The Monk – Thoughts on a book

I know that the post you all want to read is about me and Lady Jen’s adventure at the ball at the Forks, trust me readers we are working on that. We had such a good time we want you give you the best possible review of the event.

In the mean time it’s October, and time for things to get spooky. So I thought I would share my thoughts on what I feel is one of the most whacked out creepy books ever written. It’s The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis in 1796.

Had this book been written today….forget that I am not sure out side of a self published e-book this thing would have ever seen the light of day.

Many of you know I am a fan of Gothic Lit. Not just from the regency era but also spanning into the Victorian is it a ghost or is it a killer in the attic sort of books. So it comes as no surprise that I would pick up The Monk and give it a read.

What did surprise me was just how dark, sexy, and off the wall nuts this book would be. FYI this may have some very light spoilers, so feel free to stop here. I promise though nothing I can write can fully share what a nutty wack job this book really is. Also this is not really much of a review but more of my own thoughts on this crazy book.

It starts with beautiful woman going to church. The town is taken with a young Monk who is everything a man of the cloth should be. We learn that he has been destined for such a life and folks flock to hear him speak. Things are going alright for this Monk until a mysteouse new Brother joins the order.

Things go down hill for everyone all at once at this point. Dark arts, ghosts, evil nuns, angry mobs, killers in a German forest and ghosts all show up. Some of this when I look back at it seems to be in the book for no reason. Like at all. At one point my mind was so blown I has to put the book down and look at the wall for a few moments.

Oh and once the end bit gets going the action and madness just gets kicked up. In bed one night his Lordship was confused as I looked up from the book muttering ” Well that escalated quickly…”

It’s one of those books that once you start it like or not you have to keep going. Also it’s something that once read can’t be unseen in the depths of your imagination. Personally I don’t know even now how I feel about it. Though I am glad I read it and if your up for something wicked and twisted you will be also. Lady Jen will attest that I bring up and promote this book every chance I get. Not sure what that says about me….

Oh and it’s free on Protect Gutenberg so super easy to pick up as an e-read.

So there you have it, The Monk my pick for an October read….if you dare.

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Lady Jen’s Sewing Goals for the Winter of 2013/2014

So the Season is finally over and with it comes the time to reevaluate my Regency closet and see what needs to go, what needs to be replaced, and what is still missing. At the moment I have three dresses, pink cotton print, blue cotton print, and the dark purple cotton voile.

The dark purple cotton voile dress is the one I wore to the Spencerville Ball. It’s one of my favourite dresses but it has a few problems that need to be worked out. The sleeves were a nightmare, something I mostly attribute to a) a flaw in the Sense and Sensibility pattern and b) rushing to get it finished in time. I have very little remnants of the fabric left but I am hoping to redo the sleeves or get rid of them altogether and wear the dress over top of a white muslin or voile dress.

Also at Spencerville I purchased some of the most gorgeous teal cotton that I want to make into a ball gown, but I am wary to use the S&S pattern as it has done nothing but frustrate me since I started using it. I was considered La Mode Bagatelle but I have no heard good and bad things about that pattern as well. So, although I have no pattern decided upon yet I will be using this nice black satin ribbon as the trim. It’s a striking combination and I can’t wait to see it complete!

The one thing I am really really REALLY in need of is a new pair of stays. The Frankenstays have finally bit the dust. I’ve worn them to at least 6 or 7 balls, and two very humid, sticky, reenactments. I’ve replaced the shoulder straps, the sides, added boning, added cording, got rid of the boning, etc. The fact that I was even able to get them to lift anything this past weekend in Chatham is amazing. And they are just plain hideous to look at! So my most current project is constructing a useable pair of stays that I can put on myself at reenactments, in a tent, standing at a 75 degree angle. With all those requirements in mind, I’ve decided to make the Daffodown Dilly wrap stays. Look for a blog post on that process in the coming month or so, as I will be documenting my process step-by-step.

Also this winter I will be making a few more shifts, and a bodiced petticoat! I think I’m going to be super busy this year but hopefully I can get it all done in time for March when the Living history Conference kicks off next season!

Dolls and Dress making

Fun fact it’s only been in the past year I have learned to read a pattern. You would think that after years of doing costuming stuff, both for theatre and for cosplay this would be something I would have learned a long time ago. I have only just learned to sew so patterns are newish to me. Up until now I have managed to get around both these things when working with fabric.

You see my Mother sews but mostly only straight lines. She also can’t read a pattern and when working on a project in the past we have a simple solution…and her name up to this point had been Barbie.

