Beltane and the Great Queen

As part of the ongoing creation and sanctification of the Cauldron of the Celts Sacred Calendar, we have the honor of adding two more days to the calendar. Both in honor of an Morrighan. I was having a rather hard time figuring out where exactly the holy day of the Great Queen would go on the modern calendar year, and it wasn’t until we welcomed more to our merry band of Celtic devotees that the answer revealed itself, apparently you need at least an attempted murder to get things brewing. With the help of my dear sister Verity Blue Midnight, we realized that one day was just not enough and that the date was less consequential than the timing. So for this year and hopefully many more future years to come we will be honoring the Morrighan on the full moon of May and the dark moon of October.

To be clear, I do not know of any direct connotation in the lore or otherwise between the Morrighan and the moon (although if anyone does know of some I would be interested in looking into it). However, given her association with the liminal states, it felt more correct for her days to be on a lunar calendar whilst the rest settle into the solar modern one. While her connection to Beltane and Samhain seem fairly clear, and are clearly felt. This years May full moon fell just days after May 1st/Beltane. Which seemed a blessing on things to come.

We crashed into May with a thunderous bang. I have always found this time of year to be one of high emotions and high energy, this year is proving no different. While my sister priestess planned a loving devotion to the Great Queen for dusk on the full moon, petitions tended to while walking a labyrinth at dusk and offerings given in honor and praise, I ran off to the woods. Truly it was a weekend where her presence and the spirits of this time of year were all around.

The Beltane Sun 2015

It started before dawn on Beltane, way up on inspiration point with the Morris Dancers jovially playing and dancing up the sun. It was incredibly warm this year, a contrast in years past when you would have to bundle up to greet the golden rays, a marker to the change our earth is going through. Every year I am amazed at the flutter and anticipation that this sunrise brings. What if I’m late? What if this time it rises early? Silly, perhaps. But it is part of the magic and the buzz of Beltane.

Beltane 2015

This year the heat and dryness of our land prevented any morning dew to be found. I suppose I can go one year without the blessings of Beltane beauty upon me. After basking in the golden hour light for a while longer it was time to go in search of food and then to work. A stark change from years before where I could stumble back to bed before rising and prepping for the day. The Rooster, a local cafe, was kind enough to provide us with a lovely meal, and then we decided to spread the May Day cheer by buying flowers and passing them around the office. There was quite a bit of bemused confusion as to why they were being given or offered flowers, and an equal amount of delight at discovering flowers on ones desk for apparently no reason. All and all I consider it a Beltane well managed.

The Canyon

That night we cleaned up the house, left out some offerings, and prepped for an escape to the woods. We left bright and early the next day, heading straight for the Canyon. A trip we have made countless times over the years that holds so many memories. It was brilliant and beautiful all day. Clear skies, jubilant sun, and fresh crisp air. Everything a person could need to clear their head and help ease their burdens. We decided for this trip to explore all the little side roads off the canyon in search for a great camping spot. We found many treasures, but one that still has a hold on my heart and desires.

There are several places through the Canyon where you cross the Feather River, and at one such place there is a road, and up that road is an oasis. You can’t see it from the road. We had just stopped because I have an ever growing obsession with rocky rivers and a need to be by them. At first I wasn’t sure whether or not there was going to be a way down to the water, but there was. I was not prepared for the beauty that I saw.

Ladybug Lagoon

It was like stumbling upon the lagoon from Neverland. Completely picturesque. I desperately wanted to dive into that crystalline water, but the reality is that water is far too cold for swimming just yet. Treacherous and beautiful, the way I like it. We stayed by the river for a long while, climbing rocks and enjoying the serenity of it all. The Lumberjack recounted the story of coming to this spot once and all the rocks were covered in ladybugs! There were a few ladybugs here and there and many a butterfly on this trip. It seemed only natural to name the place Labybug Lagoon. I will gladly and happily be returning here this year.

