Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Blog Changes.

YouZM8 may have noticed that I have made a few small changes to this blog - some weeks ago, I have added the "quick response" tick boxes at the end of each post. They have actually been used already!

Depending on how much use they will see during the next weeks and months, they will either stay or go. And you are, of course, welcome to comment on them - including suggestions for other reaction boxes (like "that was so boring I fell asleep" or "I see pink ponies dancing now").

Another change, one more important for me (and one that will be much more obvious) is that I will insert jump breaks into long posts in the future. This means that to read one of the longer posts, you will have to click for it. Those of you getting this blog via RSS feed will also have to click on the link to read the full post.


Monday, 30 May 2011

Time flies!

Somehow, the time this year flies like crazy - I just realised that it is almost Ascension Day. There was a bunch of things that I had planned to finish before the long weekend that this induces... but I will probably not manage all of them.

That greenish blackboard is looking a bit less green and more black today, thanks to a bunch of things to do finished since Friday (and thus vanished from the board). On the list for today is packing a bunch of files and sending them off: the article about the spinning experiment results is finished, and I'll give it a last once-over before getting it to its destination.

Associated with this, I am planning to put all the experiment data online so that everybody interested can download the results and do additional research, develop theories, or - in case of the spinners  - see how their spinning looks on a survey card. I have to go over the database for this and make sure that everything is in there that should be in and that nothing is in there that shouldn't, and that will probably need another few days. You will hear about it on this blog, of course.

Spinning experiment work, here I come again!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Ah. Whew.

Of course the tax stuff was not finished without one or two revisions and double-checkings, and of course that took longer than expected.

And getting the book-keeping up to its current state also took a while - but I have finally found a few web resources that really helped me to understand some of the stuff I had just muddled through before. So, for those of you who are German and need to get some basic knowledge about how to do the books, I can recommend the introduction into bookkeeping offered by Collmex (which is software to do the stuff - not the software I use, but the booking processes are the same regardless of programme) and, for any additional questions, there's a forum called Rechnungswesenforum, where a lot of knowledgeable people hang out and are willing to help.

So while I did (of course) not get all of the stuff done that I wanted to get done yesterday, I learned a few things about the book wrangling that were really helpful - and will probably make life (and bookkeeping) easier in the future. Whew.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Summer colds are nasty.

I seem to have caught a summer cold - which is always nasty, and sometimes I wonder whether summer or winter colds are worse. At least in winter, everybody expects to get some sniffles sometime, and it doesn't come by surprise.

So now I'm trying to decide if this is a good excuse for going easy today or if I really cannot afford to go easy... there's this blackboard in the study, you know? It's a board to write down all the things that are on my to-do-list (with green chalk, currently), plus there's a section for the upcoming dates and deadlines. And a section for the long-term projects, just so I don't forget. And a list for the things that are to be taken care of, but not really urgent yet. And sometimes I make an additional small things paper to-do list, if the items are to be taken care of on the same day and it's not worth it chalking them up on the board.

The board which, incidentally, always seems to be more green than black. At least there's two deadline chalkings that I could wipe out today if I do the rest of the work necessary for that... sounds like I won't be slacking after all.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

It's that time of the year again.

ItZM2 is almost the end of May, which means that the deadline for German taxes is approaching - and that, in turn, means I am doing what all good Germans are doing now... which would be re-checking the bookkeeping, making final calculations, and filling out tax forms with all the maths that is involved with that.

And while I am here and happy that there are programmes to help me doing all the maths and calculations and listing and whatnot that needs to be done, in case you want something else to look at, here's a list of stuff that I wanted to pass on to you, accumulated during the last few days when things were busy here:

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Call for Papers ending soon!

Here's just a short reminder that the Call for Papers of the European Textile Forum is ending on the 27th of May - so if you were planning to register, please do not forget to do so!

We are looking forward to a very interesting week - and we hope that you will join us! (Just in case you haven't been here before when I was plugging the Forum, you can learn more about it on www.textileforum.org.)

Monday, 23 May 2011

Tidings from Conferences.

ZM1First of all, I had a wonderful time at the conference on Friday - my paper went over very well, and all the other papers were uniformly interesting and well-presented. Plus I got to see a lot of old friends and colleagues again - and meet some new people.

And now, as promised last week, a bit of a report from NESAT...

