Tuesday, November 10, 2020

And Now For Something Completely Different


Yes, here I am again; and I have done a bit of sewing; but mostly just been trying to survive the 2020 garbage fire which has not been easy on me.  But that's not what I'm here to talk about.  I did a new thing! to wit, coming up with the words for Elizabet Marshall's Laurel scroll.  

The elements that need to be in an SCA scroll are as formalized, in their way, as the elements in a medieval letter:

  • The award being given
  • The names of the monarchs giving it
  • The name of the recipient
  • The reason for the award
  • The date & location the award is being bestowed
How you phrase and arrange these elements, however, are entirely open, and they can be frotzed however you like.  So, what's appropriate for a lady of 12th century England being made a Peer?  She's not a Norman, at least, so one does not have to fret about French (early or modern), thank goodness.  I started by trolling through every online source I could find of Angevin documents: letters, decrees, charters, anything that was out there.  (Someone is actually working on a definitive collection and translation of all the papers of Henry II!  Hooray!  Publication date?  January, 2021.  -_-)

Eventually I found a site that had transcribed the last big effort, from the early 1900s, of as much STUF as they could find from Stephen, Matilda, Henry II, Richard, and John.  It's all in Latin, and they didn't translate it, but did have summaries, so at least I had somewhere to start.  Some facts became immediately clear:

  1. Charters of the time were repetitive.  Do not use a single noun or adjective where you can use three.
  2. Charters of the time were extremely businesslike.  They're concerned with the "what" and not the "why".
  3. (and this is obvious) There's nothing directly translatable to the normal elements of SCA peerage - you don't give someone a charter to declare them a knight, and the king is 100% not involved in artisan stuff.  
#3 was my first problem.  In later period, you can find extant examples where a royal is ennobling or in some wise giving an attaboy to their tailor or whatever; but earlier on, absolutely nope.  But what I did find was the first charter creating a peer of England: issued by King Stephen in 1139, wherein he created Geoffrey de Mandeville Earl of Essex.

Stephanis rex Anglorum archiepiscopis episcopis abbatibus comitibus baronibus justiciis vicecomitibus et omnibus fidelibus suis totius Anglie salutem.[1]  Sciatis me fecisse comitem de Gaufrido de Magnavilla de comitatu Essexie hereditarie.  Quare volo et concedo et firmiter precipio quod ipse et heredes sui post eum hereditario jure teneant de me et de heredibus meis bene et in pace et libere et quiete et honorifice sicut alii comites mei de terra mea melius vel liberius vel honorificentius tenent comitatus suos unde comites sunt cum omnibus dignitatibus et libertatibus et consuetudinibus cum quibus alii comites me prefati dignius vel liberius tenent.

And, my janky-ass translation:

Stephen, king of the English, to archbishiops, bishops, abbots, counts, barons, justicars, sheriffs, and all the faithful in the whole of England, greetings.  Know that I have created Geoffrey de Mandeville earl of the hereditary county of Essex. Wherefore I will and grant and firmly command that he and his heirs after him will hold jurisdiction from me and my heirs well and in peace and freely and quietly and honorably, just as my other earls in my lands better or more freely or more honorably hold their counties where earls are [???] with all dignity and freedom and customs with which other earls I have aforementioned hold dignity or freedom.[??????]

(See what I mean about the repetition?)

Okay, this takes care of the giver, the recipient, and what's being given; but there's nothing to explain why Geoff is getting an earldom[2]. The existing Angevin charters seem to be completely concerned with effect, not cause.  They do not waste time or ink on why a person or organization is getting something (or having something taken away), they just record that they’re doing it.  The closest one gets is either a note about restoring to how things were under a previous ruler, or a gift to a religious foundation which may allude briefly to doing something in the name of a saint.  So the usual “why we’re doing this” in an SCA scroll is purely ahistorical for this period, and you just have to make your peace with that.

