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...