Thursday, 26 March 2015

Hand made snapsack

The other day I purchased some good quality cotton canvas and from a pattern I found online I made a 18th century snapsack. I have made this 1st snapsack on the sewing machine as a test and in the near future I want to get an animal hide such as goat or calf and make a snapsack from that with the hair on the outside. The ties are sewn into the bag so they do not get lost and yesterday I had a chance to test it out whilst doing a few errands , it's very comfortable and holds a decent load. Most likely it would be fine for an overnight hike as well .

Monday, 23 March 2015

Men wearing ladies jewelry !

ROB ROY  to the Sassanach : You look like a lassie in that wig you know and where did you obtain such money for fancy clothes I heard you were broke !. 

SASSANACH to Rob Roy : Where did you get that ladies brooch , did you steal it from your wife !

ROB ROY  , No it's not my wife's , the lady in the costume dept said I had to wear it !

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

New Book - Burt's letters from the North of Scotland

Some new reading material has arrived from the UK  - Burt's Letters from the North of Scotland recommended to me by my historical tailor and fellow Jacobite reenactor Hunter Cogle.  Here is what Amazon has to say about the book

In 1730, Edmund Burt was sent to Scotland to work as a contractor for the government. For most of the time, he was based in Inverness, from where he wrote regularly to an acquaintance in London about his experiences. Burt had an insatiable curiosity about everything. From cooking and personal hygiene (the standards of which continually shocked him), to weddings, funerals, public executions and even the activities of witches, no aspect of Highland life or society escaped his scrutiny. Burt's witty and satirical style makes entertaining reading, but whilst he was certainly critical of many things, he draws a very sympathetic picture of the grinding hardship and poverty faced by so much of the ordinary population. His writing is a salutary antidote to many of the Romantic views of the Highlands and Jacobitism, which were later to take hold. It is now available for the first time in one volume, with modernised spelling and includes an Introduction by Charles W. J. Withers, Professor of Geography in the University of Edinburgh.  

Later on once I have read it I will post a full review.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Snapsack

The snapsack is very well documented in period artwork showing both soldiers and civilians using  it transport items whilst on the move. Some information states that it was made out of linen or a type of cotton canvas and there is also evidence that is was made using a skin of an animal , maybe cow or goat with the animal hair on the outside. The linen bags also had a linen strap and either ties sewn into the bag or some form of drawstring to keep the top closed whilst walking. Some bags even had adjustable straps as well. I have been studying artwork and modern reproductions of these recently as I want to make one , I think to save money at first I will make mine from a natural cotton canvas which is hard wearing but strong enough to carry a decent load. Later on I would love to make one from an animal hide such as the one pictured below. Whilst doing research into this type of bag the name sausage bag also appears as well , but basically looks the same. Pictured below are various types of snapsacks .

Monday, 9 March 2015

Cooking items in the 18th century

Recently with the help of some fellow Jacobite reenactors I have been learning about cooking in the 18th century and as my wife and I both love cooking we are keen to try some traditional camp fire cooking when we have purchased the necessary items.  I like to spend a lot of time researching aspects of the 18th century and if I am going to buy or make something that I will use I want it to be as close as possible to being period correct. The follow items have been recommended to me by fellow reenactors .

18th century 2 quart cast iron pot , these can be used over a campfire and once given a good coating of flax oil or something similar this type of pot can be used for hearty stews or soups, although being cast iron it is not something that would have been carried any distance because of it's weight

Next up is a much cheaper item compared to the above cast iron cook pot , it is a pinkin which are well documented being used in the 18th century they are made of pottery named redware and although designed to withstand heat it is not something you would hang over a roaring camp fire but something to be used with warm embers for slow cooked food . It's much lighter than carrying around a cast iron pot but it's also fragile so you need to take more care when using it. But it also has 3 feet like the above cast iron pot to keep it stable when cooking

Wooden bowls were very popular and people often carried them in their bag on journeys , perfect for porridge or any other simple meal . Wooden bowls came in variety of sizes and luckily these days we can also buy them as well. So no need for a plate of any kind if you have a decent wooden bowl .

Horn cups and spoons were also very common in Scotland and being lightweight made them easy to carry along with the wooden bowl these items were often sold by travelling tinkers . You could ladle the food you wanted from the pinkin into your bowl with a horn spoon and then use it to eat with as well. When you were thirsty you could fill up your horn cup with beer or imported French wine if it was available. 

Last but not least you had to have a means to light your campfire in order to cook your meal and there were no matches nor gas lighters back then so you had to rely on using a fire lighting kit consisting of a striker and a piece of flint and some easily combustible materiel to help get your fire started. 

So pictured above is a well documented set of traditional cooking items for 18th century cooking , all these items could easily fit into a large haversack but most likely you would be better off carry them in a snapsack to your campsite. 

