Thursday, 20 December 2012

The time has come...

... to slide into the festive season!

And then, the year's end will be fast approaching, and with it the new year, and with that the January conference in Cardiff, so the first days of next year, I will be quite busy getting my paper into its final shape, and packing my bags.

Which means that I will now go on blog pause for the last days of the year, as usual - but this time, the blog pause will be a bit longer due to the conference and include a healthy chunk of January. Regular blogging will resume on January 16.

I wish you all a good festive season with lots of nice food, lovely people and a pleasant warm feeling in your heart, a wonderful New Year's Eve and a happy and healthy start into the year 2013. I'm looking forward to see what next year will bring us!

See you on the flip side!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Magic Number is approaching.

You know how that date with all the festivity attached always creeps up on one, each year? It's weird how it manages that. Even though its creeping plans should be totally thwarted... but still.

We have a traditional boardgame outing every year in October, and that is also the traditional start-of-thinking-about-presents time. Yes, that is pretty early, but it's the perfect opportunity since a lot of our friends enjoy a boardgame or five (or the other stuff that can be gotten there). And you'd think that someone thinking of Yul or Xmas or Hanukah or whatever you call your festive season's peak in October should not be surprised by that date actually coming, right? Well, wrong.

October gently passes by, and November starts - it's getting colder outside and more grey, and the first advent approaches and with it the time to eat gingerbread and enjoy the pretty lights on pretty trees. Another reminder. And then, some time after that, the baking starts.

Then there's our traditional little excursion to a small and sort-of-artsy Christmas Market in one of the neighbouring towns, and of course the celebrations with friends and co-workers and ex-co-workers (or co-students). So theoretically, the steady approach of the date with the 2 in front and the 4 in back should not come as a surprise.

But with all these things that should keep one aware of time ticking by... each year I have the feeling that December especially just rushes by. Like a time-lapse, I am surprised by the first of the few days with the 2 in front suddenly approaching. Oh goodness, is it that late already?

And that's how I felt this morning, looking at the calendar. Oh goodness, is it the 20th tomorrow already? How does December get its super-sneaking superpowers?

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Blogging educates.

Blogging is an education unto itself, including learning about what is different food-wise between different countries.

I grew up with the word "nougat" meaning exactly one thing: a sweet, nutty, chocolaty smooth confection that would melt in your mouth leaving only deliciousness and a desire for more. So the first time someone gave me a piece of "nougat" as in that white stuff with the nuts in it, I was thoroughly disappointed - and a little bit confused.

So then I learned that there is more than one nougat (though the white stuff with nuts, here, is normally referred to as "Türkischer Honig" - Turkish Honey.)
These days, one can just check the Internet for a definition. And the Internet tells me there's three kinds of nougat, and mine is not the most common, but the German kind.

What it does not tell me is whether it's possible to buy that on the other side of the Big Pond, or somewhere else outside of Europe. So just in case, here's a recipe on how to make it. Please note that though it's from a reliable German cooking database, I have not tried this... here, you can buy "baking nougat" in the baking goods section in every supermarket. (Especially around this time of year, of course.)

75 g hazelnuts (or almonds without the brown skin, if you prefer, but hazelnut is more typical)
75 g icing sugar (powdered sugar)
100 g dark chocolate coating or dark chocolate
50 g butter

Roast nuts at medium temperature until golden, let cool. (You can rub the hazelnuts in a cloth after roasting to remove the dark skin.) Grind very finely in a grinder, blender or similar contraption together with the powdered sugar - it should be ground very finely.
Chop the chocolate into pieces and melt (using a water bath so it does not overheat). Mix in the butter, then mix the nut paste and the chocolate paste together to make a thick, malleable nougat. 

(If too soft, you can add more chocolate; if too hard, more butter.)

And this should give you German style nougat, should you not be able to buy it. Another quick-and-dirty solution would be to substitute with Nutella, though I am also told that Nutella tastes different in countries that are not Germany - seems they have a slightly different recipe there.

Monday, 17 December 2012

The date for dates.

I was making marzipan-filled dates yesterday and thought that I could blog the instructions today... and then I remembered that I did exactly that last year. (To be really precise, 363 days ago.)

So instead, you get another cookie recipe... one for really delicious nougat-filled spritz cookies.

You will need 225 g of butter, 100 g powdered sugar, 1 pack (= 8 g) of vanilla sugar, 2 egg yolks, a generous pinch of cinnamon, 230 g flour, 40 g cacao, 1 teaspoon (leveled off) of baking powder, and German or Viennese style nougat for the filling.

Beat the butter until soft and creamy, and beat in powdered sugar, vanilla sugar, egg yolks and cinnamon; blend together flour, cacao and baking soda and gradually mix in the mixture. Fill into a spritz biscuits contraption and spritz it onto a baking sheet (I use silicon baking mats instead of greasing the sheets).

Bake at about 175°C for 6-7 min (hot-air fan oven). Let the cookies cool, then stick two each together with warmed nougat.

Hide well until they may be eaten.

(Thanks to Phiala's comment, I now know that the German nougat might not be as common in other countries as here. If a German says "nougat", it almost always refers to that hazelnut-or-almond-and-chocolate confection, and a recipe will be in tomorrow's blog post.)

Friday, 14 December 2012

Friday! Yay!

I'm not sure whether I want to rejoice that it's Friday already, or moan that it's already Friday... I am looking forward to quite a few free days over the holidays and end of the year, spent together with friends and family, so I'm happy for every day that brings me closer to that - but on the other hand there's things that have to be taken care of before year's end (or will make the start of next year very, very busy and probably stressful).

So... hooray or oops? I can't decide.

At least the presents-for-the-folks-that-get-presents are almost all done. Just like in computer programming, this year it seems as if 90% of it (deciding and getting) took about 10% of the time, while the last ten percent... well, you know. But it's almost done, including a group effort for a bigger present from one of our friends.

Just a few batches of baking to be done, a few decisions on when to go to the market on Saturday, a few phone calls, a bit of organising for our time with friends, ah... the usual seasonal stuff.
And to be honest? I love it. I wouldn't want to miss any of it, it is a brilliant opportunity to meet people that you don't meet very often during the year and spend some time with them. And that alone would be enough reason for me to love this time of year.

Thursday, 13 December 2012


It seems that the season is not only bad for my speed (slowing me down), but also for my sense of time (I totally forgot that I had not yet blogged for today) and for my inventiveness (since I don't have a good idea what to blog about).

Today's earmarked for a visit at the library in Bamberg, and possibly also for a short stroll over the market there, followed by a cup of coffee or similar nice hot drink. It's cold but sunny outside, and everything still has a snow cover - it's almost picture-perfect!

"Picture", however, reminds me that I have a paper to outline and a presentation to prepare and a demonstration to plan. So with that and the other things to take care of, there's enough work for the rest of the week. Good thing that I have a sizeable part of the presentation already prepared from another occasion - I only need to adjust and update it for the next one.

And now... gratuitous cat picture.

She's watching. Remember that.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Something is making my computer slow.