Wash away my fearsClear waters

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come to the river, child of the heart
Lay by the stream, all cares depart
Great Lady wash from my soul
My weakness and the doubts that I hold
Splendid One wash me in the waters from beyond
I arise glorious with only my courage and tresses donned

After stopping and scouting many more places, including my beloved Bullard’s Bar we settled down to camp for the night. We did not plan enough ahead to have gotten a campfire permit, so we went without. Eating a humble but filling meal of sandwiches and fruit, we enjoyed the calming solace of being outside and away from the hustle and bustle. We found a broken knife and fashioned a game out of throwing the blade and trying to get it to stick in some rounds. We planned to buy a small archery set to bring out next time, for fun and practice. We gathered some wild cedar tips and made them into bundles, the Lumberjack even picked some dogwood flowers for me. I think that dogwood is probably the regional equivalent of the Hawthorn in this part of the woods. It was in bloom everywhere, crowning the forest in beauty and joy.

The moon was full and splendidly bright, the air was cold and fortifying. That night prayers where made to the Gods and the Ungods with heartfelt devotion to see us all through the challenges and trials we walk. Offerings were made to continue to bring prosperity and joy to my beloveds. The land and all it’s many treasures were thanked profusely for being steadfast and welcoming. With a much lighter heart I slept that night.

The return home was slow, as we were want to leave. We revisited our plans and what the next five year holds. Each of us know we can’t stay forever in the city, it wears too much on out emotions and spirit. May this year bring the beginnings of dreams realized for my family and all those seeking and working towards their goals.

Blessed Beltane everyone! I pray that the month of May keeps you well and shows you the way to your dreams.

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Unrealized Family History

I don’t think of myself as having a lot of family history. For a multitude of reasons my family lineage and pasts get mysteriously fuzzy after my direct grandparents and in some cases are just cut off. Several times and I am sure several more, I have tried to go digging back into the past to see where my ancestors came from, to find their stories. Have we been here since colonization of this land? Did we immigrate over during one of those many times of crisis from the continent? Did someone fight in the War between the States? Maybe on both sides? Many questions, not a lot of solid answers. A few…stories here and there but no evidence.

My family is also very nuclear. Not a lot of sprawling family reunions happening on either side. Although I think there is more extended family over on my mother’s side, however we’ve never really been intertwined in it. Maybe it was the military lifestyle, maybe it was other factors, but for whatever reason, I grew up knowing my immediate family and only seeing my grandparents on both sides occasionally. So again the idea of “family history” was not really a thing.

Moreover I was a Marine Corp Brat, we moved every couple of years all throughout my childhood, thereby erasing the sense of personal history and connection to place that I have witnessed a lot of other people have to their “home towns”.  Again family history was…more present history, more immediate, less…well less history feeling.

I did however manage to always have a very strong connection to my father’s father. An odd thing since I have no living memories of the man. My grandfather Wallace, known as “Chuck” for some reason I still don’t know, died when I was two years old. Despite that I have always felt his presence in my life, an affinity, a connection. Ancestor worship did not come as anything mysterious or foreign to me when I first started Celtic Recon so many years ago in large part because of my grandfather and his lasting presence in my life from beyond death.  Maybe it was because everyone told me from childhood how much he would have loved me. He had always wanted a daughter, but had three sons instead, and I was the first and for a long time only granddaughter on that side. Maybe it was the comparisons. Of my immediate family I am the only lefty, like my grandfather. There are lots of little things that you could logically reason could have laid this foundation for my affinity for my grandfather, however I will always feel that there is more to it than that. A reason that everyone felt compelled to tell me how much he would have loved my art, or how he would have spoiled me. A reason that comparison was on their lips. A reason I am left handed, and born only a few days before his own birthdate. It’s a connection, an ancestral tie. He has always been there, and I know he always will be.

For all the strength of my grandfathers presence, a strength that only grew when I started to live in my father’s childhood home with my grandmother, he has also always remained an enigma. My grandfather kept his past very much cloaked in mystery, and even much of his living life is shrouded with an energy of discontent and untapped potential. Living with my grandmother for several years and hearing her stories began to put the pieces together of why my loving grandfather always also felt stern and severe. A stoic storm. But even from her stories there was still a great deal that I did not know about him. Where he was born, who his parents were, what his sisters name was. All these details cunningly and purposefully hidden by his own hand. The fact is that even his date of birth varies from document to document, and every time I try to uncover that which he had hidden I am met with a black wall of mist.