When ever I had wanted a costume that was fabric based, we would dig though the bin of Barbie clothing find an outfit that looked right and then flip the tiny clothing inside out. From here it would be a matter of using the outfit as a guid line with my Mother just cutting and pinning the fabric down on me until it fit. Yes it really was that easy. Or it was before I decided I wanted to go to a local Regency event.

You can’t seem to find a Regency Barbie. Trust me I tried. So we got a pattern and struggled though it. Though since most of the costume stuff me and my Mother have done is more theatrical then historical….annnnd I didn’t know at the time how into this I was going to be getting….we put Velcro in the back of the dress.

Yes Velcro, I will let all those with an eye for historic detail shutter. So yes I have a very lovely green dress that if I was to be in need of a quick change I could slip out fast. To be fair you can’t really tell unless you look close and with a spencer on top the dress looks fine. I wear it all the time still.

Up until recently I had called it “the Velcro dress”. That was about to change. With a doll who was very very far from Barbie.

This past weekend myself and Lady Jen were away to a reenactment and ball. (A full review will be coming very soon) GTRG friend Lady Kathy had asked us over and share some pleasant conversation. It was then that I related my story about dress making and Barbies. Lady Kathy thought that was very interesting and brought into the room her daughters American Girl doll. Who had a wonderful Regency set of outfits. Her suggestion was that next time me and my Mother should look into using this line of dolls in our costume creation.

These dolls are far bigger then a Barbie and are based on moments in history. They also come with a whole back story. If you in fact did wish to make a dress based off of doll clothing I would say look at this line. This was the first time I had seen one up close and her outfit very impressive, also with a larger size I would bet easier then the Barbie clothes to work with.

As Lady Jen picked up the doll and flipped it over she burst out laughing. Sure enough there in the back of the dress was a big strip of….yes….Velcro. After explaining what was so funny to Lady Kathy my Velcro dress was dubbed the “American Girl Dress”

I have a feeling that this name will be sticking.

The Long and the Short of it

So sometimes as we all know Real Life can take over and you can not seem to have a moment to get a breath. Most of August was like that for me as things picked up very fast at work. However I have been able to take some time off and have been re-charging. Also there have been a few odds and ends I have needed to take care of, one of them is a very much needed hair cut.

I have always been a bit funny about my hair. It was never something I learned to do anything with. Attempts were made off and on in middle school to very very little success. In high school I was involved with theater and hair was something you handed over to someone else. For the most part I have kept my hair a little longer then shoulder length. Though by the end of this summer it had grown midway down my back. This was as Lady Jen pointed out, a wonderful thing, as it would give me more then enough hair to put up for Balls and 1812 events. Over the past year it has done me very well for these types of outings. I even managed to learn how to pull it back into a bun! Over the summer I think I looked up more pictures of Regency hair then anything else. All of them for long hair many of them with steps on how to achieve the look. Booked marked and filed away for events in the fall.

It did however hit a point that as lovely as it was for events, it was getting to long. The final straw came when one night when this long mane was fanned out over the bed. His Lordship asleep rolled over on to it…then I rolled over. Needless to say it woke me up and I knew something had to be done. So on the first day I had off I drove over to the salon and had counted on getting a trim. Despite talking a big game about going short I had a very strong feeling that it would be nothing more then a trim, after all I still had all those events this fall.

For what ever reason as I sat down I told her to cut it short. In fact it it now the shortest I have ever had it. In side of 45 minutes it went from down my back to about an inch above my shirt collar. Happy and much lighter I set out to grab a coffee. Feeling great until I gave a bit of thought to all the Regency events coming up. As it stands right now I can barely get it pulled back let alone get it in a bun. Not a huge fan of dancing in a turban. What is a Lady to do?

I have been looking at pictures of Lady Caroline Lamb. Many of us know that she is the post girl for short hair during this time. After looking at pictures of her what I can’t work out is just how short her hair was un-curled. Could I just curl it all and push it forward? As for historic ways to do this is there a difference with paper curls vs rag curls other then the maternal used? Dose it even matter and should I just suck it up and turban it all?

So readers I ask you if you have any tips tricks or thoughts on this. I have a little under a month until the next big event and hope that it’s not a hair raising one.

Time Travelling on the weekends

This year I have been very lucky to get away for the weekend more then normal. I have always been someone that love to travel but more often then not they are much larger trips that require careful planing and coin in the bank. Something has changed this year and I find I am on smaller trip more and more.

