Friday, 29 July 2011

Conference Info.

Via the MEDTC list, I have received this info about a conference:

Anglo-Saxon England and the Visual Imagination
Madison, WI
31 July – 5 August 2011

The programme seems to have a light smattering of textile-related topics.

And for those of you more into experimental archaeology, there is a conference in York next January, with the call for papers still open until August 15. The conference is Friday Jan 6 (and judging from the website, Saturday Jan 7 as well), and you can find a little more info plus the contact addresses on their website. I'm thinking about going, but haven't decided yet.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Embroidery course!

In case you are interested in trying medieval embroidery, I will be giving a course in Erlangen on the 29th of October and the 30th of October 2011. 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 - there's a limited amount of places, so best not wait too long!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

It's alive! Alive!

As of yesterday, the online shop is finally gone live. You can find it under

It actually feels a little weird to have it all out and about now, since I've been working on that project for so long now. I can now walk up to my to-do-list blackboard, brandish a rag, and wipe off the entry in the long-term project column titled "Laden". Yes, that is how it was called on my list... and then there's only four other items left in that column.

The online shop, taken all together, probably cost me around three work weeks to find, learn, implement, get all the texts written, all the items photographed and their descriptions written up, the templates tweaked and the menus made, and so on and so on. There's a few things not yet in the shop (that will be added in the second half of August), and a few things are currently out of stock, like the spindle whorls, that will also return about that time.

So here's to the new shop - may it do what it is supposed to do without glitches, and may it benefit you and me!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

More stuff.

As of yesterday, I am proud owner of a wool picker and a spindle wheel - both are old tools, and both will need a bit of work to get them into proper workhorse state again.

More things that need work are lying in great stacks here on my desk or are ganging together on my to-do list, leaving me slightly fazed (especially since there's a vacation coming up). Well.

The online shop, at least, is being tested now and it looks quite functional; I only have the links left to do to hook it up to the blog and the webpages, and bar any catastrophies it will go on line this afternoon. (Which is not so perfect timing, getting the online shop on now, with said vacation coming up - which means I will not be able to ship things during the first two weeks of August. I'm sorry for that, but I will not wait with getting it online until I am back, I'm so happy to get this running and out of my hair for a while.)

So... expect some changes to the website and a new link to the shop coming up both there and in the blog sometime today!

Monday, 25 July 2011

I'm having a date.

I'm having a date this morning with some textile implements that are seriously considering to move into a new home. My home. Which is (since I slept a bit longer than planned) you are not going to get a proper blog post, because instead of typing, I'll be hopping into the car in a few seconds, together with a travelmug of coffee and the satnav.

And really looking forward to meeting with those textile tools.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Getting ready to shop?

I've been really busy and have gotten the shop up to the testing stages. A few more photos, a few more entries, getting rid of the last couple of glitches and a test buy with Paypal, and the shop will be ready to get online. It will be a completely German version only at first, because Holy St. Bureaucracy has determined that to have an English language shop, you also need to have English language terms and conditions in addition to all the item descriptions and stuff, and I haven't gotten around to doing the legalese translation work yet. There's pics of most things, though, so you should be able to browse even if you do not have any German.

I'm really looking forward to getting this finally up and running and off my to-do-list, since it has eaten a lot of my time already. I've learned a huge amount of stuff at the same time, though - including muddling around in the innards of php scripts and tweaking css files, and it's always nice to learn something new.

If you have been waiting to order something from the shop and would be willing to do so during the test run, please contact me - I would be happy to have a test buyer or two during the next days.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Links, finally.

I have this habit of keeping browser tabs open and mails unarchived until I have blogged off the links that they contain (or reminded me of). And I really have to clean up my browser and mail window... so here you go.

A nice little video (well, not so little, with 15 min running time) about how linen is made today. There's plenty of newfangled machines, but there's also plenty of manual work involved.

BE LINEN MOVIE from Linen and hemp community on Vimeo.

If you don't want to watch the whole thing, here's a link to the short version (4.5 minutes).

There's a beautiful silk pouch with tassels on blogged by Medieval Silkwork. It's yummy.

And now for something completely different. I really cracked up over this post from The Bloggess, featuring a giant metal chicken. (Yes, I'm easily amused.) I stumbled over it via this video of her giving a speech and setting off the Zombie Apocalypse in Utah.

