Friday, 20 December 2013

See you on the flip side!

It's Friday, December 20 - the last weekend before Xmas or Jule or whatever you wish to call it. I, for now, will call these coming two weeks "holidays" and have my traditional blog hiatus over the festive season.

The next two weeks will be time spent with friends and family, enjoying good food, good company, and good times. There will be cookies and coffee and tea and chocolate and festive meals, there will be walks outside enjoying the fresh air and hours spent at a gaming table inside, too.

2013 was a good year for me, one that I enjoy looking back on - and I wish 2014 to be even better. I hope that your last year was also a good one, and that you can go into the next year with someone close to you.

I will see you on the flip side - regular blogging will resume on January 7, 2014. May we all have good times until then (and after that as well)!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Randomish Link Dump.

Here you go, have a random-ish link dump!

Things are stirring regarding copyright and distribution issues of papers on

Heritage Daily posts about the Archaeology of Star Wars.

A French café charges extra if you are rude.

I have posted a link to the Portable Antiquities Scheme before; here's a blog with critical thoughts about metal detecting and private collecting of artefacts.

Renaissance paintings go modern photographs - beautiful "re-enactments" done to challenge xenophobia.

Why owls do not a good pet make.

And finally, Rudolphus the Red-Nosed as Gregorian Choral.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Getting ready to wind down.

This week is the week of parties and getting together with friends and colleagues and former colleagues to eat and drink and enjoy the season. The Most Patient Husband of them all has time off already, so I sneak in some work (a few last things need doing before the holidays) and join him some in relaxing and just hanging out. A few days more, and it will be family time for us, and we're both looking forward to that.

The weather is not very christmassy, too warm and snowless, but I don't really mind. We're having the presents all lined up, the cookies have all been baked, and it's nice to have a gingerbread and a cup of coffee and just relax.

And in the spirit of things you always do before Xmas or Jul or however you want to call it, here's Arkikon's Julekort 2013. (Arkikon is a Norwegian company specialising in graphical reconstructions, so their season's greetings are worth seeing - if you go on their homepage, you can also have a look at those of years past.)

Plus the obligatory music bit - this year in German, brought to me by a friend's blog entry, and an incredible earworm:

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Textile Conference Stuff.

It's time for a little textile conference stuff - exciting things are coming up!

First of all, NESAT. The next one is taking place in Hallstatt, and the preliminary programme is online. Also, the proceedings from last NESAT are now out and available from Verlag Marie Leidorf.As usual, you should also be able to get them via your book dealer of choice.

The CTR Copenhagen also has a few conference announcements on their website, including a conference about traditional textile crafts early in 2014.

If you have been in thorough contact with textile crafts, especially tablet weaving, chances are high that you have read at least one book by Peter Collingwood. Sadly, he died a few years ago (here's an obituary). The Early Textiles Study Group, where he was a member until his death, now has a CfP out for a conference about Crafting Textiles from the Bronze Age to AD 1600: A tribute to Peter Collingwood. The conference will take place in London 10 to 11 October 2014, the CfP is open until January 31, 2014. Here is the conference website, in case you would like to be part of this.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Feeling sleepy?

This weekend, a friend told me about research into historic sleep patterns - seems like not only do we modern people sleep less than we would need to as a basic tendency, but also differently.

Research points at two sleep phases, with a time of quiet-ish activity in between, being the usual thing a few centuries ago, before electric lights were common and turned the night into day. Are you curious instead of sleepy now?

Here's an article on a website called slumberwise, BBC newsmag tells us about the myth of the eight-hour sleep, and some guy I've never heard of before gave it a try.

This, I think, is very cool - and a brilliant example on how things change, and stuff will seem strange to our modern western culture is what was so normal it wasn't even worth mentioning a few hundred years ago.

Friday, 13 December 2013

The Joy of Access.

I have been skimming, reading and researching a heap of articles recently (processing them with the help of Qiqqa, as explained some time back).

Article databases and online journal repositories can be a wonderful way to lose a few hours, by a similar thing to the encyclopaedia effect - you sort of hop from one topic to a related one, and from one author to more of that author to another author... well. I think you all know how that ends. If you don't have access, though, it will most probably end in frustration - so many things, such high prices, so little chance to get at them.

One easy way to get article access is to get a library card from a friendly University library in your vicinity. But what if you do not live near one? For the Germans (or those living in Germany), there is good news: Everybody who has a permanent address in Germany can ask for participation in the Nationallizenzen scheme.

You register for this (stating, of course, your German address); then you get sent a letter with your login data. The Nationallizenzen access has a few restrictions, such as moving walls keeping you from the most recent publications and similar, but it's a very nice and convenient way to get at a huge number of articles and e-books that you otherwise would pay several arms and legs for.

So... hooray for access! And now I shall read some more articles. Because I can. (And because I need some more nice references and suggested further reading for, oh, still too many topics of that book project.)

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Ah, not again.

Yesterday I read about flour - especially bleached flour. Which was sorta new to me, bleached flour, erm - that stuff is almost white anyways?

Turns out that flour is actually getting bleached at least in the US, with stuff that I would not necessarily want close to my food thankyouverymuch. (In Germany, bleaching flour was banned in the 1950s. Thank you, Germany. Sometimes your rules are nice.)

With that still freshly in the back of my mind, I was not happy about hearing of TTIP this morning, brought to me by an email about a petition against it. Similarly to the ACTA thing of a while ago, now corporations and politicians want to make a secret trade agreement thingie that will allow them to do wild things to "non-tariff barriers to trade". Which is, basically, the rules about things like which food is ok to sell and which is not, thankyouverymuch. Or data security stuff.

The US folks, it seems, are afraid that such an agreement will make them have stricter rules for their markets. Others are more forthrightly declaring it's a bad idea - a betrayal of the public. It would also give companies the possibility to sue against laws that cut their profit due to some insignificant things such as, for example, banning the bleaching of flour. (Lawsuits like that have actually already happened. This is... wow.) Democracy, who needs that?

So, I don't care on which side you are standing - US or EU, I think it's not a good thing for those who don't happen to be in the saddle of one of the huge companies. If you agree (which I hope you do), please sign one of the petitions against it:
this one at Sum of Us or this one from Campact (German-Language, but you will manage, I'm sure).
Or both, for good measure.

Since it looks like there will be a meeting concerning the agreement on Monday, there's not so much time left - so if you can, please spread the word about it, too!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Blogging Archaeology Carnival - December

I joined into Doug's Blogging Carnival last month (here is the digest and link list of all the 60+ bloggers who participated), and I did enjoy this a lot - I rarely blog to a topic that was pre-specified for me, and it's a nice challenge. Plus it has sidetracked me to a number of other archaeology blogs that I peeked into, and it sort of feels like connecting with other blogging archaeologists... even though it might be no "real" connection, if you know what I mean. (Don't fret if you don't. I'm rambling here.)

That said, I have just realised that December is not so very long anymore... so it's time for me to tackle the December questions for the Blogging Archaeology Carnival: What are "the Good, the Bad and the Ugly" of blogging for me?

The Good? There's a stack of things that I like about my blogging. It adds a little element of structure to my day (seldom a bad thing for a freelancer). It keeps me writing, and practising my English (never bad for a second language). I can try to be funny, share some personal things that I am excited about and that I want to get out into the world, help other folks spread the word about events, or blogs, or CfPs.
Also, I have an excuse to rootle around other blogs and investigate stuff and read up on things - it's research for my daily blogging, since I have to have something to write about, right? And I am absolutely delighted if I get a nice comment, or if I meet somebody at a conference or on a fair or at an event and get to hear something like "oh, that is your blog? I've been reading it for ages!"

The Bad of blogging is there, too. Of course. The days when I don't feel like blogging and have to do it anyways - because I am supposed to. Stretches of days when I feel like I have nothing to say that is of any interest to anybody, and that I am blogging such lame stuff that I will lose tons of readers. The times when I have so many links piled up that even though that's plenty of stuff to blog about, I can't get the motivation to get them into something like order and package them into a suitable post. And sometimes I would love to get some more comments, some more feedback, just to have an inkling on how I am doing. (Myself, I'm not much of a commenter on other blogs, too - so I probably should not complain about that one.)

