Tagged ‘stockings’

Dressing Rebecca – Part Three

August 30th, 2008 by Jill Hall

When last we left Rebecca, she had on her smock, stays, bumroll, shoes, stockings, garters, one petticoat and had had her hair done.

Next is another petticoat. They go on easiest over the head. We put the fastenings in front; I know some others put the closure on the side. I can think of one painting (at least), dated 1569, that shows a woman undoing her stays, looks like she’s either going to nurse a baby or just has. Her petticoat opens in front, along with her stays.

Once you put it on, you have to give it a little flap to make sure it isn’t bunched up in back. In early 17th-century England, little girls (and maybe big girls, too, who knows?) played a game called “making cheeses.” Basically, you twirl around really fast so your petticoat flares out, then quickly drop to the ground. The girl whose petticoat makes the biggest circle on the ground wins. This may sound simple, and maybe you’re thinking that kids today wouldn’t be amused by something so basic, but believe it or not it was one of the favorite pastimes of the little girl volunteers this summer. And some of the big girl staff, too.

Class Picture

August 15th, 2008 by Jill Hall
2008 child volunteers

2008 child volunteers

Last evening at the end of the business day, the Colonial Interpretation Department hosted an informal ice cream and cake thank-you party for the 2008 child volunteer interpreters. Each child, or young person, since some of them aren’t really children anymore thank you very much, received a small gift and lots of praise.

They all did an awesome job this summer, learning the stories of their assigned characters, using 17th-century dialect, participating in special events, teaching visitors both young and old period games and songs, and generally acting like children, which added a priceless atmosphere to the recreated 1627 English Village.

One of my favorite moments happened early in the summer, during the squadron muster on July 3. As the men marched down the street with pikes and/or muskets under the direction of Captain Myles Standish, the two youngest boys fell in behind them carrying sticks shaped like swords. Totally unscripted, just children being children, but you need children around to have that sort of thing happen spontaneously.

Which wouldn’t have happened without Buddy, the veteran interpreter to the left in the class photo. Buddy took on primary responsibility for the child volunteer program, creating training materials and “practice” sessions, coordinating with the parents and the wardrobe department staff, supervising the children on site (with lots of help, support and cooperation from all the rest of the Village staff), and generally mentoring a new generation of first-person interpreters. Buddy not only got ice cream and cake, but he also got thanks and appreciation from the parents, whose children have been enjoying a most excellent summer.

The children will continue to volunteer in the Village for another week, then take a few weeks’ hiatus to establish new school schedules, etc. This will give us time to procure wool coats, mittens and stockings in time for them to rejoin the Village cast in late September, volunteering weekends and holidays.

*Two children are missing from the photo, Ella and Eli. They were awesome, too, but were unavailable for the picture.

On another note

May 27th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Aside from, and happening simultaneously with, all the jacket progress, we’ve had lots of knitting and spinning progress happening. I’m going to take a few days and try to update that aspect of our work.

I had several generous responses when I asked if anyone would be interested in spinning some yarn for a finer stocking than we’re currently knitting.

These photos are from Carol H (from Indigo Hound), who not only offered to spin but also to comb – prepare the fibers for spinning – some wool. Not to get too technical, especially since lots of other people online can and have explained it all better than I, but combing is a way of preparing fiber for spinning that when combined with a particular spinning technique can create a smooth durable yarn, one sort of yarn that’s quite suitable for stockings.

Carol H’s unwashed Romney ram fleece.The whole process is really a lot of work, unless it is your favorite thing to do in which case it is an excuse to have lots of fun. This is one of Carol’s favorite things to do, as she keeps assuring me when I ask if this project isn’t too much work?

These are the first two photos Carol sent. As you can see they’re of wool from Rita’s Romney (breed of sheep) ram, before and after washing. Romney fleece is considered a “long wool” (there’s no way to avoid some of the technical details here, sorry) and the long fibers (long compared to other breeds) will comb and spin into a lovely, lustrous worsted yarn.Carol H’s washed Romney ram fleece.

I need to make a list of all the stockings and gloves we’ve received since my last list; there are many. In the coming days I’ll also be introducing you to other spinners and knitters soldiering away at the task of developing a more historically accurate stocking for Plimoth Plantation, including Kat C of the amazing box of samples and Aimee from Maine who is working on a pattern for knitting the yarn.


