Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Season Start.

It's sunny outside, the evenings are getting milder, and spring has fully sprung. This is the time of the year when the season starts - as is traditional for us, it does so with Freienfels.

So we'll be off to spend a few days there, starting tomorrow. Which means if you need some spindle sticks or whorls or fibres or a netting needle or other stuff, you can drop by at my market stall and get them there.

Blogging, therefore, will be on hiatus for a few days, and I'll resume my daily woolgatherings here on Tuesday.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

New kids in the shop.

When I looked around for medieval-style spindle sticks several years ago and couldn't find any, I went and searched for a woodworker who could make soe for me. I quickly discovered that it's not easy to lathe-turn something that is long and thin and getting even thinner towards its ends, so I was very happy to find someone willing and able to produce spindle sticks for me, to my specifications and measurements.

Now, several years later, they have turned out to be one of the best-selling items in my shop. I have sent those spindle sticks off to do their job and twirl to make yarn into places all around the globe, something I would never have expected when I started selling them.

Since I started selling the sticks, they have remained the same price. Today the day has come when I will have to raise the price a little bit - they will sell for 8 € a piece from now on instead of for 7 €. However, to make up for that slightly higher price, I am now able to offer a little more variety: you can now choose between beechwood, pearwood, or (European) maplewood. All three are hard, durable woods that have their own charm. Maple is the lightest-coloured of the three, beech is a little darker with the characteristic longish speckles, and the pearwood is a warm, reddish colour with scarcely visible tree rings.

The picture shows the new kids along with the old beech version - from left to right, they are a beechwood spindle, a pearwood spindle, and a maplewood spindle. I actually can't decide which kind I like best... what a good thing, then, that I can have all three!

(You could, too. Here's the direct link to the spindle sticks in my shop.)

Monday, 27 April 2015

More about the Hugo stuff.

The Hugo nomination ballot is still causing a lot of discussion - among many people. There's those that have a firm opinion in one way or another what should be done this specific time and maybe for the future; there's also a lot of thinking and pondering and suggesting going on about how the Hugos have changed over the years, and how they could be changed now to fit in with the times again.

If you're interested, Jim C. Hines is having a nice long post about choosing sides, with some links sprinkled in, and there is now a survey about the impact of the Hugo on non-US readers of the genre, here. Shaun Duke made that survey, and eventually the results will be written up and posted.

In case the Hugos are something that you never heard about and don't even want to hear about, you can always take a look at the Will of King John instead. Or in addition, if you like both old legal documents and modern genre award debates...

Friday, 24 April 2015

Thank goodness it's Friday. The Friday of the Finished Beast.

This has been a rather full week, and I'm really, really looking forward to the weekend now!

If you are looking for something to while away a little time and haven't done so yet, the Free 14 at Maney is still running until Sunday, so if you like conservation, heritage or archaeology journal articles, that might sweeten your weekend a bit.

Me, I'll take care of two or three little things now, and then I will sit in the sun and unwind. The Beast is finally finished, edited, proof-read, proof-read again, our changes carefully considered and sent in, all remaining questions answered and it is off our desks for good. It's been wonderful, nerve-racking, exciting, exhausting, painstaking and demanding work to get this thing finished for print.

Actually, the whole work on the book was wonderful and nerve-racking and demanding, and at times it became hilarious, and at other times it was deeply frustrating. There were times when one of us tried very, very hard to get a point across to the other one, because only one could see the issue and the other couldn't. There were times when we sighed in frustration because the literature was too scarce, or too biased, or doesn't explain something clearly and we couldn't find a better book or article for the topic. There were times when we wished we had about a hundred more pages of leeway to explain things about the cans of worms here and there, things fraught with so many issues from research history and old biases and uncertainities that we could either write "this is a disputed thing" or start to do a few weeks more research and write many more pages (for which we did not have the space). There was much nitpicking about the exact phrasing of this or that so it would be as hard as possible to misunderstand or misinterpret.

It wasn't all sweat and toil and sighs, though. We had a lot of good times and a lot of fun doing all this, and you can bet that there were ample little jokes we made, and there were even a few puns in the draft at some stages.

