Sunday, May 16, 2010

Weekend Adventures

I've spent quite a lot of time sewing and working on my Civil War "to do" list lately while I've been off on my vacation time. This is a mourning bonnet I finished last week, finally, it seemed to take forever! This was quite a pain and I'll never cover another straw bonnet in my life, it's much easier to make the entire frame myself than deal with having to put the needles through the straw. I have other bonnet patterns in my sewing room to try and just need to get other projects done so that I can start on them. This bonnet has white and black flowers and trim as the mourning impression is for second mourning. The mourning dresses I was working on are now finished and I'm continuing to work on accessories like putting fringe on my parasol.
This is a work dress that I finished last week as well, putting on no trim is unlike me so it looks very plain, but it is a work dress so I'm going to try to leave it alone. The collar and cuffs on the dress would have been on each and every period original dress with the exception only of a ballgown. The laundered their cuffs and collars and just spot cleaned their dresses.
This is a shirt I made for Mark a couple of weeks ago, he wore it to our Ballestone Manor reenactment. He loves bright colors so I knew he'd love it. I ran out of fabric with one sleeve left to make so I had to piece it from scraps. It didn't show at all...quite like the Civil War seamstresses of old.

This is another shirt for Mark, I picked out bright fabric again because I knew he'd like it. The neckline is better on this one than the yellow, and it'll look great with his uniform.
The tunics below are for my two young grandsons. Boys wore dresses or tunics until they were between 3 and 4 years old and sometimes older if they had a lot of female siblings. They will also have drawers and petticoats made for them to go with their civil War era outfits and I'm planning on finding period toys for them to play with at reenactments so that they and their mom can talk to the spectators about them. It should be lots of fun.
Now this week is our vacation together, Mark's been working hard and been gone a lot since getting a job again in February. I had vacation days off as well so we were trying to figure out what we could do on a shoestring budget of pretty much no extra money. We decided to do a "Staycation" and just do things around the house and close by so we didn't have to stay anywhere overnight and pay for a pet sitter. We got a good start this weekend by going to Frederick, MD to drop off my sewing machine (which has been getting a lot of use) for repairs, it is inoperable right now.
After going to Frederick, we decided to make a couple of other stops and to enjoy the countryside. We drove out to Hagerstown (more later) and then went to Martinsburg, WV for a quick stop at Belle Boyd's childhood home, since I'd mentioned to Mark that Jenna had told me that Belle Boyd died and was buried in Wisconsin! Mark had seen this house when doing an install across the street years ago and had never visited. We named our first kitten after Belle, so we wanted to know more about here. She only lived here for a few years in her childhood but the home her father moved the family to after this one was torn down so this is the only home that survives. She was quite a colorful character and there are many relics in the house from this era as well as others...very interesting stop indeed.

On the way to Martinsburg from Frederick we stopped in Hagerstown at the ribbon store...I got a few rolls of grosgrain for dresses and plaids for bonnets... I always do well there but also had a coupon so I couldn't wait to get there. I was a little bit disappointed that there wasn't more plaid ribbon (I can't use the plaids they had that had gold on the edges, though it was beautiful). The ladies that worked there said they didn't make much and that it had already been picked over. I wish I'd driven up there earlier but what I got will be just great anyway!
Here's a better I have lots of brown for my green wool I bought for a dress, and green for the brown as well as a couple of others that I'm sure that I will find uses for everything. Some of the narrow plaid will get sewn to another piece to make it wide enough for bonnet use. Oh, and the entire bag cost just a bit more than breakfast at Cracker Barrel.

