In the pink

I'll add some photos tonight, but it's been a whirlwind of emotions as I've hand-stitched a gorgeous, palest pink woolen gown, only to wear it once for a few hours for some photos, wash it and have the dye run out unevenly leaving me with a blotchy mess and a hand-stitched gown which was essentially unwearable. Usually, I wash anything I make in a vinegar rinse to set the dye. I just hadn't had a chance to do that with this gown just yet and had worn it without. I had thought that it would stay clean enough for a few hours, and I'd do it afterwards.

After the initial soak and hand wash, and while it was wet, I made the anxiety-inducing decision to put it in the washing machine before it dried to try to even out the blotches or maybe get the rest of the dye out. 

This only resulted in felting the gown and shrinking it a bit. It still fitted, but as a body-hugging gown rather than the loose, overgown with soft folds like it was originally. The felting was a disappointment, as the original fabric was so soft and light. 

Anyway, it was blotchy and awful and unwearable.

Suggestions from the hive mind on social media for dealing with it included:

  • attempting to strip the remained of the dye out
  • overdying it 
  • stripping and then overdying
  • cold water dyes
  • dye with food colouring
  • using it as a peasant dress
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Thrilling news!

Goodness me, it's been a busy few days! The follow-up from the ABC Radio interview has been so much better than I could have hoped for! It seems I'm not the only modern woman who feels that censoring the nipple on the front cover of the book sends an entirely wrong message in today's world. 

I'm invited back to chat about this with the rather fantastic Sheridan Stewart who is still slightly agog about the Wandering Womb Theory and whether it might be used to excuse any number of female complaints! Just kidding! It does make one wonder though whether if they were lumbered with this kind of nonsense back in the middle ages, whether any women used it to their advantage. 

Not tonight dear, I have a terrible headache. I guess my womb is stuck in my head again. Nothing I can do about it. Goodnight!

As a bonus, they were very interested in touching bases and connecting with my cover art illuminator, Tania, a long time friend and founder of the Tania Crossingham School of Illumination for a chat about what she does. 

Queensland Museum, Medieval Power
Queensland Museum, Medieval Power

As well as the cover of my book, I've worked alongside Tania when the British Museum exhibition came to the Queensland Museum with their amazing "Medieval Power: Symbols & Splendour."  

I had a number of displays and talks, including some After Dark program talks of Between Linen Sheets: The Very Secret Sex Lives of Medieval Women and Tania gave some beautiful illumination demonstrations and displays. 

It's just thrilling and I'm excited about the possibilities.


Something really cool this way comes

I am utterly exhausted and in need of some solid sleep, so I'm going to have an early night and then late shift tomorrow, but I just wanted to remind myself that I saw the coolest thing on a medieval statue and I need to blog about it. I'm so so so keen to hear what others thing. 

Maybe it's a thing which is common everywhere and I haven't seen it before now, which is possible, or is it really a very Cool Thing.

And yes. I have a picture.



Trying to get pregnant?

Trying to have a baby? Are you in need of some medieval herbal help? Yes? 

Not for the first time, I invite you to not try this at home!  

Medical health journals like the Tacuinum Sanitatus  of Vienna had a lot of really helpful advice for a large range of  illnesses and ailments, but it also included some unusual advice for  those trying to conceive. Perhaps a lack on the husband's part might be  the problem? Don't worry, Ladies! All is not yet lost!  

Nasturtiums  are a relatively easy garden plant to grow with bright colourful  flowers and edible pods and leaves. According to the book in question,  these tangy plants may help in the necessary requirements for  baby-making, but also may cause migraines, which, as any woman knows, is  absolutely not-the-least baby-inducing.   

Luckily, a slight  sprinkle with vinegar and all will be well again. The mood and passions  reignited and in the months to follow, the bloom of a new life!  

That's the theory, at least.   

It might be true that you don't make friends with salad, but might you make a baby? 

On  your next romantic evening in, dim the lights, light the candles and as  your eyes meet across the flickering glow, tell your special someone  you've prepared the ultimate sexy dinner and wow him with that  nasturtium salad. I bet he'll be speechless.  

