There's always a big project, isn't there? This one, at least, involves needlework. Lots of it.
Last summer when I went to that event in Wales for 10 days, in addition to doing a ton of spinning and setting the foundation of my apprenticeship, I also got to try archery for the first time. Archery has turned into a love and an obsession over the last 10 months, and thanks to a ton of practice I'm becoming reasonably competent. I even went as far as buying a longbow back in March.
What this means, though, is that my spiffy new Viking clothing is All Wrong. One simply doesn't shoot an English longbow while dressed as a Viking. For a start, the tortoise brooches get in the way of the string. And one can never have too many spiffy outfits.
I'd been kicking around ideas for some English garb to go with my bow for a while, and over the last fortnight an Idea has coalesced. (Incidentally, making garb to match one's bow is a pretty sure indicator of an archery obsession.)
First I went to an event in Ireland and somehow ended up trying on the clothing of one of the gentlemen in attendance. (It was a strange and entertaining evening. Let's just leave it at that.) They fit beautifully, although the doublet was a little long in the waist, and were terribly comfortable. When asked, he remarked that they were mid-16th-century English. I'd been meaning to make some male clothing for inclement weather, so we agreed to swap skills so he'd learn knitting and spinning while I got patterns.
Then I went looking for evidence of what the string of my bow would have been made of so that I could make some. (Further evidence of obsession.) I found myself reading Toxophilus, which is the first English-language archery manual, published in 1545. Coincidentally, 1545 is the same year the Mary Rose went down. In addition to just being extremely interesting, archaeologically-speaking, the Mary Rose finds include the largest single body of pre-1600 archery equipment ever found.
I have the plans for clothing and I have the primary sources for how archery was done at the same point in history. So basically, I've decided that I'm going to kit myself out as a gentleman archer of 1545. Clothing from the skin out, all the archery accoutrements, new arrows, and a new bow. Because it turns out that my bow isn't actually appropriate for the clothing I'm now planning to make!