On the Ugly front, though, I am happily almost untouched. I have not gotten any real bad vibes due to blogging, I have not lost jobs or opportunities (at least not that I know of), or had other grievances. The worst that happens to me, blog-wise, is someone re-posting things without acknowledging their source and the occasional spammer attack. There's no way to completely prevent the first, so I just shrug it off; the latter has been greatly reduced by turning comment moderation on for posts that are older than three days or so.

Here you go, Doug - that's my Good, Bad, and Ugly of Blogging.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Writing, and Academia, and Yog's Law.

I got an email comment regarding my post about publishing and money flow from last week - and it's probably worth it to go into a little more detail here.

There's three kinds of getting published - the kind where you get paid for (my favourite!), the kind where you don't see money, and the kind that you pay for yourself.

I've already written about what I think of paying for getting published. Now, for the record - I know that especially in academia, there are circumstances (like you have to get your thesis published, and it's such a fringe topic nobody will ever buy the book, probably) where you will end up paying for getting the book out. Personally, I think that is not good, and even unfair, and I would recommend that if you do need to get the book published with an ISBN number and stuff, try to find a publisher that will offer you decent conditions, or look into PoD and BoD services. (If you feel that you really want to cough up a lot of money just so some big-name academia publishing house's name and logo graces the spine of your book which will technically be on the market but cost a shitload of money so only libraries, if they, will buy it, feel free to do so. Myself, I have a strong opinion on things like that, which you can probably guess from what I have written so far.)

This leaves the two other options for consideration: publishing for free, and getting money for it. I will start with my favourite option. You write a book, you invest a lot of time and money, and nerves, and probably shed some tears or at least metaphorical tears, and wiggle so much on your seat you have pants-wear-and-tear to pay for, and all the black pixels in your computer get all worn out, and so on. You hand the book on to a publishing house, and they wear out some more pixels and chase around electrons and do stuff with ink and paper and advertisement designers and stuff. And then they do maths, and calculations, and then they send out a book, a real honest physical book that smells like newly printed paper, to bookshops and sellers and other people. The publisher deserves money for their work, and the booksellers need to buy their food and pay their rent, and the printing costs money and the warehousing too, so there's not so much money left once that's all paid for and done - but the author has also invested time and effort, a not inconsiderable amount of that, and that should also be rewarded with money. Not just with the good feeling of having a book out (because that won't pay the rent for the author either). I am not expecting the book revenue to add up to a honest freelancing hourly wage, and about every author out there will probably tell you that you have to write really well and really much and really fast to make a half-decent living off writing, and that is for novels and not for science books too - but I would very much like to have something coming in onto my bank account telling me that what I did is appreciated, and rewarded, and I will be able to go have some moderately priced sushi once a year, at the very least.

Now, if you are writing a PhD thesis or something similar, maybe in an esoteric out-there field that you love and few other people even know that it exists... you will have a hard time finding a publishing house that offers you money for it. When I was starting out to write my PhD, I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to publish it in a "normal", not a purely academic, publishing house. So from the very start, I tailored my writing towards that goal - and I was lucky on many counts with that: having a topic that does lend itself to being published regularly (since there is enough interest in that topic in the public), having supervisors who appreciated the style and voice in the writing and did not insist on "academese", finding a wonderfully supportive editor and a good, solid publishing house, and last but not least getting additional funding from VG Wort which made publishing the book at that price possible.

However, I have also written and published for free, plenty of times. All the articles that I have written? There was not a penny passed towards me. That is the third case, and it's the common method in academia - you publish, but you don't get paid.

Here's a snippet of the mail I received:

It does overlap your other articles on a fair price for craft though. By doing it for free am I lowering the costs for everyone? But by not doing it for free it wouldn't get done! The 'payment' I'm getting is things that money can't buy: I enjoy it, can see the longterm benefits from it (my work/ideas/research findings are published, I've gained experience, a reputation, it leaves the door of academia open and improves my ability to get in there later).
Ah, yes. I have firm principles in some areas of my life, and I have wishes that I know will not become true in others - and publishing (academic) articles and getting paid for them is definitely in the "I wish" category.
As in many things in Real Life (TM), there are shades of grey and not just black and white to things; and for some of the folks writing and publishing without getting pay for the article, it's not really an investment of time with nothing in return. If I am doing research and am getting paid for it, I have already been paid for my work - publishing for free is not working for free, in that case. If I am publishing without getting paid in money, I am (as mentioned above) getting non-monetary things back too: an article more to my name, my ideas get spread, maybe I can inspire some nice fruitful dialogue, some research gets furthered. For a freelancer, getting your name known better may be the difference between getting hired for things or not - so I could see it as an investment in a (very special) kind of advertisment for myself.
In my personal case, it might also enable me to get some copies of the book for re-selling, so I still have the chance of making a bit of money after all. What really bugs me a bit, though, is having published an article for free and then seeing said article as the online version with a really hefty price tag on it. Yes, there are costs to the publishing house - but sometimes these prices just seem unrealistically high to me.

But if you don't submit to this? We are, as academics, living in a culture where as a rule you publish your research and articles without getting money from the publishing house. You may get offprints or reduced prices for the printed article, but there is no money flow toward the author; in some cases, there is even Unlawful Flow according to Yog. Publishing for no money is not a too big deal for those who get paid for their research work, as much or all of that writing time is already paid for; it is, however, a serious investment of time with no direct revenue for an independent researcher. So the question is, in some way: can you afford to publish? On the other hand you cannot afford not to publish - to keep in the loop, to keep your doors open should you wish to stay or return to classic academia, to build up your reputation. And to get your research findings out - because unpublished research is a kind of a waste, too.
Best for publication is thus something that will get widely known, not just an obscure little place in the Internet, or a small regional journal that will be very hard to get in a few years' time, if you actually manage to learn that something of interest was published in there.
And the big names of journals? The ones that get read widely, and have a high impact? Those are often the real pricey ones, where you have a hefty price tag on each single article - even the nonprinted e-version.

So if I get the opportunity to publish an article about the Spinning Experiment in a big, widely-read journal - I take a deep breath, and the opportunity.

Have you published your research for free? How do you feel about that situation, and the question of money flow? Please let me (and your fellow readers) know in the comments - I'd love to hear your opinion!

Monday, 9 December 2013

What's that smell?

There is the odour of the season gently wafting through our rooms - smells of baking, of chocolate and nuts and butter. This weekend saw a fair bit of baking - including that of a friend who currently has no kitchen and joined in with his cookie-baking hereabouts, so the oven really did work for its keep. Now we're about finished with the making of all the cookies and goodies for the Xmas coffee table - just two more kinds to go, one of them designed to use up the egg-whites that get left over from other kinds of cookies.

I do the quite-traditional German style baking, where you have one kind of basic cookie dough and turn it into different kinds by adding diverse yumminess enhancers - such as sour (red currant) gelee between two cookies and then coating the top with chocolate. Or doing the same, but with praline (what the Germans call Nougat) instead of the jam. Or adding marzipan to them, stuck onto a single cookie with help of more praline. And then leaving a few ones plain, too - makes four kinds of different cookies from one kneading and baking.

Should you want to join in the baking craze, here's one post with previous recipes, and here is the recipe for the Lemon Thingies.

And because it's almost traditional by now to share a recipe with you at about this time of year, here is one that I took into the canon of things to bake in the season last year: Chocolate-coffee-nut-spheroids. It's one of the "use up your leftover egg whites" recipes - typical German butter cookies call for more egg yolks than whole eggs, so you are saddled with egg whites. I store them into a lock&lock box until I get around to using them; my sister once told me she also freezes them when she has to keep them for a longer while, or when she wants to save them for something larger involving more of the stuff later in the year. I usually base these recipes on 2 egg whites for writing them down, and then prepare double or triple this amount (depending on the number of whites, and the amount of final objects desired).