And I fear the something making it slow is contagious - at least I feel quite slow too these days! At least yesterday evening was successful in terms of cookie baking. Something productive done, yay!

Now for your content of today:
Registration for the Experimental Archaeology conference in Cardiff in January is still open, and will be until December 22. So if you are inclined to visit Cardiff on January 11 and 12 (or a bit longer, even), this would be a perfect excuse.

And I'm already looking forward very, very much to this - it will mean meeting nice colleagues again and hanging out in Cardiff. (I will not bore you with Dr. Who and Torchwood fanpersoning now... but if you would like to join me in saying "Cardiff!" in an excited way, feel free.)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012


I have about a thousand tabs open in my browser at the moment - because I tend to leave one open to remind me of something I should do, or of something I could blog about, or both. Or it's something I want to read, but had no time for. Or something that I'm thinking about (such like conference call-for-paper pages - they are often open for more than one week while I decide if I want to go there and if so, if I want to offer a paper, and if so, what).

And there are times when there are so many tabs open it gets on my nerves. This is one of these times... so now I will give you links. Random links. Only linked by the fact that they have been open in tabs for a while now...

The always interesting TechKnitter is de-kinking yarn with a steam iron. (Post before that? Grafting sock toes while avoiding those dog-ear corners.)

I had not known Ben Caplan nor Katzenjammer before that - but here's a video from those two covering "Fairytale of New York". Very Xmassy!

There's a new page with 18th and 19th century flea-market finds on the Textile Group page of Uni Innsbruck. They are textile-related, of course.

There's a Science article on a 30 000 year old flax find .

An interesting article about the plaster casts from Pompeii dead.

An info-page about "Fashioning Change" by Andrea Denny-Brown, with the possibility to download excerpts from the book. If I understand correctly, it can be ordered as electronic copy as well, for a very fair price of about 15 USD.

That's it. Now my browser is feeling much slimmer!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Ah. The full-calendar season.

There is snow outside (the cat mistrusts the snow, but it's getting a little better). There is the smell of baking, and the promise of cookies galore to come. There is meeting with friends for an evening out, a christmas market, or a nice evening spent together at home, and planning get-togethers with family. There is fruit tea and gingerbread and advent calendar opening and sugar and spice and everything nice...

... in short, I am getting more and more festive-season-minded. This is not helped by the prospect that the Most Patient Husband will have to take some of his remaining days off from work during this year (which is not very long anymore), so he will be at home during the day with me in just a few more days.

And since I am happy to share some German Christmas weirdness with you - here is a link to a video (in English) about the giant Stollen at the Striezelmarkt in Dresden. (The speaker calls it a cake. Well. Technically, yes, it could be called a cake... but it's usually not. It is Stollen. That is not the same as cake. Not at all! And a well-made Stollen is really delicious, by the way.)

Friday, 7 December 2012

Blogiversary! (Almost.)

This year, I actually managed to look into my calendar in time, and did not forget to do so until after the blogiversary*. This year, however, the blogiversary day is tomorrow - and that's a Saturday.

Well, I do not have many hard and fast rules for this blog, but one of them is "I post Monday to Friday." Which, by inference, means that I do not post Saturday or Sunday. (Technically, since this is my blog and I am allowed to not post on weekdays if I announce it beforehand, it would be perfectly possible to post tomorrow. But... somehow, I don't want to. It's weekend, after all.)

So today is the day for some blog-related navel gazing. I started this blog on December 8, 2008, and it has been running all weekdays ever since. Well, except for when I'm on holidays. Or on a conference. Or need some time off. Or am on a medieval event. Or... well, you know what I mean.

On average, I did about 200 blog posts per year - in a wild mix of links from the Internets, hints to resources like databases, programmes and other websites, conference calls for papers, some unashamed plugging of my own stuff (though speaking as my vaguely entrepreneur-like self, I'm probably not doing enough of that by far), and telling about past and future events that I am taking part in.

The little blog has grown to have more than 160 followers, racked up 150 500 page views in its days, and has the healthy number of a bit more than 320 rss feed subscribers (on average, as Feedburner is quick to tell me).

But there is something much, much more important than these bare numbers. This little blog is, and means, so much more - and has done a lot for me. It gives my work day a bit of structure (which is not bad for a freelancer to have). It means I practise my English and get to roam the Internet a bit each day (I have to find something to blog!). It is immensely gratifying for me to hear that the blog is amusing, entertaining and - best of all - helping others. And it has opened some new avenues for me as well... for instance, I would never have gone to the Leeds blogger meet without it, and thus never met this weird Australian that is now my partner in a project.

So... happy blogiversary, little corner of the Internet! May you go on to prosper...

* I was late to catch on in both 2009 and 2010 and did a belated blogiversary post. In 2011, I completely forgot to do one.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Can I have a Bag of Holding, please?

I have managed to enter a few more of my books into my book database yesterday, and now I have the reordering problem - the bookshelf is, technically, full. If I am taking out individual books from here and there, then re-order them into the new order in some other bit of the shelf, said last other bit is not spacious enough because the gaps in the size of the books are somewhere else.

So what I would really love to have now is a magic extra shelf in some magic box or something that is bigger on the inside and can hold all the newly ordered books until my shelf is all cleared out and I can put them back in.

Bonus points for automatic shelving in order if I just toss in the book.

Apart from that, it's getting more and more wintery here, and the festive season is starting properly now - there will be the first pre-Xmas-dinner tonight. And cookie baking has started, with the first two batches already finished and the dough for the next one waiting in the fridge.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Things I learned during the past days.

* It is never a good idea to spill your coffee in the car. Mostly out of two reasons: You will have much less coffee, and you will have to clean the car.

* It would be so handy to have a scanner with an automatic paper feeder thingie, so that I could just digitise my paper copies of articles.

* The Internet is full of weird stuff. (I knew that before, but it bears repeating.)

* Our little cat does not care for snow and prefers to stay inside when it's cold, except for a very quick dash outside to take care of cat business. The stinky kind.

* Clearing space on your study floor by sorting out those stacks of stuff and finding better storage places for other things actually means that you can see more floor.

* No brownies appeared over night (again!) to continue my book-sorting. Or to put up the Forum photos onto the Forum website. (I have not forgotten, Harma.)

* The end of year is nearing, and there are the usual "won't you give us money" phone calls.

* I will be giving a paper at Cardiff conference in January, and possibly also a demonstration. Registration is still possible, should you like to come.

* Time flies. (Yes, I know. Not new as well. But like the internet being full of weird stuff... I am convinced that this may be repeated from time to time.)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Free content (top articles) at Maney!

While Maney sells its journals and journal issues at prohibitively high prices for a mere mortal such as I, they do hand out open access stuff now and then - very nice! Apart from them having a "Journal of the Month" with lots of free access to back issues of said journals, there's an occasional extra free access thingie.

Such as the one I got an email about today - some of the top articles for a stack of archaeology or archaeology-related journals are available for free online. And since there is no info page for the offer on Maney's websites (at least not where I could find them), here's the relevant bit of the email copied for you, with a little table-tweaking so it all fits onto the page:

Click on the images below to view a selection of the journal's best content and download any articles highlighted in green. Be sure to close the lightbox on each journal page before clicking on the next journal link!