The conference started off with an evening event, a lecture about - no, not textiles, but pile dwellings and their archaeology. Since pile dwellings are situated in watery areas, these settlements are often graced with textile and other organic remnants - so it was a topic close to textiles, yet not totally textile. The rest of the first evening was spent mingling and enjoying some wonderful food (a recurring topic during the following days), chatting with old acquaintances and meeting new faces.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Chaser Conference.

I'm at a (very) small conference today, my paper is the second one in the morning, and yes, I did finish its preparation in time.

And I finally figured out what made it so weird in preparation... it's mostly NESAT's fault. Because, when you come back from a place where you have been for a week and where somebody says "2/2 twill", everybody nods and goes "ok", or where you say "that sock from Coppergate", and the room goes "ah, that sock" - it is kind of hard to not feel weird when you prepare to explain in a paper how a hand-spindle works.
Plus I've only gone to international conferences during the last few years, and of course I did my papers in English - and today's little thing will be in German, and that also feels kind of weird.

I'm packing up now to head for the conference, and I'm trying to not feel weird.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

It's still crazy round here.

The past days have been really, utterly crazy, with deadlines coming up so close to each other they might as well play leapfrog to amuse themselves. It has been so crazy that the most patient of all husbands invented a new name for a weekday: Drölftag.

Drölftag happens when you skip at least one weekend because you have to work and thus lose all track of what weekday it is today - since your inner long-term clock has taken the week off in protest. Drölf is, by the way, the first part of "drölfernolzig", and that is an expression meaning something like "umpteen". Monday was a true Drölftag, and now it's almost Friday, and I'm really, utterly looking forward to the breather that the weekend will be, since I will then actually have two full days off. But today, I'm hunting one last deadline (a small paper due tomorrow morning at a small birthday-for-a-prof conference).

Now... where's that net? The bear trap? The infrared motion sensor? I have a deadline to hunt - and these buggers can be fast...

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

More knitting.

(This was supposed to go live during last week - on the 12th, to be exact. Why on earth it never did - beats me. I'm serving it to you now instead. And I'm retroactively sorry for the blog silence.)

I had an unplanned-for splurging moment in Freienfels, when I went to Sabine's stall on Sunday afternoon and decided that yes, that was my cardigan hanging there in the back of her stall (some assembly required).

I have been ogling the pinwheel sweater (ravelry link) for a good while now, but I absolutely wanted a very nice, gradual colour change. With blues and greys, and maybe some teal. I had been thinking about using Kauni wool, but after knitting my legwarmers last autumn, I decided not to use Kauni ever again - my hand spinning on a bad day is less irregular than that skein I had.

Then I was pondering getting some top, dyed in a gradual colour change, and spin the yarn for the pinwheel. But I don't get to spin much, and the yarn would be very thin, or quite irregular and ugly, or plied from 4 to 5 singles, and I can't see myself finishing anything like that before I'm about 120 years old. Plus I am sort of unwilling to spin dyed top in large amounts. (I much prefer to spin historically prepared wool, nowadays.)

So... I splurged on an array of blues and greys, in really thick and deliciously soft yarn. And I wound the first two balls, on my day off after Freienfels. And started knitting.

Of course, it wouldn't be me knitting if there wouldn't be some modifications. Basic pattern is the pinwheel sweater, but with left-leaning increases instead of yarn-overs, and starting with four stitches from an I-cord "belly button" for a better and easier start.

And I am knitting with two yarns at one time, making "barberpole stripes" for that more or less gradual colour change; each of the two colours has four increases, so I don't have the alternating increase round and plain round, but always the same round (except for where the increases are). One of the yarns increases right before the green markers, the other right before the white markers; each double-round starts with the white-marked yarn. And I've made a bit of progress since taking these pictures - though it will take some time still until I can put in the armholes.

Hooray knitting!

(Update: Since my day off yesterday was partly spent knitting on this, I am by now just a little past the armhole line - so there's garishly red thread knitted in there, to take out later and knit the sleeves on.)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

ATN friends wants you!

I've finished the current extra-urgent bit of work that was on my list yesterday night, and now I only have to wait for the piece to dry and bring it to the post office. And the rest of today? I'm taking it off. Yay.

But since I promised you more info from NESAT, I will at least tell you about the ATN meeting.
For those of you who have never heard of ATN, it is short for "Archaeological Textiles Newsletter". This has been an institution for quite a few years now, started way back on somebody's kitchen table and sent out as a biannual newsletter.