200 g mixed nuts (I usually go for a little less than a third walnuts, and the rest almonds and hazelnuts in about similar amounts), chopped not too finely
80 g sugar
100 g dark chocolate, molten
2 egg-whites
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder

2 drops bitter almond aroma
1 generous pinch of baking soda

Dissolve coffee powder in about 2 teaspoons of water, then add all the other ingredients. (The baking soda is not in there as a leavening agent, but to neutralise the acid in the coffee, which together with the walnuts can taste unpleasant to some folks.) With wet hands, form small spheres (I place a water bowl beside me to re-wet my hands as needed, and make the spheres about 1.5 to 2 cm in diameter).
Bake for 15 mins at 150° C (fan oven). After cooling, place into a tin to store. Or eat them right away. (Maybe not all of them at once, though...)

I love those little thingies. If you are going to bake them, I hope you'll enjoy them too!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Spinning Experiment Article!

Today it's time for me to rejoice - my article about the Spinning Experiment (yes, that one back from 2009) has been published in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. Here's the link.

It's not open access, since that requires the author (yes, the author) to pay a stupid amount of money which I can't afford (and even if I did, I would not since I am a strong believer in the Rule, or Yog's Law). I'd much prefer if it were free, or open access, or offered at an affordable price - but as things are, I am very happy to have the article out there, and published in a journal where it will be seen (and hopefully read) by a lot of people.

(If you would like to read the article, you may have access to it from a library computer if the library subscribes to the journal.)

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Stacks of Links.

The links have been piling up again, so here you go - a whole stack of them:

An article about the education of upper-class women in the Middle Ages - I found that very interesting.

Diachronic Design is a blog and webpage concentrating on computers in archaeology - there's not too much content yet, but it could be worthwhile to watch.

Pompeii is crumbling (German blog Archaeologik posts links to Italian articles about collapses).

Doug has done the roundup and synopsis of the (many!) answers to his first Blogging Archaeology Carnival, "Why do you blog".

In case you haven't seen the box-turns-something-else yet, here is the link. (I think this is way, way cool. The only question I have in regards to similar folding thingies is - where in hell do you put the mattress? You still have to store that somewhere, right? And it will be... bed-sized. So no actual space-saving takes place.)

The British Library has a medieval manuscripts blog, covering for example the marginalia of the Gorleston Psalter.

A very interesting post on sharing data: Archaeology and Github (over on Powered by Osteons).

And finally, a (German-language) repository and database of old cooking recipes, dated 1646 until the 20th century.


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

New stuff in the shop!

We are nearing the end of the year, and before 2014 starts, I am widening my range of goods. You can now find more new things in my shop - linen bands.

Modern fabrics are usually woven to the standard width of about 140 or 150 cm. While this is not wider than some medieval fabrics were, and very practical to work with if you are tailoring something or trying to calculate your fabric needs for a specific garment, there are times when the standard width just won't cut the mustard.

Luckily, there are a few small companies left that have looms suitable for narrow wares. And while most of these produce modern-style patterned bands from cotton or viscose or other more modern materials, I have managed to find one that does pure linen weaves.

So now I can offer linen tape in 8 mm width, in bleached or unbleached,

as well as 3 and 5 cm wide tape.

There's a lot of uses I can imagine for bands like that - fixing fibre on a distaff, for example. The fabric has an even threadcount in warp and weft, so you can also use it as basis for late medieval counted-stitch embroidery, in case you are looking for clothing embellishment. (It's on the coarser side for medieval embroidery, though.) The 5 cm would also be a good width for a barbette, saving the need to hem a strip of cut cloth, with the added bulk at the edges that hemming brings.
And speaking of fabric for headwear:  In case you are looking for material for a veil or kerchief and would actually prefer to have the selvedge of the fabric along the long edges (both of them!) of your piece, here's something for you:

transparent headwear linen, woven to a width of 50 cm - which is wide enough, according to my own experience, for headwear pieces. It's really light and airy, amazingly so, and it saves you the hassle of having to hem at least one long edge.

The headwear linen is also available in a non-transparent version, with a weave density similar to that of the 3 and 5 cm wide bands. I'm offering all those pieces not per metre, but per 10 cm, so you can buy exactly the amount you need, no more, no less.

There's also a very small number of bronze pins, and it looks like the netting needles will be back in stock soon too. And in case you are a spinner and looking for some nice, non-merino top to spin, I have Coburg Fox sheep, German Eiderwolle and a naturally brown mixed German wool for you.

Finally, I have new spindle whorls coming in - here's a sneak preview picture:

If you want to see more of the shop (or buy some of the stuff, even), here's a friendly link to take you there. I hope you enjoy all these things as much as I do!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Rethinking stuff.

The last workshop I gave turned out a little differently than planned - a little smaller due to some illnesses, and a little more open-themed, partly as a consequence of that.

The result of this change toward more openness, and more diverse topics, pleased all of us no end. So much, in fact, that I have decided to rethink my workshop/course structure in general. Since one of the issues for workshops is to get enough people interested in the course topic together, on that one specific date, having an open-topic workshop takes out this major issue, so it's easier for me to have a workshop. An added benefit? Participants can have a look at what the other participants do, and maybe widen their interest.

So while I will keep up the offer of courses catering to a specific topic - especially for groups or museums that want to have a course or workshop tailored to their topic of choice - I will also offer small, open-topic workshops hereabouts.

These will be small because it's not possible to run multiple topics in a large group. A small one, however, allows for it since all the textile work is a bit of instruction, a bit of working on it by yourself. So basically, the open-themed courses are going to work like this: you book your course spot, and we will figure out what you are going to focus on during the workshop. I will then prepare your topic accordingly, and you can work on it during the course day(s), getting the instruction you need and want, with the opportunity to soak up some extra knowledge from what other participants focus on. (Or even switch focus, if you want that.)

I'm currently sorting out dates for the next three workshops of this type and am writing up the info text for the shop... so it will be online soon. And I'm already looking forward to the first of these workshops - since the last one was such a nice experience!

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Hunt.

These days, I get the feeling that in the middle of all the seasonal preparations, I am hunting for some elusive stuff all the time. Elusive stuff as in "that's how it was in the Middle Ages".

So high on today's list of things to do: counting threads from fabric samples and trying to decide if some of them will do as 14th century fabric replicas.

This is weird, and exhilarating, and interesting in a way that fabric samples probably should not be. Out comes the little USB microscope now. Threads, I will count on you!

Not all of the current hunts are as difficult, though - there has been some progress, and I hope to have suitable light for taking decent photos later today, so I can share my findings with you.

Until then, here is a truly breathtaking video that has nothing to do with historical textiles - but a lot with going for what you want to go for, and never mind conventions and naysayers.

This video left me totally boggled. It's... wow. Just... wow.

Friday, 29 November 2013

More Manesse, and barbette-and-fillet thoughts.

Yesterday's post brought up a question in the comments regarding whether the fillet with the pie-crust edge was closed on top or not... good question.

Personally, I tend to see all of the fillets as open on top unless I can clearly see otherwise. That is possibly due just to a personal quirk, but my reasoning is: You don't really need it closed on top for stability (stiff linen holds up just fine even without an inlay of leather, or felt, or whatnot), and it's easier to adjust in size if you don't close it. So you can have a strip of linen that you tack together or even just hold together with a needle in the back, and if your hair changes or your hairstyle changes or you have a thicker barbette... adjusting the size is no big deal. Also it saves material.

There is one non-typical fillet in the codex Manesse that shows, very clearly, a non-closed version:

(fol. 11v, or page 18)

I have also tended to see the little darker area on top of this fillet as the top of the head peeking through:

(fol. 32v)

The only closed headdress find I know is one from Villach-Judendorf; that one has, however, no pie crust and consists instead of gold-brocaded narrow ware. Beautiful - but quite different from the Manesse versions.

Finally, while there is no picture of b-and-f in the Manesse clearly showing the top of the head peeking through, there is also none clearly showing a fabric top. And there are quite a few pictures clearly showing the fillet as just a strip, such as this one:

(pic out of HÄGERMANN, D. (Ed.) (2001) Das Mittelalter. Die Welt der Bauern, Bürger, Ritter und Mönche., RM Buch und Medien.; late 13th c, England).