The Beast has given us three years of collaboration where we managed to solve all these issues of writing, and all the other issues that came up through language differences, time zone shifts, cultural differences and personal preferences. Oh, and the mis-timed illnesses that had a tendency to hit us both at the same time when we could both not afford to let the Beast rest for a few days. So sometimes it was tough going, but we both did persist, and it was an amazing, wonderful ride altogether, and I am very proud that we did persist and never got too mad at each other for too long. 
I'm also very proud of what we wrote, together, standing on the shoulders of giants, merging our expertise and our passions and our voices.

Now, soon, it will be out in the world to be enjoyed by many other people. I'm thrilled about that, and a bit nervous (will people like it? will it be the helpful book we intended it to be?) and very, very happy that we found a lovely publisher who did a lot of work, too, to make the book look as beautiful as possible.

It's finally, finally really done. Finished. On a sunny Friday. I am happy.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

All the wheels are turning.

Really, all the wheels.
The wheels in my brain (since I'm still working on that last proofread, and any minute now the doorbell will ring and I'll have somebody here to assist with a garment cut); the wheels on the bicycle when we go to town; on Monday the wheels on the car, when I'll pick up Gary from Britain and we'll zoom over to Bamberg for a library visit.

Wheels are also, figuratively, turning on a few other projects and events - planning is going on, and it is nice to feel that things are moving, moving, moving and that there will be no day where I think "what could I be doing" in the near future.

And recently (in Backnang) the Great Wheel was also turning. Here's picture proof:

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

I'm reading it. Again.

Remember how, not many days ago, I happily told you that the Beast was finished? Well, it has returned once again to haunt me (though I am to blame for that myself) - we were offered to have a last look at the second stage proofs, and we decided to do so.

Which means I'm currently reading it again. One last time - though this round, it's just to look out for any little remaining typos and inconsistencies, and reading is not as demanding or as slow as for a full edit.

I hope to be finished by tomorrow evening with all the read-through, leaving the weekend gloriously Beast-free...

There's this German saying "Lila - der letzte Versuch" (purple, the last effort). While I'm on the last effort to make the Beast as nice as possible, the wooden trough here has purple flowers as a last effort to make it useful, since its bottom broke during production... making it a not very good trough, but a very nice flowerpot.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Look what the cat dragged home.

Well, don't look literally - the cat did bring something home, but we made no photograph before picking it up, carrying it to the candle and burning it into nice crisp black oblivion. Yes, it was a tick - the first she brought home this season (at least the first one that we found).

So here's the obligatory Springtime-is-start-of-tick-season post:
Are you living in or planning to travel to a place in Europe that has ticks carrying the TBE virus? If so, have you checked your vaccination status? It's recommended to refresh the vaccination every 5 years, every 3 years if you are older than 60. TBE is a nasty thing, and the easiest way to avoid it apart from spending all your time inside is the vaccination.

Ticks can also give you Lyme Borreliosis, which is bacterial and also quite nasty, but there's no vaccine against it.

For those of you who need to refresh tick-bite avoidance and treatment stuff, because you are lucky enough not to get in contact with ticks often:
Wear long clothes when walking through nature, especially if you are walking through high grass, undergrowth, and along forest edges. Check yourself for ticks after being outside, enlisting the help of other people or a mirror for the hard-to-see spots. If you find any ticks, remove them as soon as possible, using a suitable tool; do not cover them in oil or glue. You can get tick-removal tools in every pharmacy (and also in pet shops). There's different kinds of them; we have a sling-type tool called "3iX" that we are very happy with, as it also works well on the cat (our main field of use) and will grip even tiny ticks.  It has been said that just pulling out the tick without twisting is better; personally, I feel it goes out more easily with the old "turn it around a few times, pulling gently" method. Dabbing some disinfectant over the spot where the tick was cannot hurt once it's out.

Once you have the tick out, check if it has come out completely or if the head is still in the wound (that can happen sometimes). Then destroy it. Do not just flush it down the loo - it will laugh at you, ticks can happily survive for weeks under water. Either douse it with boiling water (must have more than 70°C to work), squash it completely (that can be messy) or use metal tweezers to hold it into a flame and burn it. Dead ticks are good ticks.

Fun fact: Sometimes you get a tick that has a tick on its back. A Two-fer. These two, my friends, are doing the Nasty. The Beast with Two Backs. They are humping along. Making more tick eggs.  Or however else you want to describe it. If you kill these two, you have just rid the world of about 1000 more potential ticks...

