A weekend in Wisby

Today I have the honour to present a guest writer: Battle of Wisby organizer Maria Neijman. She gives us an update on the plans for BoW 2013  and writes about her recent workshop-weekend in Wisby, together with her co-organizers Peter Ahlqvist and Thomas Neijman.

Last weekend Thomas, Peter and I went to Wisby, Gotland, in order to do a workshop on 14th century clothing. Peter was responsible for the theory and picture material during the workshop. I taught some practical techniques useful when making your outfit for Battle of Wisby 2013. We had also scheduled a couple of meetings with our partners in the organizing of the event.

Thomas and I went to meet Marie Flemström and Björn Sundberg at their office in Wisby. Marie is the Secretary General and Björn the Communication Coordinator for Medeltidsveckan. They are really two hard working heroes, dedicated to make the 30th Wisby Medieval Week a reality. I’m impressed by their work and their commitment! Together we had an inspiring and creative meeting. We talked a lot about how we want Battle of Wisby to look like as an event and how we want visitors to experience the camp.

The Battle of Wisby Camp at dawn 2011. Picture: Peter Ahlqvist

The reenactor community knows what a huge bank of knowledge and expertise we possess together. We want the Battle of Wisby to communicate this to visitors of the camp, so that they get a chance to see the late 14th century through our eyes. We want to show cooking, crafts, contests, games, music, etc.. We want the visitor to leave the camp with a sense of inspiration and in-depth knowledge about the era we love so much.

On Saturday it was time for Peter and me to do our workshop. The focus was on 1350-1399 and with the coffee cups at the ready we benched ourselves to listen to Peters introductory theory session. He went through the medieval wardrobe from robe to surcote and from breeches to the mantle .

All participants took lots of notes and asked many questions about how common/uncommon different dress-related features seemed to be. To their benefit Peter has an astounding memory. Somehow he remembers everything; from which manuscript the image is taken, who is in the picture, from where in the world the manuscript itself comes and why the manuscript was manufactured or for whom it was made.

After the theory session, it was my turn to teach. The rest of the day I guided our participants in learning how to create a toile. A toile is a personalized basic pattern of fabric, modelled straight on to the body. We used cotton canvas for the toile and it was measured, cut, pinned, held in, cut back and pinned some more. Our goal was to create a tight fitting yet comfortable and functionable design, directly on the body. As one of the participants said; a fit slick like paint.

Maria modelling a toile at Peter. Picture: Stina Silverstielk

Maria modelling a toile at Peter. Picture: Stina Silverstielk

Before I knew it, the day was over and we packed up to continue our work the next day. In the evening we were fortunate to be invited home to some of the participants for dinner. We spent dinner time talking about tents and where to buy a neat 14th century-style tent if you do not want to sew one yourself…

Maria shows a hand woven, plant dyed fabric. Picture: Stina Silverstielk

Maria shows a hand woven, plant dyed fabric. Picture: Stina Silverstielk

On Sunday when we resumed the course, it was time to focus on the outlay of the pattern on the fabric, cutting and stitching. Many of the participants expressed great surprise at how little fabric you really need if you plan well and put out your pattern in the smartest way. While Peter and I tutored in pattern construction Thomas went to meet with the organizers of Styringheims tent camp, Mästerby Folklore Society and a number of eager riders who want to participate in the battles and ride on the battlefield.

Mästerby Folklore Society will arrange a medieval theme-day, just like the last time in 2011. BoW will try to illustrate and reenact how the fighting in Mästerby 1361 might have proceeded.

The riders wanted advice on what kind of equipment they should get in order to participate in the fighting, and we tried to help them. As I write this, we also work on updating our web page. More information on that topic will soon be possible to find there.

The Battle of Wisby camp will be located in the same place as the last time. Styringheim will have their camp north of ours. Since we will be neighbours, we can share toilets, water and showers. In that way we can help each other to cut costs and you know – the more the merrier! 😉 Styringheim are a local association to SCA. Our neighbors have a camp that comprices a larger time span than we do in ours, their period is covering the years between 600 to 1600.

When Thomas came back to us from his meeting it was time for us to pack up our belongings and take the ferry back to the mainland. The course was over for this time. All the participants had got so far in the process of making their own 14yh century clothing as to cut out their individual patterns in their chosen fabrics and some had started to sew. I had shown how to make buttons, buttonholes and eyelets and demonstrated the stitches that were common during our period.

Everyone seemed busy, inspired and full of eager and new information. It was wonderful to get to spend a whole weekend with so devoted and happy people and it will be a pleasure to meet them again in BoW in their new clothes.

Maria Neijman
Battle of Wisby

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