Friday, 27 April 2012

He's a hero.

If you ask me, Jim C. Hines is a hero. Really.

Not only does he write awesome books that I really enjoy (that also feature kickass women), he has a blog and he uses it. But not only for the lighthearted, fun stuff (though you find that there, too) or for plugging his books, or for reviewing others' books.

He also tackles serious issues, and he does so in an amazing way. He writes about rape. About his issues with diabetes. About how words can hurt people. About his depression. About privilege, and about sexism on book covers.

So while I'm in Freienfels and thus not blogging, go read his blog.
(I'll be back to regular blogging on Friday, May 4. Star Wars day.Until then... may the force be with you.)

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Let there be cake.

Yesterday afternoon, when I set out to bake a cake, I realised I was really, really tired - things that are so normal that they should not need any brain capacity at all were sort of... eluding me. Like the proper sequence to put in eggs and flour (hint: eggs first), that the baking powder should actually be added (almost forgot that), that it's really smart to first stir the starch for custard with a little liquid, and only then mix this paste into the boiling milk (hint: straining lumpy custard is possible, but not fun) and other brainless stuff like that.

In spite of all my botches, the cake turned out really nice and now serves as my breakfast. Well, a small part of it only, obviously. (I have this... thing... for baking cakes that can feed a company of hungry cake-eaters. I have some normal-sized ones in my repertoire, but most of my cakes contain instructions like "3 jars of cherries" or "2 kg of rhubarb" or "2.5 kg bananas". Just lifting the baking sheet and carrying the cake around earns you the right to eat some, because we all know that weightlifting persons need a lot of extra calories, right?)

Apart from this, I have the article to finish (it needs some closing words, then one last go-over, tweaking the bibliography and adding in the pics), some mails to write, some money to wire away, and then it's time to pack for Freienfels so we can start early tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Things that would be really helpful.

Things that would be really helpful right now:

Another week of time for finishing that article. (Has to be finished today, due to Freienfels.)
Not having hay-fever at all.
Even more time for doing a bunch of things that are fun (and also sort of necessary) but also take time - like planting out a few of the seedlings crowding the wintergarden here, and re-potting some others, and baking a cake (with rhubarb! It's rhubarb season, hooray!)
And even more more time for some much-needed putting things into order and straightening out stuff. Plus (very important) the motivation to actually do it.
An extra-fast postal service, since I'm waiting for a heap of packets, none of which have arrived yet. Which is very sad. And they include a packet with material that I hope to use for the new market stall setup/decoration... so it should better arrive before Friday morning.

And, top of the list: profound knowledge of everything that I need to know. Preferably in form of something like eidetic memory that also enables me to exactly, and faultlessly, remember where I read something. That would be so cool.

On the plus side, the installation thingie for the flowery newness is almost complete - I only need to drill three holes and pack three leather strips as ties for it. And I'm really looking forward to Freienfels!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

When dirt is cool.

Dirt is nice, especially when it conserves stuff. Any archaeologist knows that.
Getting your hands dirty is nice. Any craftsperson knows that.
And any bibliophile knows that you should not touch books when you have dirty hands...

but what if you are a bibliophile archaeologist-slash-craftsperson? You will probably have at least a few books that are at least a little dirty. Now that can also be a good thing! Trust me! In a few hundred years, should your books with the dirt on them have survived, and should they be deemed interesting enough for study, stuff might happen with the dirt on them.

As it now does with the dirt on late medieval manuscripts. Someone is actually looking at dirt traces as wear patterns on prayer books, and trying to extract information about the use of said books by the reader. This, I'd say, is really cool stuff to do with dirt!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Alles neu macht der Mai.

Blogger has finally changed its layout for everybody, including people like me who try to stick to the old layout they know well until it's not possible anymore.

