Friday, August 29, 2008

iron age shoes: a tutorial, sort of

EDIT march 2011: due to tons of comments (over at on the historical correct period for this shoe, i've changed the name from 'viking' to 'iron age' shoes. i've also closed the comment section here, due to spam.

this is an attempt to make a tutorial for making your own iron age/viking shoes. i don't have a pattern for these; i learned to make them by using my own foot as a template. therefore, all the measures given here are highly approximate. if your foot diverges a lot from mine (size 39, long and narrow/slender), some sewing experience might come in handy. that said, there's no reason to be too specific in making these. as you can see, the 'laces' can be loosened or tightened to fit, and the basic idea is really very simple.
the picture above is of my own, good old shoes, made in 1997. i always use them with these thick, felted socks inside; to me, they're part of the shoe. they are soft, comfy and i simply love them. based on my original 11 year old, several times altered, water damaged drawing, i have made a kind of template as a sort of guideline - sort of. you'll find it at the bottom of this post. i had to scan it in two operations as it was so big, then paste the parts together on my computer, so this adds to the imperfection. you should go for the thick, black lines and not pay too much attention to the rest :)

by following the description, you should end up with something that looks like this (above. never mind the red dots in the picture - they will be explained later). the uncut shoe is my left foot (wrong side out), but the cut, dark one is my right foot shoe (right side out). (i'm sorry for the bad quality photos. i don't know what's wrong with my camera - the top photo was taken about two years ago; crisp, clear and fine. all the photos i take these days come out pale and grainy).

look through all the photos before you start drawing!
you start by purchasing some good leather about 2,5 - 3 millimeter thick. thinner than this will be like wearing a thin but stiff plastic cover on your foot. not good.
start with drawing a line around your foot.

then mark the center point under your forefoot; the part that you use to kick off when you walk. (wow. pay attention. more bad english will follow). using a ruler, draw a vertical line through this as shown.

draw another line under this one. using my foot as a measure, this will be approximately 2,5 centimeters below the first line. yours might be different, but take a look at where the line is placed on the foot; just below the big knuckle on the inside of your foot. the top line is just above it.
draw a line about 1 cm outside the foot line, around the toe area. omit the bumps (your toes...)
mark several points about 5,5 cm outside of this again. draw a line through the points (i forgot to do it at this point and did it later on, see below. it's hard making a tutorial; you have to think in logical steps instead of doing the messy thing you usually do!) .

draw the heel cap, about 2 cm wide and 4 cm long. mark three lines (the dotted red lines) - these points mark the end of the heel part (the bottom line), and also between the 'ears' that comes next (the two upper lines). again, there is little point in giving measures here, but look again at where the lines are placed on the foot. and remember it's all very approximately. the shoe can be made with both two or three 'ears'. these are made with three. if you're good at eye measurements (?), this step can be omitted completely.

here comes the free hand drawing. sketch up the 'ears' using a soft pencil. i have given measures here; again, only guidelines. i have marked the outer most point of the ears with red dots. you can (barely!) see here where the three lines from the previous photo are; in between the three ears, and at the end of the heel ear.

when you are happy with your drawing, make a more solid line.

the next step can also be omitted, but is helpful as a visual guide: using a ruler, draw a fan from the middle point of your forefoot to the line you made 5,5 cm outside your toes. in addition, you will draw lines in the 2,5 cm area below the toe area, as shown. this will be the 'fingers' that wraps around your toes. as you can see from picture #2, there is some space between some of the 'fingers' in the top section of the fan. there's no rules to this; the point is just to make them fit nicely around your toes. the only thing i would make sure of, is not to cut the fingers slimmer than 1 cm. but differing somewhat from each other in size is not a problem.

start cutting.

and here's why drawing the fan can be omitted (at least by me); you might just decide to ignore the lines while cutting. but they're good as a visual aid. cut he fingers up until the 1 cm line, as shown by the red dot at the tip of the knife.

cut the fingers so that they seem functional, with a little space between some of them. you might wish to round off the tip of the fingers just a little by cutting the corners, but this is optional.
in this picture, i have tanned the leather, rubbed it with beeswax, and punched holes in each finger, ear and along the heel cap(s). EDIT: i'm lying. there's no holes in the heel caps. go back to picture #2, click to enlarge, and use the red dots as a guideline to making the holes. i also realise that there's no pictures of the heel cap with string. i'll be back with that. EDIT: part 2 of this tutorial has been added here.

draw a leather string through the holes as shown here and in picture #1, and try the shoes on (preferably on your own foot :) )
the worst mistake you can make is cutting the length too short (too long is not a problem; just cut the heel to fit) or make the fan fingers too short so it won't wrap around your toes. if this is the case, sell them to someone with a smaller foot and try again :)

shoe tutorial; part 2

Friday, August 22, 2008

c'est arrivée!

