Our new, completely hand-sewn woollen tent still has a long way to go. Three 6.5m lengths of cloth have successfully been sewn together and one side is sewn lengthwise (3.7m), the other side is still waiting for completion. The next step will be to sew strengthening patches onto each corner and to make holes for holding rope, as well as sewing a solid 20 metres of rope all the way around this "sail". If we finish that part in time, we'll be using it as a tarp during our Denmark trip in July/August instead of the modern-ish cotton one seen on our photos.
Ása is busily spinning lots of white yarn for our dyeing event next weekend. We'll be using fresh birch leaves (it's springtime!) for a hopefully bright yellow and maybe we'll be trying out some dyestuffs collected last year on a strand or two. If you're interested in joining us, just contact us by any means and feel free to drop by!
Having seen an unexpected demand for high quality wool combs at our stay in Hedeby, Víl is producing some more of them after being near sold-out. One pair of custom made double-row combs made of beech wood has already been sent to a hopefully happy customer. The next double-row oaken pair is nearly finished and a new smaller, single-row pair made of maple will be finished soon afterwards. If you plan to visit one of our next markets (see Upcoming Events) and want to acquire a pair of probably not quite historically correct (according to our knowledge, no wooden wool comb parts have yet been found) but well-made combs, please contact us.
You might have spotted Víl's belt bag or "sabretache" which he purchased in Borre (N) last year. It was meant as a replacement for his totally unauthentic black bag (barely big enough to hold more than flint, steel, tinder and some hack silver) and, being completely devoid of any decorations but coloured in a nice dark red tone, destined to be decorated with bronze fittings someday. That day has now come and the result looks magnificent. The one "problem" finally arising now (as if no one noticed beforehand!) is this: The whole thing is of Magyar origin, albeit perfectly legitimate in a Birka, a.d. 900 context. But not for a farmer/craftsman of the broader Mälaren region, not even for an exceptionally well-off one. It could definitely only have belonged to a warrior- or merchant-class Birka citizen with contacts to the eastern realm. A Rus. So this will lead to either changing the background of Víl's depicted persona having to be reconsidered (not really an issue, since a Rus' portrayal was his original goal) or to explicitly create a second persona. in the long run, this will probably be the way to go for both of us, since on one hand we both want to "bling up" and indulge in some good Reenactors Porn from time to time but on the other hand we also really want to resist that urge to show off wealth because in today's time we can. Some more thoughts on that topic will surely follow.
After having received a large batch of fresh willow branches for garden structuring purposes, we had an opportunity to try out some basket weaving with the thinner branches as well. Using a round wooden base with holes (similar to the one found in the Gokstad burial) instead of weaving a base first allowed us to quickly finish two nice baskets that will be used for presenting raw wool instead of using those cliché jute bags.
Last but certainly not least our most time consuming activity during this time of the year is cultivating stuff in our backyard garden. This year we're trying to grow some dyestuff that would also have been available in the 10th century: Woad (Isatis tinctoria), Hollyhock (Alcea rosea, probably available in Francia and not grown Scandinavia at the time, though) and we won't be getting rid of our dandelions (Taraxacum), hazel, birch, and beech trees neither. Hopefully we'll be able to take some home-grown blackcurrant, redcurrant and gooseberries, onions, garlic, cabbage, and beans to at least some markets.