Otherwise, stuff has changed layout too, in a manner of speaking: I have done my inventory check and combined this with emptying, checking and cleaning and re-filling the boxes for my goods. This was, of course, accompanied by the usual grumbling about how boxes in different sizes never fit into a larger box without trouble. Quite a few of the goods changed box shape and size, so I am looking forward (well, not really) to hunting for the box I remember containing x and then finding that x moved. (Yes, I did label the boxes to avoid as much of that as possible.)

All this shifting and sorting actually led to the workspace getting a tiny bit more organised in the process, which is a very, very good thing. So on my schedule for today: spooling the last rolls of yarn (new colour of fine plant-dyed silk!), putting even more things into even more order about here, and doing some serious (and deadlined) writing work.

Friday, 20 April 2012

The Flowery Newness.

I am using the time until the Copenhagen conference starts to do my pre-season-start inventory work, which also includes cleaning out and re-filling the many boxes I use to protect and store the wares that I lug along, and other work like dunking my baskets in water to clean and revitalise them.

And I'm very happy to announce that I can do this while sitting in a room with the newly finished Flowery Newness!

This was quite pleasant to work and did not take overly long, thanks to the appliqué technique. The motif is taken from a 15th century manuscript margin decoration; the manuscript is probably from South Germany and is a Book of Hours. You can see the inspiration page in the British Library online thingie, here.

For those interested in the technique: It's wool on wool, plant dyes (with exception of the stems, which are fake onion-dyed chemical dye), edges caught with beeswax and sewn on with plant-dyed silk thread. I had to use a substitute for the gilt leather strip that would usually have surrounded the edges; the substitute is a gilt thread (which should really be called a rope, compared to proper historical gold thread).

This flowery banner will adorn my sales table in Freienfels - and I think it's quite the eye-catcher!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Good-bye, Piece of Cultural History.

If you are reading this blog, there is a rather high chance that the name "Oseberg" will mean something to you. Just in case it does not: The Oseberg ship was a Viking age burial ship and a spectacular archaeological find. It has beautiful carvings, and, as usual for a burial ship, was equipped with the burial (of course), other wooden items (such as a wagon), non-wooden items, and some equally spectacular textiles (the pictures aren't of spectacular quality in this link, but it will give you an overview of the finds).

The ship was found in 1903 and excavated in 1904. And now, it seems, the wooden items are in really, really dire need of reconservation - as this article (in Norwegian) describes.

For those of you who do not read Norwegian: The conservation method used for several of the wooden finds (not the ship) was employing alum as a stabilising agent. This has made the wood very brittle, and now it has been found that the finds are slowly rotting away from the inside, so that  they are only still kept together by the slightly more stable surface. The main items afflicted with this are the wagon and the sled. The museum has asked for money from the Norwegian government to save the finds, but this was denied. Because, the government says, the museum and/or university should be paying for something like this out of their own budget.  (They asked for approximately 5 million Euro to save the finds. And everybody knows that any museum or university can easily afford a sum like that, just so, at the drop of any hat.)
According to the article, the finds could fall apart any moment. (Thanks to Natascha Mehler and Rainer Schreg for translating all that to German, so I could translate on.)

I don't know what to say. I really, really don't. Norway is not that poor a country, and the finds really are outstanding and a piece of their cultural heritage.

Now the museum's last hope is for private sponsors. 

I still can't believe this.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


First of all, if you are interested in hearing about textiles and economy, don't forget that the conference in Copenhagen starts tomorrow at 9 in the morning (GMT +1). All the links to participate via remote connection are up, and I think folks in Copenhagen are looking forward to having a remote audience too! This is certainly something that makes me feel all futuristic.

In other news, the flowery newness is not yet finished; there's still some (but considerably less) work to do - mostly the last embellishments plus the edges of the thing.

And finally, I have been looking for an alternative to amazon again (why? they are too mighty, and they know it), since they gobbled up the bookdepository online shop in 2011, prompting quite a few concerned reactions. I have now heard that at least for Germany, seems to be a good alternative - free shipping for books (in the country, at least), a decent selection of English books, and their prices are only slightly higher than those of bookdepository or amazon. I can live with slightly higher prices if the rest is fine - plus they even offer several different payment methods with no added costs, like paying after getting an invoice.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

It's progressing.

