A bit of a dag.

In Australia, being a "bit of a dag" is an endearment between friends. It hints that something slightly nerdy is happening but in a good way. It's also interesting to note that in Australia, a dag is quite literally a piece of poo hanging from a sheep's behind. It really is unclear how these two things became a part of our lexicon, but somehow, it did.

In the medieval world, dags or daggues are a fashion statement. They're the decorative, shaped edges of clothing popularly seen in the 14th century.

Tonight I'm adding some 14th century style to a woolen hood by cutting in some daggues. I've used a leaf motif.

Firstly, I cut the oak leaf design onto clear film and cut a set of rectangles the same size to check the spacing. These were placed along the bottom edge of the hood.

Next, the design needed to be marked onto the fabric. I used a biro to get a strong line. I have often found that Tailor's chalk gives a line which dusts off readily. Ink, however, will not.

Following that, I started cutting the little edges out with small scissors with sharp blades.

Although I've only done half, I'm really pleased with the hood's new look! I hope the owner will be pleased too!


Linen. I love it.

I love linen. I really do.

There are so many different types of linen and so many uses for it. 

I was excited that my local fabric shop, Spotlight, was having a huge 20%-50% off store-wide last week because I need more linen

To be specific, white linen. 

I'd like to make another chemise, and I'm already planning ahead for the bath curtains to surround my medieval bathtub for next year's displays. And why not make another wimple and veil set if I found the perfect kind of linen to make it from.

As fate would have it, my local Spotlight had exactly zero metres of linen of any kind, so I sadly thought it was for the best. The very next day, friends went to check out the silk at a Spotlight across the city only to find three types of linen. Being the kind of friends they are, they called and I arranged to buy all of what the shop had.

I couldn't have made a happier decision.

The linen was perfect. There looks like enough to make bath curtains. There was some gorgeously gauzy stuff for a veil and wimple and a little extra which is possibly enough for a chemise.

I've been sewing today, not on the things, I should be, but on the wimple and veil because the fabric is simply too beautiful not to. 

I can't wait to wear it.


That's what he said...

Now look, I don't want to get anyone too excited here, but apparently, women, as seen through the eyes of Cardinal Hostiensis way back in the 13th century, suffered from their cold, moist natures quite a bit.

In fact, this very coldness was interpreted to mean that they were in need of some heat. 

Happily, a husband could provide this much-needed heat by getting frisky in the bedroom with her, but only because it was necessary for her good health. We certainly wouldn't be having too much fun now, would we?

Cardinal Hostiensis felt so strongly about this, that he urged husbands to take care of this very important (but probably odious in his books) job lest the wives of the parish would stray to other beds.

It was their nature, you understand. Women simply couldn't help it.

Anyway, you heard the man. Go get your toes curled!

For more astonishing things you didn't know you needed to know, The Very Secret Sex Lives of Medieval Women is available now through your favourite online book store and selected stores in the real world.

Safety Squirrel!

Safety squirrel says space yourselves out!
Safety squirrel says space yourselves out!

I have decided to make my tent Covid sign a little more appealing. 

I have a shrine which the sign proper can sit on and it has a little ledge where the hand sanitiser can go and I have bought myself a cute new, gilded, fake squirrel to also sit on the ledge.

Since I've already made the sign and this squirrel is much smaller, I'll need to adjust how many squirrels apart visitors need to stay, and quite frankly, I don't really need a picture of a squirrel on the sign if I have one right there, so I'll need to get that adjusted so it's ready to paint. 

I'll be having the sanitiser in a little linen bag to hide the plastic bottle, but unfortunately, the pump will need to stay exposed so people can see what it actually is. My biggest fear is that someone may take the squirrel. I don't want to glue him to the shrine, so fingers crossed.

In a bonus, the pose of the squirrel is almost exactly the one I have been using for my heraldry. The Gilbert Family at Compton Castle in England have a bit of a squirrel theme going on with carved squirrels in bedposts, railings, in the chapel and on the iron gates.

As a modern Gilbert, I like to keep this theme running. 

Luttrell Psalter, Lady with pet squirrel
Luttrell Psalter, Lady with pet squirrel

Of course, medieval women might have a squirrel for a pet, so that works for 14th century me as well.

Pictured at right is my favourite Luttrell Psalter squirrel. If you look closely, you can see the little gold bell attached to it's collar the same way we attach bells to our cat's collars. 

It's just the cutest thing!


Let there be light!

#reenactorproblems candles and the public.

So, having lit candles on tables and in lanterns when members of the public is about is a problem. Most people are sensible, and that's no problem at all. Most people respect your property and are mindful of things which might injure them- like fire. Others however, are convinced that none of it is real and just want to put their hands into it to prove a point. Cooking fires, candles- nothing is safe.

Lighting the tent at night and going put leaving a light on is also a problem. Windy weather extinguishes candles outside and knocks over candle holders if left on a table unattended on the inside.

Either way, the potential for a tent to just burn down before it can be extinguished is a very real workplace health and safety issue which re-enactors face when camping over at events. Using torches and modern camping lanterns are less than ideal, and the light is bright and artificial looking. There's no soft, natural glow.

Even though it's safe, it really does take away the candle lit feel of the medieval dining table and lanterns around the camp.

Options have been limited. In recent years, LED pillar candles have become available, some with wax outers, others which flicker to look like flames, but I've not really found any which would sit comfortably in my medieval lanterns or 14th century reproduction candle holders.