Now my browser has four less tabs open. Unfortunately, all the rest requires some proper action by me... which I'll be off to do now.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Leeds, blogospherically.

Is "blogospherically" even a word? No, I didn't think so. Anyways, since I'm no native speaker (writer?), I think I get to make up a word or two now and then.

Leeds not only lured me with the promise of lots of papers, many new faces to meet, delicious English food (apart from the soft drinks) and not one, but two book fairs; it also lured me with the prospect of meeting, face-to-face, some fellow bloggers of medieval and medieval-ish stuff.

Long before the blogger meetup on Tuesday, though, I met Jonathan Jarrett, who - thanks to the picture he posted - was really easy to recognise. Even for me with my bad memory for faces. Jonathan (who posts at A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe) is every bit as friendly, bubbly and enthusiastic as his blog posts make him sound. In contrast to this my blog, he does not whine about bureaucracy and shares weird gratuitous links, but mostly blogs about seriously academic stuff - with pictures, and footnotes, and citations of papers.

The next blogger I met was Magistra (et Mater) from the similarly named blog. And then... many more on Tuesday: Another Damned Medievalist, highlyeccentric who blogs at The Naked Philologist, zcat (zcat abroad), Gillian Polack (who is not only a medievalist, but also a novelist, and whose books I now have to procure from somewhere so I can read them) who has her blog over on LJ, and finally a last person whose name/blog I jotted down as "cursor mundi" but was not yet able to locate. (Hints would be much appreciated!)

I had a wonderful time meeting all those folks, and Leeds has thus added to my blog reading list and, in some cases, has added to the interest I already had in these blogs. And it really does make a difference if you have met somebody in person - the blog posts suddenly get an extra level added on by knowing how the writer looks and speaks. So the bloger sie of me? Thoroughly happy that I got to Leeds, and that I had the opportunity to meet all these fellow bloggers. See you on the InterBloggoTubez!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Leeds, academically.

I am being good and post about more Leeds things today, as promised, even if I just laughed so hard I had to wipe off tears afterwards and am sorely tempted to blog that link instead. (Gratuitous links one of the next days.)

So... things that I learned (again) about attending a conference:
If you are going to a conference in another country that caters mostly to another field of studies and where you don't know anybody, give a paper. Really. It will help a lot in getting people to find out that they are interested in you academically, and it will set you up with a core of people (who are hopefully doing things that will mesh well with yours) that are speaking in, attending, or moderating your panel. If there are panel clumps (small thematic streaks with more than one panel), you might end up in something like a small conference inside the big conference, which is nice since you get the good bits of a small conference (know a bunch of people fast) and a big one (being able to venture off to hear about something completely different and meet new people doing things that are exciting in a completely different field).
These things are especially true if you are not coming with colleagues from your university or institution, but by yourself.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Things I learned while in Leeds.

First of all, ZM16I'm back from Leeds, and I got or did everything that makes a conference: a conference pack (though it didn't include a pen, nor a writing pad), meeting new people, a few mindboggling papers, ideas for future projects, too much caffeinated hot drinks, book buying, and one night where I stayed up way, way past bedtime to chat with colleagues. That said, I'll give a more extensive review of the academic part in another post.

And I also learned things about Britain.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

When you are reading this...

... I am still at Leeds conference. Today's the last day, and I'll be travelling home tomorrow, and since I ran out of links and ideas when I pre-blogged this on Sunday morning, you'll go without a proper blog post today and without a blog post at all tomorrow.

I'll be back on Monday, and after almost a full week at the IMC, I am pretty sure there will be some stories to tell.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Backstrap Weaving.

The week before last, I had a nice evening with a fellow textile person who is researching about Peruvian backstrap weaving (connected with a find of a woven band). During our evening together, we scourged a bit of the Internet for weaving patterns and instructions, and stumbled across this:

Introduction to Backstrap Weaving

It's a nice, concise and very well-made introduction, and in case you are interested at all - go check it out. A few lightbulbs went off over my head during the course of the evening and the reading of the article, and that's always something nice to share.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Early Modern Mummy Heap.

There's been a sensational find done in Italy: A church burial place where an entire community of people was buried in a church crypt - and a lot of them mummyfied. Which means that they are still fully dressed in their burial garments - practical, no-nonsense clothes.

You can read and see pictures about this find from the Italian mountain church here. Go have a look - the pics are spectacular!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Even more conferences.