Friday, 6 March 2015

Book review - Highland Folk Ways by I F Grant

If you really want to learn what life was like for highlanders in Scotland this book will provide a fantastic reference to many aspects of their daily  life such as how the land was divided for farming, coastal fishing villages, how their houses were constructed and the types of food they cooked. The author I F Grant started a museum dedicated to the lifestyles of the highlanders and sort to collect many of their daily items for display in her museum as well as recording the oral histories of the older generation before the information was lost. The book also covers the type of clothing that was worn and the type of instruments that were played etc . The book has some fantastic sketches showing some of the more popular items in the book .  This book is widely available and  I was recommended it by a fellow Jacobite reenator and historian as a great place to start to widen my knowledge of that period.  Well worth the money and a useful reference that you can refer to often when doing research.  

Thursday, 5 March 2015

The sporran

The sporran is necessary because the kilt as a un tailored garment does not have any pockets, the early type sporrans hung directly from the kilt belt and were used to carry food or other small items whilst out working . These were all made of leather and some were buttoned down or held together by some form of drawstring. later on the sporran was hung on a separate leather belt then in the Victorian age sporrans became more fancy using animal hair and silver mounts. There is a vast range of sporrans available today from sporrans made out of fake leather which looks like cardboard ! to high quality hand crafted sporrans. In my opinion if you are serious about portraying someone from the Jacobite period you need to do a lot of research , study old paintings and period artwork and talk to people that have been doing that for many years.  Then you will get an idea what type of sporran is suitable . My first sporran was terrible, so bad that I threw it away when I had a better Jacobite period one made.  Pictured below are various sporrans that are suitable for the 1700s , if you do get one made make sure that it is nether too small or too large and is easy to open for daily use.

The Haversack

Used by 18th century to transport food and personal belongings the haversack is about 15 inch x 15 inches square and buttons down with 3 pewter buttons. This is also another very easy sewing project for the beginner and can be made out of natural linen or cotton canvas. There are readily available online from a number of dealers but quite easy to make yourself. I wear my daily and it's perfect for carrying almost anything. These should be worn high on the waist to make it more comfortable when walking a distance.

The market wallet

The Wallet, or Market Wallet, is a rectangular bag with an opening in the center, made of cloth in various sizes and used as an all-purpose carrying item by civilians. It makes a great addition to a civilian kit. 

The Wallet, being of a long length and narrow width, can be carried in several ways. It can be put around the neck so that each side rests on one’s chest or twisted at the center and thrown over the shoulder. The twist will keep the contents from falling out. It's perfect for carrying supplies or use it for trips to the local market as it can carry a surprising amount and once loaded at both ends it hangs comfortable over your shoulder leaving your hands free. It's very simple to make and it looks great made up in some natural coloured linen. It's also a perfect sewing project for the beginner

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Were did you buy all that stuff ?

Where do you buy all that stuff ? , Well that is a very good question and if you search online you are likely to find terrible looking shirts, kilts , sporrans etc which claim to be  Jacobite period clothing when in fact they are more often than not rubbish and nothing at all like the type of clothing that was worn back in 1745. The same goes for the costumes worn in many of the Hollywood movies such a Braveheart, Rob Roy and more recently the popular TV series Outlander based on the book of the same title. I have only learned of these mistakes recently thanks to some fantastic guidance from fellow Jacobite reenactors and historians who have thoroughly researched this period in Scottish history.  So what is correct period clothing for the Jacobite in the mid 1700s ? , the following is what I have put together myself or purchased with the purpose of using it for daily attire .

Well lets start at the top and work our way down , first up you need knitted bonnet in dark blue or lovat blue that is then felted and this is worn flat on the head pulled towards the front and if you claim to be a loyal Jacobite you need to fix a white cockade to the side of the bonnet near the front. The bonnet I have was knitted and felted by an old Scottish lady in New Zealand and it fits perfectly and keeps my noggan nice and warm over winter but it's probably a bit hot for the Japanese summer 

Pictured above is a nice knitted and felted bonnet made by historical caps in the UK 

Moving on down you will need a shirt it should be made of a natural colored linen but no laces with eyelets and would only button down to the chest , it needs to be almost as long as your kilt to keep you warm and should have large puff selves. These shirts can be bought online from various vendors or you can hunt a pattern and make your own shirt. I'm very lucky that just down the street is a fantastic French antique shop which sells NOS French linen work shirts which work very well and look the part. 

Over top of your linen long shirt you need to wear a neck stock which can be either white or black and then you need a waistcoat. It should be made of wool in plain colors such as tan, grey or green , navy blue or in a period correct tartan made of wool of course , Harris tweed makes some fantastic period correct tartans which are perfect for constructing either kilts, waistcoats or jackets. You can buy ready made plain colour waistcoats online but do not buy the revolution war waistcoats as the bottom cut is wrong , you would be better off purchasing a French & Indian war period waistcoat that is longer and has a flat edge at the bottom rather than the tapered cut of the Rev war waistcoat. If the waist coat is made of tartan is can be matched with a jacket , but this is a matter of personal taste , it should also be noted that if using tartans do not use your clan tartan as they were not invented in the 1700s , just find a nice tartan in period colors that you like instead.  As for buttons they can either be made of pewter or covered in the same fabric as the garment itself. 

