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Honour the Child

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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Last week we had the opportunity to attend a fabulous (and educational!) event.
(Sorry for the pun!)
The Knights of Valor came to a community nearby and we were able to spend the day in the medieval age (one of my favourites!0..

 The Knights of Valor are a jousting group, you may have seen their founder and some of the knights on History Channel's "Full Metal Jousting". These guys are the real thing... wearing authentic (mostly) armour and riding true war horses (large draft horses~ they were originally bred as battle horses, and only later, when mounted warfare with men in armour declined, became farm hands~ new fact to me!) and really hitting each other with lances.

The math was astounding.
A 200 pound man, wearing nearly 200 pounds of armour, on a 2000 pound horse, traveling at a 30 km/h canter and throwing all of that force behind an 11 foot lance of Douglas Fir to thrust at his opponent's chest.
Times two, since his opponent is doing the same thing.
The human heart can be stopped by 7 pounds of force.
These men are absorbing up to 600 lbs. of force.
Crazy, right?

The mind boggling rationale behind the sport aside, the knights were wonderful showmen, and also excellent educators.  They were truly chivalrous and kind with the children, while being engaging and full of knowledge about their time period.  They used demonstrations ~ for example, to demonstrate that swords were not terribly sharp, nor good for cutting they invited one brave lad to cover his arm in chain mail while the knight sawed at it with a real sword, to no effect.  Had he chosen to chop at the arm, the same sword would have crushed it (inside its mail).  The children were able to handle lances and battle axes and even to fire a trebuchet.

We were truly impressed with the quality of the day.
It began with a demonstration of birds of prey, followed by an exciting jousting tournament.
After lunch, the children cycled through 5 educational pods: war horse, the life of a knight, armour and weaponry, weapons of siege and birds of prey.

The highlight for Rowan was being chosen Queen of the Royal Court.
Children had been encouraged to come in costume.
Rowan wanted to be a knight, but not a boy.
Fair enough.
By combining a girl's over-tunic with a knightly cape, belt, cowl and sword we made it happen.

When the knight in charge of choosing the court announced that the queen was a girl with a warrior's heart, Rowan's face lit up with hope... and she proudly took her seat on the Queen's throne and accepted the crown for the duration of the jousting performance.
I was almost in tears, so happy for my girl to see herself as strong and capable and to have the crown to prove it.

We came home bursting with facts like:
+ The sword was actually a poor weapon for a mounted soldier, unwieldy and ineffective from horseback, but it was chosen as the emblematic weapon of the knighthood because of its shape.. that of the cross.. at a time of Crusades and other religious warfare.
+ A woman could be a knight if she was the eldest daughter of daughters, there being no male to inherit a title~ she would train and earn her spurs just like the men. Although she wouldn't fight in wars, she would lead her men and fight in defense of her home. She would be titled 'Dame'.

And the fact that no matter how true you want to be to a historical period, there still may come a time when nothing but duct tape will do the job.... ♥
Knights of Valour tour throughout North America, so be sure to check out their site for upcoming shows.
Monday, 4 June 2012
This post is a reprint from last summer, but since we have taken out our hooded towel from last year and found it in need of replacement, I thought it was time to share this one again (while you might snag beach towels on sale!).
A hooded towel poncho has been on my to-do list for a while now... living by the lake we spend our summers by the water and always need a warm, dry towel for shivering  kids.  As much as I love to cuddle my chilled little girl in my lap, all wrapped in a towel, the fact is that she is getting big and I am getting wet!

tutorial, towel, beach, pool, summer, poncho, hooded, hoodie, terry cloth, make, pattern, instructions, diy
 When I found beach towels on sale this week, I snagged a couple.
After combing through various patterns and tutorials, not finding quite what I wanted, I struck out on my own.
Here is what I came up with....
tutorial, towel, beach, pool, summer, poncho, hooded, hoodie, terry cloth, make, pattern, instructions, diy

Hooded Beach Poncho
Size 4/5T and up.
(you will have to adjust your material amounts for younger children)

  • a 30 x 60 (approx.) beach towel
  • a second matching beach towel or a hand or bath towel
  • scissors, thread, ruler
1) Fold your main (body piece) towel in half to create a front and back for your poncho (each approx. 30" long).
Measure your child's head circumference and add 2".
Divide this number by 2 to arrive at the length of head opening for your child.
I used a 10" long opening for my almost 6 year old and this was ample.
You can adjust this size later.
Make a small notch at the center of the fold.

