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The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com

Costumes and Kunekune pigs

I was very excited when the intro guide to our cottage for our Sew & Eat Historical Retreat said that we could put all the food scraps in a bin for the pigs. I’m always a fan of anything that keeps food out of the rubbish (food waste is a huge contributor to climate change – food rotting without air creates carbon).

I was even more excited when we arrived, and it turned out that the pigs were pet kunekune pigs, not farm porkers destined for the slaughterhouse. And we could feed them and pet them!

The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com

Happiness!

Kunekune pigs are descended from domestic pigs that were brought to New Zealand from Asia by whalers or traders in the early 19th century. They are now a unique breed of their own, from isolation, or crossbreeding, or because the breeds they descended from have since gone extinct (as has happened with so many breeds of domestic farm animals in the last 200 years).

Kune means plump in te reo Māori, and when you double up a word in Māori, it doubles the meaning, so kunekune means really plump – fat and round and roly-poly. And that’s definitely what kunekune pigs are!

In addition to being adorably round, kunekune have thick bristle coats, little dangly wattles hanging from their lower jaw, the sweetest smiles, and absolutely adorable personalities. They are particularly sweet, chilled, friendly, pigs. They make fabulous pets, but don’t make particularly good eating pigs.

They are quite small as a pig breed goes (topping out at 200kg compared to the 400kg that many farm breeds reach), and take a long time to come to their full size (2-3 years, compared to 6-12 months). In modern farming the goal is to get your animal as big as possible as fast as possible.

As farmers focused on better yields in the post WWII era, and traditional Māori farming became less and less common, kunekune pigs fell out of favour. By the late 1970s they were almost extinct, with as few as 50 left. A couple of conservationists, including the man behind Staglands here in Wellington, noticed that the breed was at risk, and gathered all the purebreeds they could find, and rescued the breed.

They were much luckier than many breeds: dozens of varieties of pigs across Europe (and I think, Asia, though there is less information on that) disappeared in the 2nd half of the 20th century, as farming became standardised and farmers focused on ultimate yields and animals that could withstand large scale industrial farming operations, rather than animals bred for the specific weather and land conditions of their area. The same thing happened to huge amounts of plant and animal varieties, severely impacting the diversity of agricultural varieties.

Today kunekune pigs are super popular as pets on farms and lifestyle blocks, both here in NZ and overseas. I met my first kunekunes when I was first in NZ as a student. We stayed at a backpackers in the Far North that had a litter of piglets during the term break. Pretty much the cutest thing you’ve ever seen!

Fully grown kunekune aren’t quite as cute, but they are still pretty wonderful. The two on our farm were named Bert & Ernie. They had a huge lovely lush paddock to root around in (kunekune are possible the only true grazing pigs that can survive on grass alone, like a sheep or cow), trees and a barn to shelter in, and were pretty much pigs in clover.

Despite all the grass, they were delighted to be fed additional treats, running across the paddock to their trough if you beat on the food bucket.

We fed them at the start of one walk, and left the bucket hanging on a holly tree.

The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com

We came back to get it later in the day, and Miss Priscilla decided she wanted to see the piggies again. So she beat on the bucket, and the boys rushed out of the barn and across the paddock, eager for another round of goodies.

The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com

(just look at that happy piggieface, sure it’s about to get a treat!)

But of course, there were no treats, just an empty bucket!

The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com

And some sad, sad piggies…

(just look at that disappointed face, wondering where its treat is!)

The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com

So after teasing Priscilla mercilessly for being horrible and deceitful, we had to go back to the cottage and cut up a couple of apples for Bert and Ernie, and then trot back up the lane and feed them so they wouldn’t think we were awful and untrustworthy…

The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com

And then we got to feed them properly, and I got to give them scratchies and snuggles.

The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com

Spending time with a pig breed that has been in NZ since the (late) Regency era while wearing Regency clothes seems quite appropriate, even if the fashions and the pigs never interacted in their own time.

The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com

Also, the piggies were just so cute and lovely!

The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com

Happy piggies, happy me!

The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com
Day dress, ca. 1867, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art C.I.40.164.1a–c

Rate the Dress: Brilliant Blue & Ridiculously Big Skirts

I’m back on schedule with Rate the Dress this week, but still feeling blue – or at least that blue is the right hue for Rate the Dress!

This week we go from all the subdued evening blues of last week’s tea gown, to a brilliant blue 1860s number, with equally exciting (if quite different) sleeves. How will it fare in comparison?

Last Week: a 1910s Worth tea gown

Generally you felt that a dress by ultimate design house (albeit one in decline), purchased by a woman with all the money in the world at her disposal, should be good, and was.

There were a few small niggles though. A number of you felt the dress was less than the sum of its parts. Beautiful in details, but the details didn’t add up right, or were too much altogether.

The Total: 9.3 out of 10

Almost perfection, but not quite…

This week: an 1860s day dress in bright blue

Since I’m still in the mood for blue, and not everyone was sold on last week’s muted hues, I present a very different blue: a vivid shade in keeping with the bright hues popular in the 1860s.

Day dress, ca. 1867, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art C.I.40.164.1a–c
Day dress, ca. 1867, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art C.I.40.164.1a–c

The bright colour might be one of the fashionable new aniline shades: bleu de Lyon or bleu de Paris perhaps. It might also have been dyed with indigo. Most of the early aniline blues were either lighter, or very purple. It wasn’t until the 1890s that a successful synthetic alternative to indigo was invented, and consequently indigo remained a popular and heavily utilised dye long after coal based aniline dyes had replaced many other natural alternatives.

