HANDCRAFTED HISTORY


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What’s my life like?

Are you curious about what life is like for historical market sellers and historical interpreters? Let me show you how my workdays and life looks like during a normal market season! (you know, before the pandemic when we actually travelled and met friends)

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What everyone sees (hopefully); standing in the market stall in pretty clothing

What life is like, nr 1: Driving

I live in the middle of Sweden so all markets during the season are typically a 4-8 hours drive away from home, and about 12 hours if I want to reach the southern parts. 2 years ago I bought a small van that I can drive on my regular driver’s license and it gives me the opportunity to bring all my market things, sleeping arrangement, restocking items and food. I can sleep in the van if I have to, and a small field kitchen keeps me sustained so I don’t have to stay at expensive restaurants along the way.

Nr 2: Freedom

Driving may be boring and takes a lot of time, but it also gives me a great feeling of freedom, driving across the country, over mountains, and stopping at interesting places to see the view or buy a local drink. Being your own also means freedom to plan, to decide when to work and how, and how much…

But sometimes I plan poorly and end up having to pack away the whole market stall and all my belongings in the heat of summer before I can take the van to go and find food. That happened a little too often in 2019, I will definitely plan better in the future.

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Nr 3: Actual working clothing

Regular working clothing when packing the camp; shift (linen underwear) sturdy shoes, working gloves, sunglasses and not much more. Fashionable deluxe!

Or, half-clean pants (they never stay clean for long when packing…) and a sweaty t-shirt after driving for hours without a working AC in summer. We really do save the best looking clothing for visitors and customers!

Nr 4: Lots of really hard work

From unloading the van to the ready-to-open market stall several hours of hard work lies in between. Packing up, lifting, packing down, carrying… If someone would make an employment ad for my work, there would totally be lines like “You really enjoy carrying things around and loading vans”.

I do so much heavy lifting during summer that I need to keep my weight lifting up during the winter so I won’t hurt my back when the summer season comes. Who could have guessed?

Because I am a one-person business, I sometimes travel alone (though I like to bring Love or friends along- it’s so much more fun!) which means I need to do the work myself, and also find some helping hands to raise the tent. We often help each other out which means running around helping with several tents, but also laughter and company while working!

Nr 5: Simple living conditions

Living in a medieval camp. This is the most awesome, and the hardest thing all season. I absolutely love sleeping in the cosy medieval tent, listening to the wind and sounds of camp all around. In the morning there is a fire with fresh coffee, friends to talk with and birds singing all around.

It is also the hardest. 2019 was a really cold and damp year sleeping outside, I regularly wore double woollen dresses and in bed, I had two layers of woollen clothes, covets, blankets, woollen socks and a cap- and was still freezing. When I arrived late at a market I barely got the tent up before darkness, and then there was only a cold meal in a messy space before sleeping. It can be uncomfortable, dark, cold… or a storm threatening to tear your home down.

Still worth it!

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Nr 6: Tourists

Not the same thing as customers, or visitors. The tourist will ask you things like “Do you really live in there” (yes) “Is this ware really from the Viking age?” (no) “Where do you take a shower?” (…) and sometimes you can be really, I mean really, tired of those questions. But at the same time, meeting people and making new friends is the best part of travelling.

But it is ok to be tired sometimes. And tell them you never shower… (On some events there are no showers. A lake or a bucket of water might be good for a couple of days, but every once in a while a girl needs a warm shower!)

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When the tourists leave… Ok, I admit that some of the best times during the market weekends are the evenings. The work is done, the market stall closed and you have time to cook, hang out with others at the market and enjoy entertainment, feasts, fire shows or just relax.

Nr 7: Moving from the modern world to the historical dream

The mix between the historical dream and the modern world.  Vans, heavy work and lots of things you need to build, carry, organise… But after that; a beautiful dress, a cosy area with medieval tents, cooking and that amazing feeling of visiting another time.

