Monday, 31 October 2011

Literature managing.

Books are just like pictures. They are lovely to have, wonderful to peruse, and a pain to organise. And it's immensely helpful to organise them - having keywords and tags to search pictures, and having keywords and notes to check whether a book was helpful or not. Plus a bibliography programme can help with citations - and save a major pain when writing.

There are several programmes on the market, the two best-known of which are probably Zotero (a free plug-in for Firefox) and Endnote (a commercial stand-alone programme).

Just recently, I have re-assessed Zotero as a possible alternative to my usual bibliography programme (which is Endnote). There are pros and cons for each of these two programmes, but one of the best comparisons I have found yet is this one from profhacker. So, even though my version of Endnote is quite a few years old now already - from how everything in Endnote is integrated in my workflow, I'll stay with it.

If you do not have a bibliography programme yet or are not totally content with yours, though, you might want to check out Zotero. After all, it's free - so it can't hurt to try.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Things happen, books do too.

The flip-side of my book-ordering binges from a while ago is now coming to gently prod me into the buttocks.

One thing I really love about the library where I get my books is the possibility to do easy and free inter-library loans. Now, since my topics tend to be rather non-mainstream, and since I then need to get a lot of books that are not in the local library, that is a real blessing.

Unlike the copies in the local archives, though, ILL means you put in the order, hope there's not a pink slip of paper coming back (always a bad sign - since it means that your request went through the system, was denied and now you get that on pink paper) and wait for your book to arrive. And that, depending on where it comes from and whether it was checked out by someone else before, can take a goodly amount of time.

So they come in, singly or with one or maybe two companions, spread out over weeks. And everytime one comes in... I have to go get it. Which is the case for today, which slightly skewers my schedule of things I wanted to do today into tiny and very irregular bits... but at least I will probably be able to have a coffee with a friend while killing the schedule.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

It's Open Access Week!

For those who have not found out about it yet, it is Open Access week this week!

Open Access is a model of publishing that aims to remove the paywall barrier to research knowledge - by granting open access to results. Now, if you've ever thought about getting an article via a portal such as ingentaconnect and were asked to pay, say, 45 USD for a 5-page paper where you don't even know if it will really hold that vital information, you will know about what "paywall barrier" means.

Open Access has its pros and cons, as every system has. But this week and for me, it has only pros - since the portal I just mentioned hosts journals by Maney Publishing house, and that house takes part in OA Week. You can find 22 archaeological journals on their page, and all the papers are free for you to read - no paying, no registration, no nothing - until November 4.

Also taking part, but only until October 30, is Internet Archaeology.

And finally, there's a long list of Open Access journals in archaeology on Doug's Archaeology blog.

And if this blog post is not going to steal at least half an hour from your life, I don't know what will...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

It's probably underspun.

One of the topics during the weekend that I had chats about was about wool. And spinning.

I had the wonderful opportunity to try out quite a few different spinning wheels, both in a shop and at the conference, and one of the things that sort of caught me was the expression of "twists to an inch".

Really, folks? Twists per inch? Who wants to count that high? Plus archaeological threads never give the twists per inch - they give a spinning angle. For obvious reasons, because you do not untwist an old yarn.

A basic fact is that the historical yarns are much harder spun than what modern spinners usually do. A spinning angle of 30 to 45 degrees is quite common, and that is a lot of twist in a bit of yarn. The first time I was doing replicas of fine, historical threads, I was amazed at the high twist they had - and now I'm totally addicted to them. The soft-spun yarns that are so often to be found today are nice to wear, but they will not last for as long as a good worsted high-twist yarn. So if you are trying to spin historically and have a modern spinner's background... your wool is probably underspun.

You can measure the spinning angle by drawing a straight line on a piece of paper, then draw lines at some different angles (10, 20, 30, 45, 60 degrees) towards that line. Now you can align your thread with the first, straight line and see which of the slanted lines drawn on the paper will best match the slant of the fibres in your yarn. And if you are doing this, I'd be curious to hear what your spinning angle is in your "typical" yarn!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Here I am, back home again.

I had the most fantabulous time in London, meeting old friends again - two of them even took me on a wonderful tour to Butser Ancient farm and Whitchurch silk mill and Oxford), making new ones, enjoying delicious food and lots of lovely tea (and one very bad espresso and one very good latte too).

The MeDaTS conference was quite small, at a beautiful venue and mostly populated by audience members from a living history and reenactment background. And that, frankly, is the only thing of that whole weekend where I think it might have run a tiny bit better - I had sort of counted on more persons in the audience without that background, and thus my presentation was tailored to give that group an overview of who and what can be found in the field of living history. Nevertheless, people seemed to like it (and I enjoyed talking to an audience who laughed at all the funny bits), so I am well content with how it turned out. Plus I got to try out a really beautiful spinning wheel at the conference, and now know what I might need for spinning high-twist, fine yarns on a wheel.