Over top of your waist coat you will need a highland short jacket these are very hard to find and like a hand made tartan wool waist coat are not cheap to purchase . These items are sometimes made by historical tailors and are period correct. Do not expect to buy a ready made one as you will need to supply the tailor with your measurements , pay a deposit and then wait about 4 months before you finally receive it. For anyone serious about getting a period correct waistcoat or jacket please contact me and I will forward some info on where to get one made. Just like the waistcoat the buttons can either be in pewter or the same fabric as the jacket itself , plus there are various cuff styles available to choose from as well. 

The kilt comes next but in fact the correct name for it back in the 1700s was the Feileadh Mor which is often referred to as the plaid or in modern English as the Great Kilt . This is a long double width piece of tartan in wool ( check out the Harris Tweed tartans that are available  ) that is wrapped around the body forming the pleats by hand first, it can also have a drawstring and belt loops / keepers sewn into the waist on the inside to make it easier to put on each time and to keep the pleats in place. It has been recently proven that the drawstring plaid did exist and both of my historically correct kilts that I have made myself have belt loops and a drawstring fitted inside at the waist. Of course you will still need a sturdy leather kilt belt to hold it in place as well. Pictured below is my Feileadh Mor that I made 

So as you can see from above the Feileadh Mor is a rather large garment and can be worn in various different styles , I was also able to prove that it's also a fantastic item of clothing to wear in winter as it can be pulled up over your shoulders or head in extreme weather to keep you warm. As it's un tailored  it can also be used as a blanket to sleep in as well. 

Next up is the other kilt option which is called the Feileadh Beag ( little wrap ) which according to historical accounts was invented in 1720 , this is basically the Feileadh Mor which the top section cut off which makes it far easier to wear when working in indoors , this is my favorite type of kilt to wear on a daily basis as it's also un tailored and very easy to construct .  Just find a suitable length of tartan add some belt loops and a drawstring and hold it up with a nice leather belt. Pictured below are a few photos of my Feileadh Beag showing the belt loops and drawstring. 

Of course the next question is what is worn under the kilt ? - Shoes and socks is the correct answer of course , but these are not normal shoes or socks that you can find at your nearest dept store.  Let's start with the shoes , they need to be straight lasted and made of leather with the rough side out and can have either 2 holes for leather laces or they need latchets and brass buckles , laces are more suitable for a common impression but I decided to go with the 1758 pattern shoe from the following online historical shoe maker in the USA called Fugawee which sells a fantastic range of shoes that also come in wide sizes such as EE , EEE great for people with wider feet . You might think that wearing a pair of straight lasted shoes is not so comfortable but once you have fitted a modern innersole in them and broken them in they are very comfortable for daily wear . As they are totally made of leather you will need to waterproof them in you live in an area that has a lot of rain and you might want to get some rubber put on the soles if they are for everyday wear ( this should not be done though if you participate in historical reenactment events as it would be incorrect ) . 

Lastly you need to make some bag hose which is basically a tartan sock cut so that the tartan is on an angle providing some stretch to make them easier to put on. Various tartans can be used and once you have made a pair you will then have a pattern in which to make more. Another option which is not historically correct is footless hose which are worn over the top of stand kilt socks , both types can be tied up with the woolen ties / garters to stop them slipping down when walking

So that covers the basic items you need, many of the items can be hand made or purchased online and it will take some time to put together a period Jacobite kit , but well worth the effort when finished. Thanks for reading and if you have any questions just get in touch with me. The next blog post with be on period accessories .

The Jacobite risings

The Jacobite risings were a series of uprisings, rebellions, and wars in Great Britain and Ireland occurring between 1688 and 1746. The uprisings had the aim of returning James VII of Scotland and II of England, and later his descendants of the House of Stuart, to the throne of Great Britain after they had been deposed by Parliament during the Glorious Revolution. The series of conflicts takes its name from Jacobitism, from Jacobus, the Latin form of James.
The major Jacobite risings were called the Jacobite rebellions by the ruling governments. The "first Jacobite rebellion" and "second Jacobite rebellion" were known respectively as "the Fifteen" and "the Forty-five", after the years in which they occurred (1715 and 1745).
Although each Jacobite rising had unique features, they were part of a larger series of military campaigns by Jacobites attempting to restore the Stuart kings to the thrones of Scotland and England (and after 1707, Great Britain). James was deposed in 1688 and the thrones were claimed by his daughter Mary II jointly with her husband, the Dutch-born William of Orange (who was also James II's nephew).
After the House of Hanover succeeded to the British throne in 1714, the risings continued, and intensified. They continued until the last Jacobite rebellion ("the Forty-five"), led by Charles Edward Stuart (the Young Pretender), who was soundly defeated at theBattle of Culloden in 1746. This ended any realistic hope of a Stuart restoration.