That's my thoughts about the question hat or band as fillet - I'd be happy to hear your opinion, and the reasons for your arriving there!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Conferences and stuff.

It's winter time, the time for planning, or so it seems. Also the time for registering at conferences. For example the Experimental Archaeology conference in Oxford:

Dear Colleagues,
Registrations are now open for the 8th UK Experimental Archaeology Conference that will take place in Oxford on 10 & 11 January 2014.
The registration fee is £55 for both days if you register before 1 December 2013. For more details and if you would like to have a look at the provisional program, feel free to visit our website:
To register, follow this link:
It doesn't look like I will be able to make it there this year, but the last one I was at was really nice.

I've also been sent a CfP per email, with the request to forward it - so if you are interesting in the following, email me and I will forward it to you:

Breda's Museum in the Netherlands is organizing an international conference on Costume and Textile Preservation in Museum, Theatre and Fashion. This is part of a meeting of the Costume Design Group (CDG) of OISTAT <>. In the first place this is a call for papers for the international conference in Breda, but interested attendants may want to choose for the complete CDG activities or just for the conference in Breda.
The preliminary programme includes a lot of visits to workshops and exhibitions, so it sounds really fascinating. Now if only I were a conservator....

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Manesse thing.

If you have looked at late-medieval pictures from Germany, chances are high that you have seen some from the Manesse Codex (completely online here, courtesy of Uni Heidelberg).

There's an iconic version of the female headdress of the barbette-and-fillet type in there, showing a wavy upper part. Like this:

(That's from fol. 32 v. Lots more to be found in the manuscript.)

I have heard about many different ways for a possible reconstruction of this wavy upper edge, and have seen a lot of interpretations - ranging from textiles woven with a ruffled edge, sewn-on ruches and ruffles to bands folded down and pleated, to an attached cord. It's perfectly possible that all these kinds of achieving a wavy edge were in use back then, but personally I have never seen a version that really convinced me.

Recently, I have added another interpretation to the mix - this one:

It's all linen (though it would be possible to make it with a stiff enough silk fabric), and the ruffled edge is made from the same fabric as the main part of the fillet. I think it might be possible to tickle it into even more similarity with the Manesse depiction, but for now, I am not unhappy with the visual impression...

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

This is... (drumroll) Post Number One Thousand!

It's hard to believe, but this post is actually number 1000 in this blog. Time for a celebration!

I have no pic of fireworks, but this one is a blooming Chili, and it will have to do as a celebratory pic:

It's amazing, really. One thousand posts...

Thank you for reading this blog - and here's to the next one thousand posts.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Am I or am I not? "Blogging Archaeology" Carnival.

I have found out about Doug's "Blogging Archaeology" carnival half a month ago, when that post was quite new. Now Rainer Schreg from Archaeologik (which is a mostly German blog) has joined in, bilangually. He has also condensed the basic info about that carnival beautifully:

At the SAA annual meeting 2014 in Texas there will be a Blogging Archaeology session. The weblog Doug's Archaeology by Doug Rocks-Macqueen contributes by hosting a blogging carnival (explained here). Each month leading up to the SAAs in April, Doug will post a question. Answers will be blogged at the individual blogs. At the end of each month, Doug will collect all posts and add their links.
The blogging topic for November: Why blogging? – Why did you, or if it was a group- the group, start a blog? Why are you still blogging?

Ever since I have read about the carnival, I was on the fence about it. Yes, I do have a blog, and I am an archaeologist, but I don't really see my blog here as a proper archaeology blog. But what the heck - I am going to join into the fun today, and I will let you (and Doug!) decide whether my blog is an archaeology blog - or not.

I started blogging back in 2008, December - the fifth blogiversary is almost upon me, can you believe it? When I started out, I had just finished my PhD thesis and was searching for a publishing house to take it on; I was starting out as a freelancer full-time, and I had no idea where my life would actually go. I was, however, already mostly out of the digging part of archaeology. (I loved the digs, but I tend to get knee issues when digging, and I knew years before that I did not want to do the actual digging forever.)

My (not-so-secret) plan was to regularly post things about archaeological textiles or garments and share things that I do, or find, including tips for computer gadgets, websites, books, and Calls for Paper. The blog was started because I had been reading blogs for a good while and just liked how people would share things and post excitingly interesting links, but it was also intended, right from the start, as a method of getting word about my work out there into the world - the work which happens to be connected, at least, to archaeology.
This blog saw my first bigger museum projects, as well as the birth of the Textile Forum. I have partly documented quite a few of my projects, and, as usual for blogs, started this or that blogging venture that soon tapered off into nothing (anyone remember the "all the gory details" venture? No? I'm glad you don't.). I have also used it to bleg, with varying success (mostly due to the very obscure things I was blegging for!) and have, according to plan, posted some things about medieval garments and other actually old things (tagged as "togs from bogs" even though they are not all bog finds).

Basically, the blog still does what I intended it to do, from the start - I share details (or vague allusions, in some cases) about my ongoing projects, I blog about conferences (mostly the CfPs, that is), occasionally about archaeological textiles, experimental archaeology or crafts, and there's a bit of self-promotion sprinkled in. There are not so many posts about ancient textiles as I had secretly hoped and planned to do, which is to the most part due to their taking up quite a lot of time. However, I still manage to blog most days, just like I planned from the start. There are blog-less days due to holidays, or conferences, or illnesses, but you get a post every weekday otherwise.
Just in case you wonder now why I planned on blogging Monday to Friday from the very beginning... that's because I was convinced that otherwise I would totally forget that it was Blog Day Today. Which I still am. And nothing is more frustrating than a blog you enjoy not posting at least from time to time, semi-regularly. So I made a decision to go for a daily post, even if just a short one, even if it would mean less really big and substantial posts due to time issues, because I personally would prefer having regular smaller updates to having very occasional bigger ones. And also, for me personally, if a blog only updates once in a blue moon, it needs to have really, really good and interesting posts to make me want to bother and check in on it from time to time.

I'm still blogging, obviously. I do it because I still think it's a good idea, and I hope what I have to say is helpful and interesting to readers - surely not every thing for every reader, but nobody manages that. So I blog on, even though sometimes it is hard to find the ideas, or something to blog about, or the motivation to add in those links and format those pictures. (Yes, sorry, I'm a lazy person in that respect.) The blogging in the morning (my morning, in case you are time-shifted) has become part of my daily routine, and I'd probably miss this. I would probably also miss having the blog as a good excuse to read other blogs and keep up with stuff and randomly click interesting links all because well, I need to have something to blog about, and maybe I could blog about that tomorrow?
When I have a bad day (or week), and I think about stopping the blog, I keep going because a) it would be stupid to have made all this investment of time and effort and good vibes into the blog just to stop because of a bad streak, and b) much more importantly, I hope that there are  people who would actually miss their regular read here, and the occasional useful link. Also, I still think defunct blogs are sad, and I don't want to add to the overall sadness of the Internet.

So there you have it. That's why I started blogging, and why I still keep on doing it.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Link salad.

Here you go, a little link salad, just for you:

The concept of Home in the age of the Internet: here.

German place names, in phonetic English, on a map (embedded in a German article): here.

Larsdatter's content index for the series "Medieval Textiles and Clothing": here.

The (now finished) project homepage of "Fashioning the Early Modern": here.

Joconde, the collections database and portal of French museums (in French, naturellement): here.

Otherwise, thank goodness it's Friday - this week was chock-full of work. It was nice, gratifying work for the most part, but that still means I am really looking forward to the weekend!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The joy of libraries.

I had a really intense and long day at the library yesterday, checking out a huge stack of books for different projects going on at the moment, and actually managing to work through some of them right away so I did not have to lug them all back home (just most of them). As usual when I'm in the TB 5 in Bamberg, it was a lovely day even though full of work - because that library is just the best one ever.

