Progress Report: Volunteers and A Growing Library

Research is a drug for me. Mostly because it means acquiring more books and shoehorning them into the groaning shelves of my home library.

Comments on Facebook have inspired me to move forward and post the bibliography of books I’ve been consulting here on the blog. To keep it from getting lost, it will be added as a “page” (the tabs across the top of the blog).

I will post links when I can to places like Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive where available.

At the moment, my reading is dominated by textiles, blacksmithing, and food.  A reading list that has raised the eyebrow of many a local librarian, let me tell you.

As we get closer to the start of the project, these posts will generally have a single topic, but for the moment, I’m all over the place trying to line things up before January.

In the spring edition of Piecework magazine‘s “Knitting Traditions” special, The Engineer found a lovely article on knitting and knitted goods of the 16th century, focusing on the ‘Monmouth cap’, mentioned by Shakespeare in Henry V, it is a knitted and fulled wool cap that was favored by laborers, soldiers, and sailors of the period. Pretty much anyone who needed to keep their ears warm.

I will be learning to knit as part of this and it’s all I can do not to cheat and practice ahead of time so as not to make a total fool of myself come time to do it for the project. The Engineer has bravely stepped forward to teach me how to do this.

She is a brave, brave woman.

Looking at the photos in the article, I could wear a cap like this through any shopping mall in America and no one would bat an eyelash.  It’s amazing how persistent a simple, elegant design can be.

Speaking of the simple things that haven’t changed much, I tagged along when my friend and colleague Cory recently brewed a batch of beer in his kitchen. Other than the occasional brewery tour, I’ve never really watched the process of brewing up close.

The processes of brewing were pretty much established in medieval times and hasn’t changed greatly. As I am finding in many cases, it’s mostly a matter of refining the recipes for modern tastes (not to mention production on an industrial scale) but the technology we use in modern brewing is just a surrogate for the exact same processes the monks were using in the 12th century.

Oh, and I suppose we actually know what yeast is, so we have that going for us.

Cory also has a line on a Tacoma brewer that’s doing small-batch brewing in barrels! So I’m one step closer on that front as well.  I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of Cory in the course of this project. The man knows everybody!

Also, I have a firm commitment to demonstrate the art of the Merchant Tailor. Yes, I am a costumer, but I costume for myself, which is a different animal entirely from clothing another. Therefore, I have prevailed upon Seattle costumer Joel Reid to demonstrate the subtle arts of fitting period garments and discuss with us the foundations of Elizabethan dress. As soon as he has a website available, I shall link to it.

Mental Note: Even more than a list of links, I really need a cast of characters, don’t I?

Also, I have several lines on gold/silver smiths, bowyers, blacksmiths, and armourers but cannot announce those folks until I have a hard commitment.  Anyone know where I can find a good 16th century barber surgeon?

Off to do more research before the weekend’s honey-do list steals me away!

-Scott

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