I am used to thinking of my family history in such terms. Short, insular, immediate. Yet that is overlooking a large and while not “ancient” past, still a very present one. One that I have been living amoungst longer than any other place my whole life.

My family history with Berkeley is something that I know of and is not clouded in mystery, and something I can and should continue to reverence. I just never thought about it until recently. Clue-by-four indeed!

While I do not have a “home town”, my father did, and I am currently working in and and have lived in it and near it for close to 9 years now! Insanity. I lived for about five years in the very house that he grew up in. The house my grandparents bought after renting the house next door for many years, moving away for a little while and then returning. I work right in the downtown Berkeley area, and have walked by the highschool and middleschools my dad went. I remember all the old stories of what use to be where, how Oscar’s has been around forever, how MLK use to be Groves Street (how my grandmother still called it that and had the map that still had it marked as such). I have added to this my own stories of how things have changed, my own memories.

One thing I had forgotten to remember until last Friday, was that my grandfather worked for the Berkeley Post Office for close to 20 years.  The same Berkeley Post Office that I walk by every morning to work, the same Berkeley Post Office building whose fate is currently unknown. For those not in the know, the USPS had tried to sell the building (a fairly impressive historical building) and there is now a lot of legal standstill to ensure that the building is not abused. That is a very simplified version, here are two websites that go deeper into the issues: Berkeley Post Office Defenders and Save the Berkeley Post Office.

I had heard about the ongoing legal battle when it first took off but lost track of the story, then on Friday I needed to mail a package and was wondering if the post office was still operational. It was through the discussion with co-workers that I remembered once again the connection between this beautiful if defunct building and my family. I could not remember the exact time that my grandfather spent working there, was it 20  years? Or was I superimposing my own fathers 22 yrs in the Corp? A quick text to my father revealed it was 17 years, not quite the 20 years, and a phone call later suddenly I had more information on my grandfather that I (for some reason) never had before.

My grandfather retired early from the Post Office due to a past back injury by a grenade during his time in the Army.

I’m just going to let that sentence sit out there on it’s own, since it was just sorta dropped on me nonchalantly in that same way. First of all, while I did know that my grandfather was in the Army during WWII (and that he did not think highly of the military on account), I was completely unaware of any lasting injury from that service. But here is how the story goes:

Wallace Rogers

My grandfather was a Drill Sergeant in the Army during WWII, during a training one of his troops was not able for some reason to throw the grenade over the wall. My grandfather then picked up the grenade and threw it and was injured. Rather than go to sick bay, as any normal human being would have, he decided to forego it so that he would not be kept longer as he was just about to go on leave (and thus return home to my grandmother). It was a wound that followed him throughout his life, standing for long periods was  painful. Sitting for long periods was painful. Laying down for long periods was painful. Again the general storm of discontent and brooding energy makes sense. In 1972 after 17 years at the Post office this old injury was causing him lots of pain and he had to have surgery. During his recovery the Post Office was offering early retirement and so he took it.

I have to laugh at how randomly new information is bestowed on me. Once again I resolve to buy a decent microphone and on my next trip out to my parents am going to host story telling time with each of my family members. There are so many of my own parents stories that I want to keep, and many more from my grandparents that I just don’t know.

I am grateful for my grandfathers memory and continued presence in my life. I am grateful for my family history and the continued discovery of it. I am always grateful for my own loving family.

 

Brigid’s Holy Day

As I posted in my last blog, I was part of a group celebration of Brigid on the 1st of February. It was delightful.

For most of the day I was working, so I could not do my usual activities of reverence for Brigid, such as cheese making. However working at the amazing Sacred Well, I was able to utilize our Community Altar room and set out a water offering a candle for Brigid for the day. I also took the liberty of listening to Celtic music pretty much exclusively all day lol. But I eagerly look forward to the end of the day and the small ritual that was planned by our Brigid priestesses.

