Saturday, September 4, 2010

If Vikings had lived in Austin or Nashville

If Vikings had lived in Austin or Nashville, maybe they'd have had armor made of wool felt (like cowboy hats) riveted with pearl snaps (like western-style shirts.)

Here are loads of pictures of all of the projects that I have been working on for my son Badger's 7th birthday. I think that I've been working for about 2 1/2 months total. mostly mornings before he woke up and in little fits and starts while riding in the car or sitting in waiting rooms.

The first thing that I worked on was a large dragon. It is 18 inches tall and about 24 inches long. The fabric is a VIBRANT orange batik that I had in my fabric stash.

It has really lovely wings.

And a lovely smile. The crown just seemed right somehow. I cut a crown out of some red wool felt from the felt stack here at home, and embroidered it with yellow pearl cotton and red metallic embroidery thread - which was a bear to work with. Badger picked the colors for the crown and the gold mylar thread for the centers of the button eyes. He thought that I was making this dragon for his Grandpa Bob, who also likes dragons. This bit iof subterfuge was necessary as it was really hard to hide a large orange dragon. He was very generously making all sorts of design choices so that is Grandpa Bob would really like it. I fooled him.

Badger picked a button from the stash to make a center jewel for the crown. My husband, Matt, helped to remove the metal shank on the back and I glued it on with craft glue.

Badger received the dragon as well as a suit of knit chain mail (hood and hauberk) first thing in the morning. As you can see, he is still waking up. I found both patterns on Ravelry.

The new look for baby fashion this fall is apparently chain mail. With cloth diapers. This is Rose, not Badger.

Badger is not so sure about the look.

The chain mail hood (called a helmet in the pattern) is shaped with short-rows like a sock heel.

I had to make the neck of the hauberk larger because Badger has an enormous head to house his enormous brain.

I made a buckler-type shield for him - also out of wool felt.

Blanket stitched on the edge in pearl cotton. It just made it look less plain.

We used a large, heavy button from Germany for the center boss.

And it has both an arm and a hand strap. To be useful.

Next I worked on a helmet. Finding a pattern for a helmet that was even remotely realistic was impossible. So I made my own. Actually, I made two. The first one was for a 15th century helmet called a sallet. Because I was insane. The one in the Wiki image with the lobster tails was the original idea.

I made a pattern and then made a paper 3D model. It was ok, but it had buckling on the top, as well as flaring at the bottom. This was an issue. I knew that the wool version would do the same thing. Wool felt does not lend itself to a fairly round smooth look without seams - not so smooth in that case. I could have blocked and steamed it, but I knew that I was going to have an inner layer with heavy interfacing which would not be as malleable as the wool.

I asked around for help with the geometry of the thing, and was put in touch with an armorer that knits. Can you beat that for cool? He was a big help, and his suggestions let me know that there would have to be many more seams than I wanted.

So I looked for something still a little complex, but easy enough for my simple head to figure out. I took a lot of measurements of Badger's head, and added a bit for ease and room to grow. Then I sat with pencil, large eraser and a load of drafting tools and came up with a second pattern. I found some images of the Gjermundbu Viking helmet and someone else's metal version of what it could have looked like. I chose for safety to omit the top spike. My brother sent a link to a Swedish museum pattern for a Viking 6-panel hat. I adapted it using Badger's measurements for a 4-panel helmet. I had two days total to do the helmet, including Badger's birthday itself.

The back had a chain mail piece, so I knitted more mail.

We used pearl snaps instead of rivets. The backs of these are all covered in interfacing and more felt - so no metal bits touch skin.

The outside layer of the helmet by itself.

The inside layer had 2 layers of very stiff and heavy interfacing. I didn't want his helmet to crease or dent.

It looked like a small tent when it was done.

Next came all the hand stitching. The bottom rim is attached to the inside and outside separately. Then the mask part was attached on the inside and outside with invisible ladder stitches. I had whip stitched it in pearl cotton beforehand. The top straps cover the seams and reinforce the helmet . Side pieces are attached with more pearl cotton, using a figure-8 stitch that looks like a herringbone pattern.

The top of the helmet. The pieces were also attached with simple whip stitching.

Happy boy received his helmet after dinner. I also cooked special Gluten-, Dairy-, and Soy-Free cupcakes and a layer cake with homemade chocolate icing. And brown rice and sorghum pancakes for his dinner - he requested pancakes, bacon and eggs for his birthday.

Yes, I am completely out of my mind.


Mette said...

It sure is a perfect gift for a seven-year old. And the viking helmet is gorgeous.

Krista Grothoff said...

It looks simply AWESOME.

Nothing wrong with being out of one's mind - your kids know you love them, and *they will remember this*.