Arms & Armour Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites
English Heritage Historical Review Environmental Archaeology

Journal of Conflict Archaeology
European Journal of Archaeology The Historic Environment: Policy & Practice
Industrial Archaeology Review Journal of Conflict

Journal of Field Archaeology Journal of the British Archaeological Association
Levant Medieval Archaeology

Palestine Exploration Quarterly Post-Medieval Archaeology
Public Archaeology Studies in Conservation
Tel Aviv Terrae Incognitae
Vernacular Architecture Yorkshire Archaeological Journal
Have fun!

Monday, 3 December 2012

They might last a lifetime...

A few days ago, while having dinner together with a friend, we started wondering about how many different recipes for meals there are in the world.

And after a while of pondering about it, we did come to the conclusion that it should be possible to eat one new meal every day, a full lifetime long, and not having to eat anything twice.

That is impressive. But then... who would want to eat anything just one single time?

Friday, 30 November 2012


Thank goodness it's Friday! I'm really looking forward to the weekend - and one of the things I have planned to do is starting the Xmas baking. There shall be cookies!

Otherwise, my main item on the to-do list today is to finish the submission of a paper (another one about the spinning experiment). It's the deadline today... and yes, that proves that I am a perfectly normal person, submitting right on deadline day.

And once that is done, I am planning to clear a bit of the rubble, er chaos, off my work desk (which includes some updating of my book database). And maybe play a little with the small digital microscope that I now have...

And next week, it will be back to normal winter-type work.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Tea. Winter.

I'm taking it a little more easy today, since yesterday was a day of very, very intense work. It has snowed a tiny bit overnight, but it's all gone again already, and now it's only raining - perfect weather for tea and cookies and a slow day.

I have nice links for you, however:

a science article about 30 000 year old flax fibres (h/t Cathy Raymond);

the Geese Book, a late 15th/early 16th century choir book from very near I am living has been in the US for a long time and is now available as a digital book (website both German and English);

TechKnitter is analysing the kitchener stitch in her usual meticulous and well-illustrated way;

I have stumbled (again, probably) across Phiala's list of online databases with textiles;

and finally, an article from Nature about nettle as bronze age fibre plant is online.


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

I could so use a few minions.

I'm still struggling with data floods - I have solved a few small problems only to find more (of course there are more). Some of them, I guess, are the usual things - details so small that they are not listed in the normal tutorials because, duh, everyone knows that is how you do it. I know I have been guilty of the same thought in some instances, but alas, I also know the other side much, much too well.

And somehow, I can understand why there is so few statistics in archaeology or historical sciences in general, even where something like a statistical analysis would be good. The learning curve, oh, it is steep. (Or I am a little stupid - but since others agree with me, I'll go with the former assumption.)

As of now, the analysis and visualisation I've been able to do has not yielded any new and really evident things (apart from the usual - that spinners are individuals and quite, quite unpredictable).

Ah, what I would give for a few minions. One to do the boring scanning work that is now left to do. One to work out which programme best to use for the visualisation and give me an intro to it. One to finish entering books into my book database. One to make me coffee.

Okay - I can live without the last one. But the others! That would be so good!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Excel Woes. And Coffee Differences.

I am wrestling with Excel, and it is winning. I have not yet made it to the breakthrough in R (I think I need someone to teach me R for dummies, as I am somehow shattering on the most basic things, like importing an Excel workbook with several sheets and saving that as a dataframe) but I need some quick results. Not much, mind you; not the full analysis... but at least something. Something! And I would know how to get it! But... I have made the mistake of saving the formulas in one workbook, and now I need them in another one. And due to the perverseness of my system, and that of Excel, and that of the worksheets... I get an out-of-memory error every time. No, the workarounds all do not work. Yes, I have tried them all (at least all that I could find). Arrr...

And since two people posed the same question yesterday: From what I remember of Swedish coffee (real Swedish coffee drunk in Sweden, from a cafe or a selling point for caffeinated hot drinks) they are large, they are strong (but not overly so) and they are delicious to my taste - with neither too much acidity nor too much bitterness. Not like the thing we termed "Swedish coffee" at the Forum - though of course there are different strength and quality coffee experiences to be found in any country.
German plain coffee roasts often have a tendency to be quite acidic, and the sourness is something I neither like nor can stomach well, so I am fond of the "milder" kinds of beans here, and I generally prefer the fancy coffees with lots of milk (latte macchiato, anyone?). And the coffee I tasted in the Czech Republic was not really acidic, but always quite, quite strong, plus the beans and/or roast and extraction must have been different, since it was very bitter (at least to my taste).
Your coffee-when-traveling observations are very welcome in the comments - I'd be interested to hear what experiences you have had!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Back to the desk.

It's back to the home desk for me today, after spending a wonderful long weekend abroad. The little conference in the Czech Republic was thoroughly nice, with lots of friendly people and interesting topics (even though most of the costume topics were a little later than my main interest time). The only thing I regret is that I do not speak or understand Czech better than I do; as it is, I can order dumplings, tea or coffee, but I probably won't understand the answer. The lovely people at the conference, however, took great pains to supply me with translation of all the talks of the day - no mean feat, and something I greatly appreciated.

My presentation, as well as that of another speaker, were also translated for the benefit of the audience, which for me meant cutting out all the bells and whistles and asides and extra jokes that I normally insert. It has never become as clear to me before how much of all that is in all of my normal presentations that are not stripped for easy translation.

And now I also know Prague a little better than before, having had two long walks through the city; I have had the traditional Wenceslaus sausage (that I love) and sampled several different Czech sandwiches; I have been stuck in a train for more than three hours due to several accidents on the track all happening in one afternoon; I have also learned that not only plain Czech coffee is very different from plain German coffee (something that can be well expected), a Czech Latte Macchiato is also very different from the German (or even the Italian) one. But the most beautiful thing to become aware of (again) during this trip? Laughter is international, and you do not need to understand each other's language to be able to laugh together.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Oh no, Friday already?

Sometimes, it seems to take ages until Friday arrives - but then in some weeks, it seems as if it's Friday instantly. And this was one of these weeks.

That is surely partly due to my cutting away some of the normal week length by travelling. Tomorrow is the Clothing Seminary in Zlin where I will be speaking about crafts, experimental archaeology and spinning, and I'm already looking forward to this very much - it will, I hope, be a very interesting meeting.

And next week it's back to writing article and working at the home desk, with a nice hot coffee and all autumny colours outside the window. This is a good time of year to sit indoors, read and write! (The cat, by the way, agrees. Not with the reading-and-writing part, but with the sitting indoors part; there are mornings now when she thinks it's enough to take a little sniff of the cool outdoors air and then settles back for another nap.)

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Data mining, next go.

Here it is again, my neverending spinning experiment. After my successfull using of ImageJ for the processing of visual survey cards from the experiment, I now have this huge stack of data that is still mostly un-mined. And I am convinced that there is more to be had from it, much more.