Under the cloak of darkness by the light of the bountiful full moon our small band of mischief and heart took to the bay, to a much favored spot known by our Cauldron sister Rowan. The moon was a glorious galleon on the foggy sea, luminous and steady. The rocks stood in silent witness as we gathered there on the liminal edge of space and time. The grey cloaked sky melted seamlessly with it’s loving tranquil sea. We had a few items to set up our altar. A bowl filled with precious water collect in that silvery moonlight. Candles to glow, small and cheerful echoing the powerful light above them. Apples and bottles of precious spirits for offerings.

Hail the Lady of fire and spirit. The Exulted One

Hail the Lady of fire and spirit. The Exulted One

We gave thanks and offerings to the three realms for their continued balance in our lives. Our leading Priestess made a heartfelt invocation to her beloved Lady Brigid that pulled down moonbeams on the water and parted the veils to swell our hearts with the power and love of the exulted goddess Brigid. We had gathered petitions and gave offerings on others behalves as well as ourselves. During that quiet time of whispered wishes and tearful prayers, our words were met with the gift of sea birds landing gently on the water. When prayers of health and well being for loved ones trembled from our lips a flock of geese flew out from the bay with hushed grace.

Brigid's Holy day 2015 (2)As our last words of humble reverence and honorings were raised up to the sky, our toes felt the moist touch of the sea that swelled up to meet us. As the tide took out the apples on their playful hands, we dipped out cloths in the waters blessed by Brigid and hurried back to firm ground.

There were many words spoken in sacred communion. Above all we lifted each others name in gratitude and praise and heaped glory upon the Lady of Well and Forge. Our small cauldron of five powerful women prove that with sincerity and devotion much can be accomplished. The rest of the year lays ahead of us, and we fully intend to prove ourselves worthy to be priestesses of our beloved gods. No matter how the year changes, we have made a wonderful start. I am very proud of us.

When I returned home, I had enough energy to set out my cloths and things to be blessed by Brigid that night and light a candle for her. In the morning I tended to my altar and poured her another offering of milk and honey, and set the flowers I had bought in her honor in the Cup of Glory. Simple and yet complete.

A linen shawl made by my grandmother. A cotton cloth made by me. A hair bauble given to me by my dear friend that was bought in Ireland.

A linen shawl made by my grandmother. A cotton cloth made by me. A hair bauble given to me by my dear friend that was bought in Ireland.

No matter what your celebrations looked like, I hope that you are blessed with health and joy at this time of year. May we all feel the hope that spring and the goddess of inspiration can grant us.

Brigid's Holy day 2015 (4)

To Brigid

Cauldron of the Celts – Sacred Calendar Year – Brigid’s Holy Day

Being a Gaelic Polytheist that does not currently have a Gaelic Polytheist community at hand, I spend a lot of my time and effort being a public priestess in a interfaith pagan coven known as CAYA Coven as I have found the community aspect to be so very enriching to my life and practice. Over the years CAYA has grown to the point where we can now group off into devotional affinity groups of priestesses that share a deity or culture or other grouping. One such groups that I am apart of is the Cauldron of the Celts. All of us publicly dedicated to deities that fall under the “Celtic” umbrella. Currently that means Irish and Romano-Breton but in future could include Gaulish, Welsh and so on. Being a multi-faith group means that everyone is coming from a different angle as far as practice and so forth but I have to say that it has been refreshing to have more people to talk about the lore and cultural background of things, as well as be able to share our devotions and put on some truly wonderful rites for the gods.

In that vein we have collective decided it would be a good idea to start a Sacred Calendar year for the group, with a holy day selected for each of our dedicated deities. Understanding that nothing about this is particularly Gaelic but a more modern adaptation to further foster reverence and honor to the gods. It also provides an opportunity to share with the wider community, and be of service. With that being said the first day of reverence this year starts with Brigid, and below is a humble offering for all those who feel called to partake.


To Brigid

Cauldron of the Celts Sacred Calendar Year – Brigid’s Holy Day 2/1/15

The Cauldron of the Celts, a multi-faith devotional group within CAYA Coven, is endeavoring to establish our Sacred Calendar Year. Each priestess is publicly dedicated to a deity who falls under the wide “Celtic” umbrella and has chosen a date on our modern calendar year to be a day of reverence to their deity. In an effort to connect with other devotees and be of service to the public we share this calendar and some of our own workings, that we may all raise up the Gods names in honor.