One cool thing I did find, though, was in one of Matilda's[3] charters:
Precipio tibi quod seisias Willelmum filium Otonis de terra sua de Benflet ita bene et plene sicut inde seisitus fuit die qua rex Henricus pater meus fuit vivus et mortuus.  Et bene et in pace, libere et honorifice teneat sicut liberius tenuit tempore Henrici patris mei.

My slightly less-janky translation:
I command to you the seisin of William fitz Otho of his land in Benfleet well and fully as it was in the day when the king Henry my father was alive and dead[4].  And he is to hold it well and in peace and freely and honorably as freely as he held it in the time of my father Henry.

This is relevant because Elizabet was given her Writ by Margarita, but because of pandemic her actual peerage was going to be bestowed by Tindal & Alberic; so it was a nice element to knit in. 

So, our final construction:

Magnus Tindal and Alberich von Rostock, Consules of the East, to all dukes, counts, viscounts, barons, nobles, ministers, and all faithful people of the East, greetings.

Know that we appoint Elizabet Marshall a Mistress of the Order of the Laurel, even as decreed in the day of the queen Margarita our forebear, for her excellence and skill at embroidery and her service to the ancient and honorable guild and craft thereof.  Wherefore we will and grant and firmly command that she will hold this honor from us and our heirs, performing its duties well and freely and honorably, even as our other peers in our lands hold this honor, and with the dignities and freedoms and customs that these aforementioned peers hold.  And we grant and reaffirm unto her these arms by letters patent: Azure, three squirrels maintaining a threaded needle Or. 

Done in this year of the Great Plague at Chateau des Coccinelles.

Scroll in progress

[1] This formula, with minor adjustments, is in all of Stephen's charters, as well as Matilda's and Henry's.
[2] spoilers: he was an opportunistic asshole and Stephen was trying to get him to be inside the tent pissing out for a change
[3] if you're not up on your English history: she was the daughter of Henry I and a rival claimant to Stephen (who was only a cousin) for the throne, which led to a nice little civil war for quite some years.
[4] Yeah, I don't get it either.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

It Has Been Eight Months Since My Last Confession

I was talking to one of my five regular readers, who pointed out I hadn't posted since January.  "Nonsense," I said.  "I must have at least posted in the run-up to My Grand Day Out."


Image result for i have receipts gif
okay that's awkward
So, yeah, I have been doing stuff, though since March nothing super-epic.  It's boiled down about like this:

  • Jan-March: completely focused on getting everything ready for Mudthaw, which is when I became a Made Man™
  • April: finishing the bits of the outfits for Mudthaw that didn't quiiiiiite get done on time, because there was a 14th-century immersion event at the end of April, and we had all these just-made fancy high-Gothic duds, and well yes
  • May-July: Some small amount of Pennsic sewing, but mostly working on the planned gifts for the House Runnymede dinner that would be held at Pennsic
  • Aug-now: mostly absolutely nothing, because not only is it start-of-semester at work, but my Service Desk manager left and I have been doing two jobs

And, the list of things what have been achieved:

  • My silk under & over-dresses
  • my burgundy wool hose[1]
  • my dashing consort's silk cote
  • my dashing consort's brick-red gabardine hose
  • a new chemise with a better-shaped neckline
  • 1 pair plain white linen hose (mine)
  • Contrasting strip on the bottom of my lavender kirtle[2]
  • new purse (mine)[3]
  • 3 new lacing cords of various sizes
  • Beeswax "aglets" for all current lacing cords[4]
  • 10 painted cushion covers with Eastern baronial arms (that's the Runnymede gifts aforementioned)
  • 2 sets of fake-hair braids.  (And I've actually practiced putting them on, TYVM.)
So, I mean, that's not awesome for 2/3 of a year; but I'm not gonna lie, I was pretty burned out for awhile; and could only manage things which absolutely had to get done.  It's only in the last week or so I've started to feel like getting back into it - and the most I've achieved is "sewing on some buttons that somebody else made".

