Yarrow for ale

Yarrow is one of many herbs that were used in beer during medieval and earlier times, before the domination of hops. As always close to none recipe with proportions can be found, so we have to experiment.

During a walk me and some brewing inclined friends happened to find some yarrow and of course we decided to make a first test. We took 3 gram of the flowers and 0,75 liter of water and boiled it for an hour. Every five minutes we tasted it. We have done a lot of similar tests with for example bog myrtle. The same proportions of herb and water with that gave a very distinct taste after fifteen minuts (our notes says “a punch in the face with bitterness”). This time we got almost no taste. Maybe in the end of the hour we got a hint of flowery taste, but no more. Probably we need a lot more yarrow or the back in the days used it in a another way. More tests will probably follow.


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Marco Docciolini 1601 Fencing treatise-handout

Below is a handout from a class on Docciolini that I have held a couple of times.

This is a Florentine manual, so much in the system, as well as words and concepts are similar to contemporary manuals.

Words and concepts

Braccio (plural braccia): Florentine unit of measure, 58,3 cm. Corresponds to approximately one-third of a contemporary man’s length, as well as the length of a normal step for that man.

Punto: Where you aim and usually attack. Most often the opponent’s right shoulder.

Sfalsata:  Change of line with the sword. In other manuals sometimes called cavare or cavazione.


Picture of his footwork

This is the only picture in his manual and it explains his footwork.

The radius of the inner circle should be a braccio, the outer two braccia.

Dirittura: The line from point A to point C.
Traverso: The line from A to E, A to G, respectively.  Notice that are two (right and left).


The feet should usually be a braccio apart, the steps are of the same length. There are both lunging and passing steps.

In starting guard the right foot is usually on B, the toe pointing forward. Left foot on C, pointing left. The center of the left foot should be on the line dirittura, so the feet should be linear. The sword pointing at punto (see above). My interpretation is that it is the front of the foot (toes) that is on B.


There are two straight guards, high and low, as well as four counter guards, two low and two highs. The high and the low resemble each other. Feet usually as above.

Low guards

Right knee slightly bent, sword hand half a step (half braccio) in front of the knee. Right arm low, in line with right ear. The hand in line with the right knee. False edge on the sword upwards. The weight more on the left foot.

High guards

As above, but slightly closer together with your feet, straight knees. Sword hand extended at shoulder height.


On a slight angel against opponent, either to the left or right, depending on which angel the opponent’s sword is at. This is what he normally recommends.

Attack outside

If I want to attack my opponent on the outside, I make an lunge with my right foot and place it a foot width to the left of A and let my left foot be placed on G. To recover, I take my right back to F.

Attack inside

If I want to attack my opponent on the inside, I make an lunge an place my right foot a foot width to the right of A and let my left foot be placed on E. To recover, I take my right back to D.

My interpretation is that both of the attacks above are when an opponent advances to attack. If I want to attack first I do it in similar ways (more on that in another class).


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Cutting clay

A, for me, fairly new way of training cutting is to cut clay. But I have done it a couple of times this summer and I like it! The benefits are many: You can use blunt swords and still get a good feed back if you are doing it right or wrong, since you can reuse the clay many times it is very cheap, it really gives you a good feed back if you are cutting correctly (more of that below) and of course it is fun!

I just use ten kilos of the cheapest pottery clay without chamotte that I could find. So to begin with is not very expensive. But the best part is that as long as the clay don’t get to dry I can  reuse it many times!


The feedback it gives is also very nice. I I cut correctly the sword moves effortless through the clay. But if I cut wrong, for exempel cut properly through or diverge from the plane of movement the sword get stuck immediately. I can also see my cut in the clay as a nice bonus.

Compared with for example water bottles clay it works much better I think. Of course proper meat are more of the “real thing” and the educational value is higher. But it is much more expensive and to be honest I am a bit hesitant to use it to much from a moral point of view.

So in short for cutting training I must recommend clay!


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Local hops

Since medieval times until 1860 it was a law that every farmer should grow hops in Sweden. In many villages they solved this decree by one or a few of the farmers in the village did grow hops and sold to the rest. After 1860 many of these fields of hops where abandon, but sometimes the hop itself survived. At a mountainside near from where I live, just fifteen minutes walk away, there is just such an abandoned field. It is documented since 1732, but probably much older and was in continuously use at least until 1858.

Me and a friend went on a expedition to find these hops and we did. I did take some cuttings to se if I can grow it and he plans on brew a small batch using the hops to see what taste it gives. I must admit that I am very existed by this. My own historical local hops!



Lots of cones




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Plastic Fingertip Protectors

Good gauntlets for fencing and fighting is like the holy grail. Everybody is searching for it but few, if anyone have found it. Anyway regardless of which kind of gauntlet I use, replicas of period steel gauntlets, modern HEMA sports gauntlets or some of my homemade monstrosities I find that some kind of extra protection for my fingertips are nice. There are som different kinds of of the shelf protector to buy and they works nice enough. But I find that if you make our own they fit will be better.

I use thermoplastic in shape of mouldable plastic pellets that I bought at a fishing shop (apparently the use it to remodel fishing lure) but I have also seen it at different crafts and hobbies shop.


You just put it in warm water, not necessary boiling. Then you can just shape it as you like. When it is transparent you can shape it, when it is white it has cooled down. The greatest thing is that after for example a hard blow that cracks it (but not your finger, which is kind of the point) you can just reheat it and reshape it!

After some use and several reshaping it might be of a more “dirt-white” than white colour, but apart from that I haven’t discovered any difference. Anyway perfect fit, good protection, very easy to do and very cheap. What more can you ask for? Well except the perfect gauntlet to use them with of course.

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portabel pell

I was just doodling along in my garage, to be honest I should really be doing some  much needed repairs on a lot of stuff before an event, but instead I build something new. Laying around I hade a lot of scrap wood, left overs from other projects. After a few hours I had build a portabel pell with som different applications. First of all a ordinarie pell, maybe not for full force cuts but my normal cutting training on pell works fine.


Then I added a beam from witch I can hang things since I find this excellent when practice thrusting. An object hanging from a rope that moves I something I really like. As a bonus I used it this summer when I held a class in cutting with sharp swords and we tried cutting on real meat. I let people try to cut and thrust on some pork that was hanging in ropes. Some of the meat was “naked” and some wore “clothes”. I think it was a real eyeopener for some how little force you need if you use proper technique. Of course the experiment was not perfect, but the educational value of it was very high.

I also added a shorter post for when doing cutting on clay (more of that later in another blog post).

All in all it turned out not that bad. Of course if I bought wood specifik for a pell it would be much better, but as it is, made out of lefter overs it works very well. And most important, now I have a pell to bring with me on events.



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Tinkering with armour


Last time I did some armouring was at last two years ago, so I was a bit rusty  (pun intended). Not that I was much of an armour maker before either, but I know the basics. Talking of basics there is a really nice compendium that explains the basics of armour making, called just Basic armouring. I recommend it. Anyway I added av few lamels as a shinguard, well at least for the upper part of the shin. As rivets I use paperboard nails. It works really well, now I just have to see how they withstand wear and tear.

Some day I will get time to really learn to make armour and build myself a full plate armour. At the moment I just enjoy to tinker with it from time to time.

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