Either I'm getting told about more of them, or this year is especially conference-heavy... no matter which of this is the case, here's another conference call blog entry for you.

Aarhus University of Denmark celebrates 40 years of Medieval Archaeology with a conference 26 to 28 October 2011, and you can find info and the conference programme on their conference website here. The conference will be in English, so no need to speak or understand Danish really well.

Another conference in October is the annual EXAR conference, this year taking place in Schleswig, northern Germany. You can find information on the webpage; the conference is from 13th to 16th of October, and it includes an optional excursion to Nydam (to see the Nydam ship). Deadline for registration is the 15th of July - still a few days left! -, and if you are interested in giving a paper, there seem to be still a few paper opportunities left. If you are not speaking or understanding German, please be aware that though the official languages of the conference are both English and German, the years when I attended the conference consisted mostly of German-language presentations.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Not all done yet - sorry!

For those of you who are waiting for the pallia online shop to finally pop into life, here's a current account of how it stands:

I have finished listing most of the wares - all the often-requested ones are in the shop - and they "only" need their photographs taken to get things going. So there's a photo session in my near future.

I have also made good progress on the legalese part of the thing; the necessary legal texts are all written and linked into the shop surface, and I'm full with knowledge about a few legalese details and how to solve them once the shop really starts rolling. There's one issue left to solve, but that is for a special still very secret extra of the shop... and won't delay the rest of it from going online.

What is going to delay the online release (apart from me being in Leeds next week, for example) is that I still need to do some testing and, before that, a good amount of template-jogging for it to look remotely like it should. While I have done a very little work with .css before (see the new, re-vamped website), I am still finding my feet with Joomla!, the basic structure for the shop module that I now have. I did spend my evening yesterday working on baby simple things like adding a second menu and removing unwanted information - things that just eat up a lot of time until one has learned how things roll and what the logic behind the structure is.

This is the curse of doing all things single-handedly: You have to do it yourself. All of it. Yes, there's technically the possibility for me to have somebody else set up the shop and do all the prelim stuff, but since I will have to work with it later on, I have to know stuff about the backend and use of the shop scripts and underlying scripts anyway... so I might as well learn it right now.

That's how I am currently doing with the online shop - just to keep you up to date and from wondering what ever has happened to that project. I'll give you another update once I'm in the testing stage, and I might need some testing help then. If you cannot or do not want to wait anymore, though, please just e-mail or phone me to order things. I can still handle orders - luckily, my shop frontend is not me!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Leeds blogger meetup.

As my departure to Leeds IMC is creeping closer and closer, I checked back on Jonathan Jarrett's blog about the Blogger meetup. And true to his word, he and Magistra from the magistraetmater blog have decided on a time and place: It will be Tuesday evening, 18 to 20 o'clock, at the Stables pub.

Here's the full article on Jonathan's blog, where you can find a picture of him for identification. I'll be there, too - so maybe we meet at Leeds?

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Exploded Sheep.

At the moment, the winter garden is feeling quite sheepy - with Rhönschaf sheep fleeces hanging out to air, dry out completely and be sorted (and probably partly combed).

Rhönschaf is a sturdy, rather large sheep with white, longish wool that has a nicely defined, wavy crimp. I have four fleeces; one of them will be put on hold for a workshop on historical wool preparation and spinning, and the rest of them...

Closeup of one of the fleeces
The fleeces are very good quality, with little to very little dirt in them; most of that falls out when combing the fibres. The sheep come from a good, sheep-friendly home and spent most of their time outside. The wool is not felted and very easy to comb, even without prior teasing or beating to loosen up the fibres; there's a pleasant amount of lanolin in it, but not too much.

The wool, when combed in the grease, has a chamois or light eggshell colour; it washes up into a clean white with water and maybe a smidgen of soap.

One lock after rinsing.

If you now feel the strong need to get your hands on some of that wool, you have several possibilities: I will sell you wool prepared into these lovely nests of hand-combed top:

Hand-combed top, in the grease, for spinning worsted yarn.

... which is ideal for worsted yarn - smooth, thin, strong yarns for your weaving or sewing needs.

If you have never worked with hand-combed top before, let me tell you: It will be much more expensive than industrial preparations, because we're talking about serious time investment here* - but it's also vastly different from industrial preparations. The short fibres are removed, there's still all the lanolin in,  there are no felted bits due to washing, and since I started working with those historical preparations, I don't like to touch the modern industrial stuff anymore.