Libraries are per definition an awesome thing. I mean - books! Lots of them! In shelves, ordered, and with a searchable catalogue! Now add to that a large, always friendly and always helpful staff, even more wonderful books, a very good catalogue with the possibility to get books from other branches of the uni library quite quickly, the option to request inter-library loans with no hassle and no cost and, best of all, the possibility to request books for purchase. Then you have my library.

These days, I don't get there so often anymore, but back when I was working on my PhD thesis, I used to walk in there and sometimes, my books would be on the counter before I'd made it there. There are accessible stacks where you get to move stack-shelves with these fancy wheels, which I totally love. There are lots of tables, there is lots of light, and you have a nice view across the Regnitz river from some of these places. Plus internet options if you plug your computer in with a LAN cable.
Also, thanks to the "request-a-book" feature, Bamberg University has a quite impressive stack of archaeological textile literature, which makes it an even better place to me. (Guess who handed in many of these requests...) See? Best library ever.

If you have a good and friendly library - go tell your librarians you really appreciate them (and it). They have earned it - and libraries don't get enough praise anyways...

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Finally. Thick linen yarn.

A good while ago, someone working with archaeological textile finds asked me if I had thicker linen yarn, two-ply, for re-creating a braid. It took me a long while to find a good source for them, but I was successful at last, and can now offer two-ply linen that is about one mm in diameter, in both white and naturally coloured. It's a soft, thick yarn that will lend itself not only to braiding, but may also be worth considering if you have a very coarse cloth and want a thick yarn to go with it, or if you are looking for a reinforcement thread.

I have not managed to take the shop photos of them yet, but the daring can already order the thread - they are online as of this morning.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Baroque textile splendour - on exhibition.

It's a little later than what I usually blog about, but it more than makes up for it in splendour: There is an exhibition, very recently started, on the textiles of August der Starke (the strong), 1670-1733. The textiles stem from the polish coronation ceremony in 1697 and a wedding 1719 in Dresden, and they are exhibited together with thread-by-thread reconstructions in Dresden. This means it's possible to see and compare how the textiles look now and how they most probably looked when they were brand new and used for representation. The information about the exhibition says something about gold and silver cloth, velvets, gold embroidery and bright beautiful deep colours - all the best that textile manufacture is able to give.

The exhibition has just started on the 13th of November and will run until February 24, 2014. You can learn more about it on this English info page about the exhibition...

I think I shall go see Dresden, soon-ish.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Unordered thoughts.

It's all grey, grey and foggy. We need to go and do grocery shopping. The cat is (as usual) sleeping on her bed beside my desk (which is, as usual, in dire need of some more order). There's a stack of smallish and semi-pleasant tasks that I have been putting off or not found the time for, such as marking and putting away fabric samples, or working my way through a stack of paper.

My main task for today, however, is to write - I need to finish putting something together regarding medieval dress accessories. I have coffee, I have books, I have the internet, so technically nothing is keeping me from opening up that file and writing.

While I am doing this, you could go on with your day - or you could have a rootle through the grey literature, project archives and theses of the archaeological data service. Grey literature, for those that do not know the term, is unpublished and usually hard-to-access documentation; the internet makes this much easier. So if you always wanted to read a fieldwork documentation of an archaeological dig - this is the place for you to go.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Crazy busy.

I have tea (in a Disappearing Tardis mug, no less); breakfast; a sleeping cat beside me and a heap of work to do, including sending in abstracts.

I have also been spinning, testing out a spiral-shaped notch at the tip of a spindle stick as well as different ways of dressing a distaff with wool, since my old way (wrapping the top around the top of the distaff) does not work with Kathelyne's reconstructed spinning technique. Which I have used, and fallen totally and deeply in love with.

In non-spinning regard, I have not only hunted for pictures of medieval textiles, but also fiddled around with netting needles to find out what size of netting needle and what size of gauge stick would be necessary to make extremely fine mesh (as in one millimeter side length only - that is seriously tiny!). I have hunted for needles, and scissors, and shears, with results yet unknown. I have another hunting ground to explore, too - though I will need a tiny bit of preparation for that still. There was another go at trying to reconstruct a fillet as worn in the Codex Manesse (not finished yet, but you will get to see it once I am). There was the making of more tablet-weaving tablets, since I had run out; I am in the process of getting more spindle whorls (now looking much better than the old ones) as well as thicker linen two-ply yarn, about one millimeter in diameter and well suited to braiding, for example. I have taken photographs and updated the shop. And still managed to have a game night with friends!

So things have been crazy busy, and it's not looking like it will let up soon. So I will do what one does in these circumstances: have more tea, more coffee, and more chocolate. And settle down to work.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Spinning Experiment. Again. And some non sequiturs.

After two iterations of peer-review and lots and lots of prodding, re-writing, tweaking and polishing, I have received the good news: My article about the spinning experiment has been accepted by AAS. I have thus just transferred the copyright, in a version of an author contract that is quite... grabby. Another instance of academic publishing being different from "normal" publishing - but I'm happy to have gotten it off my desk, and out into the world. I will let you know once it's out!

For those of you who read German, there's a nice "protocol of a natural desaster" from the Middle Ages on Actually, it's not nice, it is quite tragic.

Also? There's a blog called The Archaeology of Tomb Raider.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Medieval woolen cloth.

Ever since the day that I laid hands on the woven fabric that Lena Hammarlund had created for the replica of the Gunnister Man costume (an article about this is in our very own "Ancient Textiles, Modern Science"), I have lusted after a nice replica woolen fabric.

Now, it seems, I might have the opportunity of having one woven. (Not for myself, that is. But I will take it if I can get it.) It's still up in the stars whether it will be possible or not, mind you, but it is closer within reach than ever before. And now I need... fabric pictures. Good-quality ones, of good-quality fabrics from the early 14th century, twill 2/1 or tabby 1/1. (Which is why Herjolfsnaes does not help, in this instance.)

It is surprising how hard it is to turn up with one of these, as the "normal" fabrics don't get the amount of attention that silks and special stuff does. Therefore, I'm on the hunt. Any hints (or pictures!) are greatly appreciated...

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

News from out of the cold.

It's getting more wintery (or maybe still late-autumny) here, with fog in the morning and quite cold temperatures at night. Something outside seems to have changed for the cat, too - not just the weather, though. She's been all on edge these last few days, and this morning she even preferred her litter box to the garden flower beds, refusing to go out at all. We suspect there's a new cat in the neighborhood and they are on less-than-friendly terms. We have not discovered the culprit yet, though.

Speaking of discovery - I have re-discovered Doug's Archaeology Blog this morning, and this time I have added it to my reading list straight away. It's a lovely blog with lots of links and content and thoughtful articles, and if you are interested in behind-the-trowel archaeology (as in not only what is dug up, but who is doing it), I can heartily recommend it.

Another blog that looks like a fun read, with behind-the-scenes stuff: Powered by Osteons. Including critical (well, science-critical) reviews of Bones, should you be interested in that.

Final link for today - in case you have been looking for a database to work with in your excavation projects, you might want to take a look at this one. The IADB promises to be helpful with your documentation and research, up to and including the analysis of the finished excavation. (I guess you still have to do the work yourself, though...)

Monday, 11 November 2013

Textile Porn.

I have received two glorious, lovely and beautiful books recently - both for my personal (work-)library.

I'll start with the older of the two. It's Regula Schorta: Monochrome Seidengewebe des hohen Mittelalters (Berlin 2001). Just like the title hints, it is about solid-coloured silk fabrics from the 11th to about 13th century, with a few other fabrics (patterned, a bit earlier and a bit later) tossed into the mix. The book is mostly black and white with some colour pics, it's written in German, and it has detailed weave descriptions as well as fabric history and detail pics (showing both the front and back in several cases, hooray!). If you are interested in silk fabrics from that time, it's a beautiful book, and if you are lucky (like me) you can get it for much less than the shelf price of the new version in a second-hand bookshop. (ZVAB is both a blessing and a curse if you are looking for old books.)

