Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Cloak Story

As most of you know, I recently made a fourth cloak. My mother posted about my cloak saga on her blog, but I thought I'd share my point of view.

I always liked fantasy. When I was 10 I first read The Lord of the Rings, and was absolutely enthralled. My two older siblings were also really getting into it at that point, and my mother made all three of us costumes. My older sister and I had long white dresses (I fondly called mine “my Galadriel dress” for many years), and my older brother got pants and a tunic. Part of this was that she made my brother and sister cloaks. This was the Fall that I was 11. I wanted a cloak too, although she didn't finish mine at the same time.

Months went by, and I kept asking. My siblings wouldn't let me borrow their cloaks (which would have been too long for me at that point anyway, honestly).

I can't remember exactly how long it took her to make my cloak; it was either 6 month or a year and a half (though I'm leaning more towards a year and a half). She finally made it so I could have it when my whole family went to the local Renaissance Faire – the only time we've all gone. I know I was 12 at that point, though I'm not sure of the exact dating (my birthday is during Ren. Faire season, so it could have been before or after, which would have changed which year it was... and I realize that's kind of irrelevant). Anyway, the point is, I had my very own cloak for the Ren. Faire. It dragged on the ground then, which probably wasn't the greatest thing ever considering it's white. I wore it when I played dress-up and, a few years later, when we went to church on colder days. I wore it more and more as the years went by.


Now, much as I loved my white cloak, I got tired of getting it dirty. I wanted one I could run around in and not worry about getting muddy. It had to be green; the two characters I always dressed up as back then were Galadriel and Frodo. I already had a Galadriel cloak, I needed one that could pass for a Frodo cloak.

This was the Fall I was 13. I did help my mother make this cloak. It was very simple, much shorter than the white one, and thus perfect for my intentions. I'm not going to go into all the reasons why, but I decided not to put a clasp on this one (or rather, I was a very hot-headed child and threw a fit over something and thus a clasp didn't get put on). I've always used pins with it instead. Years later it got so worn from the pins that my mother had to add some reinforcement, which actually makes it look better in my opinion.

After the first year or so that I had this, the cloak became the one that my friend Draug would use every time she came over. She didn't have her own cloak for a long while, and so my green cloak basically became hers. I did wear it from time to time however, and once Draug made her gray cloak I wore my green one for LARPing during the summer I was 15 (the first summer I was on Clean Place, when the Texans would meet to LARP once a week).


I was satisfied with those two cloaks for some time. Nearly two and a half years after making the green cloak, I finally decided I wanted to go ahead and make another one.

This cloak was made during an interesting time of my life, and because of that it has more personality in my head than the others do. I wanted it to be dark blue, so my mother found some really nice dark blue fabric on the discount table in Wal-mart. I really would have preferred black, but I decided that neither my friends nor my mother would like that, so I let it drop (and I'm very glad I did). I did almost all of the sewing on this one, which shows in the very uneven hems. I was using my youngest sister's sewing machine, and the timing was off and I was working with slippery fabric, and the result was that anyone would think from looking at the hems that I was drunk at the time. Once it was more or less done, I did some beading around the hem. This was inspired by Finduilas's mantle in Return of the King. Finduilas was Boromir and Faramir's mother, who died when they were quite young. When Faramir and Eowyn spent time together in the Houses of Healing, Faramir went and found one of his mother's old mantles for Eowyn to wear. It was dark blue, embroidered with silver, so that it looked like it was covered in stars. Actually, in the scene they added in the extended version of the movie, you can see Eowyn wearing it.

Anyway, all that aside, I put little silver beads around the hem, because I wanted them to look like stars. I know a cloak is special to me when I have a specific name I call it when I think about it. This was always The Starry Night cloak. I finished it on my 16th birthday.


Well, a year went by, and more than a year. Even as I had been making the blue cloak, and later a black cloak for Rivus, I knew I wanted to make one for myself. I wanted it to be green, or gray, or brown; it didn't matter, so long as it was a more woodland color. I had no fabric though, and my senior year of highschool was very busy anyway.

Summer, 2008. In June I traveled to Colorado for the moot, which was probably the most important event of my life for the past year (yes, far more important than starting college or getting my first real job). In the weeks leading up to the moot, the incredible seamstresses Punkin and GrannyT had started cleaning out a bunch of their fabric. They were offering to give it away to Cpers. They asked all of us who were interested for our color preferences, which I gave. I started to hope they would find something for me that I could make a cloak out of.

I'll never forget the time I spent in Yellow Leader's basement, which looked like a fabric shop had exploded and then emptied itself into one room. Ferns were down there with me, as was Silver. There was a row of trashbags, one of which was mine. It had three different kinds of fabric in it – gray/green/brown crushed stretch velvet, gold and purple brocade, and sea blue chiffon. I knew as soon as I saw the first fabric that it was time to make another cloak.

When I got home I had no time to even think about cloaks, much less make one. I worked full time for the next two months while dashing to finish up highschool, working on Snapshots for CP, and jumping through the multiple hoops of college registration. Finally August came, and I went through the ridiculously long college orientation process, and started class.

Needless to say, I lost the next four months of my life in a black hole made of textbooks, papers, assignments, obligations, and paychecks. As Christmas Break approached, I knew I had to do something I would enjoy or else I would go mad. I didn't know until about two weeks before leaving that I would be going to Georgia, so at the time that wasn't a comfort. I decided that, no matter what else I had to do, I would make a cloak.

So that's how this cloak came into being. I worked on it for four days of the week before school started again. The process went so well I found myself wondering if it was actually me doing it (sewing and I don't get along very well). Maybe college has taught me patience and precision; who knows. One way or another, for the first time I actually made something I was satisfied with. No crooked hems this time!


- Elraen -


Linda B said...

Its a beautiful cloak on a beautiful girl.

Any said...

-seconds that-

I liked that story...
And those cloaks are all awesome.

Mary said...

I liked the smile. A good end to the cloak story :)