Work in progress, with real progress: My new eyecatcher for the market stall table. It's colourful, it's nice, it's not very small but small enough to fit on the table, and it has something to do with flowers. Plus, and that's a big plus, I have managed to pick a technique that does not take ages to do, for a change in my usual procedures.
The bad news for you: I have decided not to post a picture of the work-in-progress of the new sales table embellishment (one needs something new nice to look at once in a while, right?) but only show a picture of it once it's finished. The good news for you, then, is that I have some hope that I may be able to finish it today... there's not too much work left on it.

First, however, I will have to bring the car away to get the windshield repaired - the glass still has its huge crater from when a stone hit it on the way to the IRM in Borg. And after that, the day even promises to be a very nice day, with good weather - which always means I can sit in the sun while working. Hooray!

Monday, 16 April 2012


It's that time of year (and the weather) when pollen of the early blooming trees are out in force, and accordingly it's the time of year when I sneeze much more often than I find funny. Still, it could be worse (and I've had worse hayfever), so I'm quite content.

Apart from my nose iching and me waking up people with sneezing, things are fine here, and rolling on as usual. Which means I have more than enough things to do, some of them with deadlines... including re-stocking the inventory for season's start in Freienfels. Which is on my list for today, and I'm looking forward to winding some more yarn spools and combing some more wool. And if luck is on my side, I can even do the combing outside in the garden, sneezing or not!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Conference about Textile and Economy

The university of Copenhagen hosts a conference about Textiles and Economy in the Middle Ages (in northern and central Europe) that will take place on the 19th and 20th of April. While this will be too short a notice for most of us to secure a spot in the conference and rush to Copenhagen, it's still possible to attend through remote participation via the conference homepage:

Production and trade of textiles in medieval Europe - The central and northern Europe as example.

The link for the online participation seems not to be live yet, but I suspect (and hope!) this will change in the next few days. The conference is open to a global internet audience and you will be able to participate from your own computer where ever you are, using the on-line meeting system Adobe Connect.

I am certainly planning to catch a few of those lectures!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Free Journal Issues!

It seems like Maney Publishing is doing some promotional called "Journal of the Month", which leads to one journal being offered with discounts and, even better, free issues! This months' special journal is the Journal of Field Archeology, and you can access and download the 12 issues here:

That's a nice idea, I think, especially since those journals can be quite pricey...

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

In situ or not in situ?

Open-air-museums and reconstructions of historical buildings are still en vogue - a look at Guedelon in France proves that easily. There is, however, one basic question which often leads to discussion among archaeologists and museum folks: In situ or not in situ? Is it a good idea to build a reconstruction right on top of the excavation site - or is it not?

The EXARC website has a very interesting piece on this question, where ten authors from different positions and places give their answer and opinion. If you like open-air museums or are interested in reconstruction, I heartily recommend reading it.

My own view, by the way, is that it should be avoided - I feel that the danger of sealing in or destroying archaeological information that might be helpful later on is too great, as is the danger of mixing reconstruction and historical reality - both in the visitor's minds and eyes and, once the new structures are also decaying, in the field.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

It's cold outside!

I'm back from  a lovely easter break - we spent the weekend with my family, which included long late breakfasts, nice meals, dyeing eggs on Saturday, lovely coffee and cake in the afternoons, and almost all the family there for coffee on Monday (which made us seventeen persons).

One thing that we did not do this year, though, was a little Easter stroll outside. It was really cold and not very tempting to go for a walk, it even snowed a little bit on Sunday. True April weather - and the temperatures did show that Easter was not really late in the year this time. It's not quite as cold here, but just as grey and overcast.

Which means that now I will start doing all the stuff that needs to be done not sitting in the warm sunshine in the wintergarden, but at my regular place at my desk... and since Freienfels and thus the real start of the season will be quite, quite soon, there is plenty of stuff to do, like portion and spool some more of the gold thread, do an inventory of the rest of the wares, and get the books up to date. And once this is done, taxes have to be filed, just like every year...

