I posted a link to . ... First let me say I agree that cotton garb IS just fine, though my whyMessage 1 of 21 , May 1, 2006View SourceI posted a link to
> I so wish I had read this article three weeks ago. I only just joinedGillian Tedcastle wrote:
> the,SCA and so far I have made all the mistakes, I. . .used cotton
> thinking it is a "natural fibre".
> Your cotton is fine! Really! I see cotton all over events in my homeFirst let me say I agree that cotton garb IS just fine, though my "why"
> Kingdom of Trimaris. Why? Because it's a natural fiber that
> breathes in our extreme heat.. . .cotton was also used somewhat in
would be "because the SCA leaves it up to each individual to determine
what's appropriate, based on his or her personal interpretation of its
few rules." Corpora <http://sca.org/docs/govdocs.pdf> states (1) that
SCA events are intended to evoke the atmosphere of the pre-17th century
European Middle Ages and Renaissance and (2) "[a]nyone may attend
Society events provided he or she wears an attempt at pre-17th century
clothing". I, personally, believe that "attempt" means "try your
best", and that if I'm going to be part of something meant to evoke a
historic atmosphere I should do what I can to help evoke it. For both
those reasons, I use the closest thing to period fabrics available to
me, as well as the closest thing to period construction and decoration.
But it IS a choice; you're free to make another one.
Because individuals' ideas about what's "period enough" vary so much, I
believe it's important for newcomers to have access to information
about real medieval clothing that they can use to come to their own
conclusions. Here are a few facts related to the "cotton issue" that I
think are important.
1) If authenticity is something you want to cultivate, the first thing
you need to know is that "period" is, hands down, THE most misused term
in the SCA. What's period for me (my persona "living" in Munster
between 850 and 950 C.E.) and what's period for someone with a
16th-century Venetian persona are COMPLETELY different, and picking
something from my era and something from hers and wearing them together
isn't period for ANYBODY. Silk is well-justified as trim for my
léinte, but it is extremely unlikely that I would ever have seen a
garment made entirely of it, much less that I would own one. So, while
silk is classed as "a period fabric", a silk dress wouldn't be
authentic FOR ME (at least if I was dressed for my primary persona).
The fact that they had them in Venice 600 years later (or even at the
time) doesn't change that.
2) Linen and wool were widely used for all purposes through most of
Europe for most of the SCA millennium, so they're excellent choices for
first (or second) garb as well as likely choices for garb made by
experts. Cotton is period for a very limited selection of purposes, in
limited timeframes (hence Gillian's use of "somewhat" in her statement
above), so if you're trying to be as authentic as possible, you'll
avoid it for most garments. There's a good article on the European
adoption of what we now call cotton from The Costume Dabbler
<http://des.kyhm.com/cotton>. It might help you determine whether it's
period for you, and if so, for which portions of your wardrobe.
3) I can say, from personal experience, that linen is much cooler than
cotton to wear, so heat's not really an argument in cotton's favor
(unless you're comparing it to synthetics, which are further down the
"inauthentic" line, anyway). We don't usually have summer events in my
part of the world--temps run over 110 degrees Fahrenheit pretty
regularly, and we like to keep our fighters out of armor and the sun as
much as possible--but even spring and autumn events can be startlingly
hot here. (We hit 100 degrees a couple of times at the end of April,
this year.) Linen doesn't just "breathe"; it stays cool. I'm sure
there's a scientific explanation for it, though I don't happen to know
what it is.
One final comment: There have been a couple of times when cotton WAS
the closest thing available to me, on short notice (I almost always
have to mail order my linen and wool). You can only do the best that
you can do. So, even if you share my interpretation of the spirit of
the rules and want to make your next set of clothes out of something
else, you should wear your cotton clothes with pride. . .they were the
best that you could do with what you knew when you made them, and doing
your best to respect the spirit of the Society is certainly nothing to
be embarrassed about. Similarly, if you're one of the small fraction
of people who are allergic to all wool and the tiny fraction who are
allergic to flax (poor thing!), or if you have to choose your fabrics
from the bargain rack at your local fabric store because you can't
afford anything else (been there), keep using the cotton broadcloth and
be proud that you have done your personal best. NOBODY has done more.
(I should mention, for those whose main restriction is monetary, that
my brat is made from a lovely burgundy wool "remainder" that I got for
about US$2.00 per yard on e-bay; sometimes, investing a little time and
effort can take the place of investing a lot of money. Even US$6.50
per yard for linen--the average full price at
<http://fabrics-store.com>--isn't bad, as fabric prices go.)
Whatever your eventual personal decision about fabric is, I hope you
enjoy making and wearing your garb, and don't let worry over what
others will think of it detract from your enjoyment of events. Welcome
to the Society!
