Wednesday, 29 September 2010


Today's prep day for Tannenberg - I'm going to shop for some food and maybe pre-pack a bit, so stuffing things into the car will go faster tomorrow. And I'm looking forward on hanging out with friends for a few days again (and probably take it as easy as I can, for a change).

I already have a new demo warp for tablet weaving - the old one I had somehow got roughed up over time and is not really what I like to show anyway, since the tablets are a mishmash of parchment and playing cards and the warp is thick red and beige wool yarn. The yarn itself is nice, mind you, but it's just neither the type nor the thickness that would have been used to weave a twill band with, so out into bad idea nirvana it goes.

The new demo band is made with silk thread in light pink and medium blue, is a dozen tablets wide (all parchment, this time) and woven width is about 5 mm or so (haven't measured yet). And while starting the weave, I found that after working with 42 tablets the last time I did serious tablet weaving, 12 of the little things is really fast and easy to handle, so my plan is to look into the suitability of tablet weaving as a demonstration at Tannenberg - although that does depend a bit on whether I can find two spots to fix my band to...

Oh, and by the way: Since we'll be leaving early tomorrow morning, there will be no blogging until next week.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Oh what can I say?

Somehow, the weather seems to turn my brain on stand-by and not let it function normally - and thus, I'm all out of blogging ideas for today. There's a list lying on my desk with things that I have to take care of (preferably before I leave for Tannenberg), including writing and sending off an abstract for a conference in October and doing some other computery work - all things that are very, very unexciting to blog about. And the more exciting things are all in stages that also makes them un-bloggable.

Sorry, folks - I hope my brain will get its juices flowing again soon!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Monday, Monday...

I've had a nice time on Saturday in Hartenstein, showing textile techniques to the visitors of the museum and chatting about all sorts of textile-related topics. Sadly, the weather was very, very bad, which cut down severely on the number of folks coming up to the castle - but those that did come were very interested.

Experience tells me that the different textile techniques are not equally well suited to a crafts demonstration, and unfortunately, sewing is one of the crafts not too well suited - since most people have already done it themselves (mostly in school, to learn how it's done) or at least seen somebody sewing by hand, they tend to just glance over and then walk by. So for yesterday, I mostly wielded the hand-spindle and distaff - that is usually quite fascinating for visitors - and I thoroughly enjoyed spinning without checking for the right thread thickness after every sitting-height-to-floor-bit of thread spun, as I do for the Hallstatt project.

And now, it's back to the normal projects for today and the next two days, including prepping and packing for the medieval market and fair at Tannenberg, where we'll spend the second half of the week and the weekend.

Friday, 24 September 2010

There. A Bleg.

The Book has been out for about half a year now, and it's doing very well - and I have not forgotten all those comments and questions that I receive about an English version. So I've done some planning and scheming and thinking and prep work, and now it's time to find either an agent willing to peddle the book on the Europe/US market or a publishing house, preferably with distribution on both sides of the Big Pond.

And here I sit, now, with my not-so-great knowledge of English-language-based publishing houses and agents. So I'll do what probably every blogger does sooner or later: I write a bleg.

I am looking for a possibility to bring my book to the English language market. It's a book geared to please both the scientists (art historians, archaeologists, textile conservators) and the Living History activists, offering the first general overview of still extant medieval garments plus all the background knowledge needed to re-create garments using a reconstructed historical tailoring technique. The German version is doing very well and has been getting rave reviews from scientists and Living History folks alike.
If you know an agent or publishing house that might be interested in this book, please give me a hint - I'd be delighted to have a few more leads than I have at the moment!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Deutsche Sprach ist schweres Sprach.

Learning German is something that a lot of non-native German speakers will have a lot to tell you about (probably including a heap of curses). It's not the easiest of languages to learn, especially not if you are living in an area where there is still a local dialect being spoken. And that dialect can change even between neighboring villages, never to speak of the changes between regions.