That said, what is there I have to say to you, my readers, about advancing the cause of Science?  I feel like there's a lot I could or should post about my gown(s) and his cote, though I don't know how much of it I can pull back out of the sludge at this point.  (Other than that the difference between real and faux-silk brocade is epic.  EPIC.)  I also should have a round-up of all the work that other people did for My Big Day, much of which has its own blog posts, for your amazement and possible envy. The rest of the stuff seems kind of business-as-usual?  I think?  Not super-useful to add to the corpus of group knowledge?  But I'll try and commit to back-filling, at least until I have something new and exciting to share.

[1] Which were too small along my cyclist calves, and I burst the back seams during my peerage ceremony, FML.  But they have been regifted to someone with thinner legs and they all lived happily ever after.
[2] so the dress is now a) hemmed and b) no longer too short.
[3] Mostly done.  I still have to make the hanging strings for it.
[4] they worked SUPER WELL. do this forever

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Here We Are Again

I'm really crap at updating over the holidays, aren't I?  --Well, let's be honest; I don't tend to get a lot done over the holidays.  There's all the chaos and wharrgarbl of holiday prep and possibly travel, and usually I have managed to get sick at least once each season; and the truth is, as has been pointed out to me this year, in December my creative efforts seem to focus themselves entirely around the kitchen.  Which is fine!  But I should factor that into my expectations going forward.

All of the above things were true this holiday season as well, especially the getting-sick, but I did at least manage to do some work on my dashing consort's cote (doublet, thing).  I started with the pourpoint pattern, draped it on him, made adjustments, created an edited pattern from that, and then cut out & made up a linen version.  It's actually pretty good, I'm happy to say, but there were some weirdnesses going on in the back of the grande assiettes so I had to put it on hold until yesterday, when I could get some expert consultation.  This having been obtained (in the teeth of a threatened snow/ice/something-storm that did not in fact materialize), I am now at a decision point: do I cut the actual fabric on the fly, using the existing pattern and just changing some things here & there where it seems right, or do I make a follow-up pattern, baste it & fit it, to be sure?    

*points at above image*

I know the right thing to do, I'm just...I want to move forward already, argh.  But I'll hate myself forever if I cut the silk and screw it up, so I guess it's time for Second Pattern.  Grumble.

As regards the other tasks on the docket, I've procured his hose fabric[1] and silk to line my overgown, and made some pending executive decisions, and helped fit and/or counsel a few other people, and researched bycocket production so that if there's spare time (HAW HAW) we can do a workshop day for that[2].  So, things are still in pretty good shape here, in spite of the various setbacks and lost[3] time. I have to continue flogging myself along the path, though; I keep slipping into avoidance behavior.  This morning, I opened like seven genealogy research tabs before I slapped myself upside the head and was all NO THIS IS NOT OUR CURRENT JOB.  Stupid brain.

[1] An exquisite dull-dark red wool gaberdine.  
[2] Hum, if I don't have time for a bycocket, should I make a hood for my dashing consort instead?   I have the pattern, I'd just need the fabric.  Hmm, hmm, hmm.
[3] == "wasted being sick on the couch and playing the new Assassin's Creed"

Sunday, November 18, 2018

And Suddenly It Was Mid-November

here we go again

Why do I care that it's mid-November?  Because my generalized project plan had November charted out to finalize the pattern for my dashing consort's cote-hardie, and I have done sweet F-A on that task to date.  waugh

Did I get pictures of us at
the event? Of course not.  But
here's how I jazzed up his
over-tunic.  I am pleased.
Now, I did start as well as finish[1] the 13th-century tunics + the embellishment of my Norman gown that I mentioned last post, and I did them in time for the event, and they came out nearly exactly as I had in mind; so hooray for that.  And I have not been wholly idle in the interim; I've mostly finished the embellishment of the sleeve for her Majesty - just one more pearl decision to make - and I finished both my consort's madder wool hose and my own white linen hose.  However there has been rather more Skyrim[2] and rather less sewing than otherwise.