a brown paper bag sent to us from becky an lolo in the uk.
inside, the much awaited laptop lunchboxes! (turned out i had made a mistake when ordering, so i got two instead of one. which was what i wanted, but i also wanted to just try one out before i ordered boxes for the whole family. well, so far i'm satisfied, only a bit worried about how long the lid and the 'lock' will last).
the kids were dead exited.
for all of pre school and for the first five years of school, my son had the most colourful, tasty and healthy lunches made by his dad. and then it just gradually faded; the time, the energy, the interest. they're still healthy, but dead boring. the main point with ordering these boxes is to inspire us; you have to be creative with all those little boxes. most lunchboxes you can get here have either just one room, or a room and a 'lid' to place inside so you get two. but nothing as fancy as this.
when reading the booklet that came with the boxes, i was really surprised - turns out, these are made not only to inspire halthy eating habits, but also to reduce waste. turns out, in the states (where these are produced), kids eat 'disposable lunches' (prepackaged foods) instead of lunchbox lunches. now that's weird. directly and indirectly, this blogging things gives me an unexpected closer look at american culture.

so this is our first try;
cous cous with chicken, apple, greens and bread (garlic cream cheese for her, peanutbutter for him). and for the first time ever the kids had white bread in their boxes (don't know what it's called in english, in norway it's called 'loff', but in our house it's called 'wheat, air and water' and that's the reason we don't eat it). in my defence, i should add that this is made of spelt/dinkel (don't know the english name for that either). the white bread was partly to celebrate the occasion (the kids are sooo tired of the same bread we've been baking for years), and partly because my son just had his braces adjusted and his teeth hurts a lot.
evaluation: not as fancy as these (there's also (of course!) a flickr group dedicated to these only), but a good start.

Monday, August 18, 2008

still according to plan

linen pants and dress, blouse made from old bed linens.
even though i love sewing, i've learnt most of it by doing and still am. i seldom make something without mistakes. like the dress: hurry hurry, new pattern, hm...seems so small... ah, the pattern says 'elastic fabric'. yup. let's put some extra ('wedge' shaped..?) fabric in there...
the blouse i made without a pattern, just by trying to copy one of my daughter's blouses. i didn't get it quite right, so i've bought a proper pattern. working on it. taking it real slow :)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

challenge in cooperative practice

girl: eagerly. boy: reluctantly.
girl: 'what's next?' boy: 'ah, finnished'.
girl: 'uh... yuck...' boy: 'mm, yummie, more please!'

Friday, August 15, 2008

grateful friday: my loves and a challenge

{picture from last year}

today i am grateful for a wonderful day with two of my loves. it had all the potential of being a horrible day, as 'a short trip to the mall' to get my son some new clothes before school starts on monday (the older they get, the harder it gets thrifting for them) turned into a 5 hour expedition in a mall i really dislike. a 5 hour hike would be less draining. walking from one end to the other takes forever, and you always have to do exactly that; walk from one end to the other. several times.

but we had some wonderful conversations today. and we made some decisions.

faced with a large amount of work this summer (and before), my husband and i have spent more time outside the house than in, seldom being at home together. our house is dirty, messy and we eat shit. or that would be; chicken with noodles, chicken with rice, take away pizza, chicken with noodles, pasta with pesto, chicken with noodles, take away chicken with noodles. organic, whole grain and raw veggies on the side doesn't really help much here. we're stuck.
we used to be health freaks regarding food. our son could say 'squash' before he could say 'granny', and ate raw garlic, olives and lentils like other kids ate hot dogs. we organized the first organic vegetable home delivery in our town. i used to be a veggie, for crying out loud. i know my greens!
then i got really busy with my studies, and grew tired of cooking. so my husband cooked for many years, then he got tired of it. then we got really busy working, had child number 2 who turned out to be challenging (...) when it came to food (she won't eat anything mixed, and only raw veggies), got even more busy working and gradually it just all faded and ended up with - chicken and noodles.

how embarrassing. i have no idea what we ate during all those healthy years.

so - with my husband out of town, faced with a sudden and large amount of time off from work, i first started sewing like crazy. then i cleaned the house, sewed, and cleaned again. then i tapped my fingers, removed the last bit of x-mas decorations from our front door (!), read some, noticed my kids (...) read some more, tapped my fingers again and then; went for the cookbooks. and it was sitting in my sofa, amidst all those (really dusty) books and with my children there, that i came up with 'the challenge'. i suggested we all engaged in challenging ourselves, stretching for something we found difficult, and supporting each other in it. my challenge would of course be to focus more on what we eat, and actually take the time to be bothered to try out new recipes. planning ahead, and also focus on the kid's school lunches. so i've ordered a laptop lunchbox to get us inspired, and if it turns out good, i'll order one for each of us.
my daughter's challenge is to try out new food combinations. she's a big girl now, and i've discovered that that's a really heavy weighing argument. i'll use it for what it's worth!
my son's challenge is a private one, but it's a good one both for him and for us. it'll bring about some quality family time where we'll sit together, draw, paint, write, doodle or whatever we feel like (and no, the point is not to make him a 'creative soul'!). so i'll be heading out for a sketchbook for each of us for just that purpose.
and now i just really, really hope that the whole thing won't slip away in the hustle and bustle of everyday life with too much work (which will be the case for some time yet) and too many other needs that has has to be met. i hope that involving my kids in this will help, and maybe also putting it out here.
and i'm really excited to see what challenge my husband will give himself when he get's back :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

according to plan (green skirt)

i told you i got carried away....