The second one is brand spanking new, and I am especially excited about it, since I had the pleasure of doing part of the proofreading. Not all, since it was split up between several folks to keep the load manageable. The book is Karina Grömer, Anton Kern, Hans Reschreiter and Helga Rösel-Mautendorfer (eds): Textiles from Hallstatt/Textilien aus Hallstatt. (Budapest 2013). 
The book is bilingual, in both English and German, with the catalogue (making up the main part of the book) in English only.It's 572 pp with colour and black-and-white illustrations, list price 78€, and available directly from the publisher or via the bookstore of your choice.
The pictures in this one are what you will probably want it for, if you want it - they are gorgeous, and there is lots of them, ranging from overview photos of each piece to detail pictures showing weave details, threads in close-up and even fibres in microphotos. And the catalogue part is all in colour.

It's fabric porn, folks. Really nice fabric porn. Now please excuse me while I look at some more close-ups...

Friday, 8 November 2013

Linking around.

 First of all, if you've waited for your blog post much longer than usual yesterday, I'm sorry - seems that the blog did its glitchy thing again. That's the thing when I click "Publish" and it looks like it does, and everything is fine and dandy, but the post is in fact happily hanging out with the other drafts, unseen by the world.

And now: Time for some unrestrained linking around again!

Over at Archaeologik, there's a (German-language) post about a new-ish book called "Europe invents the Gypsies". The book came out in 2011, and this year it won a price. There are a few English links under that post, too, shedding light on the still rampant prejudice and stereotype about Roma.

If you are interested in reenactment as the re-enacting of conflicts, there's a blog called "Historically Speaking" that might be of interest to you. Myself, I'm more a living history person, but still find it quite interesting to hear some more about reenactment now and then.

Notorious Ph.D. writes about the "History Girls" piece that was published in the Daily Mail. It's Ye Olde Gender Issues, but Notorious has a really nice way of adressing that stuff. I enjoyed her article, anyway.

Have you ever thought about learning Finnish? If you have, you might want to laugh at this. Here, on the same blog, is an explanation why it looks like it looks. And if you'd like to try some Finnish humour without learning the language first, take a look at depressing finland.

As the Finale of the Linking Aimlessly Installation of today: beautiful double-face weaving, by Ellen Harlizius-Klück (text in German).

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The cutting edge.

For most of the things that I carry in my market stall and shop, there is one main reason for them being there: it's stuff I wanted, needed, or lusted after and could not get.

Much of the materials and tools common (or at least available) in medieval times are not common anymore, and some of them have outright died out. A lot of more modern tools - still made and used 30 or 50 years ago - are also slowly inching out of existence, not being manufactured anymore because the buyer prefers a cheaper mass-made version.

So when I tried to find gold thread - tough luck. Spindle sticks? Good quality netting needles? High-quality linen thread? Really, really hard to find (sometimes it's even hard to find somebody still able, and willing, to make them).
Most of the things I carry are thus made on order, just for my store, by someone able and willing to do the things like I want them (which is sometimes slightly weird-sounding to modern ears). Which means that getting a new product into the store takes a lot of time and effort spent in researching, prototyping, testing, and finding someone to produce it. Sometimes, that means a lot more time elapses than one would deem reasonable. Or that something is half-planned, but then has to stand back behind other, more pressing issues and projects. It also means that sometimes, a product runs out and I'm not able to replace it, because the person or company has quit, or some material is no more available, or similar issues. Or that it would be possible to make something, but is not really affordable - for me to stock it, or for you to buy it.

All this, however, also adds to the experience for me. Yes, I'd sometimes prefer stuff to be easier - but at least this way, I can be sure that everything is just so, and you can be sure that the things you get at pallia are sourced and selected carefully, and often made by very small companies or individual artisans.

Just in case you are curious now about my current object of desire - it's cutting edges. Shears and scissors, to be precise. I am searching for forms documented for the medieval times, and there has been a lead... so I am following it. Who knows, maybe in a few weeks or months, I may be able to offer tools for your cloth-cutting, too. Which would be... enormously exciting for me. And I hope for you as well!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013


If you like to look at weird marginalia and illuminations from medieval manuscripts (and who doesn't?), you likely knew Got Medieval. Sadly, that blog has been dormant for more than a year now.

Yesterday, thanks to a hint from a friend, I have stumbled across something not quite similar - but at least featuring weird (and beautifully weird) images from manuscripts: discarded images.

In contrast to Got Medieval, where you usually got a fun (but also enlightening) text about the image and why it might be there, discarded images just gives you the pic with its source plus a funny caption. Still, if you were looking for a regular fix of medieval marginal fun, it is probably a good place for you to check now and then. (Also featured: cat pics.)

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Gratuitous cat pic. And Codex Manesse.

Whenever there is something new for the shop, I have to take a photo of it... for which I have a photo tent that gets a blue (indigo-dyed) background. Everything gets placed in there, pictures get taken, and then I can put the photobox-tent-thingie away again.

Except this time... it did not unfold as well as it should have. It had probably been stored a tad too long, or twisted somehow differently than normal - it did unfold, but not completely. So I decided to let it sit open for a while longer than it takes to photo the new things.

Which, naturally, led to this:

The cat, however, will not get a place in the shop... even if she tried her best to be a photogenic cuddly model.

You mean you did not want to look at cat pictures? You can look at the Codex Manesse instead - it's completely online and downloadable, all 871 pages of it - here. There's a big and a small version for the download, and it's free. Or, if you just want to browse the pictures, click on the link Bilderschließung in HeidICON which brings you to just the pics, and all of them. All praise the Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg who made this possible!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Link fest!

There's links hoisted off on the Internet by Phiala of the String Pages, and I totally suggest you go and follow at least the link to a cat's footprints in a medieval manuscript and the piece about folks burying butter in a bog to preserve it (and then taste-test it).

While you are at that Nordic Food Lab blog, you might as well read a few other articles - they are doing interestingly weird things with food there.

Also: Oldest Board Game tokens ever found.

Silk textiles from Persia in the Oseberg ship.

Fold your own trowel (archaeogami).

And last but not least: best coin ever spent.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Spinning benchmarks.

Technically, today is a holiday - but I am planning to sneak some textile-related, not entirely non-work into my day. Such as finally working some more on that hairnet that is not quite finished, but coming along nicely. And some more spinning.

Speaking of which - I have tried out a new spinning technique that I finally got to understand well enough to give it a go the day before yesterday. It's the one described in Kathelyne's blog (hint: I watched the videos, and that's what made it click for me).

I am absolutely, utterly in love with that technique, so much that I spent quite a bit of time spinning yesterday. This morning, I made a benchmark test similar to the spinning tests I did before - I have not looked at the spinning angle yet, but I have managed to spin 18 m of thread in half an hour, with high twist. That's not too bad for a technique that I started out with just two days ago, and I have quite a bit of hope that speeding it up a bit more will be possible...

Thursday, 31 October 2013

A new thing in the shop!

Finally, the photo is taken, the description is written, and everything else shop-wise is done. And may I present to you the newest thing on offer chez pallia:

- the little brother (or sister?) to the spindle stick you already know.

It's inspired by a lathe-turned stick find from York, made out of maple wood and in the quality you are used to from its bigger sibling. With only about 17 cm in length, though, it is at the shorter end of the spectrum we know from finds. It still is a beautifully working stick, fits about any whorl (thickest part of the small stick is only slightly slimmer than on the large one, with about 10 mm) and it is small enough to slip into your pocket for a project on the go.

I've given one of them a little test run, and while it looks a bit unaccustomed at first if you are used to the large variant, it does spin beautifully. Unfortunately, I have some other things to do today as well, not just spin...

There are a few other things I am planning to add to the shop, but this was the one most dear to my heart - and probably the one that will get you most excited of the new kids in the shop.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Good kinds of busyness.

I am busy writing and taking pictures and thinking and getting stuff reorganised in my brain. There are also things lying around on tables and floors, waiting to get sorted and put away, but they will survive (as I will) if I only get around to it tomorrow.

Just in case you are interested in what makes me so busy - three writing projects have come to a state of progress that makes me quite, quite happy (and means I have to apply my time and brains to them for a bit, too). There are another three, or four, or five depending on how you count in the wings, waiting - they shall have to bide a bit more time.