Since it'd been some time since I first burbled out all my thoughts regarding prep for My Grand Day Out, I figured I should go through it all again and turn it into a proper organized sequence of tasks: not just his cote, but everything involved.  I created headings for each garment of interest (with a separate catch-all for small bits) and then wrote a separate post-it for each task I perceived underneath.  Now, at this stage, most of the tasks are high-level; I do not have separate ones for "cut out fabric", "sew back seam", "hem neckline", etc. at this juncture, because I don't need to yet.  As each garment comes up on deck, then I will break them down to that level.  For my dresses, which I'm not going to start to attack until mid-January[3], the only specific tasks are thinky-planny ones like "am I going to line the overdress, and if so, with what" and "fabric or metal buttons?".   Similarly, for his cote, there's just a high-level task for "make the silk cote", but there is a ream of very specific tasks re: getting the pattern together.  (My current working plan is to use the pattern pieces from the pourpoint as a starting place - his chest size is not dissimilar to my patron's - and adjust from there both for differing dimensions and for what I've learned about where the assiettes really want to be.)

Having littered a coffee table with many bits of paper, and ordered & categorized them, I then created a new Trello board and transferred each item to a "card".  (Is this a waste of paper?  Yeah, slightly; but I find it much more effective for me to start the process with physical entities; YMMV.)  I also created labels for each garment and tagged each card appropriately, and added comments as needed so if I pick one up in two or five or ten weeks, I have some idea of what the heck was in my mind at the time.

My roadmap looks something like this:

  • November: 
    • complete a first-draft pattern for his cote
  • December: 
    • make up (enough of) a linen cote[4] to confirm the pattern
    • adjust cote pattern
    • make silk cote
    • decide on his hose fabric
    • read up on bycocket production; decide whether I have the spoons to do it
  • January:
    • buttons & buttonholes on silk cote [cursing intensifies]
    • Bycocket production, maybe
    • make final decisions on my overdress: lining, tippets, buttons, (extra) ornamentation, etc.
    • Acquire fabrics for hose, bycocket, linings, etc. as needed
    • Cut out hose for both of us[5]
  • February
    • Check fit on my underdress vs. current body shape
    • Based on that, decide on pattern adjustments for overdress
    • Cut out & make up overdress [more damn buttons]
  • March
    • Finish overdress
    • Finalize adjustments to underdress
    • Finish underdress
    • Complete all non-essential items as time permits

I mean, yes, also there are holidays and birthdays and work going *foom* in there, but we'll take it as it comes.

[1] "Finish enough to wear", anyways. All the seams are still raw on the inside.  BUT THEY ARE HEMMED SO SHUT UP.
[2] I always have the urge to play Skyrim this time of year.
[3] Der Tag is March 30; and my shape has been changing sufficiently that if I start them now, they won't fucking fit right by the end of March.
[4] which will then eventually be finished for him as a summer garment.  WASTE NOTHING.
[5] the nice thing about the hose is, I can in extremis farm them out to helpful friends.  Or in absolute emergency, I at least can wear my trusty old yellow wool hose.[6]
[6] something old, something new, etc etc

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Catch-Up and Moving Forward

painted salon at Guédelon

Goodness, it's been awhile, hasn't it?  Yikes.

From the dyers' workshop:
dyes from dye-specific plants
(there's another bank with
dyes from wild plants)
Since my last confession, I have done some sporadic bursts of effort with a bunch of nothing in between; work was fairly crushing due to start of semester + opening a new building that my people and I had a huge amount of work to do with, so I was very lacking in spoons by the time I got home.  Oh yes and ALSO I WENT TO BURGUNDY ahem.  Very little to report there on the textile front, alas, but I have a lot of photos on Gallo-Roman stuffs and the various phat loot belonging to the Dukes of Burgundy.  Also!  More exciting!  We went to Guédelon Castle--you know, the one they've been building for over a decade using 13th century construction techniques?  It was amazing.  And it's not just the castle; they have a whole working village with all the crafters (woodworkers, tile makers, dyers, paint-makers, basket-weavers, and so on).  Everyone should go[1] and I would like to go back every couple of years to see how it's all changing.