Myself and His Lordship like to get in the car and take trips. As I write this we have just gotten back from an over night at a friends cottage. We drove up late and when we stepped out of the car both of us stopped to look at the stars. The day was spent swimming and reading by the lake. Lunch was a large communal affair with everyone pitching in. (well almost I was told to move a little out of the way, though to be fair you don’t want to eat my cooking…but I helped clear up after) and we sat down together. Sure we had a modern touches, but as for the motions themselves? It’s easy to think of the settlers in a free moment going for a dip. A city Lady up for the air reading her book, and all of them looking at the stars one clear night. As for lunch I think that’s an easy one to imagine folks doing. Something sort of wild to be able to drive out of the city and step into the past even if it is just the view.

As we drove home its was very easy to look back and see how full this summer has been! I have to say that Red Coats A Regency Wonderland, has been a great deal of help. Take a look, (they are on our blog roll) they offer info on all sorts of historic events. I hope they keep up the good work. They make time travel easy.

If you have been following us you may have read the re-caps of some of the fun Spencerville and Crysler’s Farm have both been blogged about. However I go back and read them and it always feels like I have left so much out. Maybe we just know how to really pack a full trip. Sooooo many full trips this year.

I would like to put a question out to folks reading this:

Did you go away and tap in with the past?

It could be something big like reenactment or something small like reading an old book. Post below and let us know if you time traveled this summer.

I have an 1812 problem

So as I have said in an earlier post sometimes my work life and my GTRG life sort of come together. I work in history and one of the ways things over lap is the War of 1812.

As I was cleaning my desk yesterday at work I found a very very full file folder in a bin. At first I was unsure what this was. Looking down I saw that the folder was in my 1812 bin. It was the a folder that had grown so large, so thick and so heavy that I had moved it over to a bin. In my hands was what I had thought would be a slim file when it all started.

So what was in the file/bin? Glad you asked. It currently holds almost every single news paper clipping about about 1812 that has come out in the past year, both history biased and event reviews. A photo copy of all the local men who took part in The Battle of York (will be writing more on that soon) and a very large very poorly photo copy of a surgeons journal. Oh and about a pound of random pages on different topics.

Some of it is highlighted, some of it I have no idea where or why I had collected it, and most of it has some sort of sticky note jammed on the front, with notes that mostly say “neat” and “you liked this” on them. A few of the clippings have my father’s writing near the header with his all caps letters reading “1812 FUN” or “MORE FOR YOU TO READ”.

So I put this out to you fellow GTRG’s, what do you think should be done with all of this? Sort? Scan? Keep and write up something? What would you do with a big old pile of info?

Fabricland, Sales and Cosplay

So this evening myself and Lady Jen took a trip to Fabricland. As the name would indicate this is a large store full of fabric. Once we had gotten there the most wonderful surprise found us…a sale. Moving though the store we chatted and picked up the odd bolt to get cut, and I looked for something just right. I was looking for something for a skirt for a costume and also something that I could use to make a pelisse. Something I think I need to work on is that I don’t really know that much about fabric. I mean I know what is cotton and what vinyl is like but it’s all the shades of in between. It’s also that I have a very little idea of what things should cost. To top it all off as I am just learning to sew so my concept of what is easy to work with is also a bit wonky. Slowly and with a handful of trips like this I am learning.

As I said above I was looking for something to make a skirt out of, the one I want to make is in the pic below.

This is what I am going for

For those of you who have read my earlier posts you know two things about me

1) That I love the BioShock games and dig the Elizabeth character (see above)
2) That if life was a video game I am currently a lvl 2 hand sewer

Now you may ask well what dose this have to do with you and being a GTRG? Glad you asked.

Costumes have always been something I have loved. Up to this point many of my costumes (out side of my regency gear) have been made from a mix of found clothing and molded foam floor mats. Many of these costumes are based on folks from sci-fi and video games. Today with the help of Lady Jen I am hoping to work on a video game costume that is more fabric then hot glue. The idea of getting into a costume is what brought me into the world of Regency to start with. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I got to dress up I never would have gone to my first ball, never found that I loved dancing…and above all else never would have meet my fellow GTRG’s.

Nothing in the world is quite like putting on something you have made yourself. Regardless if it is space armor or a ball gown. I hope that with the help of Lady Jen (and goodness knows I will need it) I can bring my skills one step closer to constructing more Regency clothing for myself. The goal is to learn some more and the make a pelisse mostly on my own.

As we got to the check out the woman behind the counter asked us what we were working on. Lady Jen began to talk about the new set of stays. The sales woman suddenly became very excited. She then launched into a story about making a corset for a Steampunk outfit. As it turns out she will be attending the same event I hope to debut my Elizabeth outfit at. While all of us are working on a different type of project it’s nice to be able to be part of such a broad community of creative costume-y folks, and to gain a skill set I may not have gotten had I never become a GTRG.