Some of the picture-taking planned for today is not for papers or other publications, though - it's for the online shop. I have a few new things to add, and if all goes reasonably well, I will be able to reveal them to you tomorrow. They are nice and exciting things, I think - and I hope you will think so, too!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Tape loom plans.

I've gone through my list of things that I might want to blog about, and as usual, the list is long... but not all of the topics make for a quick blog entry, or a link list.

What is in there of potential interest to you, though, is this: Plans for making a tape loom. They are from a magazine that was published a while ago, and then went through bankruptcy. It's a relatively simple tape loom, though not as simple as my contraption (which is basically a stick in a board with a holder for the rigid heddle).

If you haven't tried band weaving yet, but get the chance - give it a go. It is a really nice pastime, a rather quick way to get some tapes or bands, and since it's quick and does not use oodles of material, it is a nice possibility to try out some funky colour combinations, too.

Monday, 28 October 2013


I am back from taking my breather - just like every year, we went to the Spiel in Essen together with a bunch of friends. That is a fair all about boardgames, and we spent the days there looking at an enormous amount of games, checking out the rules of lots of them, having a still impressive number explained to us and played a few (at least for a few rounds, so we could get a feel for it). For example, we got to try out "Firefly - the game". If you just look at the game mechanics, it's a fairly simple merchant simulation with lots of bad things that can happen to your ship and your crew... but the game manages to catch the spirit of the series really beautifully.

We all managed to escape without con-crud (in this case, we non-lovingly term it the "Essen-Pest", the plague of Essen). We did, of course, not escape without games - there was an expansion out for "Flashpoint", which we currently play a lot. I also consumed way too much chocolatey stuff (if that is possible at all, that is).

If you are tempted now to go to the Spiel yourself one day, has an Essen FAQ here. I am quite exhausted, gaming-wise, after the four days of the show and the drive home, but I absolutely love it. It really is an experience!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Time for a Breather.

After a very full summer and autumn season, I am taking a few days off to take a breather. My list of things to ponder, write about, finish and take care of during the winter is rather longish, and I'm looking forward to all of this - but before that, a few days to take my mind off everything and gain some distance are in order.... sometimes, it's good to take a step back, and one can see clearer.

Regular blogging will thus resume on Monday next week :)

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Links to cool things.

Yesterday was a day that I took things easy, to accommodate for the weekend spent working (in a thoroughly enjoyable and wonderful way - it was a lovely workshop!).

Some of that taking-it-easy-time was spent rootling around the internet, and I came up with several really cool links.

First of them: Gamers have probably solved a puzzle that scientists had not been able to solve before (using computers). The reason? Humans are (still) much better at spatial reasoning than computers. Not only did they solve it, they also were pretty quick about it! The game is called "", it's an online game that you can download for free, and there's links to a protein database where you can learn, for example, about Amyloid beta precursor protein - in a way that will not bore your proteins out of your brain.

I've mentioned gender quite a few times on this blog - and I'm not alone. Magistra et Mater blogs about the now available new Handbook from Oxford Uni Press: Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe.

And the last "wow" thing for today: A 2000-year-old seed has been successfully sprouted into a sapling date tree. Isn't that amazing? There's a nice article about it at National Geographics.

Monday, 21 October 2013

How did I end up here?

On Friday's Ask me anything, Cathy wanted to know
Why did you decide to go into archaeology as a career?
That is actually a long(ish) story... when I was close to finishing school, my plan was to go into medicine. A while before the actual final exams, though,  I discovered that a job as a medical doctor (or similar) has several different sides that did sound very un-appealing to me. So I decided that it would be not my line of career, after all.

That decision sent me into a sort of limbo, because all the years before, I had always had a plan on what to do with my life after school. Finally I made a list with all the things on it that I wanted in my future professional life. Things like working outside at least part of the time, working with people, having both manual work and brain-/desk-work. At that time, I was already into living history and had been for a while, so I added "something to do with the Middle Ages" to the list. (To be precise, it was "something to do with the Middle Ages but not History because I am so bad at remembering numbers".) I also wanted to go to university.

Then I leafed through the book you got, back then, listing all the possible course lines that you could study, and the places where they were offered. I found "Archaeology of the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age" in that book, and it sounded appealing. It also sounded like it would fit in with all the bulletpoints on my list, combining outside excavation and fieldwork with academical work using books and computers at a nice, comfy desk.
My parents supported the decision, though it was very clear from the beginning that it is not a line where you are guaranteed a steady, well-paid job - and that's how I ended up studying in Bamberg and doing Medieval Archaeology: because I had made that list, and the career seemed to fit in with what I wanted.

It did fit in with what I want still, and I have not regretted it, and am deeply, deeply thankful to my parents for making it possible.

Did that answer your question, Cathy?

Friday, 18 October 2013

Preparations. And Ask Me Anything.

Tomorrow will be the start of my sewing workshop, and I'm really looking forward to this - I'll do the last preparation bits necessary for it this afternoon.

Otherwise, I have been busy registering my photos with VG Bildkunst, after getting the prod in the behind that I needed to finally get myself a password and do the paperwork. I'm really curious to see how much that will bring me! This is what made me find out, by the way, that I have posted a bit more than 200 photos on this blog. That's not so much, actually - it roughly means one photo every fifth blog post. (I should post more pictures. Pictures are nice.)

Also, I have decided to do an Ask me anything - go ahead and post your question in the comments. I will do my best to answer anything, within reason. (Non-reasonable things being those too personal, or those too complex to answer in a blog post. Or those I deem unreasonable for some other reason. You know how those things work, right? And probably better than me, too.)

Thursday, 17 October 2013

This and that.

In today's random list of things that I found interesting:

Are computer searches making us dumber or smarter?

A very personal, and very impressive, answer to someone depressed and thinking of suicide.

A piece on gender behaviour and its possible biological roots.

The journal Archäologische Informationen is now online and open access. h/t to tribur.

Norway is trying to break the Australian record for sheep to sweater, and it will be televised.

And finally, should you be looking for inspiration on how to quit your job in style - look at the art of quitting.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

It's gone live!

A while ago, I hinted at something developing connected both to the Eternal Spinning Experiment and Ravelry.

Though I have been mostly away, and busy, and mostly without internet access during the last two weeks, that thing has gone on developing (huzzah for collaboration with others not absent during that time!) and it has, also during my absence, gone live.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you a new Ravelry group: SpinStats. The aim of that group is to use the immense number of (handspindle-)spinners on Ravelry to collect some data about things that are of interest for research into hand-spinning... such as: how much yarn do people pack onto a spindle?

Spinning styles and methods can differ wildly, as can fibres and thread thicknesses and whatnot. But we do need some more data than is currently available on hand-spinning processes, and Ravelry with its mass of spinners from all over the world is a wonderful place to collect said data. This is why we came up with the idea for SpinStats. We will post challenges to that group that anybody who likes can join - beginners, advanced spinners, we want you all.  The first challenge is already up and running, and it will hopefully tell us something about the normal cop weight that modern spinners put onto a spindle. Is there a difference between spinning styles? Or depending on the spindle? Fibre, maybe? If we are lucky and get enough data, we might gain some insight into this.

So if you are a hand-spindle spinner and would like to help in generating some data, please go join our group. (In case you are not on Ravelry yet - it's free to join. Should you not want to join for whatever reason, but still like to participate, just email me and I will give you the challenge data.) If you know hand-spindle spinners that might be interested, please pass on the word - the more spinners, the better. We have the first few cops submitted already, and I am absolutely thrilled to see the group up and running. (I'm still working on my cop, though, being a slow-ish spinner with thin threads, and so on...)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

I blame the internet...

... for this especially late blog post. Because I got distracted. By not one, not two, but three repositories:

Fornvännen, a Swedish journal, has searchable archives online. The articles are (of course) in Swedish; if you search for Inga Hägg, you will get several articles by her about Viking garments.

Also online, also for free: the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society's Transactions. Plus their newsletters and special papers. The archives go from 1860 to 2005, and the Transactions themselves are quite substantial.