Nowadays, the ATN is put together, edited and sent out by a small group of people, and it used to be printed at the university press in Copenhagen. However, this printing possibility seems to have ended; the university wants to close its publishing department. And that in turn means the ATN has to make some changes for the future. It is planned to change it to an annual double volume instead of two volumes per year, and of course a new print shop has to be found. Plus a name change has been discussed - from "Archaeological Textiles Newsletter" to "Archaeological Textiles Review", since it seems that something called a newsletter is not worthy for external funding, while something called a review is.

These changes mean that the ATN (or ATR) will need a few more members to survive - so if you are not a subscriber yet, but interested in textile archaeology, please join the "Friends of ATN" (which is a subscription for one year, called membership because of some other bureaucratic issues) and help it survive! 
Anyone can join, you don't need to be affiliated with any university or research institute. And it is really worth it - there are always interesting articles in the newsletter, and the ATN regularly sees the first (or even the first and only) publication of a smaller textile find, or a preliminary results note about a work in progress. Subscribing is easily done via the secure webshop of ATN, and it's not expensive either - the one-year membership costs 20 Euro.

Oh, and of course you are welcome to spread the word...

Monday, 16 May 2011

Back home from NESAT!

I'm back home after NESAT and then a nice, full extra day to let the conference sort of end slowly instead of rushing home from the middle of things. It was exhilarating, with all the familiar faces to see again, and we enjoyed wonderful, mindboggling and really awesome papers. There was delicious conference food, enough coffee, a really tempting book table (some of the books magically found their way into my bag), there were even non-alcoholic cocktails and layer cakes! And a delightfully large amount of free time in the evenings to mingle and hang out together.

And like any good and proper conference, it was really exhausting. One week of speaking at least one foreign language a lot for most of us, in-depth discussions, science lingo and textile lingo and chemical formulas and isotope numbers, plus too little sleep - that's enough to wear a person out. So... more on NESAT during the next few days!

Friday, 13 May 2011

It's planning time.

It's always planning time.

And I'm thinking and planning about extending my range of wares a bit more, maybe for the next summer season. Yes, I know it's early, but those things can take a good amount of time.
One of the things that I am thinking about to include is a niddy-noddy (or stick reel) after historical evidence. I have looked at the tools linked on Larsdatter, and I have a few more things in my bookshelf, but I haven't decided on one yet.

I'd like to offer a niddy-noddy that is in keeping with the sources (best would be a completely surviving one) and not too large - the Oseberg find is quite big, and I'd much prefer a smaller one. In addition, I am very happy to hear about your experiences with niddy-noddies or other stick reel variations to make sure that it's not only historically correct as far as possible, but also get the functional details right, and that I choose a model for the reproductions that will also suit a modern buyer.

So... gentle readers, what do you expect from a reeling tool? Do you happen to know of a find of a complete one (except the obvious Oseberg one)? Would you buy a reconstructed medieval niddy-noddy? And how much would you be budgeting for it? Or rather spend money on some other textile tool - like an embroidery frame, or a distaff?

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Spindle versus Spinning Wheel.

I'm being very lazy today, and I'll just point you to a very interesting article over on the Abby's Yarns blog about the debate whether the hand spindle or the spinning wheel is the better tool for spinning.

Abby comes from the Andes, and she learned how to use a low-whorl hand spindle for production spinning. Do read her article - it's  a really, really good one.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

NESAT starts today!

One in every three years is a special year - because one in every three years it's NESAT year. NESAT, for those of you who don't breakfast textile conference proceedings, is short for North European Symposium for Archaeological Textiles (though it is not only northern Europe nowadays), and it's THE conference for textile archaeologists.

And I'm really happy, because today, NESAT starts - and I'm there. Not presenting, just meeting up with friends and colleagues and having a really good time with the lots of awesome papers and topics.

Though I'm away, blogging will continue - I've been busy pre-blogging, and if everything goes as it should, you will have a daily post as usual.

Monday, 9 May 2011

There they are. Soccer booties.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a stealth baby knitting project. The item in question has, meanwhile, been finished, laughed about, gifted and has been favourably received by the mother-to-be.

And that means I can unveil them to you now...the soccer booties.