So I'm having another look at the data, and consequently at several programmes that might help me in tickling more insight out of the stack of numbers that I have. During my browsing of the net, however, I found this introduction into statistics and data mining - which is a very nice, easy to understand intro explaining all the things that data mining GUIs offer.

It's on my reading list now - while I go hunting some more for the perfect programme for my needs. There are still a few on the list that look promising...

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Databases (again), part II.

Endnote is, according to their makers, the bestest citation software ever. As is Zotero (according to their makers). And probably a bunch of others as well.

Back when I was still trying out stuff and relatively new to the world of people working in physics (who have an affinity to LaTeX-the-programme), I wrote one article in TeX. I had to re-do it in MS Word to get it published, but this little stint meant that I got to know the powers of BibTeX, which is the citation system thingie that comes with TeX. It is, more or less, a reference database that you cite from, and the programme does the formatting.

Sound familiar? That's just what EndNote does with Word. Back when I then found out that there was, indeed, such a programme, I bought it for the hefty sum they asked for the student edition back then and have been using it ever since. There's connection files to get data from online library catalogues (something I should have used more, I now think, it might have saved me lots of work), style files that can be altered to suit individual needs, and both a field for "notes" (which I use for making general, personal notes about a reference) and "research notes" (which I use for typing excerpts or snippets including the page number so they can actually be used for working without the physical copy of the book). Plus there are custom fields - those I have used to mark whether I own a book (physical or digital copy), where it stands in my library (well, that's a work in progress to be honest), if I have pictures in my picture database (by noting down the prefix of the image files, such as schweppe_ which is, in the actual files, followed by a page number so I have files like schweppe_10.png) and if I have already read it or just jotted it down for future reading.

According to the version history, my purchase of the programme must have been in 2004. Which means that my version is a little... older. Now, I have no problem with older software (I'm happily using Word2000, and not planning to change from that), but sometimes, it pays to look for alternatives. Especially since my EndNote is sort of iffy on the connection files, with quite a few of them not working (or not working anymore), and I cannot download the whole set of new ones from the site (there is no such button in my installation menu).

Due to the recent mention of Mendeley by Phiala in the comments of some other post, I did a little looking and found Qiqqa - a .pdf organising software with built-in OCR, a wizard to help with filling out the reference data for each imported .pdf, and the possibility to cite to Word. I quite like it on the first try and am currently using it to get some order into my .pdfs. I have even considered changing to this programme from EndNote for all my referencing, but it does not do a few things that I have grown accustomed to, and I have also read that it's not too easy to modify citation styles (something I regularly need to do).

Qiqqa is intended for use over the web, with web storage of .pdfs, something which I don't need (and don't want). It allows "vanilla references", that is those without a .pdf attached, but then I get a nasty popup if I want to associate a file with it now. It also does import from EndNote - but not the "Research Notes". There is the possibility to search for duplicates, but I found it rather hard to compare the actual duplicates with each other and decide which one should stay and which one should go. I have not tried the citation thingie yet, but from the overall feel, it's very much geared towards .pdf files only, and I don't want to use two programmes. So at the moment, my plan is to use Qiqqa to get some order into my .pdf files, then export the data via BibTeX and a converter to EndNote, and merge the two databases. (That's the plan only, though - and it might change if problems with the import should arise. Or if Qiqqa should evolve some more, and then I might reconsider using it as my new reference database thingie.)

I'd be happy to hear about your experiences with Qiqqa, EndNote, Zotero or whatever you use!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Databases (again).

As the long-term readers among you might know, I am using Endnote for my references and bibliography, and a programme called Fototime FotoAlbum. Both have been on my system for years now, so I have gained a bit of experience with them.

FotoAlbum is making a good job of sorting and handling my image database, and their online support is one of the best I know. There was no instance where I didn't get a speedy reply, and things were taken care of whenever possible (I realise that not all my requests would fall in line with the needs of the normal customers, so it's understandable they are not adapting the programme just for me).
The programme allows notes and comments, ratings, copyright notes, keywords and captions; it has filters and an "album" system that makes it possible to store pictures in a given folder structure, yet have them as part of several albums. There's also the possibility to define smart albums, automatically putting pictures in there if they have the right keywords, date, or other defined thing.

Speaking of dates - I use the programme to sort my picture database which, logically if you are working about medieval stuff, consists mostly of old things. The photo timeline is quite generous, since it allows to go back until 1700 (there were no photos before that time, right? Right? Yes.). For stuff from the 9th or 12th century... that's a bit late, though. So I developed my own system that has been successful for years now: I use the 1700 as code for my centuries, as in 1708 - eighth century, 1715 - fifteenth century. And I even have a months key, for example January 1713 means from 1200 to the 1220s. The months key is not perfect (due to my less than perfect definition, that is) but it works fine and it allows me to sort all my pictures by date. And I have a lot of pictures.

So if you are in search of a picture database, I can fully recommend the programme. I use the paid-for edition, due to a few reasons of my own, but FotoAlbum is also available in a free edition that will already serve for most database-related needs, including handing out your pictures or a selection of them, with all the data attached and viewable, to someone else.

As for Endnote... that's something to write about tomorrow.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Start into the week!

It feels weird to be at the desk again after the weekend - we were visiting my family to celebrate a birthday, which was nice and full of pleasant hustle and bustle and laughter, and then it was already time to drive back home and get back on track.

And now I even have to get back on track really quickly, since I will be spending the coming weekend away at the costume seminary in Zlin, CZ. I'm looking forward to that a lot already, but it also means that there is a stack of things I have to prepare before I leave (and that includes giving the presentation one last little polishing).

At least I know what my work on the bus will be - there's a(nother) paper to finish and a book to read that the library wants to have back really soon. One decision taken care of.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Bringing the old to the young. Exeter does it.

The Uni of Exeter is planning to turn the Book of Exeter (and a few others as well) into an app - well, not turning, really, but making an app to allow young people exploration of these old manuscripts. This includes turning elements of the book into games and puzzles - very fitting for an Anglo-Saxon riddle book that is not completely surviving and therefor a riddle in itself!

There's a short explanatory video about it on vimeo, and even if you're not interested in the app, it's worth watching for a) the lovely accent of the speaker (I just love British accents) and b) the pictures of old books.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Things are picking up.

Usually, for someone working with demonstrations and in connection with living history events, the late autumn and winter months are the slow season - the time to kick back and think about stuff for the next season to come. The time to pack away things, repair stuff, make new stuff (or plan to do it until it's time to frantically do at least a bit of all that work in the week before the new season, in time-honoured tradition and in tune with the old reenactor's joke "Winter is the week before the first event in the new season").

But this year around, I don't feel as if things were slowing down; on the other hand, there's plenty to do and some juicy projects and other things have reared their heads, promising interesting times and a chance of income.

So I am emailing and reading and writing and planning... while drinking coffee (always good) and eating highly motivating sweet substances (aka cookies and chocolate). After all, the brain needs sugars, right?