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Nailed it! Getting that perfect photo that shows you standing effortless in a beautiful surrounding, with your medieval outfit perfectly in order. The wind is right, the light is right. Not showing;

  • I was sick as a dog
  • There were one zillion visitors in the garden at the same time, appearing in the background and beside me
  • Battery remaining in camera; around 4%

Do you think this seems to be the most amazing job ever? (even after reading this whole post?) Well, here are my tips for starting:

  • Visit lots of markets to see what people want to buy, and what others are selling. Is there a gap in the market you might fill with products of your own? Thinking you can do the exact same thing as others, only cheaper/faster/better is not a good way to start- most markets and events want diversity in their sellers and won’t invite too many shoe/pottery/cake vendors.
  • What can you make/produce and what do you need to buy? If you have lots of costs (like importing fabrics) you will need bigger markets to sell more, whereas if you sell homemade cookies and honey you have lower costs but need more time preparing products.
  • Calculate costs; purchases, travel expenses and a salary for yourself, and then make a budget for the market season. How much do you need to sell to get a salary? To pay for all the costs going to a market? Many beginners make the mistake of not charging enough for their products and are struggling to make the ends meet until they get exhausted and quit. You need to charge enough to both cover your costs, get money for yourself and build a small amount for emergencies like a flat tyre or a broken tent.
  • Patience. No matter if you have a good budget and great products in place, the first season might not be great. It takes time to discover which markets suit your products, what customers want, how to sell things… Be patient. Have a backup plan to cover your living costs (like a side job, savings, etc) while exploring the market life.
  • Get to know people; everything is easier with friends. Maybe you can collaborate with someone, or help out somewhere in the beginning to make new friends. Being kind and helpful to others is a great first step!

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Fun fact about my business: Some time ago I got a call from a television show producer, wanting to know more about my life as a historical market seller and maker. She was very disappointed when I explained that I live my life like most people do, in a house, driving a car and eating everyday food for the better part of the year…

I am, after all, a pretty normal person with a business, that takes me out on adventures and travelling for the summer season, while I am living quite the normal life for the other half of the year.

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Learning new things

The longer I’ve been doing historical handcrafting, the clearer it is that I find it important to improve myself and my knowledge all the time. In the first half of 2019 I spent making lots of outfits for customers, and some for myself as well. The projects were all fun and turned out nice, but I had the feeling I was missing something.

New challenges.

So, during the autumn I decided to spend time learning new things and chose some things I haven’t explored before. The result was attending a distance tablet weaving workshop to get new inspiration for patterns and workshops, and trying out a new handcrafting technique in the form of felting hats. The black one is my first, it got a bit uneven but I am getting better!

I also researched and made an (inspired) mid 18th century outfit and went to a historical ball event with that outfit, dancing and dining historical style.

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I feel very satisfied with learning new things and got new energy to continue to work on lots of projects. Yes, at once- of course. I am one of those handcrafters that fill the entire room with projects, stash them in baskets and have them lying around the whole house in periods.

I also felt inspired to take up some old research on brocades. I am interested in late medieval style brocades and have somewhat of a stash hidden in the shop (for customers, of course!) with small samples suitable to make pouches, purses, sleeves and details. Mainly, it is because I get so curious about the different weaving patterns and styles that I just Have To Order a small bit… (this is my pinterest board on the subject)

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I also, kind of unexpected, happened to buy several meters of a lovely silk brocade that is going to be a new medieval dress. I am in the progress right now of sewing it together, taking photos and notes as I work to make it into a new tutorial when I have the time.

Alas, I do have time… But I am also working on a tutorial on Herjolfnes side gores, how to make a pair of medieval pattens and a handsewn project for a customer. I am not good at doing one thing at a time…

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As late as February I still thought I would have a normal, busy season with workshops, road trips and market work, beginning with next week. Now the world feels more unsure and I don’t even know if there will be enough work to put food on the table. On the other hand, I do have lots of time now to experiment and learn new things. Really trying to decide this might yet be a good thing, I am working on new tutorials, garments for myself and lots of new things to sell when there will be markets again.

I also put up a small webshop at my Fbpage in order to give all my followers and customers a chance to order handcrafting tools and have a sneak peek at all the nice stuff I’ve got for the markets. It would help a lot if you would like to check out the shop, follow me on social media or show my page to a friend. This too shall pass, and until then all we can do is our best.