I grew up in the very north-east of Franconia (which was then called Nord-Ost-Oberfranken and is now called Hochfranken) and though I haven't moved far away from there, just about one hundred kilometres as the crow flies, the dialect in Erlangen is a lot different than the one from home. So I had an utter "home! home!" feeling when the Most Patient Man got to this website yesterday and clicked his way through the sound samples from Schönwald. It's a talking language atlas with samples of words from different spots in Bavaria (and thus Franconia), and it's amazing how differently things can be named. If you are interested in the many different ways people living just in Bavaria call things and pronounce words, this Sprachatlas is definitely worth a visit!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

My hovercraft is full of herrings.

After the TGV is finished, it is now also fully equipped - I received the package with tent pegs for the TGV yesterday, since we don't have enough pegs to pitch both our old tent and the TGV (a situation that will occur regularly when I'm not going to a market on my own). In addition to that, the old pegs were made by the Most Patient Man, myself and another friend in a joint venture of having a go at "blacksmithing", in a tiny little old museum-esque smithy and out of relatively soft, cheap material. Which let us end up with pegs that are functioning well enough on normal ground - earth with not too many stones or gravel in it - but not very well on really hard ground.

Hence I ordered tent pegs from our blacksmith of trust - and now they are here, and beautiful, and with hardened tips. Hooray!

(By the way: Full points for you and your German skills if you find out why the title to this post is "my hovercraft is full of herrings".)

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


After finishing my account-settling today, I ran to the non-computery type of work and actually totally forgot to blog - oopsie!

I have finished the first batch of the Hallstatt spinning yesterday, and as you might have noticed in the sidebar, the TGV is also completely finished, and no thanks to me - the Most Patient Man of them all sat down with needle, thread and the nice little tent and finished it off for me. And I'm utterly thankful - since I had not so much zest to sit down with the tent again.
And now I'll go back to preparing stuff for this afternoon, and to packing up things to send them away...

Monday, 20 September 2010

Entropy, the Universe and the Law of Order.

Somehow, not tidying up for a few days, then packing, then rushing off for a week, unpacking, ordering some stuff (more spindle sticks!) inbetween and getting some additional stuff and then having a heap of urgent work to do leads to... utter chaos in the workspace.

And somehow this has happened to my desk. Again. So I'm afraid that a good chunk of today's time will go into paying stuff, ordering more stuff (projects being worked on), putting stuff away and sorting through stuff. My bookkeeping wants to be finished, wool samples looked at, old paper thrown away or put into its appropriate folders.

Oh yes, and I have to prepare for tomorrow, since I'll be giving a little presentation about Daily Life in the Middle Ages at the DHB in Erlangen. In case you are nearby and interested, the presentation starts at 15:00 and takes place in the Hauswirtschafts- und Verbraucherzentrum, Hauptstr. 55 (that's in the Altstadtmarkt), and non-members of the DHB pay 3 Euro.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Day Off. Yes, I'm actually having another one.

After spending all of last week, including the weekend, with what technically counts as "work" and having only had Saturday the week before the Forum week as a "mostly off" day, I've decided to not work today and instead have a three-day weekend. All those mails in my inbox can wait until Monday (sorry if you're waiting for a reply from me), as can all the other stuff waiting for my attention - sometimes, a girl needs to do what she needs to do.
So I'm finally getting around to relaxing, doing the washing, hopefully meeting a few friends in their coffee break from work, and spending a bit of time meandering through the town aimlessly. Somehow, having a 12-day-workweek really, really makes you look forward to having a day properly off, with nothing important, exhausting or time-consuming on the schedule.

And even the weather is fine outside... which means that in a few minutes, I'll close down the computer, stuff th necessities into my bag and I'll be off to the town. Hooray!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Hooray for a shorter-than-normal week!

I'm quite happy that with coming back on Monday, my first regular work week is not full-length, but slightly shortened. Hooray for it being Thursday already - and I'm actually thinking about taking half a day off tomorrow to get some household stuff done and relax a bit.