a few Landsknecht layers 
That said, we were still on the hook for His current Majesty's outfit for Coronation; and I did not get to help with that as much as I would've liked to, as the construction timing peaked as we were leaving on holiday, but I did a deal of pad-stitching and layer-attaching.  It was fun and educational.  I also started pearling a set of sleeves for Her current Majesty, but I'm not really clear on the due date for those--originally they were for Coronation too, but the fabric didn't really go with their color scheme, so it's been de-prioritized.  I found I was really enjoying the work--a little fussy, but intensely satisfying; much like putting decorations on a wedding dress.  I should get it finished & out the door, though.  Stop starting, start finishing!

Therefore, of course, I have some new clothes to make on a deadline.

So, the good folk of Settmour Swamp are holding a 13th-century Welsh immersion event in a couple weeks. It's not like the typical SCA event where you've got an all-day thing with a mix of fighting outside, a mix of A&S inside, feast in the evening, maybe dancing after; the whole day is constructed around a theme, and they're doing their best to limit modernisms, right down to the hall being entirely candle-lit.  I am entirely in favor of this sort of thing, and we can go to it, so we are going; but of course I want us to be dressed appropriately.  Now it so happens I have a Norman-ish gown that will pass muster, which I thought I'd have to take in but apparently I already did that--way to go, Past Me!--so I'm just going to take a few minutes to sew some nice enameled plaques on the neck facing[2].  I have a snood that can pass as an early crespine in candlelight and some linen that can work as a barbette so I should be good to go.  However!  My dashing consort only has summer-weight, somewhat-later-feeling tunics (that is, they're tighter and shorter).  This fussed me and I intended to do something about it.

Gerald helping with fabric
selection, as usual
Work was immediately set back by me coming down with the office plague...which I am still suffering from, thanks so much...but I had energy ynogh this morning to start rooting through fabrics.  My ideal would be to make him a plain light wool under-gown (which he'd wear under any of his existing linen shirts) and then a heavier, more decorative (or decorated) wool over-gown, but the patron expressed a preference for a non-wool, launderable under-layer so he didn't have to wear a shirt as well. He chose a black (brown) (brownish black)[3] linen for the undergown, and a very nice if dark olive-ish green stippled wool for the overgown[4].  

Now, the cut of an earlier-period tunic-gown-thing is rather different from the bourgie 14th-century feel (rather shorter, and rather more loose in the torso) I have been going for with his current stuff, so I spent a lot of time today making him take things on and off (fnarr) and scribbling in my notebook and mumbling under my breath like a crazy person.  I'm still in that transitional place in my understanding of fit where I don't have the intuitive grasp of how changing the location of this seam has those repercussions, beyond the obvious, so it is a slow and painful process for everyone concerned.  I think I have zeroed in on the right starting math, though (these are all without seam allowance):

  • body pieces 23" wide and 56" long (or one piece folded in half if I can swing it; not sure I can)
  • neckline I hope to make 6" wide with a slit; have to play with this
  • sleeves 19" long, 26" wide at the body tapering to 10" wide at the cuff (yeah, it ought to be gusseted, but I'm in a hurry and we're doing trapezoids today)
  • gores with whatever fits in leftovers, but they'll want to be about 36" long I figure; so probably about 15" wide at the bottom is fine? This doesn't need to be super-swirly.

And then, when it's time to make the over-gown, much the same but a little wider in the body and sleeves, much wider in the gores, and a keyhole neckline.  

[1] except for the well-actually people.  they can stay the hell home.
[2] I just wish I had time to ring them all with pearls.  *sob*
[3] this is the same linen I made his first Elizabethan suit out of and we continually argue over whether it is brown or black
[4] To be honest, together it all looks drab AF to me, but I'll see if I have any interesting silk I can quickly tart up the overgown with.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Not Much With My War, Ho Ho Ho, How About You?