And thirdly, the Durham e-theses - you can browse by department, see the newest additions, or search for a term.

I will get back to digging some more in these three places now. Yay for research to be found online!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Home again...

I am back home again, and it is so nice. While I love travelling, after a while, I miss all kinds of things - our friends, having not to live out of a bag all the time, knowing just where everything is, my own bed...probably a sign that I am becoming old.

I had, however, a wonderful time both in Tannenberg (in spite of one very rainy day) and in Aarhus, where I got to meet friends again, give a lecture about textiles in archaeology to a group of very interested students, and spent some quality relaxation time in open-air museums with beautiful gardens and lovingly restored rooms.

Now the summer season is officially over, and I can start settling down to all the winter work and winter projects. But first of all? I think I need a cup of coffee and a few minutes to make some room on my desk. Somebody put museum leaflets from Denmark all over it...

Thursday, 3 October 2013


It's start of October, and as usual I am on the last market/event of the season, in Tannenberg. I'll be taking my spinning project and of course the market stall will be open.
Otherwise, I am looking forward to some quiet time with friends that I don't see too often during the year, and hopefully some relaxed hanging out in the autumn sun, as the last weeks were quite exciting but also... quite exhausting.

After Tannenberg, I'm on my way to give a lecture at Aarhus University, so there's some more traveling for me to do. The blog will thus resume its regular function on Monday, October 14.

Until then, have a nice time and enjoy the (hopefully golden) autumn!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Gender issues. Or just... issues.

As my last post probably showed you, I am one of the folks who consider gender issues and think about gender.

If you are getting involved into textile stuff, it's probably unavoidable. There's so much gender preconception still attached to handling fibre, cloth, and textile tools that most of those who do it are... female. And that stretches out into modern jobs regarding textile, both new and old. Most textile conservators? Women. Most ancient textile researchers? Women. Most modern textile crafters? Women.

We still live in a gender-biased world. I am one of the lucky ones who had a course of study where women were neither the majority nor the minority. Even better, on the digs where I were, it was accepted that while the women on the dig might not fill the wheelbarrow completely full, they and their work was just as good and just the same as the menfolk's. You just walk a few more times with the wheelbarrow, and that's it. (And a lot of the menfolk did not want their wheelbarrow filled to the brim. Those things are really hard to push when you fill them up as much as can be!)

I have, however, had my fair share of gender-bias in other circumstances. In bicycle stores, for instance, when the guy doubted what I was saying, or did not want to listen. When selling my old car. The usual, you know?

Now, gender differences are there, and I am not going to deny that. However, they are more fluid than often assumed, and they can change with our culture. (Here's a recent article about that.) The little differences between people - whether they come from their DNA, their upbringing, their culture, personal preferences, talents, or gender - make life the colourful and interesting thing it is. However, when one of those things means that your work will be neglected or belittled, it quickly becomes bad. When it means that you are having it that little bit harder in your life because of something you had no influence over, that is bad. When it means that it may not even be possible to change something by complaining about something bad that happened to you, that is really bad.

And sometimes, sexism hides. Benevolent sexism is what this article calls it - I'd have called it a backhanded compliment, but the effect is the same: It makes you feel good while secretly lowering your self-esteem. Bad. Really bad.

So... I guess if I had a wish in regard to that topic, I'd wish for this: Next time, if you are taken back about the gender, race, ethnicity or whatnot of someone because you did not expect that - don't blurt it out. Think about it. About your preconceptions, your expectations. And then say something that is a real compliment, not a backhanded one. Because it helps nobody to dampen someone's potential by an -ism, any -ism.


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Tough luck.

I am currently preparing that one-hour lecture about archaeological textiles... and one of the things I want to mention is, of course, textiles and gender.
For that, I was planning to include a few pictures of men spinning - and I also knew where to get them from... I thought. Unfortunately, the database of Corsair is being re-structured at the moment, and while it's possible to get at most pictures, you cannot get at all of them. There is a MS in the library that has two pictures of men spinning with spindle and distaff (MS 358, fols. 20v and 40r), and just that one seems to be inaccessible. Well, I'll make do with a few other pics.

However, the search of spinning pics made me wonder. Have you found any special spinning pictures as in "not the usual"? Such as top-whorl spindles, men spinning, uncommon ways to hold a spindle, and so on? (I'm not going for the "hit the guy with your distaff" variation here, though they can be really amusing.)

If so, please share them - I'd be very interested to see some more of the spectrum that is shown on medieval illustrations. You could post them on your blog and add a link to the comments, or if you prefer, send them to me by email (katrin at pallia dot net) and I will post them here. (Just for stating the obvious: Please include the usual data where the pic comes from, for copyright reasons as well as for letting others know where to find it.)

Monday, 30 September 2013

There are things on the internet...

... that you would not expect. Well, me, at least.

Newest case in point? Old Bailey Proceedings.

Old Bailey is the central criminal court in Britain, and has been active since the 16th century. The court proceedings from 1674 onward are published, and they are also digitised and put online as a fully searchable repository.

You can go to the project website here, where you can learn more about what is digitised and how to use the search functions. And then, of course, browse through the records... Use for non-commercial purposes is free of charge, by the way, too.

This is one of the reasons why I love the internet. So much.

Friday, 27 September 2013

What is the most important thing?

I have been invited to give a one-hour lecture about archaeological textiles (soon, oh-so-soon), and I have all the freedom you can imagine in choosing the focus topic. Which is nice... but also not helping, as there are so many things that are important, or can be seen as important, or are so closely interconnected to each other that one could talk hours about them.

So the question I've been asking myself is: What is most important? What is the thing to tell people (students with no prior knowledge about archaeological textiles) about the world of textile archaeology? What does one really need to know, even if one knows nothing else at all about medieval or historic textiles?

If you had to pick one single thing as the most important message about textiles and textile production in history and archaeology - what would that be?

Your input would be very, very welcome while I go on to wrack my brains. (With coffee support. I think I need coffee now.)

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Reading the correct version of instructions... helps.

There are a few never-ending things in my life. The Neverending Spinning Experiment, for instance. Or the Neverending Quest for a Publisher for the English Version of my thesis (though there is some movement on that front recently, I have not given up!)

Now, I'm thinking of adding one more item to the list: the Neverending Skew Socks. Skew is a pattern that was published in Knitty back, oh, about four years ago.

It clicked with me straight away. Now, I'm not a big knitter, and I'm not fast, but I like socks. So I ventured out to knit me a pair of Skew socks... and found, quite quickly, that they do not fit my foot. At all. My instep is way too high for them as written.

However - I wanted those socks. Really badly. So I ripped back and fiddled and thought and measured and math-ed some and then some more, and at last I came up with a method that worked. I knit a pair of socks and placed the instructions to the side - for later use.

Time passed, our vacation came up, and I wanted to take some knitting - something small, half-mindless, and nice. I typed off the pattern and took a ball of sock yarn. I knit and knit... and there was that bit in the pattern where I wondered, huh, that looks a bit weird... but I knit on.

Back home, I found that I had skipped into the wrong line when typing the hand-written pattern into the computer. So I ripped back... both socks (two-at-a-time magic loop). Quite a bit. And I knit that part again... correctly, this time. And progressed into the part that I had had almost finished before.

Then I proceeded into the heel part. I knit a bit, and then some more, and then some more... but not much more before I realised that something was decidedly wrong. I was missing stitches. Not only 6 stitches (as before) - this time, it was twenty of them. Now, 20 stitches at sock gauge... that's a lot. A freaking lot.

I went to look for the missing stitches. Had I skipped a section when copying the pattern? Nope. After a goodly while of checking, I found it... I had written a sequence of pattern lines into my hand-written notes, marked them and smeared something like "This!" at their side... but not crossed out or corrected the old version. The old version that had, you guessed it, 20 fewer stitches. And when copying the notes, I had not looked beyond the valid-looking set of instructions...

So the next step in my Skew journey: Correct my digitised instructions, print them out again, and rip back both socks (again, gah!) to where the mini-gusset increase starts. Sigh. The Neverending Skew Socks. If only they weren't so funny...