These soccer booties are based on a simple, basic bootie pattern with laces (Michelle Lo's "Sneaker Booties", free Ravelry pattern). The booties are worked cuff-down and in the round in the sock part, then the upper part of the shoe is worked in the flat. The sides of the shoe are worked in the round again, and the sole knitting closes off the bootie.

The booties were knit with different yarns, mostly about worsted weight, on 2.5 mm needles. I brought in colour changes and added bobbles to simulate the cleats on the sole. Working those in different, contrasting colours is what makes the finished item really pop – that, however, also means a lot of ends to weave in. You are duly warned.

Step 1:
Find out which colours to use. Do not skip this step – it is a safe bet that somebody who will be amused or delighted by these booties has a preference for a club. Clubs have their own colours. And choosing the wrong colours – that of the faved club’s main adversary, for example – will most probably lead to severe diminishment of both amusement and delight.

Step 2:
Decide on your colour scheme. You can work two colours in the socks or work the socks in one colour and the shoes in another (more or less neutral) colour. Modern soccer shoes are black, yellow, blue, red, white or brown; other colours are rather rare. The cleats come out best if they are knitted in a contrasting colour.

Instructions here are given for a two-colour sock (with two narrow stripes near the cuff) and two-coloured shoes. Photos are of the prototype; I tweaked the written pattern after that, which means it should come out a bit better now. Please let me know if you find mistakes!

Step 3:
Start knitting.
CO 36 sts in main sock colour. Join without twisting; place m to mark start of round.
Rd. 1-3: Work k2 p2 ribbing.
Rd. 4: k in sock contrast colour.
Rd. 5: sl 1st st, k in main sock colour.
Rd. 6-7: k in main sock colour.
Rd. 8: k in sock contrast colour.
Rd. 9: sl 1st st, k in main sock colour.
Rd. 10 – 15: k in main sock colour.
Rd. 16: k in main shoe colour.
Rd. 17: p in main shoe colour.
Rd. 18: sl 1st st, k to end.

Shoe upper starts now.
Setup row: k 18 sts, turn; purl 12 sts. Turn.
Row 1: (RS) k2, ssk, yo, p4, yo, k2tog, k2. If you prefer, you can slip the first st after turning in the shoe upper part; this can make picking up stitches easier.
Row 2: (WS) p4, k4, p4
Row 3: k4, p4, k4
Row 4: p4, k4, p4
Repeat R 1-4 two times more, then work R1 once.
Work 5 rows in stocking stitch (you end on a WS row). Turn.

Shoe sides start now.
Knit 12, do not turn. Pick up and knit 12 stitches along the edge; knit across live stitches; pick up and knit 12 stitches along the second edge. 60 st in total. Move m to current position (new start of round).
Rd 1-5: knit.
Rd. 6: purl.
Rd. 7: sl 1 st, p in shoe contrast colour.
Rd. 8: p 1st stitch in shoe contrast colour, change to shoe main colour, p to end of rd.

Sole starts now.
The sole is worked by knitting back and forth and knitting the last sole stitch together with the first live stitch from the shoe side rounds. You will work the basic rows (rs and ws), substituting a bobble row for the basic row in row 5, 11, 27 and 31.

Basic right-side row (odd numbers): k 11, ssk, turn.
Basic wrong-side row (even numbers): p 11, p2tog, turn.
Bobble row (work on r 5, 11, 27 and 31): k 2. Make bobble. k1, ssk, turn.

Make bobble: Bring in shoe contrast colour and work 7 st in next st by working the following: k, yo, k, yo, k, yo, k. (You can count the four knits to keep track.) Turn work, p 7. Turn, k 7. Turn, p 7. Sl 3 st to right needle, k 1, sl other st over this knit st, alternating between st from left and right needle. Take up main colour again and continue knitting with main colour. Snip off contrast colour, leaving a nice long tail.

When you have only 24 st left on your needles after R 36, graft the sole stitches together with the remaining live stitches from the shoe side rounds.

Finishing up:
Weave ends in securely. With the longer tail left after each cleat bobble, sew the bobble sides to the shoe sole for extra security. Block if desired, thread in laces.

Step 4: Laugh about the silly little soccer booties. Give to somebody-not-yet-walking to wear them. Enjoy.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Hooray! It's available - go download!