The rest of my time in London was spent sightseeing and doing a little bit of shopping - hanging out in bookshops, going to the Handweaver's Studio (to try out more spinning wheels), visiting the new Medieval & Renaissance galleries in the V&A, eating Nepalese food and British lamb roast and chocolates from Harrod's and sitting in the sun and laughing. I also rode the tube and several buses and walked so much that I feel I must have walked 20 cm off my legs. At least now my rather new shoes are properly broken in!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

London, I'm coming!

When you are reading this, I am already in London - and there I will be until Monday evening. Next regular blogging, therefor, on Tuesday (or Wednesday, if I'm really worn out from the trip). But if you are in London or in the area, you can catch me at the MeDaTS autumn meeting on Saturday!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Another Linky Post!

Recently, Gina of Gina-B Silkworks posted this really helpful instruction on how to unwind a (small) skein of yarn with no reel and no helper - and no tangles.

And today, while preparing for my London visit, I stumbled across the UK Textile Society. There's an event page as well as a museum list on their site, and they have a journal that does look interesting as well.

And finally, the posters from last NESAT have been put online, so you can download them and have a look. It is really worth it!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Writer's Block What?

If you have been writing stuff, chances are high that you have had your experience of writer's block. It's unfortunately a quite common thing, and that is on the other hand quite nice - because everyone suffering from it can do so in the firm knowledge that he or she is not alone.

Now there's gazillions of websites and many books telling you what you can do when you have it, how to get rid of it, how to find new ways to cope with it, and so on. But I just found out that there is also... an event about it.

Louisville, Kentucky, has actually held a Writer's Block Festival. That's... unexpected. Really.

Monday, 17 October 2011

I hate when that happens.

I am one of those persons who uses tabs in the browser window. A lot. I keep tabs open to remind me of things, to check things out later, to blog about them one of the next days, to have something handy to look up that I suspect I will need later that day or tomorrow, and so on.

I try to keep the tab flood down and under control, and mostly I don't need more tabs than fit in one row once across the screen on my computer. (Though occasionally, there will be much more of them. For a while.) I have tried other methods of working with fewer tabs, or getting organised in a different way, but this one just suits me best. I have that nasty habit of forgetting about bookmarks, for example. Or forgetting to actually get back to those "to read" lists that some add-ons offer, and they just grow and grow and grow.

So generally, this system of tabs to check and close down when finished works very well for me. But sometimes, Firefox crashes. Or there's a system update. Or I have a second browser window open by accident and close the wrong one first... and gone are all my tabs. I hate when that happens. And guess what happened today? Yes, right. All my tabs were gone (and miraculously, so has the browsing history of the last few days). Fortunately there was nothing utterly important open as a reminder - at least not that I'd remember - so it's not too bad. Still, I hate when that happens...

Friday, 14 October 2011

I'm tired.

It's getting really autumn-like here now, with snny weather and bouts of rain inbetween. Leaves are turning to yellow and red, the air has that smell of autumn, our car has its winter tires on... and I am really tired.

Some people get tired in spring. I seem to manage getting tired in both spring and autumn. Which explains why this blog post is rather late (I slept much longer than usual), and why it's not very substantial.

So instead of me writing proper and interesting stuff, here's a video where you can see the craziest harp player I know doing things that should be technically not possible to do on his harp...

Hint: watch his left hand...

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Is it Thursday already?

Somehow, time in these last weeks has been rushing by in one giant whooshing sound - I cannot believe we have the middle of October already!

The English version of the shop is officially up and running now, with all items sporting an English text as well. A few pictures are all that is still lacking, and they, at least, are lacking for both German and English visitors. Have fun in and with the shop!

And if you are planning to participate in one of the embroidery courses, please do register for them now - I will only be able to take "orders" on this until Sunday, October 16, otherwise it gets quite impossible to plan.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Winter Lists.

If you are somehow involved in Living History, you will know about winter lists. If not, here's the short explanation: a winter list is a list of all the things somebody plans to do "during the winter", which technically is the time between the last event of one year and the first event of the following year. (In practice, it's often the week or two before the first event of the following year.) Winter lists usually contain a mixture of maintenance work and smaller plus larger projects to tackle, and are usually containing much too much of this.