Link for today: Not a medieval dress, but a spectacular one - and it has been restored recently. It's the Victorian stage costume of actress Ellen Terry, and the article is brought to you by PastHorizons.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

This, and that, and do I have enough wool?

I'm still feeling a little swamped by work, though pleasantly so - things are coming up that might mean really interesting projects in the future, there's some progress on the writing front (though there's never, ever as much as I'd like) and I may have figured out a way to find out whether the yarn I have is enough for a knitting project.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Should I? Or should I not?

I have been asked to consider turning my blog into a book, and I'm now pondering the idea. It's true that I have written a lot of stuff over these past years, but I'm not convinced enough of them would be non-internet-specific enough for a print version.

It is certainly less work than writing a book from scratch - but it's also sort of non-ordered, non-sequitur, and containing a lot of filler posts or link lists.

And I'm just not sure whether anyone would really want to buy a version of this blog in form of a book. So I would be grateful for any feedback - what do you think about blogs turned books? Are there any articles I wrote on that blog that you'd like to have in a print version? Or should everything rather stay as it was?

Monday, 12 November 2012

Late Links.

I slept longer than usual today (it was not my fault at all - I was pinned down into bed by a cat sleeping on my leg, so I could not move, right?). This was followed by a phase of frantic editing and planning work, so today's blog post is much later than planned. I blame the cat. Who is, by the way, sleeping (again).

Via Isis of Medieval Silkwork, a link to a blog post about two extant dresses from the late 16th century in Pisa. It's a very detailed post, and they are beautiful dresses.

And the Bavardess has posted two longish blog posts about interdisciplinary research, well worth a read!
Interdisciplinary research is very fruitful if it functions well, and really necessary for many topics, but it's not all easy to get started with it. In her blog post "Notes for a method of interdisciplinary research" part I and part II, the Bavardess sums up a two-day workshop, with very helpful hints for a framework before getting started. This is especially important for a collaborative effort, but helpful as well if you are doing it on your own.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Libraries are so good. And databases, too.

I had a really nice and very intense day of sitting in the library and reading and taking notes yesterday - which felt absolutely fine.

I have started to take notes for each book that I store in my bibliography database so I can have an excerpt and check again if necessary where something came from, and I now somehow sort of regret that I haven't started this years and years ago. I'm still working with EndNote and will continue to do so, I have never gotten onto good terms with Zotero, though it seems to be a good (and free) choice. (In the interest of full disclosure, I have also never really tried hard to get onto good terms with Zotero.)

And let me state again that I am a huge fan of databases, both for bibliography and for pictures - because having a searchable, tagged or keyworded heap of information is much better than having an unorganised, non-searchable heap of information.

So if you have pictures, or collect pictures for research reasons, and read books for research purposes, I thoroughly recommend you to get a database thingie - there are heaps of free ones on the Internet - and at least note down the following: who took the picture (if it wasn't you) or the book it came from (including the page) if it's a scan, and for books you read the author/editor, book title, year, and a short note of how you liked it. You can put in much more - excerpts, keywords (both for book and picture), picture captions, a note of how you liked the book, further citation traces to follow, where the book is located, when you looked at it, or whatever would be good but is not on my radar at the moment. But having at least a note of the minimum things will mean you being able to remember whether you had that book in your hands already... or not.

Having said that, I should probably spend a little time on the care and feeding of my databases today.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

German Art Recipes. In the Internet.

While conversing with a friend about something completely (well, not completely - slightly) different, she pointed me to a database with the full, rather unwieldy name of "Datenbank mittelalterlicher und frühneuzeitlicher kunsttechnologischer Rezepte in handschriftlicher Überlieferung".  

If you can read German, that title tells you all you need to know. It's a recipe database for hand-written, medieval and early modern recipes for art supplies. (In German - sorry for those of you who don't read it). Most recipes are not only transcribed, but also translated, and there are search masks to hunt for specific ingredients or techniques - such as textile-related techniques. This is an ongoing work by Dr. Doris Oltrogge of the FH Cologne, and it's a brilliant idea.

Recipe database! Hooray!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Amazing. Really.

It is a very, really, utterly amazing thing how much work can go into a single book. There's this project I'm working on? Together with a friend half-way around the globe? We've spent oodles of hours, both, on the computer and chatting over how to fix this or handle that and on ourselves thinking and writing and editing and checking and noting.

And now we are nearing a stage where we can take a first look at what the thing has become. It has certainly changed a whole, huge lot from what it was (both in writing and conceptually) when we started. There's still a good bit of work to do, but things are getting clearer.

That's amazing. And a tiny bit scary - nearing a new stage.

Oh, on today's agenda, by the way (among a few other things): more work on that project. Which I will now be off to...

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


It's NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month, for those of you who don't know the abbreviation). And while I'm not going to write a novel, it sort of fits - I have a paper to write and a presentation to finish and finetune.

So... I will be writing today - and hopefully lots. Because it's NaNoWriMo

Monday, 5 November 2012

Knitting time.

Somehow it seems as if winter (or at least the colder months) are my main knitting time - though judging from the output, you would not suspect that.

On my (small, but existent) pile of unfinished objects lies a pair of socks with shadow-knit cats and an almost finished pinwheel sweater. The socks are millimetering towards being done (inching would be too fast, you see?), but the sweater has been huddled into a heap, abandoned, for oh-so-long now.

I'm still in love with the concept of the pinwheel sweater (you take a round blanket, stick two sleeves in, and wear it), but even though I tried on a friend's version of it, I'm not at all happy with mine. It's knit in bulky yarn which may have been a bad choice, since that makes it really heavy; and in this version, it just does not fall right for me. It doesn't.

So I have decided to frog it. And now I've stumbled across a very nice how-to-fit-a-sweater tutorial that helps with choosing flattering projects. So I'll look for another thing, better suited to my shape and figure, to knit... some of these days, this means, I will sit down and cast on something. (And if I'm good, I will finish the socks first.)

Friday, 2 November 2012

Archaeology texts... not in English, though.

I have stumbled across two new things (thanks to mailing lists) that might be of interest.

The first one is a French publication about reconstruction and reconstitiution in archaeology, with ideas or articles from several different countries. The main texts are French, but there are English summaries to go with them.
The volume is published online, can be downloaded for free, and you find it here.

Secondly, Rainer Schreg is pondering the unusual layout of an early medieval settlement and how modern thought might influence our interpretation on Archaeologik. That one's not French, but German.

Thirdly, on Archivalia, there's an article about German copyright law and the possibilities to publish online as Open Access - looks like there are quite a few possibilities! Fittingly, that one too is German.

Thursday, 1 November 2012


Today is a holiday hereabouts - so no proper blog post.

Instead, have this:


Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Utzenhofen, last part. And time management.

At Schauhuette, the last part about the current excavation in the church has been posted. It's part four, though it will be less interesting for those of you who do not understand German, since it's mostly explanations, no more time-lapse excavation bits.

In completely other news, I have discovered a new programme that is quite useful for freelancers, or for anyone else who wants to track computer-use time. It's called ManicTime, the smaller version is free, and it tracks the applications that you open and how long you spend on them. No starting or stopping of a time-tracking tool needed, plus you can see how long you procrastinated by hanging out on facebook or reading webcomics or whatever.