Our calendar year begins with Brigid’s holy day on Feb 1st.

The priestesses of Brigid, Foxfire Kells and Doyenne Rowan, invite you to send us any petitions you wish to make before the goddess and we will offer them to her in supplication and gratitude on her holy day. You may email them at cauldronofthecelts@gmail.com.

Below are a few words from the priestesses of Brigid:

Imbolc is celebrated in honor of the goddess Brigid between January 31st and February 2nd; the name of the holy day comes from the Old Irish imbolg or oimelc, meaning “in the belly,” referring to the season of lambing and ewe’s milk. Brigid emerges from the silence of winter to herald the coming of spring and new life and growth; she is also a goddess of the forge, of the hearth, of poetry and inspiration, and of healing. Her symbols include lambs or sheep,  wells, writing implements, acorns, apples, milk, snowdrops and crocuses, and, of course, fire.

Imbolc falls during the Celtic tree month (a neo-pagan construct based on Robert Grave’s interpretation of the ancient symbolic language of ogam) of Luis (lweesh), which is the Gaelic name for the rowan tree, so one activity you can do is to make a protection charm of 2 crossed rowan twigs bound with red thread. For more information about the history of the Rowan and red thread charm you can find a incredibly thorough article here.

Another one of Her traditions is to leave out cloth or clothing to be blessed by Brigid on Imbolc, often to be used for healing and protection purposes for the following year. Given the current events happening, Her face of healing is very clearly one that is needed in the world and in our community.

To welcome and honor Brigid into your home and life, you may wish to perform the following ritual:

Lay out a white or yellow cloth
Place a white candle in the center
Arrange around the candle 3 acorns and/or apples, a small bowl of fresh water (spring water or melted snow is ideal), a sprig of juniper, and a small bundle of wool roving.
Prepare an offering plate with a piece of bread spread with soft cheese and a drizzle of honey, and some apple slices.

Light the candle and contemplate what new projects or endeavors you want to nurture this year. How will you tend to these goals? How will you tend to yourself? What parts of yourself or your life are beginning to emerge with the Spring? How do you keep the fires of your creativity and motivation burning as the year wears on?  Do you make space in your life for pleasure and the warmth of family (however you define it)?

Say a prayer or sing a song to Brigid to bring her into the room.
Feel free to use or adapt this prayer, as you wish:

My good lady Brigid,
I call upon you to light the fire of inspiration in my heart,
to warm my hearth and burn away the cold shroud of winter,
just as the snowdrops burn through the frozen ground to burst forth in flower
and give the promise of renewal.

My good lady Brigid,
I offer you my devotion and gratitude
for the many ways you bring joy and beauty to life in the world.
May my lips ever sing your praises and my hands bring comfort and healing;
ever may the embrace of my favour glorify your name.

Offer Brigid the bread with cheese & honey and the apples, for sweetness and sustenance.

Dip the juniper sprig in the water you have charged and asperge your house to bless and protect you in the coming year.

More Links and Points of interest:
Detailed article about the customs in Ireland and Scotland of Là Fhèill Brìghde
:http://www.tairis.co.uk/festivals/la-fheill-brighde
Craft Ideas for Imbolc: http://unfetteredwood.blogspot.com/2014/01/crafts-for-imbolc.html
video from Gaol Naofa on the celebration of Imbolc: http://youtu.be/oEieym5uI7k
Podcasts from Story Archaeology about Brigid and her various tales:  http://storyarchaeology.com/category/series-01-mythical-women/mythical-women-05-the-search-for-brigid/

Cauldron of the Celts 2015 Sacred Calendar Year:
Feb 1st – Brigid’s Holy Day
March 19th – Sulis Minerva’s Holy Day
June 21st – Honoring of the Selkie
August 1st – Lugh’s Holy Day
August 9th – An Dagda’s Holy Day