I've just bought a packet of these battery taper candles which fit my reproduction candle holders and most of my lanterns which will be perfect after a quick dip in beeswax. In the dark, the glow is not quite the same as a real candle, but it's certainly a reasonable alternative to torches or bright, white lantern light.

When the gates are closed, I can use real beeswax candles which smell amazing, but for safety through the day, these will let me have lit candles in lanterns and not cause a fire risk.

As an added bonus, I can have one outside my tent when I'm not home so I don't stumble in the dark when returning to my tent after visiting other camps. A little porch light, if you will.

Kid's Fun day

This year the Abbey Medieval Festival is extending itself for a further day and running a Friday, Kid's Family Day which has a focus on activities which are aimed at kids.

Obviously, my book cover Selfie Station which is housed inside the tent is not for kids, but I have a number of cute FREE activities which children can take home. 

The take-home activities include a medieval paper doll activity (and the clothes are interchangeable, of course, so while the 14th century medieval stereotypes can be followed, they certainly can reflect whatever clothing choices the person wishes) which has been popular with both adults, children and grandparents alike.

The other activity I have this year for Kid's Fun Day is a Colour Me In Take Home Activity showing traditional medieval clothing from the 14th century and a cute period-appropriate doggo as well.

As a Covid safety measure, I am unable to offer these as anything other than a Take Home Activity, but the great thing about taking them home is that kids will have an activity to do over the school holidays.

And of course, these will be FREE!


Author Interview

The Very Secret Sex Lives of Medieval Women by Rosalie Gilbert
The Very Secret Sex Lives of Medieval Women by Rosalie Gilbert

This week I had the honour of having an interview with NFReads go live.

NFReads posts  articles by and interviews with guests ranging  from best-selling  authors and award-winning filmmakers to leading  professors, scientists,  politicians and more! 

Their site covers interviews with  both fiction and nonfiction  authors across a wide variety of  backgrounds, genres and writing  experience – from a Pennsylvania state  representative who debuted with  mental health-themed science fiction, to  a former NASA space missions  spokeswoman with over 25 children’s  educational books, to a UK  politician-turned-thriller-writer with 330  million book sales to his  name.

I'm always incredibly excited to take the opportunity to  chat about medieval things and my book, so I was delighted to answer  some probing questions from the NFReads team. There's  nothing like answering questions to make oneself take a good, hard look  inwards.  Many people are interested in the writing process, why one  writes and what one finds hard about it.

Personally, I find  hardships come in many forms. The wrong font on a keyboard. My kitty  nagging to go outside and frolic in the sunshine when I want to write  things down before I get distracted and forget what I was about to say.  Lack of cheese for afternoon nachos. 

I understand other people  may have more creative issues to discuss, but for me, if the little  things aren't working out, then the bigger ones certainly don't either.  In fact, the little issues become the bigger issues. 

For those of a curious nature about the big issues and the little issues which became big issues, read on!

Author Interview: Rosalie Gilbert with Non Fiction Reads 3rd June, 2021

Thanks for playing.


Silk sideless surcote

I'm sewing again! 

With only a few weeks before a major event, why wouldn't I be sewing!

This time I am making a surcote of shiny silk- another sideless surcote. The struggle with the linings has been overcome and finally the silver lining is cut, pinned and sewn into place. 

Only the neckline, hem and a thorough ironing remains.

I've really used up all the off cuts I had to maximise the fullness of the lower part which I feel we see a lot of in manuscripts.

The fashion for cutting the surcotes inwards in a graceful curve had the added benefit of creating a visual line and a suggestion of an hourglass figure where perhaps there wasn't one.

This style of garment also allowed the lady to show off her kirtle underneath which was often a sumptuous brocade or velvet or high-end, quality wool

Anyway, I'm a fan.


Such a doll!

My friend Lauren surprised me yesterday with a belated birthday present... a little mini me!

I'm totally in love with her as she's not only a modern anatomically realistic doll with smaller breasts, a regular waist ratio and a decent set of hips and thighs on her to match my own, but she has a little hairnet, red hose and garters, a paternoster, bag, gold circlet with pearls and her own silk wimple and veil!

She's adorable and I appreciate the time and effort which has gone into this so very thoughtful gift.

I'm quite overwhelmed, really.

Change of plan

The fun thing about sewing is how sometimes fabric earmarked for a certain thing turns into fabric for something else.

Last night I was hoping to cut out the lining for a dark, red, figured brocade Polish Kountouz from cream silk. I had already had another project underway for a blue, silk, sideless surcote which also had a lining from the same silk.

Unfortunately, when it came to patterning, we extended the jacket length and now I didn't have quite enough for the Polish jacket. I did have a heap of silk in a silver which was my back up plan if I didn't have quite enough of the cream silk.

When I got the silver out, it became obvious that it would look much better lining the blue surcote than the red Kountouz. Obviously, if I used it for that, I could cut up the surcote lining to match the fabric that I didn't have quite enough of.

The problem was that the surcote lining was already sewn together and pinned into the surcote outer. I'd need to unpin it all.

Worse than that, I'd need to unpick every seam and use the pieces to trace and cut out the new, silver lining.

I gave that a lot of thought, let me tell you.

Fast forward to 20 hours later and the cream lining has been pilled to pieces and pinned into other pieces for the Kountouz lining AND I've traced, cut and pinned the new silvery lining for the blue surcote which can be sewn tomorrow after work.

It was a huge task and it really hurts to unpick sewing, but I'm really happy with the dark red and cream combo and the blue and silver combo.

A big day sewing, but really worth the end results.