How are you doing out there? I know I have readers from both Australia, the USA and many places in Europe as well as here in Sweden. I am praying for your good health and hoping for spring and summer that will be better than today.


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Summer plans for 2019

It feels like the Summer Season has started now, and I am sewing, planning market tours and writing on new workshops and lectures. Weekends are mostly planned with market visits. Have my hands full, more or less.

As many of you know, Handcrafted History is much more than this blog: it is my business and main living! For me, the summer season is both fun adventures and lots of work. I travel through Sweden and into Finland and Norway too, and I will try to keep you updated with all the fun stuff happening! I might not have lots of time to write blog posts though; so visit my Facebook page HandcraftedHistory and my Instagram with the same name for more updates.

Here is my current schedule with all markets and events I’ve got planned. If you visit one of them- please come by and say Hi! I love meeting blog readers =)

May 11; SCA event V.Ä.V

May 24-26 Oslo Middelalderfestival

May 27-June 2 SCA event Doublewars

June 14-16 Hamar Middelalderfestival

June 28-30 Alnö Medeltidsdagar

July 11-13 Skellefteå Medeltidsdagar

July 15-21 SCA event Cudgelwars

August 2-11 Medeltidsveckan

September 6-8 Gunnes Gård

On SCA events, Skellefteå Medeltidsdagar and Medeltidsveckan I also have workshops planned, if you want to learn viking/medieval pattern construction or tablet weaving. At Gunnes Gård there will be a viking themed workshop, but what is not yet decided. You can also come by during events to have your own personal pattern made by me; but you need to book a time in advance!

 


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From a Viking market

Gunnes gårds yearly autumn market is a really cozy place to be, and me and love traveled there to have a viking weekend together. There was a downpour when we arrived on Friday afternoon, but the rest of the weekend offered lovely weather and fun meetings. I hade a really busy time, and didn’t get as many photos as I would have liked, but maybe that is just a sign of having fun?

I brought my work with me, as usual, and we were hanging in our new market tent, meeting new friends and just having a good time. The tent is a market tent for all those viking markets (and for me when I travel alone) since the larger pavilion is medieval style, and also quite heavy to bring by myself. I am happy with the tent, though the large double bed we have is a bit big for it, but hey- it is hard to have it all!

During Saturday and Sunday I held two lectures about viking age clothing from a visitor’s perspective, hoping to lure more people into the interesting world of viking age… Love sat by the tent during that time, to try to help customers with questions. He is not by far as handcrafty or interested in clothing as I am (being more of a brewer/archer/gamer), but he sure looks the part in his outfit =)

Tried out a new hairstyle inspired from a find from pre viking age. It is a french braid from the top of the head going down, and then another regular braid with all the hair, twisted into a bun and pinned into place with the hair pin made of wood. Quite simple, doable without a mirror, but holds in place during the day. I like it, I will definitely try it out again!

I also got to try out my new apron dress. It is made in a very thin blue wool fabric, with a matching veil/thin shawl in the same fabric. Perfect for those warm market days during summer. Under I have a bleached linen shift. The jewels and beads I think you have seen before; it is all old and the glass beads are those I made myself. Here is also the hairstyle from the side, a bit worn since it was afternoon by the time we took the pictures

We also got the most awesome neighbours to hang out with! Two really talented spinners, one of them here with Susanna who runs Viking age clothing. I really recommend her patterns if you want to sew viking clothing for yourself, she is very knowing and talented in viking era clothing!

S, our neighbour, also had a very cool minimalistic camp, with just a small sleeping area, a cooking fire and some personal equipment.

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Now I am back home, and since this was the last market for the season, I am doing some after-season work; washing and mending clothing, taking care of camping equipment, packing everything down, writing lists and such. I am also doing a look over of the wardrobe and camp, and plan to sell of some things that has not been used during the season. Most things will be up shortly on facebook or my Etsy, so be sure to check in there every once in a while!

 


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Eventspackning, ett brev till mig själv

This post is in Swedish, copy to google translate if you want to read it. The post is mainly about historical camping in Sweden at viking markets, SCA events and the like, and is my personal remember-note for next years season and the updates I want to accomplish. Do you have any piece of advise on your own, or do you have a blogpost that is about historical camping in any way? Give me a link to it in the comment section so I can get inspired by you!