Hermitage and the year ahead…

If you are a follower of this blog, or my tumblr, or happen to be someone I know, you may have noticed that I have receded from outside interaction for the holidays and new year. No real reason, it is just one of the those things that occur every now and again.  I think that it is overall a needed and good thing. In those time of hermitage, I get a lot of time to be with myself and my own mind, in these times I remember myself. It’s not that I forget, but being present in the NOW has historically been difficult for me. I spent much of my youth escaping, at first through books and other peoples stories, and then just as easily into my own mind and stories. At the heart of it all I am very much a dreamer. But I have learned how to have a fulfilling joyful life here in the now of this reality as well. It took a concentrated effort to do at first, and now I find that I easily get caught up in the details of things in the now. The tasks that are right in front of me take so much concentration that the doors to those other realms of reality get firmly shut. When I get some time and space away from other voices, opinions, projects, interactions, I open those doors again and am refreshed with soul lifting spirit of my dreams and the aspirations of my true self once more. Because that’s the point of living to me, always striving.

Maybe none of that made much sense to anyone else, and that’s ok. The crux of it is that I need time with just me and my beloved. I thrive when I get some time to myself to listen to music and walk, or read a novel, or watch movies. They feed me. Particular stories and songs remind me of what I am striving for. They swell my heart and soul with courageous deeds, and impossible odds, that give me the strength to keep on. I am so grateful for those times.

I have to say this hermitage was particularly fruitful. I realized that teenage me would be so fucking impressed with me now. I have achieved much of the levels of coolness that I wanted then. Silly as that may sound it is comforting. What’s more I know that there is more that I want to accomplish.

And in that vein I’ve decided to make a list of things that I would love to do in the year ahead. Just a small reference for me to look back on in 2016 and see where I was. Nothing on this list is set in stone, and I leave room for things to morph and do and accomplish things I cannot even imagine at the present moment instead. But for the now I’m just going to mark some things that would make me happy.

Home Life

  • Become financially stable and more independent better able to provide for my family and household
  •  Start putting away money for special trips and buying a home
  • Get the closet under some form of control
  • Replace the TV stand
  • Continue to upgrade the little things about the house that make me happy
  • Go visit the folks in NC
  • Make the Lumberjack’s 30th be something special
  • Do more home cooking
  • Get drivers licences
  • Sew some of the projects I have planned
  • Get rid of some of the stash of fabric I have

Personal

  • Eat healthier
  • Join a gym or class of some sort
  • Get eyes checked and new glasses
  • Go to the dentist
  • Continue annotation and comparison of the Tain
  • Continue prayer memorization
  • Read at least one of the books on my shelf
  • Make art
  • Coordinate and plan two ritual camping trips
  • Hold a blessing of the blades service in honor of the Morrighan
  • Write more prayer songs
  • Go for more walks with my music
  • Continue visiting my sacred places
  • Get away with the Lumberjack to the woods and just be
  • Continue to be involved in demanding change from our government on all levels
  • Try to stretch daily
  • Continue with daily practices
  • Finish writing one of my fanfics
  • Rent a cabin in the woods with my dear friends and be delightfully and terribly witchy
  • Do some of the projects of presents for people that I love
  • Read one of the comics that the Lumberjack wants me to
  • Go someplace new
  • Continue to update my wardrobe into what I want
  • Have more pampering days that involve oil, and lovely scents, and general wonderful things
  • Have both Mom and Dad record or write down a beloved story/memory from their childhood
  • Honor the festival days, holy days, household deities, ancestors, Gods and Ungods
  • Continue to research and learn more about the Gaelic world view and lifeway

Well that’s all I can think of at the moment…May at least some of these things happen and more that I cannot think of now.

May you all have the time and space to think, reflect, and feed your hearts and souls when you need.

A Little bit of Epic: Halloween Edition

It’s been a long while since I have seen a video on the interwebs that has made me think it was worthy of being posted in my little bit of Epic portions. But my older brother should me this very talented fellow while on vacation and then lo he appears again in my feed with a pretty amazing Halloween Thriller video.

So Happy Hauntings everyone, and enjoy!

 

The Red Cotehardie

There are lots of blog posts I could put up. Continuing the Tain readings with the Pangs of Ulster, the one about the Justice work here in America (you can read the beginnings of that over on Columbia Rising ), the one where I rant and rave about wanting to burn everything to the ground, the one where I start to talk about how I feel like things are in need of a change in my life. Lots and lots of things that could be talked about. However today is going to be something…frivolous. Why? Because I need to do to work soon and rather than continuing to indulge in my current mood of rage and ruin I think it might be more productive to just pause and distract for a moment.