My après-Pennsic post was going to be about all the stuff I threw together at the last minute & how it all worked.  And you will still get that; but first:

...this was a thing that happened. At the end of the A&S War Point (which I was an alternate combatant for[1]), their Majesties rolled up to hear the results and congratulate their champions; and then I got called up to be told to go pick a date[2] to sit vigil and consider the question of being made a Companion of the Laurel.  I comported myself with all dignity and rectitude throughout, I will have you know.

Then we went back to camp and had scorpion bowls.  And cake.  They got me a cake!

So, well, good thing I had already started in on my fancy outfit.  What terrifies me now is whether my shape/size is going to keep changing betwixt now and then; which is why it's even more important to get the date sorted out.   It has to be after Coronation (because Beth and I are on the hook for the Prince's clothes, as mentioned, and that's a big job); and then immediately I'll be away; so basically sometime between late October and...as long as I can stand the suspense.  (Obviously a huge number of our peeps come to Mudthaw, but I think if I have to wait for eight months, I might die.)  And the later the date, the more likely my shape is going to change, so AAAAAAA.

I also have to take thought to my dashing consort's outfit.  I have offers of help with actually making it; but I need to plan out pieces, fabrics, und so weiter.  I did actually succeed in making two pairs of braies for him before Pennsic, and of course that nice new shirt, so the underwear layer is taken care of; but the rest bears thinking about.  At least, since it's 14th century, there's no goddam pants involved.  (I would sort of like to make him a bycocket, but this may not be the absolute best moment to try and learn a new skill.)

"Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?"  Well, it was a bit of a tough war; I'm happy to make this my last year of running camp, because I'm just exhausted.  Both weeks were wretchedly humid, which really takes it out of me, though at least it was reasonably cool the first week.  I did actually make it to two classes I wasn't teaching!  And I made a paternoster in one of them, which is an accessory I'd been conspicuously lacking, so that was nice.  Also, our excellent Baron was getting knighted, so we had the fun of planning a vigil in our camp behind his back.  (Of course that was one of the 90+-degree days, poor guy, but at least we set up his vigil spot next to the tree line.)  Oh, and I learned how to do the whipcord braiding thing.  Yay, more narrow-wares!

I completed one iteration my dashing consort's full Bocksten outfit: braies (2 pr, one of which he says is too scratchy), shirt as mentioned, coif as mentioned, white linen hose, white linen hood, sand-colored extremely-light wool tunic.  And he wore it for both opening ceremonies and for the War Point (i.e., me getting called into court), and I presented the ensemble at the A&S display as "Bocksten Man in a Time of Climate Change". 

Now, on the topic - we had the felicity of post-Pennsic dinner with Master José, who was rocking his full early-17thc. glory in the hot weather; and his experience was that having a wool garment over his linen underthings was the absolute most comfortable.  And importantly, not a very light wool (like what I made the aforementioned tunic out of), but one with some, in his word, sponginess; that it made a big difference in the wicking action.  So that's an interesting angle and I want to explore it next year.

For my own clothes: both the gowns (the pink GFD and the lavender kirtle) that I took in still feel too big, but everyone said they looked fine.  I could take the pink one in again, but it was a right fucking PITA to do that for the kirtle and I don't know if I could face doing so.  We'll see.  I do want to smock the green apron I made to wear with the kirtle, though; I don't like the look of the giant rectangle of green across my front.  We can be a bit more elegant, I think.  (I also need help on How To Arrange Your Own Partlet.)  

For works in progress; during various lazy time, I also finished one half of my consort's madder-wool hose.  I have the lining for his light woolen hood cut out, too, but not made up; and I'm nearly done with one leg of my white linen hose.  And, I have his ochre linen hose and my burgundy wool hose cut out as well.  So that will be some nice small pieces to work on in upcoming spare time HAW HAW HAW HAW.   

