to find the answer.
One conversation I had changed everything for me. That conversation was the one that helped me find my focus, and once I found out what I should focus on, everything else about my A&S work immediately fell into place and the path I needed to take became very clear to me. The funny thing was, I never knew that not having a focus was the problem that was holding me back.
Many years ago I asked my good friend-and Medieval Aunt-Aurelia to help me find someone to apprentice to in the SCA. I wanted to take my sewing and embroidery to the next level and I felt stuck. I didn't know how to get deeper into research and being self taught I felt I wasn't getting any better on my own anymore. This was before Facebook and I was really discouraged by the Yahoo groups, I hated asking questions on them since there were always some unhelpful people who dominated the group. I was at the time more active in Acre than I was in the SCA and I didn't know many East Kingdom Laurels. Aurelia and I though we should focus on my work on Middle Eastern garb and we were not able to come up with anyone. We decided to let the matter rest and the both of us would keep our eyes and ears open and we knew the right person would eventually be made known to us. At the time my son was just a toddler and then we moved to a new state and I wound up taking a few steps back from medievalism.
About 5 or 6 years ago I really was able to become more active in A&S again and I went to a University event that my Auntie Aurelia was also at. She introduced me to Lady Caterina and told her I was looking for guidance on my A&S work. That day I had attended my very first Athena's thimble meeting and I confessed to her that I had been too nervous to panel the embroidered favor I had made. She made me feel comfortable enough to show it to her and she gave me some very nice feedback and encouraged me to panel it in the future.
After that first meeting our paths crossed often, and the more I talked with Caterina the more I found that we had a very similar approach to A&S and even though she was more skilled and experienced than me, I found it so easy to talk to her about it. I found myself often seeking her advice, and it was her advice that she gave me about 3 years ago that changed everything for me.
We were at a New Years Eve party and we were talking about the first A&S project and my problem with deciding on what to do next. I was unsure if I should work on a garb project or an embroidery project. She suggested I should focus on my fiber arts, She said that was my strongest art and my biggest passion. That statement made so much sense, yet was not something I could have seen myself. I was still thinking about this conversation for days afterwards and suddenly I had a very clear plan in place. I had several A&S project ideas as well as classes that I could teach based on each project. I had always struggled with the fact that I liked to do so many different crafts, but when I looked at it from the perspective as a fiber artist, they didn't seem that different at all. Suddenly spinning, sewing, embroidery and knitting were all just branches of the main focus of fiber.
It was not long before I had decided that my next project would be the period fiber study project, which was really more of a research paper that had some handspun and woven visual aids. I also realized I was so much more confident about my fiber work and it was so much easier to talk about it to other people. Once I realized that fiber study was at the core of what I did it all became so clear.
I knew that I had found the teacher for me, but was I the student for her? She had only recently become a Laurel and I didn't want to push the idea of her taking me on as a student. It took another year of getting to know each other for both of us to realized it was the right thing for both of us to do. I could not be happier with the decision and I feel studying under Padrona Caterina is exactly what I needed to move forward. Together I think we will do some great things.

Fleece to Frock-Black Welsh Mountain sheep -project Wrap up

The last time I updated this project was during the Pennsic 42 Display post, but I wanted to give my final thoughts on the project. Now that I have started working on the follow up to this project I am finally going to put this project to rest.

I hesitate to call this project a "failure", even though I was not able to achieve my goal of creating a dress from raw fiber.

Many mistakes were made in the execution of this project, but in the long run I cannot consider it a failure because so much was learned in the process.

Here are the obstacles I encountered that caused the project to be abandoned. These lessons were learned the hard way and of course now looking back it seems that I should have known better. At least I know the same mistakes will not be made next time.

1. I really underestimated how much fiber I would need to create the yardage needed to make a dress. When I started this project I was not a weaver and had no idea how to calculate the yardage needed for a warp and weft. I also had no ide how much yarn I could get from a single Black Welsh Sheep's fleece.

2. Fleece quality varies A LOT from sheep to sheep and from flock to flock. Wool from fleeces need to mixed together BEFORE you spin if you want to get a homogeneous yarn. I tried to spin more yarn from a different fleece and the quality was so completely different from the first one.

3. Black Welsh Sheep are really rare and it is super hard to find fleeces for sale. Fiber festivals really favor white sheep fleeces. Most color fleeces I found came from Shetland sheep, or Jacob sheep. I have never seen a Black Welsh Fleece for sale at the festivals I go to and the one Black Welsh breeder I met never sold the fleeces before, they just had them as meat sheep. I need to find a good source of fiber before I try to make another garment from Black Welsh Sheep (and I really do want to make another one).

4. Since this was my first A&S project I was super excited to get started actually making the dress so I started wool prep and spinning before I started the researching textile construction. BIG MISTAKE! I learned way too late that I should be using singles for the warp and weft and the yarn I was spinning was way too thick to be anything but heavy duty outerwear (or a rug). Also in the 14th century combing was much more popular than carding which was the fiber technique I had done. Now that I have several years of A&S projects under my belt I know it is much better to do the bulk of your research before starting construction. There are many important decisions you need to make before starting and often once you start working it is too late to change the way you are working.

When I was done weaving and fulling I had about 4 yards of 18 inch wide fabric which is not nearly enough for the dress I had planned on making. I am not going to lie, I was crushed when I realized the project couldn't continue. It was months before I could even think about what I was going to do with the fiber I had created. I still haven't really finished sewing the hood I made instead. I still need to add the buttons, and I will probably make some kind of pilgrims bag to go along with it.

I displayed the unfinished hood at the Known World A&S Display at Pennsic 45. I spent so much time explaining what went wrong, and what I would do differently that I decided not to display this project anymore. I have started a new dress project (I call it Fleece to Frock II ). This time I am doing the research up front. I have 6 big beautiful Jacob Fleeces washed and ready to be combed. I will be happy when I finally finish up the last bit of the hood and bag and I can put this all behind me and just enjoy the finished product of this very long journey. I am happily looking forward to starting a new project with hopefully a better outcome.