Day dress, ca. 1867, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art C.I.40.164.1a–c
Day dress, ca. 1867, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art C.I.40.164.1a–c

The dress is a very fashionable late 1860s day dress, with an enormous skirt, just beginning to have its fullness focused towards the back, anticipating the first bustle era.

Day dress, ca. 1867, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art C.I.40.164.1a–c
Day dress, ca. 1867, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art C.I.40.164.1a–c

The comfortably loose (or oddly bulky, depending on your feelings about 1860s fashion) sleeves are topped with short, full puffs, their volume and width serving to balance the full skirt, and emphasise the narrow waist and dropped shoulders.

Day dress, ca. 1867, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art C.I.40.164.1a–c
Day dress, ca. 1867, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art C.I.40.164.1a–c

The smooth silk of the dress allows us to see the line of stitching holding the very deep hem. The large facing helps the wide skirt to sit smoothly over its hoops, and pprovides some protection as it sweeps the ground.

Day dress, ca. 1867, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art C.I.40.164.1a–c
Day dress, ca. 1867, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art C.I.40.164.1a–c

The dress primarily relies on its striking hue, and the cut of the sleeves, pleats of the skirt, and points of the bodice, for visual interest. The only other bits of ornamentation are the large buttons (probably metal), and the small ruffle of lace framing the narrow collar.

Day dress, ca. 1867, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art C.I.40.164.1a–c
Day dress, ca. 1867, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art C.I.40.164.1a–c

What do you think? Is it beautiful, or boring?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

A reminder about rating – feel free to be critical if you don’t like a thing, but make sure that your comments aren’t actually insulting to those who do like a garment.  Phrase criticism as your opinion, rather than a flat fact. Our different tastes are what make Rate the Dress so interesting.  It’s no fun when a comment implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with it, or who would wear a garment, is totally lacking in taste. 

(as usual, nothing more complicated than a .5.  I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment, so I can find it!  And 0 is not on a scale of 1 to 10.  Thanks in advance!)

The NZSEHR 2019 in 1360s Medieval gowns thedreamstress.com

The 2nd Annual NZ Sew & Eat Historical Retreat

After the success of the 2018 NZSEHR, with food, and sewing, and pretty, pretty pictures, the Wellington historical sewing ladies decided we definitely needed to do it again in 2019.

So we picked a sewing theme, and booked the adorable cottage we had last year, and spent our year sewing and planning and dreaming.

And, once again, disaster struck – although this time the disaster was limited to us, and didn’t shut down the whole city!

Instead of an overturned truck closing down the main road, the cottage had to cancel our booking, leaving us scrambling to find a suitable place at short notice, on one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Happily, we found another cute cottage to rent. This time instead of heading up highway 1, along the Kapiti Coast, we headed out to the Wairarapa on highway 2, crossing the Rimutaka Hills, hitting Featherston (where the Time Travellers Ball was held) and turning towards the sea and driving down along between the hills and Lake Wairarapa.

We were sad to loose the place we stayed last year, because it was so lovely, but our new cottage, and the locale, turned out to be fabulous in their own right.

I’ve never seen Lake Wairarapa, or spent any time in that area of the Wairarapa. The lake wasn’t much to see: it’s shallow, muddy, and, unfortunately, heavily polluted; but the landscape was gorgeous. Marshes and swamps along the lake, with black swans by the dozens. And old growth forests, with ancient kowhai trees just at the end of their springtime blooms, dripping in a glory of yellow blossoms.

Nina and I drove along in a chorus of “ooooh, look!” sticking to a tranquil country pace and being altogether much more relaxing than last years white knuckle mountain traverse!

Plus being on a farm was fun: sheep and cows to watch, and pet piggies to feed, and so many birds. We saw more native kererū (NZ Bird of the Year 2018) than I see in a year in Wellington, and fantails, and eastern rosella, quails and pukeko, and even a rūrū (Morepork – the tiny native owl), which I have never seen in the wild.

There were walks to go on, a river to hang out by, a reserve of old trees, and history to explore. The family that owned the farm had been there since the 1840s, and it was wonderful to feel a part of their history for the weekend. The cottage we stayed in was an old farmworkers cottage, probably built in the 30s or 40s, and expanded and renovated.

It was all so gorgeous, and I took SO many photos. Here’s some highlights, featuring Nina of Smash the Stash, Eloise of Linen and LiningHvitr of Historical Living and Priscilla-who-doesn’t-have-a-blog. Sadly Zara wasn’t able to make it.

Saturday:

The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in Regency thedreamstress.com

Sunday

The NZSEHR 2019 in Augusta Stays thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in Augusta Stays thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in Augusta Stays thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in Augusta Stays thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in Augusta Stays thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in 1360s Medieval gowns thedreamstress.com

Sunday evening

The NZSEHR 2019 in 1360s Medieval gowns thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in 1360s Medieval gowns thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in 1360s Medieval gowns thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in 1360s Medieval gowns thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in 1360s Medieval gowns thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in 1360s Medieval gowns thedreamstress.com
The NZSEHR 2019 in 1360s Medieval gowns thedreamstress.com