{skirt made of thrifted vintage bed linens}

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

the plan

i've had some time off from work lately, and look what happens.

i'm turning to my home again. this is just a tiny bit of a huge amount of fabric/scraps that i've been collecting for years, but seldom had the time to do anything about. now i'm planning to cut into the stash, and actually make something.

so i made this blouse/dress thing out of my grandma's old shirt. i'm not sure it will be my daughter's, as it is a teeny bit too small - it'll only last for a couple of months before she'll need wool underneath and that'll probably rip the whole thing.

but it was fun taking pictures, though.

i guess i got a bit carried away....

Monday, August 11, 2008

good things

friend staying the night.
being crafty together.
sweet life.

{thanks for the comments on my last post. i hope i didn't insult anyone. the questioning of motives was ment for me. i got some encouragement and a smack on my (norwegian) hands... }

Friday, August 8, 2008

ambivalence is my middle name

seems i have to figure out how to set the clock on my blog. the last post WAS written on friday, even though it says thursday. it was also my 101st post.
i've had this sneaky feeling you're supposed to do something at those round numbers, but what?? crafters throw giveaways, competitions etc. but this isn't really a crafty blog (and a competitions requiers competitors - at least, it would help...) so it made me think a little about this whole blogging thing. i'm pretty ambivalent towards it. so much fun, but on the other side, quite embarrassing. i can think of a number of people i would never, ever want to read this blog. it's private. and there's the paradox; a blog is basically an online diary. a public one! are we just indulging in self exposure, hoping, waiting to be seen? for those magical comments, the blogrolls?
but then there's the fun of reading blogs. the inspiration to be gathered, the good laughs, the fascination with other peoples lives in so different countries. and the wish to be part of this - this something.
i started this blog for three reasons; 1: i wanted to explore this (to me) new phenomena, because it fascinated me. i wanted to play. 2: i already had a crafty blog in norwegian, but i felt limited by the craft theme and the language. 3: i wanted to use the blog to try and help me sort things out in my life. i thought maybe i could find some sort of pattern after a while. i have too much education in too many (completely different) areas, am far too interested in far too many things, and i am paralyzed at all the opportunities in life - how can i pick just one path for myself and be content? impossible. so i use the elimination method; educate myself in all my interest areas until one of them stands out clearer than the rest. well, it's not happening. and it turns out, i have a hard time writing anything here, because writing in english is either bad english or taking forever. finding patterns or paths among a bunch of photos of my messy house is not leading anywhere. so.
i actually believe that writing a good old paper and pen diary in my own language would be far more helpful to me.
but then there wouldn't be colourful photographs. there wouldn't be other bloggers sharing their life. there wouldn't be laughs and inspirations. there wouldn't be embroidery, cool ugly retro fabrics, beautiful interior, groovy collages, stunning minimalist aesthetics, sweetness and kindness and tips and people who share your interests and..... it just wouldn't be as much fun.
so i'll go for post number 200 before i evaluate again.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

grateful friday: little helper

right now i am grateful that my daughter is taking such a big interest in all things creative, 'work' oriented. i tried to stimulate my son in that direction when he was younger, but he just wasn't interested - it almost became something negative, his surroundings wanting him to do, see, talk about etc things he himself was not interested in, even though i never felt that i pushed him. this one, on the other hand, has never been (consciously) stimulated like that - she's brimming with it from the inside out.

i tried to get some time to myself, cutting a new pair of leather viking shoes. but it's like playing solitude; you know it won't take long before someone's looking over your shoulder, eager to take over your play. annoying at first, but then, when i step back - ah. i am truly grateful for her enthusiasm.

Monday, August 4, 2008


sad to say, my rather newly (and proudly!) aquired embroidery skills weren't much of anything compared to the work of the women in gudvangen. (seems we were wrong, visty ; they did have time for more than just pillaging - most of the embroidery i saw was reconstructions of originals.. damn!).
i made this woolen mantle for sale before gudvangen.

can you see the runes missing inside of the dragon's body? can you?
i can.
but hey - one has to start somewhere! besides, i did discover their tracing paper trick. AND someone did buy my chainstich, rune missing dragon mantle :)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

body changes: silhouette

i guess i chickened out on the body changes theme that shelley inspired me to start.
so here you go; the silhouette of a chicken.

Friday, August 1, 2008

grateful friday: birdie mail

today i am grateful for this:
that i am able to buy beautiful handmade artwork from etsy every now and then, walk out the door and pick it up from my mailbox just down the street. i hope i will continue to do so. these birdies arrived some days ago, all the way from geninne in mexico. i think they're lovely! thank you, geninne! i have more of your birdies on my wish list.


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