If you prefer to do your prepping yourself, you can either get raw wool from me to use your own equipment. Or come to my stall at Tannenberg, where I will have a nice combing station, and you can use my combs to prepare wool for yourself.

* and you all know how I feel about fair pricing in crafts, right?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

I almost forgot.

A while ago, I wrote a teaser post about a plying technique that I wanted to write about - and then I almost forgot I promised you a follow-up post. ZM15

While most of the ladies on medieval images have a long distaff that clearly holds fibres, like this:

Monday, 4 July 2011

Back from the weekend.

I spent Saturday and Sunday in Stuttgart at the "Medieval Times" event of the Junges Schloß Stuttgart. "Junges Schloß" is a museum concept especially for children - every object in easy view of children, things to touch, experience, try yourself and garments to dress up with. I had the opportunity for a quick walk through the exhibition on Sunday morning, and I was so bummed that I'm already older than ten years.

No, really. It is a wonderful museum for children (and me and the two grown-up colleagues also had a heap of fun sitting on the thrones and on the knight's horse), and if you are in the area with a child, or if you are interested in museum concepts for children, or if you are plain curious - do go there. I was really blown away by the exhibition.

If you are too far away (or if you want a look before), here's a picture of the main room, a renaissance "cabinet of curiosities" showing treasures from throughout time.

Wunderkammer Urzeit
(Picture from a photostream made by the museum that you can find here.)

And those glass cases can all be opened by the staff in the museum so that the young visitors can touch the original objects in there. Awesome, isn't it?

I had hoped to sneak off and catch another few minutes in the exhibition room, but the medieval event was so well received and so well visited that there was absolutely no time for it. I spent all Saturday and Sunday spinning, explaining about worsted and woolen, combing wool and spinning even more. And letting people try themselves. Oh, and threatening my neighbour with my distaff, because that's a very medieval thing to do (and always good for a laugh).

So go visit the museum, everybody who is able - I'm sure you will enjoy it!

Friday, 1 July 2011

More Conference Stuff.

Here's the rest of the conference info that found its way into my inbox; first of all, a conference in Aarhus:

Call for Papers: Prayer and Performance
Acts of belief as symbolic communication in the late medieval and Renaissance period
An international interdisciplinary colloquium examining the nature of prayer as performance in late medieval and early modern culture
This project seeks to explore aspects of prayer as a performative act in European culture during the late medieval and early modern period, considering these findings in light of the most current theoretical and anthropological perspectives.  An intentionally interdisciplinary effort, it will draw together studies of literature, material culture and religious anthropology.  The project intends to answer the following questions:
  • How was prayer represented in literature, plays or works of art?
  • How do prayers in plays by Shakespeare, Marlowe and Middleton, for example, register responses to the controversies and debates about what constituted true or effective prayer?
  • How did communities utilize prayer as a distinguishing feature for their religious identity, and how were these forms policed?
  • How was prayer bound up in the material culture of religious practice (funeral rites, for example) and the social practices that determined social status of different periods?
  • More importantly, how might these literary, social and material gestures serve as a marker for shifting social perspectives and customs, especially during the Reformation?
Call for Papers

Papers are invited from those who work on prayer during this period, either through language, material culture, social practice or from a more theoretical perspective. The aim will be share research, whether it be an examination of the architecture created to facilitate prayer, grave goods, the texts created to preserve, stimulate, guide or police prayer (poetry, hymns, sermons, or polemic), or more scientific attempts to define a person or community’s relationship to the practice of prayer.

Please submit proposals of 150 words for papers of 20 minutes in length.  Panels on specific aspects of early modern prayer will also be considered and should include a brief summary of the panel focus with 150 word proposals of each paper included in the panel.  All submissions should be made via email ( by 15 October 2011.
 A one-day conference called "Why Leather?" will take place at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL on the 8th September 2011. You can find the schedule, prices, link to the registration form and abstracts on the conference webpage of the Archaeological Leather Group. The abstracts sound wonderfully interesting to me - there will be a talk about cuir bouilli and one about the importance of leather for the (old-style) textile industry, among quite a few other not-so-common angles of looking at leather and its uses.
And finally a non-conference announcement: The next issue of the ATN (Archaeological Textiles Newsletter) is due to go into print, so this would be a perfect opportunity to subscribe, if you have not yet done so.