And just like everybody else, I have a winter list. And also just like everybody else, I have this nagging feeling that it will mean a lot of work, and probably not get all finished - though a lot of it is small maintenance-type stuff, like "shake out and air sheepskins" or "wash and store blankets". And "sort and re-pack stock of goods".

And the first two things are miraculously already crossed off that list. I admit that I made it easy for me, since listing something like "clean and re-oil wooden eating implements" is really not that much of a task - but still... that feels really good.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

It's linky time again.

First of all, a hopefully helpful link to a free-access bibliography of textiles. This bibliography is part of the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles [CSROT], a research project founded in 1986 in France. Its purpose is to contribute to the critical study of the history of textiles, especially by means of research concerning its bibliographic history. CSROT aims to establish a framework, a "map", of the literature of textile history and to compile a general bibliography reflecting this history, and to disseminate this information among specialized textile, and other, researchers and the broader public. Its second aim is to contribute to a more critical understanding of the history of textiles, and of early craft production in general, by situating them within the broad context of social, economic and cultural history, and the history of creativity.

Their database currently contains more than 9000 titles, all searchable by keywords as well. Here you find an introduction to the Bibliographica Textilia Historiae Database, together with a search link.

Speaking of books, there's a new one coming out: "Se vêtir à la cour en Europe (1400 - 1815)". It is on special offer sale for 18,40 € until December (it will cost 23 € after that), and as the title implies, it's in French. The title does not imply that most of the articles are focusing on early modern or modern clothes, though; there's only a small part actually about the late middle ages. You can find a description and table of contents here, as well as a link to where you can buy it.

And if all that has not held you from your work for long enough, here is a link to a brilliant article on how to procrastinate by getting things done. This is sort of what I tend to do, so I really enjoyed reading it - and yes, it is a helpful strategy.

Monday, 10 October 2011

So you want to become...

... a textile conservator?

Then this webpage might be interesting for you - it lists possibilities to learn textile conservation, plus quite a few other things (like where you can find a conservator in the US if you need one). The site includes a blog as well as a bunch of nice "conservators at work" pictures.

At work is precisely what I should be at now, too - I cannot believe how those to-do lists grow when left unattended for the shortest while!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Almost done.

I have almost finished getting the English webshop up and running - almost all of the items have an English translation now, and I have also figured out shipping and handling prices for outside of Germany and outside of Europe.

There's a few last translation thingies to be made and a little fine-tuning to be done most probably, but if you are curious, you can drop over already and have a first look. Switching languages should be easy now - just click on the German or English flag.

I'm also planning to add hand-spun wool sewing/embroidery thread to the shop, though that will take at least a few days more (or to be more exact, until I have managed to spin and ply a sample batch and then figure out pricing for it). Plus there's another item in the waiting line, soon to be delivered to me and ready to go into the shop.

Good thing it's winter now

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Database Online

Today's blog is a short one, since you will probably want to spend your online time somewhere else: The Walters Art Museum has a new database online - under a creative commons license.

Their collection database can thus be browsed and the pictures used for non-commercial purposes - like private research. You can read more about the creative commons license here, and this link will transfer you directly to the searchable Walters Art museum database.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Back home - end of season.

Tannenberg is the traditional end of season for me, and is one of the two markets that split the year into the summer and the winter half.

In contrast to all the other years, though, when Tannenberg always meant that you would put on all your really warm clothes and swish them through the very red, very deep and very cold mud, there was not a single drop of rain this year. It was beautiful and sunny and really hot during the day (and not very cold during the night) and felt more like mid-September than start of October. There was even one guy who needed medical attention because he had a sunstroke.

And not only the weather was nice - I had a wonderful time with friends, sitting around the fire and chatting, hanging out and singing and listening to songs, eating delicious food, making fire with flint and steel (I just love that) and meeting lots of old friends and acquaintances again.

I also did the test run for giving small workshops on a market, and I will do this at least once or twice more before I finally decide on a yes or no. Interest was there, and many people told me that they might come, but actual turnup rate of people was not so high. That may be due to too good weather and too much else to do or due to a bad choice of workshop times from my side (at 3 o'clock in the afternoon), but the idea at least was very well received.

And now it's time to take care of all the things left to do here - file the quarter-yearly tax stuff, finish the English online shop thingie, read all the mails that arrived while I was gone, and prepare for the next things on my calendar. And since it's the winter half of the year now, it's also time to take out all the items of the gear over the next weeks, check and clean them, repair them if necessary and pack them away for their next use when the season starts again - accompanied by drinking large amounts of tea and sensible amounts of chocolate.

Monday, 3 October 2011

I'm still gone.

Hence - no blog post today and tomorrow (when we will be coming back from Tannenberg). Proper blogging will resume on Wednesday instead.