(Disclaimer, in case it's necessary: I am, in general, an animal-friendly person. I'm one of those who carry the spider out, and make sure the bumblebee gets out of the house too. There are, however, three exceptions: ticks, moths and carpet beetles. Well, four if you count that I will slap a mosquito if it bites me. If you are a small chitin-clad creature that wants my blood or my wool, I will not give you quarter!)

Monday, 20 April 2015


This was a very productive weekend - much more so than planned: we went to a demonstration against TTIP, strolled through a furniture store and tried to help a friend find a table for his living room, and - most importantly - we spent the sunny Sunday afternoon outside, renewing the waterproofing on our tent.

Said tent has been our home on medieval markets for more than ten years now, so it's understandable if the waterproofing is not as fresh as on day one anymore. Last year we noticed that there were a few parts where it was more moist than usual, and especially the door flap turned rather soggy in wet weather. Which meant... time to do something.

So we got ourselves two large brushes and a suitable waterproofing product and went to work, first painting the roof and then painting all the side panels with it. There was a lot of painting - but now it is standing outside in the sun, all dry and ready to be packed away for Freienfels (coming soon!).

The tent, lowered for good roof access. A definitive plus of a two-part central pole!
We are confident that it will be good for a nice long while now. And as an additional bonus... our getting it waterproofed in time for the start of the season might mean a dry festival, following Murphy's Law!

Friday, 17 April 2015


This, my friends, is the last time that the Beast will have kept me from blogging in a timely fashion due to totally eating my brain and whacking me about the head with a deadline... because it's done.

Done, finished, dealt with, packed up nicely and sent away. Of course, there were a gazillion little things we would have liked to change in that last read-through (mostly little glitches in style that slipped past us in the last Big Edit), and of course there were still some typos left (some of them quite amusing, such as a stray paddler trying to sell spices), but we refrained from fiddling with style (and the editor will deal with whatever needs dealing with, much to our joy and relief) and now it's done, done, done.

Which means that in the future, if I totally and utterly forget to blog in the morning, I will not have that wonderful scapegoat anymore. And you know what? I don't mind at all.

Before I toddle off into the weekend, though, here is a fitting link for the springtime that is in full spring at the moment: a brand-new system for beehives to harvest honey easily and without disturbing the bees. Fascinating!

And there's also some news on the Digital VAT issue - the Commission is rethinking the rules. There's hope!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Deadlines are brain eaters.

Deadlines, I am convinced, are Eaters of Brains. They especially seem to like those parts of the brain that are supposed to keep track of things already done or still to do - such as doing a blog entry.

Tomorrow, though, is the last day this particular deadline will nibble on my cranial capacity. And since someone recently made me promise to post more pictures on this blog, you are now at least getting a gratuitous cat picture to make up for the very belated blog post:

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

This day? Gobbled up.

This day today (much like yesterday) has been totally and utterly devoured by the Beast. That is, of course, the book due to come out soon, which has been privately named the Beast for ever and ever... or at least since before I came in on the project.

The fact that it's coming out soon means that it's been typeset, and edited, and we are currently reading the proofs, trying to catch any remaining errors. Which means that Gillian read it all, and I read it all, and we are now making sure that our edits don't contradict or overlap and are getting it all nicely in shape. That, in turn, means another chat session tomorrow, when we will hopefully get through most of the remainder...

At least I got to sit in the wintergarden and look at nice garden flowers while doing the reading. Like this one:

And that one:

And now back to get a little bit more work done today!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Free reading!

If you are doing research, you'll know about paywalled journals. For those of us lucky enough to live near a university, many of the paywall problems can be solved with a library card and some quality time spent on the computer among all those books... but not every library has the stuff you need, and no library ever has All The Things, and anyways the beauty of online articles is the quick access right from your home workstation, and that is much rarer to get than a library card.

So it's extra nice that from time to time, some of the big paywalls open up and give out stuff for free. Like Maney, this week: You have free access to 43 of their journals about archaeology, conservation and heritage until April 26!

Why are you still here? Oh, right. Here's the link. I know where I will be spending my breaks today - there's still the typeset Beast to finish proofreading!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Back home from Backnang.

I'm back home from Backnang - it was a wonderful weekend, and I'm only sad that there was not more time for me to stroll around outside and enjoy the beautiful weather, or take a more leisurely look at all the stalls with fibres, tools, and (of course!) yarns.