After a quiet night at home, we up and got ready to go out exploring again this morning. As soon as we made the bed it got occupied 3 of the 4 fur children. They actually thought they'd be getting treats from us like we give them right before's morning, kids...not time yet!
I'd downloaded the newest Park Passport stamp list from the Eastern National link and found that there were some new parks on the list now that we've never been to and much less every heard of. Our first stop was Greenbelt Park in Maryland, it is a beautiful oasis in the middle of crowded urban sprawl. We didn't get any pictures of it, it was woods and trails, and picnic and camping areas, and the ranger station was closed so we didn't get a stamp for our passports.
Next stop was Claude Moore Park which is a living history park in McLean, VA right next to the CIA headquarters. The park is a working farm with reenactors that actually work the farm with 18th century tools and techniques. They reenact the year 1771 and we were lucky enough to have stumbled upon a Market day in which there were various vendors and craftspeople with era (and just like Civil War reenactments, some not of the era) wares and displays. This was the potter, he actually does wood fired salt glazed and stoneware pottery.
He was working on his wheel and making all kinds of pots and pitchers, mugs and such. The pottery had had for sale was very beautiful and also reasonably priced.

This picture shows a craftsman using a lathe that is operated by his pushing a foot pedal down that is then attached to a rope that is wound around the item that he is turning. He then holds his chisel on the wood he's shaping to make chair legs, mugs, bowls, and other beautiful wool items. As you can see, the artisans and their children were also dressed in period clothing.
This picture shows some of the items that the wood worker made on his amazingly efficient lathe. I loved the wooden goblets but I didn't buy anything.
This reenactor was dressed as a Sailor, Seaman Merchant and had various items on the table that he'd picked up in his travels. All of the vendors and artists were very glad to talk to the spectators. It was lots of fun.
This is a rack that displays the various Flint lock muskets that the gunmaker had made. He was working a piece of wood for one while we were there. He already had the barrel in place and it was amazing to see him work.

I just loved the clothing that these two had on, but what got me were the red and green stockings on the man with his back to the camera. If you can see his hat feathers, he has a red one on the top on the same side as the red stocking and a green one on the same side as his green stocking. I don't know if it was significant or not and the two were deep in conversation so I didn't want to interrupt.

This was a shot of the clothing vendor. The majority of clothing they had was made of linen and the information from the farm said that they raised flax to spin into linen. They also had a bunch of reenactors spinning, doing needlework, and cooking up an onion skin dyebath for some wool yarns. They had soap making, papermaking, children's clothing (much of the lower end clothing was made by machine which, of course, was not period), cabinetry, a blacksmith, pottery, and toys.

Here's another shot of the clothing vendor and the women working in the stall. There were quite a few people buying their clothing. It was fun to look but I did notice that they had quite a bit of Civil War looking era things. Prices were very reasonable on everything. I got a couple of repro hair combs and a couple of hair pins and pheasant feathers that I can use for Civil War era dress at the Milliners booth.
They also had food available, chicken that was cooked on the spit as well as sausages cooked in this monster skillet and served on brown paper. Everything was done using period tools and techniques, however the beverages still had to be in plastic containers. I guess they had to make allowances for some things. We decided to wait and eat later, but the food looked and smelled delicious.
Though this park is privately operated, we got our National Park Passport Stamp there. Click on the link above for more information. It is really a fascinating place.

Our next stop after lunch was at the Manassas National Battlefield Park. This is where Thomas Jackson earned the nickname "Stonewall". We got there kind of late in the afternoon and had missed the demonstrations they'd done, but we'd been to this park many times already so were weren't too disappointed. Our Passport Stamp list had two additional stamps now at this site so we were on the hunt. We bought our year NP pass here as there was an admission fee and were on our way outdoors. This is the statue of Stonewall overlooking the area where his troops fought so bravely. There were two big battles on this land.

This farmhouse is where the reenactors were and the artillery and musket demonstrations were held but they had already finished prior to us getting there. We made our way to the Stone House after finding out that there was a stamp to be earned there. We had never been inside the House because it's open very limited days and hours.

This beautiful home is the Stone house. The battlefield is a grassy and beautiful island of unbuilt land in an area that is being developed by the minute. This house is a landmark in the area and had been mentioned in many diaries of the Civil War. Unfortunately as we were driving up and parking another couple let us know that the staff had closed the house at 4 and locked up so we got there just a moment after it closed. It felt like the movie "Vacation" when they drive for days and get to Wally world and it's closed. We don't live that far away, we'll come back another weekend for our stamp and the other one at this park that we're missing. :)

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