And while I'm at it, here's another very useful tool: AntiTwin. It looks for file duplicates in one or more folders and has a really convenient possibilities to sort out files for deletion. Freeware for private users too - life is good.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Budget Cuts in EU?

Nobody can do research without money. Because researchers, like all other people, need to sleep (preferably somewhere dry and not too cold), to wear something (yes, really) and to eat something (not only chocolate, though it should be in there somewhere if you ask me). And all that needs some money.

If you are more or less involved in museums, archaeology research facilities or similar institutions, you will know that money is always scarce there. I remember being a student helper when I was still studying; we'd get paid for doing necessary preparatory work for papers such as taking and sorting slides, or helping when there was a conference. There was scarcely enough money to pay for the work that really needed to be done. Nobody doing a phd would have a chance of getting paid from the Uni - either you got funding somewhere else, or you were self-funded. You had a chance to get a work space (as in "a table") in one of the department's rooms, though they were limited, and you had to bring your own computer.

There's no law that says good research cannot be done with a low budget. But a low budget is severely limiting research in several ways: time, resources, possibilities, presentation.
Someone researching topic X with no money for it has to provide not only for the necessities of life, but also for the research. Books and articles are expensive, as are trips to libraries further away. All this has to be paid for - or our researcher has to do without. Time has to be spent on other, paid work. No funding also means little possibility to use newer analysis methods. And finally, no funding as in "you pay for going to that conference* all by yourself" means fewer possiblilties to exchange knowledge and experience with other researchers, limiting not only that one person's research, but also its impact. (Even worse when the conference has no funding and thus publication takes ages and ages and ages. Ask me how I know.)

Why am I writing all this? The next summit of the EU heads of states on 22-23 November 2012 will be a decisive step in determining the EU research budget for the next seven years. The conditions are not favorable: the financial crisis has put severe constraints on the national budgets and several countries, in particular the "net-payers", are demanding cuts on the total EU budget. Research and innovation will compete with other policy priorities.

Fourty-two Nobel Laureates and five Fields Medallists (something like Nobel, but for Maths folks) have written an open letter urging the EU to keep funding research. This has turned into a petition that you can sign here - and then join me in hoping this will be enough to keep the EU from cutting budget.

* The conferences are not as pricey as, say, medical conferences usually are - but still: you need to sleep somewhere, you need to eat something, you need to get there and back again, and pay the conference fee. Conferences (and I so love going to them) are one of the big spending points in my budget.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Knitting Link.

For those of you who would like to insert zippers into your knitting but do not want to sew them in, I can recommend going to Techknitter's blog and taking a look at her solution... nifty.

Speaking of knitting: My pair of Alice's illusion socks is actually nearing their point of completion. I am planning very, very much on finishing them before New Year (or I will have been dragging them around for more than one year).
Somehow, this shows how little knitting I have managed to do this year. I hope next year will be a bit better, or one day I'll run out of socks...

Friday, 26 October 2012

Sheep Shearing. Muahaha.

Some problems you can solve with scissors. Or shears. Like getting the wool from sheep.
Some problems you can solve with maths. Like how much to charge for shearing a sheep.

Now, a lot of textile people are not so very fond of maths - maybe this would be a good suggestion to make maths textbooks more textile-people friendly:

Shear transformation, anyone?


Thursday, 25 October 2012

More actual archaeology.

You remember the post about the actual digging out of a skeleton? A second part of this has now been put online by Mattis Hensch of the Schauhuette:

And there's one more video of the anthropological examination of the skeleton as well - you find the link to the video here.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Yarn made this possible!

If you are interested in Vikings and Viking Archaeology, you probably know that there is L'Anse aux Meadows, a Norse or Viking settlement in Canada. This was the first, and up to now only, known proof for the arrival of the Norse in Vinland (that's how they seem to have called the fabled continent way, way over the sea).

Now I have stumbled over an article published in National Geographic, and there is a second settlement where finds very, very strongly indicate that it was not made by indigenous population. The finds are from Baffin Island, in Canada, far above the Arctic Circle and north of Hudson Bay. Archaeologist Patricia Sutherland looked at the finds, made in the 1980s by a missionary, in the archive of a museum in Quebec in 1999 - and found out that the yarn which was part of the finds is a match for thread finds from the Norse colony in Greenland. Since the indigenous people of Baffin Island did not spin, this is the first very strong hint it was a Norse colony.

Recent excavation in the place seem to corroborate this - they found whetstones. But isn't it nice that the yarn finds opened up the way?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Joy of Sourcing Ingredients.

Debbie of the Mulberry Dyer has blogged about Cream of Tartar that is part of quite a few historical dye recipes, and of some modern ones, too. It seems that some dye retailers want their customers to buy the tartar in their own shops and not in the grocery store, so they say that the cream of tartar used for baking is the wrong chemical.

Well, that's nasty behaviour - since it isn't. Go read Debbie's blog about that. It also includes some more info on what the stuff is, chemically, and where it comes from. (Wikipedia has some more, and different, info as well.) The German name is much clearer about this - it calls the chemical "Weinstein", literally translating as "Wine Stone". And that's exactly how you can find it: As small crystals or stones on the bottom of wine barrels or sometimes wine bottles or sometimes even in grape juice. We get our grape juice as 5 l bag-in-box thingies, either red or white, from the Weingut Hechler - and I have found tartar in there once the bag was empty.

So if you need tartar for something... here is your perfect excuse to get some wine or good grape juice.

Monday, 22 October 2012

I'm back.

I am back from a wonderful and relaxing few days with friends, spent chatting, eating, laughing and playing lots and lots of wonderful (board-)games. This was just what I had needed - and now I will get back to work. There's emails to be read, books to be catalogued, and papers to be prepared!

And since it's a long while since I last posted a link to this, it's time to mention the Handweaving Archive again. The site hosts a lot of old instructive and informative texts not only regarding weaving and weaving techniques, but also other textile techniques. It's a good site to know, and a place to spend lots and lots of time in.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


Summer is over, all the leaves are turning into colourful leaves (except those that have died of the cold already, like the morning glory in the garden), it's getting cold in the evening and the night, and my consumption of hot caffeinated beverages... no, it's not more frequent. But that's not due to the weather.

Things, otherwise, are progressing here as well: The achilles tendon of the most patient husband of them all is slowly healing, the heaps of washing after the season have been cleared away, the bookkeeping has been done, and I am in the middle of planning sessions for conferences and other activities in the near and middle future - among them a trip to Cardiff to the experimental archaeology conference there.

Just now, however, I will take a few days off. Things have been rather hectic around here since before the Textile Forum, and now that the most urgent stuff has been dealt with, I will take a little time to regenerate. I will be back on the blog on Monday.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Oh noes.

Now that it's getting later in the year, cooler, with less pollen hanging out in the air and being possible provokers of allergic reaction, what does our little cat do? She goes and coughs again. Despite getting allergy medication already. Gah.