This is where I spent most of my time in Backnang:

- right beside the table of Margit from Alte Künste:


I also had the pleasure of teaching medieval spinning to a group of enthusiastic and interested spinners on Friday and Saturday, and on Friday there were even two participants who had their very first experience in spindle-spinning. Both courses were sold out in the blink of an eye, a joy to teach, very well received and I'd be happy to offer them again in Backnang in 2017.

Today, though, my mind will have to get out of the wool-mode - I have to finish reading the typeset proof of our new book this week, and I hope to make very good headway today. There is tea, there is chocolate, there is a red pen - and it's nice weather, perfect to sit in the spring sunshine and reading.

Friday, 10 April 2015

The Hugo Kerfuffle.

I've been reading SF/F for a long time now, and of course I had heard about the Hugo Award. (Some of the books I read boasted their nomination, or their win, on the cover, after all.)

Until last year at the LonCon, I had not had much contact or knowledge about it, though. Then I got to vote (yay!) and to see the ceremony, and a friend of mine gave out one of the Hugos, and it was lovely.

This year I was technically allowed to nominate stuff for the Award, but I didn't get around to do it. Why? Well, nominating (and voting) takes time, since you have to read the stuff you want to nominate first. Unless... unless you are a weird person who is trying to piss in the pool.

This year, the nominations have been very slanted because a few people have put up a slate on the Internet, with nominations, and asked such lovely folks such as these at #GamerGate to buy a supporting membership and vote for the slated stuff. They did. The results? See here - Sarah has listed the slated nominees for your convenience.

There's Opinions Galore on this. George R. R. Martin. Kevin Standlee (who also explains how the No Award vote works). John Scalzi. Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Me? I'm not having voting rights this year. I don't like the idea of having a slate, and I especially don't like the idea of "proving a point" and "show it to someone" using a very prestigious award... so I'll definitely be watching who gets a Hugo this year.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

New Medieval Clothing and Textiles is coming!

The newest volume of Medieval Textiles and Clothing is coming out this month, and if you are inclined to buy it, I have something for you - there's a 25% discount with this flyer:

That brings the price for the volume down to 45$ or 26.25 GBP, from 60 and 35 respectively.  (Click on the image to enlarge for the description; if you don't want to use the order form, you can order online and use the discount code.)

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Spinning instructions for the shop.

I have finally managed to sit down and finish making that spinning instructions sheet to go with a spinning set for beginners - a bit of wool, a spindle stick, a whorl and said instructions. At the moment, they are just in German, but a translation will definitely be done.

The instructions are finished just in time for Backnang - which might be a coincidence... or a crazy random happenstance. Your guess here is probably as good as mine. Now I'll just need to proofread it and print out a few instances of the sheets so they can go into a spinning kit. Hooray! And after Backnang they can go into the online shop too - there's no way I can manage that before, though.

I also have to finish putting together a stack of distaffs for the weekend, as there will be the "medieval spinning" workshop, and the participants need to use a distaff there, obviously. The cat, meanwhile, is steadfastly refusing to help in any other way than purring and napping. Although she did help me get out of the bed this morning, with her tried-and-tested routine of saying "meow? Meow? Maaaaaau?" until I am half awake, then hopping onto the bed and settling down to be petted. Said petting is acknowledged by purring so loudly that I will not be able to fall asleep again. So I get up and feed her. Mission accomplished.

(I guess that cat paws are not that well suited to finishing my knitting, or hammering in teeny tiny copper nails anyway. Tough luck...)

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

What a nice start into the week.

The sun is shining, all rooms are freshly aired, there is hot tea on the table, along with a large stack of freshly-fired spindle whorls (that need to be entered into the shop system soon). Outside, flowers are blooming, and there is still some hoar frost on the grass in the shady spots, making a splendid contrast. The cat is outside enjoying the sunny weather, and in about half an hour, three ladies will stop by to get a private lesson in how to spin with a distaff, medieval-style.

All this makes for a lovely day, and thus a lovely start into the week. Plus it's a shorter-than-usual week, which does not take away from the loveliness! (Though with the wool festival at Backnang, it will turn out to have normal length for me, with Saturday being a full work day. Never mind that, though... I've been promised by very reliable folks that Backnang will be an immense amount of fun, and I'm really looking forward to it!)

Thursday, 2 April 2015

As promised - the European Textile Forum Call for Papers.