But while I'm pondering that, you can ponder whether you would really like to have any of the York Archaeological Trust books that are out of print - because there will be a discussion about doing another print run for those in demand. Here's the "call for interested people" that reached me via the MEDTC-Discussionlist:

Next month, I will be at the York Archaeological trust and discussing their reprint policies. Knowing what volumes people would like to see back in print and how many people will buy them would be of great value in my conversations with them. If there are any volumes you would like to purchase, please send me a message off-line so that I can add you to the list I am bringing with me to indicate the market.

You can find books they publish at Clicking on a particular book will take you to a page of additional information, including whether it is in or out of print. The two books most often mentioned so far are:
Textiles, Cordage and Raw Fibre from 16-22 Coppergate by Penelope Walton

Textile Production at 16-22 Coppergate by Penelope Walton Rogers

Please let others know of this. Thank you very much.

Cheers, Folo Watkins

 Please contact Folo via e-mail; the address is folo1(AT) (For e-mailing, replace the (AT) with the appropriate thingie - I do not want to be the cause of excessive spamming of others.)

Needless to say, I have already expressed my interest in these two textile books...

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

I'm back from the Forum.

I have spent a wonderful, exciting, intense and incredibly exhausting week at the Textile Forum in South Tyrol, and it was more than a little hard to pack up all the things and leave - even though I missed the comforts and quiet of home during that week.

Our landlady, Erna, did her very best to make us all Schnals Valley addicts by cooking the most wondrously delicious meals. The good Hannelore added to that addiction by serving the best Latte Macchiato there is, and all the rest of the museum staff were also totally lovely and incredibly helpful. Saturday evening saw most of us slightly tipsy and in the best of spirits - after a wonderful dinner that the village Unser Frau had invited us to, with typical sheep stew (or cheese, for the vegetarians) and a traditional sweet dish called Schneemilch (snow milk, literally) as dessert - and of course the famous regional wine.

Now that I'm back home, it's also back to work, all the various kinds - spinning, book-keeping, sewing, ordering fabric, all the usual things. But I'm still all buffered by the wonderful memories of the week - spinning with Lena, watching Martin work at the Gunnister Man jacket, Heather spinning with the stroopwafel spindle, just to name a few of the highlights. And oh, did I have a ball!

Friday, 3 September 2010

I can't believe a year has gone already.

It is September, and somehow I have a very hard time believing that yes, a full year has passed since the last Textile Forum and yes, I'll be leaving this weekend for the (hopefully warm and sunny) South Tyrol.
And I am so much looking forward to this event - meeting old colleagues and seeing new faces, chatting about textiles, learning about a bunch of old techniques, hearing about new research and reconstruction projects - exciting prospects all.

South Tyrol, here I come!

(Which for you, gentle readers, means that blogging will resume not before Tuesday week after next.)

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Sprint to the finish.

I'm packing my paper presentation with nice colourful graphs now (and videos! I've been making screenshot videos to "leaf" through the different spinners), and I'm faced with the typical problem of somebody having stared at one set of data for a long time:

Do I present everything that everybody needs to know, or am I leaving out a too-large chunk at the beginning? Is it possible for others to see the things in the graphs I show that I see, or do I see the things because I have looked at other graphs before that made it clearer? And can I explain the sometimes rather complex graphs well enough so that they are legible and understandable?

We'll all know in a little less than a week. Or at least I will know, and then let you know on the blog. For now... I will go play with colourful graphs a little more. Pasting them into Powerpoint. Hoping that the video-stuff will work during presentation as well.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Can I have chocolate? Please?

Unfortunately, I think we consumed the rest of our chocolate yesterday while looking at graphs and fiddling with axis setups (the most patient man of them all and myself). Good chocolate. Good graphs.

And not only have I graphs, I also have visual survey cards of all the spinner's threads. Which you already know from one of the photos I posted a while ago - but now I have them all. And they are all scanned in and available digitally.

And they are huge.

This has already been resized - generously, I might add, because it did not fit into the blog otherwise. It's Spinner C, by the way - our not too experienced spinner who delivered valuable comparison data to the experiment.