So we'll be off to the vet (again), trying to find out how bad it is and what we can do against it. Just what I needed to make my scheduling today a little more difficult.

Apart from the coughing, though, she's fine. A little stressed maybe, due to a red tom hanging out in our garden - he's obviously interested in getting to know her a little better, but she is not interested in him, it seems. We're very curious to see if it will develop into a cat friendship or not.

Monday, 15 October 2012

See real archaeology! In time-lapse!

My lovely colleague Mattis Hensch (who has the Schauhuette blog) has done it again and made a wonderful video-blog that is really worth watching. It's the first part of a time-lapse of how a skeleton is dug out.

The grave is in the choir of the previous church, a Romanesque building, of St. Vitus in Utzenhofen (Lkr. Amberg-Sulzbach). They have found a grave in the place where the altar would probably have been situated, and they are uncovering the skeleton now, hoping for some help in dating it.

The text is German, but you can watch it even if you don't understand the language - you will still see actual archaeological work. Click this link to see how it's done with trowel and vacuum cleaner!

There will be a second part of the excavation documentation coming up soon, and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of it.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Seriously? Really?

You can do a lot of funny studies in science, I knew that before. You can also do studies that are... interesting but maybe not so very helpful.

There has been a recent one about chocolate consumption. Even if you are not reading up on the newest health insights regularly, you stumble across stuff. I only snap up things from time to time and more or less by chance - such as that coffee has now become a very healthy drink that might even reduce the risk for depression), but only if you drink enough (as always) and not too much. (And do they realise there's a difference between US coffee, normal coffee and Swedish coffee? As in one cup of Swedish coffee probably equals ten cups of US coffee?)

But this is the weirdest study I have seen in a while. Someone (an M.D., to be precise) actually tried to link a nation's collective cognitive functions to chocolate consumption, on something that is not a very wide or, in my opinion, good database. Erm. I would not have drawn the same conclusions as the author from the results of the study as shown in the graphic. I'll just say "too little data error". Getting a Nobel Prize is, moreover, definitely not only a result of superior cognitive functions. Anyone else think publications, politics, luck? And what about the collective cognitive function in those countries where there is no record about chocolate consumption? And what about consumption of the other flavonoid-containing foodstuffs listed right at the start of the article? Gah.

Anyways - one of the studies cited in that article had really come to the conclusion that cocoa (and thus, chocolate, in a way) improves cognitive function under certain circumstances. So... should I print out that article abstract to use as an excuse when I have a chocolate binge? Or should I just continue as always? Oh, the choices science gives us...

Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Chaos before the Order. Hopefully.

After the end of a summer and market season, it's the same procedure every year: Washing the things that need to be washed, setting apart the things that need repairing or, worse, replacing; cleaning and oiling the wood stuff before putting it into storage; figuring out where goes what thing for the winter.

Well, this time, I sort of got the idea that I could use the opportunity to thoroughly re-order the stashing places for all the living history/market stall things. Add to this the fact that I have more tools now (spinning wheel and tablet-weaving frame), this has become quite necessary. The re-ordering also means that I have finally tackled to sort and organise my work books better. There were times when looking for a specific book meant just grabbing it from the shelf. Then came the times when I had to search for a little... but nowadays, the number has grown so much that looking for a book, but not finding it happened more than once. That irks me, plus I tend to get panicked that I lent that book to someone and have never gotten it back.

The result of all this? More chaos. But hopefully only transitory chaos that will lead to a new and better order for books and things! And less stuff on the floor, in temporary not-so-well-suited-storage places, or in random stacks on my desk.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Spindles, spindles!

On the website of Uni Innsbruck, there is a nice little spindle typology. It's bilingual, and it includes sub-sites with pictures and descriptions of spindles from about all around the world, plus some additional picture galleries.

If you enjoy looking at spindles, that site is really worth a visit!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Linky Things and Stuff.

Since the Dyeing Experiment at the Forum went so well, Heather Hopkins and I are considering to present it in Cardiff in January next year. Which means a trip to Cardiff - I've never been to Wales before, and being quite fond of Dr Who and Torchwood, this is even more of a reason to go there.

Today, though, the first (and actually most important) thing on my list is to wrap up the bookkeeping for the quarter and send off the VAT forms to the tax folks. Work I love... not, but sadly, it's necessary. (Good thing about it? Having to send off the forms forces me to keep the books up to date and well sorted.)

And while I'm sweating about little numbers black and red, you might enjoy this:

There is a digital charter archive sponsored by the DFG, online. I don't know how good the English translation of the page really is, but the charters are not English anyways... the database seems to be searchable, and they are working on expanding it with more items. Go see the "Virtuelles deutsches Urkundennetzwerk" if that sounds interesting to you.

Since I was speaking of Cardiff: The call for papers for the Experimental Archaeology Conference is still running, so if you want to participate, you have until November. More info is on their blogsite (I'd say website, but it runs on blog software).

Going to Cardiff = travel. Travel = interesting topic. Archaeologik has posted a picture of a medieval arterial road without firm surface, and I think it looks spectacular.

And finally, making access to unavailable and out-of-stock books possible seems to slowly spread - which is a totally wonderful thing! The book that I last heard about is this one:
Johannes Müller und Reinhard Bernbeck (Hrsg.): Prestige - Prestigegüter - Sozialstrukturen. Beispiele aus dem europäischen und vorderasiatischen Neolithikum. If you read German and are interested in social status and representative goods as factors in social interaction, you should probably get it.

That's it for today from here!

Monday, 8 October 2012

The Opening of LEA

I've mentioned the new Lab for Experimental Archaeology quite a bit on this blog already, mostly in context with the Textile Forum, and I hope to have reasons to mention it in the future at least as often. It's a wonderful concept that fits in perfectly with the Textile Forum and with a lot of the work regarding spinning and textile techniques that I have been doing, merging crafts knowledge and practical craft with scientific methods and archaeological research.

Friday, 5 October 2012

There, something happened.

As usual, there was the discussion in Tannenberg. You know the one. The one about pricing of goods and services in the historical crafts sector.

I've had this discussion so often now that sometimes I fail to fire up, but most of the times I still get going and tell people what I think. (You can read what I think - I have posted a series about fair prices in crafts a while ago, the link is in the sidebar.)

Sabine of the Wollschmiede and I have been preaching this for a few years now, and at some unknown point during this time started to half-jokingly refer to us as frontpersons of the "Liga gegen Selbstausbeutung im historischen Handwerk" (League against economic self exploitation in historical crafts). Well, we actually started out referring to the textile crafts, but it soon became clear it's not limited to this (even though there's more to that specific minefield).
In Tannenberg, I made the joke again, within hearing of a few more friends and colleagues - and they loved the concept. I was promptly told that yes, they'd join the League, and a logo was needed.

So from all this, a facebook page has come into being, and there's a logo free for everyone declaring him- or herself a member or supporter, to copy (using any materials and tools and technique) and display at the sales table, the stall or wherever else.