Please note: There was an issue with the direct link to the registration form provided in the CfP below. If you have tried to register and did not receive an e-mail with your registration data, please do register again - I have fixed the link so it works now. Thank you and sorry for any inconvenience!

As promised yesterday, I have spent the morning hours updating the Textile Forum website and re-making that form (have I ever mentioned that php forms are a godsend and a pain in the backside at the same time?) and it's finally, finally finished. It should all work now (and probably I'll be getting an email in about 10 minutes, telling me about something I totally overlooked when going through stuff and setting up the form...)

So, here for you, our Call for Papers:

The European Textile Forum in 2015 will again take place in the Laboratory for Experimental Archaeology in Mayen, Germany. This is the experimental archaeology research center of the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum (RGZM). The date for the Forum is 2-8 November 2015.
We have been very happy with the combination of lectures and practical sessions, and we invite you to submit your proposal for a short lecture (about 20-40 minutes) followed by discussion and practical research regarding the textile techniques or problems presented in the lectures. The practical part can be in form of a workshop, a demonstration, or something like a "hands-on round table". Evenings are reserved for socialising and for more work on textile projects.
Our focus topic in 2015 will be "Non-Woven Textile Structures". This includes a large variety of textile techniques, such as knitting, braiding, nalebinding, felting or netting. We invite you to explore this topic together from all aspects, including but of course not limited to use of different tools or techniques to arrive at the same end product, differences of non-woven fabrics compared to woven fabrics, problems and possibilities of these techniques and their description or identification, and of course their use in everyday life.
As always, while papers or posters about our focus topic are especially welcome, if you have another topic outside this focus that you would like to present, please do submit your proposal. The same applies if you would like to offer a poster presentation or a workshop/demonstration only. For any questions, feel free to contact us directly.
With this Call for Papers, registration for the Textile Forum 2015 is now also open. Please be advised that there are very limited accommodation possibilities at the site: Due to the space available at the Experimental Archaeology Lab, we can accommodate about a dozen to fourteen participants on-site only, and the conference will accomodate only a few more participants than that altogether. Due to these restrictions, we may have to consider registrations with a presentation before those without.
The RGZM is graciously supporting the European Textile Forum by granting us use of the simple, mixed on-site dorms. If you prefer a room in a hotel or pension, you can of course book your own accommodation in Mayen; some more information can be found on the Travel and Accommodation page.
Full board consists of breakfast, lunch and dinner; water to drink as well as tea and coffee will be available at all times. All meals will be served in the Laboratory. The conference fee, including the sleeping possibility in the on-site dorm and full board during the week, is 320 Euro per person.
To register for the Forum with or without a poster or paper presentation, please submit your current area of research or interest as well as the title and abstract of your presentation, if applicable, by using this registration form. If you would like to give a paper longer than 40 minutes, please let us know about that and we will try to make it possible.
If you have questions or suggestions, you can contact us directly via
We are looking forward to a wonderful conference with you!

If you are on our newsletter, you will get the same in an e-mail as well - which I will send out later today. That's it from here for today! And for tomorrow, and Monday, since both days are a public holiday hereabout. I wish you a happy Spring Celebrating Festival, whatever it's called, and I hope you will have a few nice, sunny and relaxed days!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

So it goes with plans.

This morning, I was wondering what to do - should I try and do an April Fool post? There are others who are doing it so much better, though.

And then I thought that I'll just be normal and boring and do a totally normal post. Maybe about Textile Forum stuff. Maybe I could just announce the registration being open, and post a Call for Papers... that would be a nice blog post.

However, that means writing the CfP first, and getting the website up to date, and since I had to run some errands inbetween... it was obvious that I would not get it done until early afternoon. So I took a deep breath and thought to myself that since I have been blogging late quite often during the end phase of the Beast, you'll all be used to the occasional late one, and it should be fine if I post it by early afternoon.

It's the end of mid-afternoon now, and unfortunately the CfP is still not finished. Well, the CfP is finished, but I realised that with our newer concept of pairing up a paper with a practical session, I have to fix up the registration form to change it from a radio button set to checkboxes, and that would best be done by making an entirely new form to hopefully tackle some other issues, and that in turn might take another hour or two... so you are getting this blogpost instead, about how plans go kawumph in the afternoon when sudden realisations about the need for updates hit them hard.

Tomorrow, though. You shall have the CfP tomorrow.