It looks like the worst of the pandemic is behind us. As from Monday shops start to reopen and over the next couple of months we will gradually get back to some sort of normal – which means that we will soon start to see re-enactment events resuming. With that in mind it’s time to make sure we’re ready by checking all the kit is in order.
Normally we’d check over everything following the last event of the season but we weren’t expecting our first event of 2020 to also be the last, and it’s good practice to check before both and after anyway.
The first job will be to set up our tents and the living history equipment. During a busy season we usually find a few of the guy ropes fray or break, and the tent pegs often need replacing. We also need to check the canvas isn’t showing any signs of wear and if it is we need to patch and reinforce so it will survive another season.
The furniture we use needs checking for splinters and rough edges, those need to be sanded for safety and everything needs to be thoroughly cleaned and waxed or oiled. The same goes for the plates and dishes.
We have a few furs that we use in the living history display. Having them cleaned professionally is expensive and actually damages the fur, but we can give them a careful brushing and use a steamer to remove dirt and smells.
Then it’s on to the various craft projects, they tend to get all shoved into the closest basket and end up muddled together so it’s good to fully unpack and make sure everything is grouped together as it will be used and that nothing is missing. It’s good to discard all the bits that have totally stalled and all the scraps and offcuts that are too small to be much use. Pins and needles have a habit of disappearing or getting roped in to other projects, and I usually need to replace at least some. I will need to trim and comb some more wool so I have enough prepared for a day or so of hand spinning.
The cooking supplies need to be checked, while herbs and spices were very expensive for the vikings we can afford to replace them if they’re getting a bit stale and to top up the ones that have been used.
Of course we need to check all the weapons and armour too. As described in our previous blog post on weapon maintenance any patches of rust need to be treated, anything loose needs to be tightened. Bow stings need to be checked and possibly replaced. Sheilds might need recovering, repainting, re-edging or even replacing depending on how much damage they’ve taken.
Anything leather needs cleaning and conditioning, straps and thongs might need replacing if they are badly worn.
The soft kit (clothes) should also be checked, any frayed threads should be trimmed, holes should be darned or patched, anything that doesn’t fit properly can be adjusted. A reinforced neckline and the addition of some nice trim can totally revitalise an old tunic.
With all of this the aim isn’t to make everything look like it’s new, a bit of wear and tear adds character to kit but you don’t want anything to fail when you need it and a bit of timely mending can avoid having to buy replacements.
Checking everything also provides a chance to decide on what things to make or buy next, because there’s always something new to try when you get into viking re-enactment.