2)  I chose to cut my towel in half along the width at the fold made in #1.  This allowed me to adjust the length slightly for a smaller child (by trimming off some of the length) and it created a more comfortable shoulder seam to keep the poncho from twisting during play/ wear.
Cut the towel in half width wise at the shoulder fold made in #1.
Sew up this seam, leaving an opening for the child's head (as calculated at #1).
Be sure to reinforce the edges of the opening with a few extra stitches.
try this piece on your child~ if the neck opening is much too large, sew it closed by the needed amount.
Set this body piece aside.

3) I used a matching beach towel to make the hood of our poncho, and will describe the cut below. You could also use a hand towel as is (no cutting).
Fold your second towel (beach or bath) in half width wise.
Cut a piece 10" wide, on the FOLD and through both layers to create a piece 10" x 30" when opened out.
The fold will create the top of the hood, the finished edge will be the sides of the hood along the face..

(Use the finished edge of your towel for this piece. Otherwise once you have made you cut, finish one edge by pressing under 1/4" and then another 1/4" and topstitching it securely.)
Sew up the raw cut edges of your hood piece (right sides together) to create the back of the hood.

4) Pin the open short ends of the hood piece into the body of the poncho matching the center seam with the notch you made in step one, and easing around the curves (right sides together).
When you finish pinning, you will have an front opening of a few inches
which will be finished in the next step.
Sew the hood and body together, stopping and pivoting as needed around the shoulder curves in particular.
You may want to return and reinforce where the shoulder seams meet the hood.

5) Finish the front neck opening.
before doing this, if possible, try the poncho on its wearer.
Your previous check on neck opening size should have reduced the opening sufficiently for easy on and off, but it may be a little small once the hood is attached.
If it does not slip on and off easily, cut a small (1/2 - 1") notch in the center of the neck front and finish this notch as part of the neck edge as described next.
Turn the raw edge under 1/4" and then again 1/4",
easing it to blend smoothly with the hood seam.
Topstitch in place.
I used a zigzag to catch up some of the eventual fraying that may occur.

At this point you have a completed poncho!
And this is where it gets fun... embellishing!

Since my daughter chose a leopard print, I decided to add a tail.
 I simply cut a length of the remaining beach towel (3" wide), folded the right sides together, sewed it up and turned it right side out.
I added a tail fringe by using a scrap of towel edging, slicing into it, rolling the piece and inserting into the tail tube. Hand stitch in place.

Attach the tail to the body of the poncho fairly high up to avoid tripping, snagging and tearing from being stepped upon!
 My attachment wasn't pretty, but boy, is it strong!
And knowing that my kid loves to collect rocks and shells and other bits, I also added generous pockets to the front by cutting out rectangles (4 x 5") from the finished edge of the towel (so the top of the pockets would not fray) and topstitching these in place on the front.
Simply roll the raw edge under, pin and sew, reinforcing the top corners heavily.

The only thing I forgot.... ears!

This is a very generous poncho for a small almost 6 year old and will likely fit her into her teens.
But it is cozy, fun and one of a kind... and she loves it!
And it TWIRLS!♥♥
{{The legal bits}}
You are welcome to make as many ponchos as your heart desires and give them or sell them.
Poncho your whole town!
Credit to the original author is always a nice thing ♥
The written instructions (text and photos) are protected and are the intellectual property of the author.
You cannot reprint, sell, reproduce this pattern without express permission.
©Lori Campbell/ Beneath the Rowan Tree, 2011.
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