You're welcome.


In Stock at the Abbey Museum!

I'm really excited to have my book in stock in the gift shop (both in the real world and online, although it's so new it's not online yet. You'll need to call to get your copy posted out!) at the Abbey Museum of Art & Archaeology. I'm a member of the Abbey Friends and have been a long time volunteer at events and and a guest speaker at numerous functions.

I'm delighted to announce this very special Museum-only offer! For the price of a book, you will receive your signed book, and some goodies from me: an uncensored dust jacket, a No Touchy Touchy! bookmark and a glossy post card! 


An Interview on the ABC Radio

Oh, this was just so much fun!

Friday morning at 9.40am saw me excitedly standing by to chat to ABC Sunshine Coast Morning Radio host, Sheridan Stewart about medieval lady things, feminine hygiene in the middle ages and my book!

I really love how astonished people can be when I tell then things that is common knowledge to many re-enactors and historians. Most people hearing these things for the first time are often amazed and sometimes shocked and it's for these people I wrote my book. People who haven't heard about the Wandering Womb theory and can't believe that it could have been true.

And it just snowballs from there.

Anyway, the interview was arranged by the Abbey Museum of Art & Archaeology team (and by team, I mean Michael G who is a champion) to promote the Secret Women's Business: Medieval Feminine Hygiene talk which had already sold out, but it was fantastic that Sheridan kindly mentioned my book and found the topic to be interesting!

We had so much fun!


I'm on a train on the way to my favourite museum, the Abbey Museum of Art &Archaeology and I'm so excited!

I'm taking signed books for their gift shop, doing a talk today and will get to see Senior Curator, Michael Strong's new book Glorious Glass about the stained glass in the Abbey Church. His book was released very recently, but I couldn't attend the opening as we were Covid tracing a case where, while not a close contact, might have come in contact and would thereby potentially risk infecting the Abbey community, many of whom are older folk.

I really wanted to attend, but it was better for me to isolate from social functions. I'll see everyone today instead, which will be wonderful!

I'm so looking forward to it!

Got the blues

Literally. I've got the blues. The wool arrived today from Super Cheap Fabrics and it's beautiful! It's bluer than I was expecting, to a couple of good washes to pull some dye out is on the cards, but on the up side, it's a shade which will work well over the silk gown I've recently made. 

It's quite a thick wool too, so that's a plus, since it's destined to be a toasty surcote with high armholes for wear on seriously cold days and for early int he mornings at events when photographers are out and about before the gates are open and we aren't ready for them. 

I'm very fond of a good surcote, especially the high armhole ones, because they hide a multitude of costuming crimes providing the sleeves are okay on the kirtle underneath. 

And they look like a tent no matter if one is slender or a little chunky. Everyone looks like a tent. And they're pretty with a wimple.

After the pale pink gown disaster, I'm looking to make this up for Abbey and St Ives this year as potential daywear if it's cold. I'll be using the most basic pattern and possibly adding gores in later if I'm enthused.


Sick of it?

Tacuinum Sanitatus of Rouen. Oranges.
Tacuinum Sanitatus of Rouen. Oranges.

There were many wonderful medieval remedies for the ailing medieval woman, but as usual, it really depended on where she lived as to whether she likely had access to toe base ingredients.

This recipe for nausea might be utilised by women for morning sickness, but not if she lived in England, where oranges were unknown during the early middle ages. A lady who lived in Spain or Italy might have much better success in obtaining oranges, if not from the market, perhaps from her own kitchen garden.

The Tacuinim Sanitatus is a textbook which has  five surviving copies, and this particular piece of advice comes from the Rouen version. Often, information was included even if the ingredients were exotic. I particularly like that the orange peel might be candied, but the instructions for doing this are not helpfully included. It is assumed that this was a process which was a familiar one to the person dispensing medical advice.

As with so very many medical recipes, wine is recommended as well. 

Wine. It fixes everything.