April 8th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Thanks for all your encouraging comments. I will photograph more motifs tomorrow at the office and post them.

About the plaited braid stitch, I know Tricia is working on a set of instructions with great photos that can be posted here and downloaded, like she did for all the other stitches we’ve been doing.

She and I are still thinking about how to marshal the troops to actually do the gold work. The plaited braid is one long motif, so to speak. Each pansy, or rose, or columbine is distinct and separate from every other pansy or rose or whatever. They don’t bump up next to each other, so variations in stitch tension or density don’t show so much. And in the originals we’ve looked at we saw differences like that in different motifs, so we’re not so worried about that. But the vines are like one continuous line. If we have very different hands working on the same sections it will show pretty dramatically.

I’m still hoping for some of our serious fund-raising efforts to result in a chunk of money so we can pay someone to do large sections of the vine, and fill in with volunteers, in such a way that the variety of hands is not so glaring. We do have some proposals out, and we’re working on another packet of materials to send to a bunch of different places, so keep your fingers crossed there.

Even if that happens, though, we’ll still need embroiderers, so don’t worry, you aren’t being put out of a job here. There’ll be miles of chain stitch gold work, little curlicues that spring seemingly randomly from the vine, plus top stitching on leaves that has to be done in gold, too.

We’re close to having another recreated thread to add to the jacket. Tricia did a gold thread series of blog posts a few weeks ago, and the end was that Bill Barns was going to do another sample of gold wrapped around silk, but this time use two ends of silk as the core rather than three, which would hopefully give Tricia the flexibility she was looking for. I haven’t heard that she’s got that sample yet, but we will of course post pictures as soon as she’s tested it.

I don’t know the answer to the question of how the acorn caps in yesterday’s picture were done; but I’ll send a note to Tricia to see if she knows.

Embroidery sample received today from Carolyn W. Also we’ve gotten more stockings! From Susan J, Sarah N, Susan Y, and Carol H. All absolutely lovely.

Tomorrow Penny will be attending the Weavers’ Guild of Boston’s meeting. The members of the WGB have, over decades, been willing hands, knitting and weaving for the living history program. Tomorrow Penny will see if anyone would like to take some stockings that need re-footing (old ones) or gloves to be re-fingered (also old).

Two spinners have volunteered to spin some combed top I had in the closet; I will be packaging that up and sending it out tomorrow, and we’ll see what we’ll see. I’m hoping for some hand spun worsted yarn that we can dye and knit into stockings at a gauge closer to the original 17th century stockings than our current pattern. The stockings on the Gunnister man, who was found preserved in a peat bog in Scotland, were about 7.5 sts/in. Gunnister man is no earlier than the last quarter of the 17th century, dated by coins in his (knitted!) pocket, but they are very close to our time period, close enough to be used as a model for the Plimoth colonists’ stockings.

I guess I still can run on, despite feeling like I’ve nothing new to say.

Pictures of motifs tomorrow, and thanks again for the help.

Your Thoughts

March 25th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Lace sample received from Julie E. This and all the lace samples are just gorgeous. I get seriously distracted when a new one comes in, holding it up, watching the sequins tremble. . . getting a little nervous about sewing it all together. . .

Lovely green stockings received from Monique N. I honestly feel that knit stockings in the bin are like money in the bank. When someone wears out a pair they don’t have to be cold waiting for us to fix them. Thank you.

Thanks to everyone who has signed in to the forum. How cool is that?

I need your help again. I am working on a multi-media presentation on the jacket project (not just me, though, I am part of a team). As part of it, I’d like to hear from you. Would you share your thoughts on this project, what it means to you, why you think it has captured so much attention and enthusiasm, why you think it is important? You can send me email (jhall@plimoth.org) or regular mail:

Jill Hall, Colonial Wardrobe

Plimoth Plantation

PO Box 1620

Plymouth, MA 02362

I will set up a place in the forum, too. Let me know your name (first and last initial is fine) and general location (city/state or province/country should do the trick).

Your comments will be used in support of the project – for information packets, for fund raising, as part of the eventual exhibit, that sort of thing. Thank you in advance for what I know will be thoughtful, eloquent contributions to the cause.