Friday, 6 April 2012

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everybody!

Proper blogging will resume after the Easter Holidays. I hope you will all have a good time!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Not much new.

There's not much new to tell - as could have been expected, I did not finish off that long list of small things to take care of yesterday. I'm also waiting for a call from a car repair shop, since the last drive included a nasty stone impact that left a crater in the windscreen glass. At least my backup is finished (it took most of yesterday) and I can start migrating to the larger hard disk. Yay space!

Apart from that, I am thinking hard about how to fine-tune my display of goods for the markets and events. I have a few ideas, but I have not decided completely yet... luckily, there's still a bit more than two weeks left before the next event. Which will be Freienfels - and I am looking forward to going there, meeting old (and new) friends, and having a good time as usual!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Is it over already?

I really enjoyed the day off yesterday - spent mostly sitting in the sun, enjoying the warm, balmy spring air, and reading. And now it's back to all those things that wait for me to do them - including a full backup of my current data on the computer, and then migrating the contents of the computer to a new (and much larger) internal disk drive.

And all this because I am running out of space, and I started to shift some files to external disk drives - until a while ago I realised that there are pictures missing from the internal drive. Pictures that I knew must be there, and that seem to be (hopefully all of them) on a backup drive from quite a while ago. I have no clue how that could have happened, but it's not filling me with delight, quite the contrary. So I did what everyone with not enough space on the disk does: I ordered a new, bigger one. Once this is all finished, I will have an internal terabyte (Yay! Space!) which, judging by my current migration process to bigger disks, should last at least two years... or quite a bit more.

These were the news from pallia's IT department. Stay tuned for news from the Customer Service department and the Research Facilities... they are due soon.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Back from the IRM.

I am back from the fair, and it was really, really nice - a lot of people I knew (and some that I had not seen for ages), and a lot of people I enjoyed to meet for the first time. We had a nice and cozy room, friendly neighbours (the three closest were two ceramics ladies, a Roman painter and a Roman knife-maker, followed by several jewellery and textiles folks), a delightfully fun evening on Saturday, and lots of interested visitors.

And now, after all the stuff that happened and the places I went during the last weeks, I am in need of a day off - which is exactly what I will be taking today. There's a dentist appointment on my calendar in a bit more than an hour, and there's a package to fetch from the post office, and the rest of the day will be spent in delightful stupor, reading a book I have read a dozen of times before and drinking tea and doing nothing, nothing at all. That, my friends, sounds like bliss to me at the moment...

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Mühlberg-Ensemble strikes again!

If you have never heard about it, the Mühlberg-Ensemble is a complex of buildings in Kempten, southern Germany, where lots of organic material from c. 1470 to 1580 were found in the dead floors and other fillable parts of the building structures.

They were excavated several years back, and now vol. 3 of the publication of the finds is finally out! 

Rainer Atzbach / Ingolf Ericsson (eds), Die Ausgrabungen im Mühlberg-Ensemble (Kempten). Metall, Holz und Textil. Bamberger Schriften zur Archäologie des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit 3 =
Mühlbergforschungen Kempten (Allgäu) 3 (Bonn 2011).
362 S., zahlr. (tls farb.) Abb., 1 CD-ROM, 30 cm. (Bamberger Schriften z. Archäol. d. Mittelalters u. d. Neuzeit, 3/ Mühlbergforsch. Kempten, 3) Ln,
978-3-7749-3756-7, € 59,-

The volume contains the results of excavations in the basement plus the evaluation and publication of the metal and wooden finds. In addition, Antoinette Rast-Eicher and Klaus Tidow wrote about the textile finds from the buildings. You can find a table of contents and a German/English summary here (pdf file).

The book can be ordered from the publishing house or via your local bookshop. I already have a copy, but have not yet managed to take a good look into it - some report about it will follow as soon as I find the time.