Bilderna i inlägget kommer från Double Wars 2017

Nu har jag åkt på massor av event under vår, sommar och höst där jag, jag och maken eller ett kompisgäng bott i tält. Det har varit både vikingaevent, marknader, SCA-event och blandningar däremellan, så nu tänkte jag göra mig en lista så jag kommer ihåg alla kloka lärdomar inför eventsäsongen 2018. Det här är alltså ingen packlista, utan mer en uppdatering på saker som kan göras bättre till nästa år, och saker som har fungerat fint.

Både jag och maken är ju rätt bekväma av oss nuförtiden, så vi gillar att kunna rulla fram bilen till vår lägerplats. (Fram till att jag var typ 22 så trodde jag att normen var att bo på andra sidan ett berg, längs med en stig. Norrlandslajvare.) Vi gillar också att sova torrt och bekvämt, ha rena kläder, lagad mat och vi vill inte behöva lägga för mycket tid på skötsel och packning av lägret. I dagsläget har vi klockat vår packning, och det tar oss en timme att sätta upp lägret från det att vi anländer, och en timme att riva + packa in allt i bilen. Ganska lagom, tycker vi. Med ett större tält (som vi planerar att köpa) + en liten shop med så tänker jag att det kommer ta lite längre tid nästa säsong.

Jag har också funderat lite på hur vi alla kan hjälpas åt för att göra den historiska lägerupplevelsen bättre för alla som är med (det som inom SCA kallas drömmen, inom lajv kallas inlajv och inom reenactment kallas att vara helt period). Jag tycker helt enkelt att det känns så himla tråkigt när jag ser massor av människor som lägger ner tid, möda och pengar på att skapa stämningsfulla läger och sedan mötas av en granne som tuggar chipspåse, knäcker en ölburk och spelar hårdrock helt öppet i lägret. Så respektlöst! Det här skulle kunna bli en arg rant, men jag undviker det för den här gången och delar istället med mig av inspiration.

Det här är min lista på smarta saker att ta med, kloka lösningar och idéer på förbättringar. Du får gärna bli inspirerad av den, kanske hittar du något nytt som du vill förbättra ditt läger med?

  • Lyktor är viktigt. Förutom i Norrland under sommaren, där behövs inga lyktor.
  • Myggnät är super. Är det inte mygg så är det tvestjärtar.
  • Ta med fler spännremmar till packningen. Och några extra.
  • Det är inte jättepraktiskt att ställa en keramikmugg med vatten i sängen ifall man är törstig på natten. Ett sängbord vore klart bättre.
  • Varje gång vi lämnar sopkorgen hemma saknar jag den och avundas alla som har en snygg sopkorg framme. Ta med en jämnt, med soppåsar till.
  • Våtservetter, hushållspapper och handsprit i en korg. Därför.
  • Träbänken är bra och rymmer flera gäster, men varsin stol med ryggstöd gör att man blir en mycket gladare människa! Vid urymmesbrist i bilen, duger 50 situps/dag i två månader innan eventet lika bra.
  • En korg att bära disk i. Diskmedel + diskborste om vi inte är på SCA-event. Och något att värma diskvatten i.
  • Ett ylleunderställ, mössa och tjocksockor värmer lika mycket som två tjocka filtar. Effektivare packning, varmare och nöjdare.
  • En stor flaska att ha dricksvatten i, för att slippa springa iväg från lägret så fort man blir törstig.
  • Efterrätt på maten är aldrig fel. Kaffe och choklad ger en dessutom helt nya vänner.

Bloggutmaning; har du också en blogg, pinterestmapp, en facebookvägg eller liknande där du skriver (eller samlar på bilder) om medeltida/vikingatida event? I så fall så utmanar jag dig att skriva en egen tipslista, en packlista eller berätta om ditt läger- så delar vi erfarenheter och tips med varandra! Skriv en kommentar här med en länk till din sida, och berätta om utmaningen (och inte minst, skicka vidare den!) För ett bättre lägerår 2018!

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