We hope to help with the discussion of fair wages for historical crafts with this, and I hope it will enable more crafters to actually charge a proper, living wage for their professional work - and keep some hobbyists from breaking prices because they are "just doing it for fun". After all, it's even more fun if you get respect for the work, and paying a fair price is one form of showing respect.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

This was the Summer Season 2012.

The market in Tannenberg was a sunny, relaxed and very funny ending to a nice summer season of 2012. Now it's really getting to be autumn, the days are noticeably shorter, it's getting cool early in the evening, and the leaves are turning yellow and red.

I'm back home and now there's the usual work stuff to be done after a season - cleaning, checking and repairing all the things used during the summer, re-organising storage to make enough space for the new things (such as the Great Wheel), thinking about changes or additions to the assortment of goods to sell, and so on.

And in addition, there are some exciting ideas for new projects in my mind and some of them already half in planning... it will stay interesting. For today, though, all I have planned is to clean as much of the medieval gear as possible.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


Technically, I have a lot to write about - the experiment at the Forum; my happiness with how very well my Great Wheel works (it's workout for the right arm, by the way) and how well it is received by the public; how nice it was at LEA; the garden in its autumn beauty and many more things.

However, tomorrow is when I leave for Tannenberg, and I have neither the time nor the energy to write about all that right now. There's also still enough stuff to prepare that I will not be able to pre-blog for the next few days. So no blogging tomorrow, and no blogging until October 4th (when I will be back from the season's end event, and hopefully a bit restored again).

And now... packing and preparing.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Normal Blogging! Resumed! (Well, more or less.)

I'm back from two weeks full of exciting things to do and new things to learn and wonderful people to meet, and accordingly I spent most of yesterday asleep, catching up on the hours lost to discussions and work.

We had a small, but very intense and very successful Textile Forum in Mayen, with a dyeing experiment that surprised us all with the outcome. After the Forum, I got to spend some more time with friends that had come to the Forum from Netherlands, Germany, England and Sweden, visiting Maria Laach in lovely weather.

After this, I went to see the new abode of my friends from the Wollschmiede and helped them a little bit with their renovation. It's a lovely old house that now has a new roof and will soon be their home and workplace, with much better opportunities for both dyer and blacksmith than the old apartment could offer.

And to top off all of this, I then was part of the programme for the opening of LEA in Mayen this last weekend, demonstrating wool preparation and spinning techniques to a very interested public. We had immense luck with the weather - it rained on Friday evening and night, and it was a little cool on Saturday morning, but then the sun came out and we had a wonderful time both Saturday and Sunday.

And now I'm looking forward to a few days here to reorganise myself and catch my breath before going to the traditional season's end market - Tannenberg. This year, however, I'll have to go without the most patient of all husbands, who ruptured his Achilles tendon last Saturday and now moves around on crutches... and those are not very compatible to the uneven and possibly muddy Tannenberg grounds.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Textile Forum!

I'm at the Textile Forum this week, and thus there will be no blogging. Since I will be away from home for a few more days after that, blog as normal will resume on September 25.


The Textile Forum is from today to Sunday, September 16; the programme is here. Day passes are available, so please drop by to meet other textile persons!

On the weekend after that, there's the official opening of LEA, where I will be showing wool preparation and spinning techniques.

There are still some places left for the embroidery workshop in Erlangen on the 27th of October and the 28th of October 2012. Here's the link for more information and booking.

And finally, Maney Publishing offers free access to its Journal of the Month, the European Journal of Archaeology, until October 15. All articles from the last three years are available.


Friday, 7 September 2012

I'm packing!

It's getting cooler and slightly autumny outside; the sunlight has a different, more golden colour in the afternoons, and it is actually nice again to stand in the sun and having it warm oneself. It's still quite dry here, and during the day it gets warm enough (or even hot), but summer is definitely coming to an end.

The Forum, on the other hand, is about to start. We are looking forward to an interesting week with lots of discussion and practical stuff about historical textile techniques, and if you can and want to come to Mayen for a day or more, day passes are available and you will be very welcome!

As for me, I will finish the last preparations and start packing for the event today. Hooray! It's almost starting!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Miscellaneaous Stuff. To amuse you.

Here's some stuff you might find amusing...

Care to take a small quiz about German cities? Try to find out which city is hinted at by the clue.

Archaeologists have dug in the house that Albert Einstein was born in. You can read the (German language) article here.

And finally, here are some musings about age, old cats, and the quality of life.

That's it for now. Tomorrow I will start packing for the Textile Forum - I have a hard time believing we actually start on Monday!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A Female (Modern) Knight!

Speaking of Gender Issues (and giving a different, less classical-gender-typical example), there's a female knight doing knight stuff over in the US. I stumbled across her when reading about the great tourney last weekend, on another blog, but she also has her own website.

Not only a "lady knight", she also works as stuntwoman, actress, and model. It really is very, very impressive, I think!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Can this be true?

Sex and gender are topics that come up again and again in history, in archaeology... and in the blogosphere as well as in geekdom. There's a 19th century gender concept hidden in many, many pictures (including "snapshots" of some historical scenes rendered by artists for exhibitions and textbooks), and it's more than easy to fall into traps regarding pre-fixed gender concepts that still sit deep in our society.

I thought that we were, maybe, slowly moving away from all that. I hoped it, at least.

And then I stumbled across the pens. Pens, my friends, that are not normal pens, no. Not even normal biros. They are... "For Her Ball Point Pens". Yes, really. (Also available in the Big River Store, now with many more product reviews than when Regretsy first posted about the pens. If you have some time, go read them - they are hilarious.)

Can you believe it? Pens. For Her. Because females... yes, they are not supposed to use male pens. Imagine! Men's pens! Women! I can totally understand if someone has issues with bulky, thick pens. I have issues with bulky, thick pens, and I don't like to use them, but that's not because I am female, or because I have really small hands, but because I am a left-handed person. And this means I grip a pen very close to the tip for writing, and fine motor control for the specific motions of a left-handed person writing is much easier when the pen is slim.

I will now go on with my work, using the unisex laptop, unisex phone and non-gender-marked ballpoint pen. Life's butch.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Lasers! Yay!

Archaeologists may be immensely interested in the past, and they are often also interested in old methods of doing stuff - but that does not mean they aren't using modern tools and modern methods. Futuristic-seeming methods, even.

So I was not surprised to read this BBC article about a laser scanning technology that allows to look through vegetation in use for archaeology. Even though this method is of course even more important in the far-off djungles than in tame Middle Europe, maybe we'll have similar laser-generated 3D maps here in the future?

Friday, 31 August 2012

Embroidery workshop!

In case you are interested in trying medieval embroidery, I will be giving a course in Erlangen on the 27th of October and the 28th of October 2012. The first day will be dedicated to counted-work techniques (canevas), while the second day covers the techniques with free pattern design. The two days are bookable separately in case only one of the two variations is of interest for you, and the course fee includes materials (a piece of linen fabric suitable for the work and the silk (and partly gold) threads). Course language will be German (of course).

You can book both workshops, counted work and pattern embroidery via my new online shop. Workshop places are limited, of course, so that the group does not get too large.

Embroidery workshops are great fun, and I'm already looking forward to this!