Trying to make local things that aren’t historical costume

IMG_5179I’ve started making many of the things I wear. Half a year into being back in my hometown, and starting to settle down and be inspired by this place, I want something local. You know, just like you can make things that look Icelandic, or Irish, or Estonian.

My first cardie was dark and with anchors, that seemed obvious enough. But not that local, not that obvious.

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There is a way a house is obviously from here. So why not something you wear?

So I started to look for local patterns I can incorporate, and not finding any.

I was thinking of ganseys, a tradition of fisherman’s sweaters from other fishing towns. So I started asking questions in the old fishing village. I was well placed for that, spinning on my spinning wheel one evening in the Heimatmuseum, the local history museum.

Of course I talked to the leader of the local costume group. She wasn’t able to help at all.

I talked to the local weaver, who has an amazing story. But no local patterns.

IMG_5324I started looking online at local costumes. There are always at least small bands of embroidery with visual references.

Yesterday I spent an afternoon with the lovely director of the lovely little local history museum of Warnemünde, the former fishing village on the mouth of the local river Warnow. I got books to take home. And I spent the evening reading about local dress. It was an education, also in local history, of course.

I’m still not interested in joining the local costume group. I would make and wear some local costume, but as commentary to the eternal question of tradition/change and beauty standards. Before the 19th century, the goal was to bulk out the woman’s shape. There couldn’t be enough skirts (7, on holidays) and folds of fabric around the stomach. Until the small waist came from the cities and the old was thrown out.

IMG_5325And to ask questions. Why exact period identified as traditional and to be brought back and and worn by the local costume group is 1860 and not, say, 1640. (Rhetorical question.)

Mostly I am working to the goal of ‘do people get the local visual reference’, rather than ‘is this historically accurate’. I do not like stereotype either though. People would get this, but my god it’s obvious.

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The only knitting I found was finely knit white monogrammed socks, to wear with the trousers that were laced at the knee. No nice shawls, because this was a port town and the shawls came from overseas. The same cashmere paisley shawls Queen Victoria loved. Patterns all generally of the time, but not much of the place. Oak leaves, flowers. Fabrics worn were woven out of wool, not knit, or maybe the knitting just hasn’t survived.

So I’ll keep looking and making my own charts.

My favourite item from the book was the happy days/sad days shawl. Fold according to mood and/or life events.

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