March 22nd, 2008 by Jill Hall

Today was opening day of the 2008 season at Plimoth Plantation. It was sunny but a little cold, with the wind off the water. It warmed up nicely, though.

Getting ready for opening day.John preparing for opening dayHere are a couple of pictures taken by Penny at the 1627 English Village morning meeting. This meeting lasts only a few minutes and is sort of a check-in for staff on duty each day. As you can see, some of the morning’s work is to cover the tire tracks of the trucks that deliver animal feed, etc, after hours. That’s what the broom and rake are for.

Norah shows off her hand knit stockings and hand woven gownYou can also see lots of beautiful knitted goods! Thanks again to all the knitters who have sent finished items. Hopefully these pictures are encouragement to those knitters still plugging away – see how happy and warm everyone looks?

Morning meeting 1627 English VillagePart of the opening day festivities was a parade of rare breed animals. The rare and heirloom breed goats, sheep, cattle and chickens that represent the animals brought by the first colonists spend some or all of the winter behind the scenes in our modern barn. They paraded from the Visitors’ Center to their summer homes in the Village accompanied by 4-H club volunteers, museum staff and lots of museum guests. Well, the heifers and grown-up goats paraded. Several of the kids were carried, and one tiny lamb was carried in a blanket. The chickens rode in reproduction 17th-century bird-carrying baskets. They are not so much for either parading or being carried in arms.

Winter getting ready for the parade.

Opening day is another of my favorite times of the year at Plimoth. Everything is fresh and new and full of potential. Here’s to another excellent season of living history.

Thanks for the comments, Cate and Marilyn and Carolyn. I will answer some of those questions Monday.

Embroidering Now and Then

March 21st, 2008 by Jill Hall

Tonight I have more pictures from the February 29th embroidery session.

Ellen ceylon stitching a worm with Gilt Sylke Twist.Here is Ellen working a ceylon stitch worm in Gilt Sylke Twist. I love the worms.

And here are Ellen and Wendy looking at two antique samplers Ellen brought for show &Wendy and Ellen admiring Ellen’s antique samplers. tell. The samplers belong to Ellen’s family, and within a few minutes Wendy had found genealogical info about one of the embroiderers on the internet.

We have room for a few more embroiderers and one lacer in the April 11 – 14 session. We’ll also be embroidering and making lace May 16 – 19. If you’d like to join us, please let me know.

Thanks, Cate, for the information on using wood basket staves as a baleen substitute. I think I will look into that a bit more.

We received two pair of gloves from Linda F recently, and a pair of blue stockings from Martha D.

A Good Day

March 18th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Today was a good day in Colonial Wardrobe. For one thing, we got to see Wendy.

Wendy holding gilt ribbon for spanglesFor another, we got to see Mark, and the way cool gilt ribbon. He kindly brought it up to show us and he and Wendy measured it. Over 18′ of gilt ribbon. We figure it’ll make, oh, plenty of teardrop spangles. Mark’s going to make some next week in preparation for the weekend lace trial.

Months ago, Tricia and I identified as one of the objectives of the embroidered jacket project that we could interest new embroiderers in the craft, and encourage people who already embroider to try new and more advanced techniques. That has certainly happened, and keeps happening. A surprise by-product, though, has been the whole Knitting Stockings phenomenon, and consequent spreading of knitting skills.

Here’s Kelley re-footing an old stocking. When the feet wear out we darn them, and whenKelley refooting an old stocking they’re too thin to darn anymore we take off the feet and reknit them from the ankles. When Kelley started working with us in January she didn’t know how to knit at all. Now she’s re-footing stockings. This is testament to the general enthusiasm and optimism running rampant around here, to Kelley’s perseverance and patience, and to Penny’s excellent teaching.

Wendy’s gunnister pocketLook what Wendy brought us! This is a pocket or pouch based on the one found on Gunnister man, a 17th-century body preserved in a Scottish peat bog. This is Wendy’s first attempt at knitting in the round, as well as her first attempt at knitting with two colors. Pretty successful, I’d say, especially since she only started it on the last day of the last embroidery session. So that’s two new knitters added to the fold. Pun intended.

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