The moment has come - textile folks rejoice! Cathy stumbled across a new downloadable .pdf-publication on the Archaeology of York webpage, and this time, it's Textile Production at 16-22 Coppergate by Penelope Walton Rogers. That book has been out of print for a good while, and I dimly remember checking its price once, years back, and deciding it was way too pricey for my student's budget.

Now it's available for free download! You will find the download page behind this link. Enjoy!

And now I'm returning you to your regularly scheduled reminder post...
It's May already, and the deadline for the Textile Forum is drawing closer.

So please do not forget to register if you would like to attend this year's European Textile Forum in Asparn an der Zaya, Austria. We are going to focus on linen and other vegetable fibres, and it does promise to be very, very interesting!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Crafting and Fair Prices (again), part VI

 After the break for Freienfels and the CfP yesterday, here's finally the next post in the Crafting and Prices series - and probably the last one for a while.

Things are fairly easy from the buyer's side, as described in the last post - you either are willing (and able) to afford something, or you aren't. If there is no cheaper choice and you need (or really want) something, you have to pay whatever the asking price is.

If you are the crafter or the seller, you will have to figure out how much you need to charge per hour or per item to make a living. Pricing is a fickle game, because the market might be small, and there's competitors, and there's traps and pitfalls everywhere. If you charge too little, you ruin your own business and that of your competitors as well. If you charge too much, you might not sell, or might not sell much. And it's hard to tell whether you just need to find customers yet, or if your quality is too low for the price, or if there are other reasons why people do not buy. If you do not hold out long enough, or run into a streak of luck now and then, things can look pretty grim.

And the main problem in pricing, or at least one of the main problems for craftspersons, is the de-valueing by society. The system of demand and supply in itself has been tested over hundreds of years, and it does work. Things that are scarce are of higher value; things that take a long time, a master craftsperson, or lots of resources to make are scarce, and thus of high value. Items with a high value go for a high price, regardless of the reimbursement system.

Today, we have a trading system that can take into account the time and resources spent on developing and training, and that can make value easily understandable and translatable. It's money. A universal trading concept that envelops our whole world, that enables us to trade with somebody from the Philippines and somebody from Norway and somebody from Japan and US and Germany. Basically, there's nothing wrong with the system of supply and demand and currency as a general barter item.

The problem is one that has been there also for ages, and maybe only grown stronger with our globalised society: It does not take much to break the value of something. You only need to flood the market with something sold way under price, and people will flock and buy the cheap alternative. This will mean that you lose money at first. But if you are a large-scale entrepreneur and can afford to invest a few millions, or billions, or whateverillions, this is just a starting investment - because if everybody buys the item from you, the other people that offer the same goods, but for a fair price, will suffer. And eventually, they will have to give up. And once the competition is gone... you can up your prices however you like. Fat profits.

If you look around, that has been done again and again, on large or small scale. Buying good value for little money is a very tempting thing, and it's just human to do so. But there's a difference between getting a good (and still fair) price and buying something for much less than the asking price should be. Because the latter... it breaks the system. And we are all part of the system.

Buying for way under price, in time, will come back and kick us in the butt. Please consider this the next time you are tempted to buy cheap - especially textiles, but also other crafted things. Paying fair prices can help us all, while paying too little makes the system suffer. Buying fewer things, but for a fair price and in high quality does lend a different quality to life. It's not always possible, that is true - but do give it a try for yourself, and you will see that one-of-a-kind things, where you know the living breathing craftsperson who made it for you will change the way you look at things, and the way you value things.

We can break the system easily. But we can also be part of a revaluation of crafts, and handmade things, and high-quality things. In a world of mass-production, we can make crafted, bespoke items a status symbol and prestigious thing again, and craftspersonship a thing of value.

Think before you buy. Help making our world a better place to be.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Call for Papers - Renaissance Society of America

This came to me via the MEDTC-Discuss list, and I'm passing it on as per the request in the mail:

Call for paper: Annual Meeting of Renaissance Society of America, 22-24 March 2012 , Washington DC, USA.

Panel: Veil and Veiling in Europe, 1450-1650: Revisiting

From St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and Tertullian’s ‘On the Veiling Virgins’ to the decrees of the Council of Trent, the veil, and the custom of veiling women’s hair, has historically been the premise of discourse regarding gender and religious identity in early and medieval Christian societies. However, the significance and function of the veil became far more complicated in early modern Europe than in previous centuries as early modern European society experienced a crisis of order. Both religious and civic leaders reinforced the need for women to cover their heads and emphasized the veil, including its fabric, style, and colour, as an indicator of women’s different social statuses and, most importantly, their personal and familial honour or shame. Because social norms necessitated that every woman own some form of headcovering, the act of veiling, the refusal to don a veil, or even the way that a woman chose to wear the veil could reveal her regional or ethnic identity, political affiliation, or religious confession.