Recently I have been endeavoring to make more time to well, make more things! I really enjoy the process of crafting, sewing, making and realize that it just makes me calmer and feel a sense of accomplishment. So I need to do it more. Last month I managed to get around to making and finishing(!!) a dress that had been in my mind for over a year now. Several years ago using the information on La Cotte Simple and the help of my dear friend Temple Witch, I managed to make a lovely black long sleeved many buttoned Cotehardie. Which I adore (even if I have to reset the sleeves because they are too small now). And I have since wanted to make a sleeveless red one for more casual ritual attire. I have long since had the fabric, but never got around to the making until lately. Back in Feb. we got together with some friends to do the pattern making with a healthy dose of alcohol to the mix. Then in late July I finally got to cutting and making.

One thing that I need to note and remember, is that sewing goes a lot smoother if I parcel out the tasks. Assigning one day for cutting, then another for sewing etc. My previous method of trying to just plow through it all in one go just does not work as well and is daunting. I think it keeps me from sewing more. With this project and in future I will try to think of things in smaller stages, see if that helps, it certainly did here.

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Things were going smoothly. I use a corset style of lining for the dress bodice that makes things very clean and neat, so the dress itself sewed up very quickly. Then came those darn eyelets.

Now I have a machine that can make eyelets. However experience has told me that they just are not that sturdy. You have to puncture/cut the fabric and that just inherently weakens the fabric structure. With a dress like this where all the chest support is dependent on the tightness of that closure that just doesn’t seem wise.  As this is not really a dress meant to be historically accurate grommets are an option. But again, I do not have the equipment for the nice smooth lovely grommets, and the ones I can do are…well they just aren’t as nice. Sometimes there are rough edges and with a dress that is meant to be close to the skin not ideal. Which leaves, hand sewn eyelets.

Now overall they aren’t hard to make. Not really. They are however tedious. I have used the instructions from the Curious Frau for my eyelets over the years.

Eyelets

 

 

36 eyelets total. 18 on each side. Took me two and a half days of working on them for a few hours at a time. But at long last the end was in sight!

Now the thing about cotehardies…is once you have fitted the pattern, you really cannot check the fit again until you have the dress pretty much made up. Meaning I could not check the fit again until now, after 36 eyelets and all that work. I think you can tell where this is going. The fit my dear friends did not fit.

I have no bloody clue what the hell happened either. I mean the pattern fit, it was literally sewn onto my body. And yet someone from there to the cutting out of the actual dress fabric it seemed to have gained at least 4 inches. Which is a lot for this dress. A LOT. It was a sack on me and did not fit right at all. I was furious. I was damn well not going to rip out all those eyelets and I didn’t have enough fashion fabric to start again (nor did I want to). My only option was taking in the sides and ruining all the lovely clean inside lining.

refitting

So I did what any resourceful witch would do and turned the dress inside out and re-fitted it to me. I pinched in as much as I could, marked it. Took the dress off and then guessed at the curve. Basted it and putt it back on to check the fit again. As you can see above. That is a freaking lot to take in on this thing. The other side was very similar. Frustrating and mysterious.

redcotehardie

Fits much better now. Then came the day of hemming.  For those that know me, they know that I will do pretty much anything to avoid the tedious doldrums of hemming. Yet I wanted this dress to be nice and not trip over it. So I puts on the Return of the King and went at it!

20140818_095905Have to say that overall I am pleased with it. It is very comfortable and I think it looks nice. Someday I’ll get a full length picture of it lol. For now will just have to make do with portrait shots. One thing that I do need to do after wearing it for a day is take in about an inch on the shoulders. I have notoriously small shoulders. I always have to take them in. Clothes off the rack are just an experiment in how I should have line backer shoulders apparently. It should be an easy fix and help with the slow dangerous drift downwards that the neckline takes when wearing it.  Overall I’m very much pleased. Don’t know what the next project will be, the Black Magic Dress or the Emperor’s Jacket or possibly the elusive Queen’s Great Coat. We’ll see. 20140818_093623