Today I'm hoping to re-center and triage all the upcoming work (not just sewing specifically, but brain and planning, of which there is a lot).  I lost most of this past week to work wharrgarbl[3] and a nice case of John of Gaunt's Revenge that I came back from war with; living on beige food does not leave a lot of energy or drive, I can tell you, and what little I had was entirely consumed by le job.  Feeling mostly myself today, though, so here we go.

[1] all the attention and none of the pressure!
[2] Usually, Writs are for people who hate surprises and want time to absorb the info/get a new outfit together/etc.  In this case it was because my friends figured, not wrongly, that there were too many conflicting priorities and it would be better if I was involved in choosing the date.  They promise there will be other surprises on Der Tag.
[3] Lots of things went along quite well while I was gone.  Some...did not.  And some UXBs were clearly timed to go off when I returned.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Overdue Book Report: "Clothing the Past"

I know I promised this like two months ago; I'm sorry.  And honestly I have a lot more sewing I ought to be doing right this moment, but now the book is about to be overdue as well, so let's do this.

Title: Clothing the Past: Surviving Garments from Early Medieval to Early Modern Western Europe
Authors: Elizabeth Coatsworth & Gale R. Owen-Crocker
Publication Information: Leiden: Boston: Brill, 2018
ISBN: 978-90-04-28870-6 
(There is also an ebook version, ISBN 978-90-04-35216-2)

This 450-page tome contains full descriptions (ranging from 1-3 pages) of ~100 medieval garments.  Each item begins with a full-page color photo, and finishes with a description of Materials, Dimensions, and Further Reading [about that item specifically].  The remainder of the text gives context for each piece--e.g., the entry for the Museum of London wool garter starts by talking about garters in general, when you start seeing them, what variations of material they were made of; and the entry for the Golden Gown of Margrete goes into detail about who she was and why she mattered...and then into why it may well not be hers after all, ahem.
the "Little Sampford" hat,
mid-14th century. Wool
felt originally covered w/
silk.  I HAD NO IDEA

Some of the items in here are old friends that many of us have a lot of bookage about already (e.g., three Greenland gowns); some are ones we know but may not have had access to much detail about them; and some are completely new, at least to me. That in itself is exciting--I thought I knew the whole canon.  NOPE!   They've also chased down as much data as possible about the newer finds, like the Lengberg lingerie...and some old finds, too, for that matter.   For instance!  They got access to an article I couldn't, so now I know that Gold Charlie's flat buttons have a wooden core, not metal and not felt. 

many diagrams!
An excellent feature of this book is that all textile terms more recondite than, like, "cloth" or "thread" are marked with asterisks to show that they're covered in the extensive glossary in the back.  Said glossary defines fabric types (e.g. felt, lampas, damask), sewing terms (e.g. gore, selvedge), specific period terms (e.g. chaperon, guibbone), and stitch & weave types (e.g. stem stitch, twill weave)....and they include small diagrams of the latter.  So, it's an accessible resource for even a comparative newbie to the textile world.

The items are organized in chapters by broad category of type: footwear, headgear, outer garments, vestments, etc.  (Not all of the categories are immediately obvious to me--hose and socks are separate from footwear--but the table of contents is clear and detailed.)  There are also a number of handy tables and diagrams at the front so that if you're interested in, say, Stuff From Germany or Stuff From The 12th Century instead of Stuff That Are Socklike, you can cherry-pick the entries of immediate interest.

Does it include every single item known to science?  No.  But most of the choices they made make a lot of sense.  You don't need the whole canon of Greenland gown remnants in here, nor do you need every single ecclesiastical cope; they chose a representative few.  And I'm not sure, but it might be otherwise complete for ordinary citizen garments between 700 and 1500. (They don't include the Thorsberg trousers, for instance; sorry.)  

The kicker here, of course, is that the book retails for $225.00 of your Earth dollars.  Even by scholarly-tome standards, that is a hell of a whack.  But if you can at all budget for it, it is worth every penny.  (And if you can't, grease someone who works in higher ed. who can ILL it, like I did.)