By using multiple disciplines and sources, it is possible for scholars to put forth a variety of questions about early modern veiling practices, including:
1) How did early modern Europeans define, or redefine, the veil?
2) How has the tradition of veiling challenged during the movements of the Reformation and the
3) What were the contemporary religious accounts of veiling women’s hair?
4) How did women consider the necessity to veil themselves?
5) Because the custom of veiling could vary from place to place, to what extent could women negotiate their right of expressing themselves under the legislation of local government and religious authority?
6) What were the consumption patterns of headcoverings, in general?
Above all, the session aims to question how we can reconsider the female experience vis-à-vis the veil and the practice of veiling in early modern Europe. Therefore, we would like to invite papers that focus on fresh materials, new angles, or special cases regarding the object of the veil and the custom of veiling.
Given that this was a global issue in the early modern world, papers concerning Asia and the Middle East are also welcome and will be presented as contrasting examples.

Please e-mail a short CV and a 150-word draft to both Mary Kovel (University of Arizona) mkovel@email.arizona.edu and Chia-hua Yeh (Queen Mary, University of London) c.h.yeh2011@gmail.com by the 20th of May, 2011.

Thanks to Hilary Davidson and the AHRC Early
Modern Dress & Textiles Research Network list for this announcement.

For more information about the conference see http://www.rsa.org/?page=Washington2012

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

I'm back!

... and I'm sorry for the blog silence yesterday; I had pre-written a note to tell you that I'm still on the trip home from Freienfels, but I seem to have missed hitting the "publish" button, so it did not go up.

Freienfels, while I'm at it, was very nice - we were situated nicely close to things, but still in a quiet side lane on the lower meadow, with nice neighbours and not very far to go to the loo container. (That is really an interesting fact if you have to make a dash to pee in a cold night!) Also, my husband came to accompany me, and that always means I get what I jokingly call "Freigang" - furlough to make a round over the market and hug hello to all the friends and colleagues.

In addition to the old friends, it was also a market with a few firsts: First time with a new brazier/fire bowl, first time on the lower meadow with the stall, first market with the full embroidery assortment, first time with a coffee pot in addition to the teapot we always take.

Most of the German markets require, as per their regulations, use of a brazier or fire-bowl to make fire. Fire pits - a very common thing a few years ago - are not allowed anymore. Most of the groups thus carry a small or large metal fire container, often round and with three longish legs to keep it well away from the soil and grass. We had an old slightly modified cast-iron barbecue, but were never using it very much. This spring, the most pationt of husbands stumbled across a ceramic fire bowl offered in an online shop, and we did buy it. Fire bowls or other fire containers are, I'm very sure, not what a medieval traveller would have lugged around, but ceramics are at least a more historically plausible use of materials for a fire bowl than metal. The bowl does not suck all the heat from a small fire, extinguishing it; it's not too heavy, and it does look nice. We are thus very content with how the first market with the bowl went.

Also concerning fire on markets, I'm very proud that after nursing my learning curve for a few years, in bits here and there, and most of the learning done by trial and error, I am now at a point where it is totally normal and no extra trouble at all to light a fire with steel, stone, and tinder. I have the method to build the fire pre-lighting down pat, and when there's wind, it is making fire the Zen way: just wait and watch, it will all burst into flames after a while. Fire-making has been made much nicer and easier by the addition of a wax-cloth bag holding straw (for the nest to put the tinder in) and small, thin slivers of dry wood (for building the fire). The bag goes into the basket that holds the firewood as well as a small axe, a folding saw (blatantly modern, so it gets hidden in the wood) and a pair of gloves to handle hot things. The rest of the kit for fire-making - a cloth bag holding tinderbox, steel and flint and a well-waxed wooden box with fine wood shavings - goes into one of the small chests that we have, the one that is holding my tableware and food-related stuff.

It feels like a good, solidly reliable arrangement now, and thus might last for a few years. And it was really, really satisfying to just start a fire, just so. And I'm already looking forward to the next time!