Barony of Bryn Gwlad
Kingdom of Ansteorra
... There is a scientific reason. The difference is in the physical structure of the staple that the yarn is spun from, and the air pockets/spaces trappedMessage 1 of 21 , May 1, 2006View SourceCoblaith Mhuimhneach wrote:
> Linen doesn't just "breathe"; it stays cool. I'm sureThere is a scientific reason. The difference is in the physical
> there's a scientific explanation for it, though I don't happen to know
> what it is.
structure of the staple that the yarn is spun from, and the air
pockets/spaces trapped within the yarn.
Linen is a plant that produces a long, thin series of cells stuck to
each other on their respective short ends, one on top of the other.
These smooth fibers run up the length of the stalk of the plant. Bast is
what you get when all the un-useful bits are removed from those
cellulose strings-- and that's what's spun into linen yarn. Bast can be
as short as a couple of inches and as long as 12 feet (yeah, that's 12
FEET, as in almost four full meters) in the case of some hemp-produced
bast. Linen is spun by selecting just enough fibers to get the width of
thread you want; its coolness is caused by two physical characteristics:
there is very little trapped air inside the thread, and linen tends to
quickly evaporate any trapped moisture from the wearer's skin. It is
the evaporation that causes the cool effect.
Cotton is produced from the fluff of a flower pod surrounding a set of
very tenaciously-fastened seeds, and up until the invention of the
cotton gin, cotton seeds had to be hand-picked out of the staple at
great cost because of all the labor involved. Cotton staple is usually
around 25mm or 1/4 inch to around an inch/roughly 1cm in length. Because
of its short length, cotton is spun at a very high twist to maintain
cohesiveness. It feels 'fuzzy' to the touch when compared to linen yarn
because of all those little short bits sticking out of the thread.
There's also minute amounts of trapped air inside the thread; long
staple cottons feel cooler to the touch than short, which is a mark of
quality. Cottons absorb moisture, they don't evaporate it like linen.
So there you have it.
And the reason linens get softer and smoother with age and use is
because with laundering and ironing, you end up polishing the surface of
those long slender cells. Throw it in the dryer and spoil the whole
effect-- instead, pull your linen garment out of the washer and HOT iron
it dry with a heavy hand; the steam from the damp fabric will press
right out together with any wrinkles the washer dared to leave.
Linen is the queen of fabrics next to the skin, even better than silk, I
... thing ... term ... together ... while ... persona). Well said. You saved me from having to say it, and you probably said it in a way that was moreMessage 1 of 21 , May 1, 2006View Source--- In SCA-Garb@yahoogroups.com, Coblaith Mhuimhneach <Coblaith@...>
> 1) If authenticity is something you want to cultivate, the firstthing
> you need to know is that "period" is, hands down, THE most misusedterm
> in the SCA. What's period for me (my persona "living" in Munstertogether
> between 850 and 950 C.E.) and what's period for someone with a
> 16th-century Venetian persona are COMPLETELY different, and picking
> something from my era and something from hers and wearing them
> isn't period for ANYBODY. Silk is well-justified as trim for mywhile
> léinte, but it is extremely unlikely that I would ever have seen a
> garment made entirely of it, much less that I would own one. So,
> silk is classed as "a period fabric", a silk dress wouldn't bepersona).
> authentic FOR ME (at least if I was dressed for my primary
Well said. You saved me from having to say it, and you probably said
it in a way that was more interesting than I would have.
I'd like to add that when it comes to cotton, even putting aside
serious questions of authenticity and where and when did they use it,
I observed something interesting a while ago. I was doing a survey
of early period garb documentation on the web and noticed that there
are lots of living history groups that have sample pictures of garb
(especially tunics)on their websites that look way, way better than
the pics we see from the SCA. After studying this phenomenon
closely, I determined that the ones with the great looking pictures
were the groups that required linen or wool for tunics.
The reason for this is that cotton has a stiffer drape (doesn't hang
in soft folds) than wool or linen. If you make a tunic out of wool
or linen, it will hang on your body like the tunics pictured by
medieval artists. If you make a tunic out of cotton, it will (for
the most part) hang on your body like a starched Victorian pinafore.
It really is quite noticable. Not all cottons do this, but the
majority will. Exceptions might be gauzes and soft twills. Some
other really fine cottons also drape well, like Indian cottons.
Amazingly enough, about the time that most researchers think cotton
was starting to become more common in Europe (somewhere around the
late 1400's) you will find that garb made from cotton looks more like
the pictures than earlier period garb made from cotton does.
... From: Ciorstan There is a scientific reason. The difference is in the physical structure of the staple that the yarn is spun from,Message 1 of 21 , May 2, 2006View Source----Original Message Follows----
From: Ciorstan <ciorstan@...>
There is a scientific reason. The difference is in the physical structure of
the staple that the yarn is spun from, and the air pockets/spaces trapped
within the yarn.
Wow that was interesting and informative! Thank you so much for sharing. I
love when learning something new everyday is fun.
Lady Ah'reylia della Cava (2-11-06)
Chatelaine - Incipient Canton of Westmere (1-6-06)
House of Sable Raven (7-8-05)
The "Bad" Apprentice to Enid D'Auliere (1-6-06)
If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself.
What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us. ~ Herman Hesse