Friday, 29 June 2012

Lists of Links. But not just yet.

I have found in the last two days not one, but two long-ish lists of online resources in the Internet. They may or may not hold links to pages that are utterly nice and helpful - I don't know yet, but I intend to find out and then post the links.

And while I am at that, and doing my bookkeeping (again! yes!), and a small-to-medium-sized bunch of other stuff that is writing-related, have a gratuitous cat picture.

That's Madonna, our cat, doing one of the things she (like all cats) does best: napping.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

I have finally done it.

I have been writing this blog here since December 8, 2008. I am trying hard to post something interesting each day - or at least to post something, preferably interesting. In those three-and-a-half years, I have not had a single guest post. I actually did all the 728 posts myself. If I copy-paste any content into this blog, it's something like a call for papers that gets sent out with the aim of being distributed to interested persons - and I like to help in that.

Which means that to any person taking more than a very, very casual glance at my blog, it should be quite clear that I am not going to do post exchanges or post advertisements. Yes, I will plug my own stuff (hey, it's my blog, after all) and I will praise other things that I am happy about - but not because I was asked to do so, but because I want to. Because I am convinced that there is something in high quality for a fair price. And I have never gotten any compensation for my plugs. (Most of the "you are so going to want this" posts are about free internet resources anyways.)

So. I still get the occasional "oh your blog is sooo coool please visit my site" comment spam (which I delete) and, about as rarely, a mail praising my blog with a standard set phrase and then the offer of either a link exchange or "guest posts" coming from that other site, or some money if I advertise for a product in my texts. Usually, I just ignore them. Sometimes when I feel like it, I will take a look at the site, laugh, and then delete the email. But this morning I received one of the guest post offer mails that didn't only (as usual) make it very obvious the person writing it had not taken a good proper look at my blog (though becoming a "fan" right away)... that person didn't even know the real topic of the post I was offered as a guest post, which did not fit in at all with my own focus.

So I finally took this opportunity of total incredulity on my part (really? you really think I will now believe anything your site hosts is well-researched?) and sent that person an answer mail... raising the offer. With picture of Wil Wheaton collating papers. (If you have never heard about that and get weird offers sometimes too, do click the link. If you haven't heard about it and don't get weird offers... oh, click it anyways. At least I think it's funny.)

Hah. Something I had wanted to do for ages. Who says weird soliciting mails are not good for anything?

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

More offerings of the Internet!

Yesterday, I received a mail informing me that a colleague had stumbled across a .pdf version of a Festschrift for Frans Verhaeghe, online and downloadable free of charge. Since I am a curious person, I took a look at the link she had posted. And since I'm a very curious person, I then took a look at the site that hosted the file.

It's called the OAR, het Open Archief van OE-publicaties and it hosts not only that monograph, but many others and lots of archaeological magasines. You can search the database (though in a limited way) and get a short abstract for each item on the list, sometimes in English, mostly in Dutch. The Festschrift seems to be one of a few items mostly or completely in English, but if you are interested in archaeological results from Flanders, this is your database.

And I find it utterly amazing that things like it exist, just like that, free for everyone, on the Internet!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Oh that's so Medieval!

Calling stuff that one does not like or that seems outdated "medieval" is something that is... how shall I put it... not getting applauded very much by medievalists. Now, lots of snark can be released onto that topic, but I am not going to do it myself - instead, I am going to link you to Carl Pyrdum's blog, where you can read and laugh for yourselves.

In other and textile-related news, editing on our first Textile Forum Proceedings is going on - and I am utterly thankful that this work is done by somebody who is not me. I won't give an estimate of when it will come out, but I hope that there will be no unforeseen delays and that it is going to be not too far in the future.

The cat, by the way, has developed some sort of daily routine (well, routine in addition to meowing as if she were starving when it's feeding time). The part of her routine the most stable these past days? Her after-lunch nap. After lunch (and after the requisite bit of grooming), she settles down to take a little nap... which ends about an hour before her next meal, at six-ish in the evening. I am continuously astounded by cats' ability to sleep!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Is it Monday again?

I had a truly wonderful weekend - a little bicycle ride for a visit to family, relaxed evenings, having lovely cake with friends and planning our summer holiday trip together, and finally having a nice meal (which included eating this year's harvest of red and white currants).

And now my brain is absolutely free of blog-worthy archaeological or textile-related things. It's summer, and I blame the slack season for slack in my brain as well.

So I will at least share with you my favourite way of eating red currants, which is also a very easy dessert: pluck red currants, wash and de-stalk them, and put them into the bottom of a bowl with a little sugar so they are not incredibly sour (only very sour). Prepare vanilla custard (Vanillepudding) and pour the hot pudding over the currants. Let it cool a little - can be eaten still warm or cold. That's it - a summery dessert that reminds me of my childhood and is something of a comfort food for me.

And next year, I hope our currant bushes will carry enough berries for at least two preparations of this dessert!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Nothing exciting, for a change...

I have done some more spinning on the Great Wheel (because I can, and because it's fun, and because it's set up for a little spinning video to be made one of these days), some more carding (now I know two totally different but both functioning techniques for carding wool, and trying to find out which one suits me better) and the usual paperwork stuff besides.

Spinning time is limited by the amount of spinning my arms can take. They have not yet completely recovered from Saturday night, which is not helped by me going at it again and again. But hey, I'm having fun, it counts as training, and I so enjoy having a smoothly running spindle wheel! All this has brought me to think that I should do a test - use pre-prepared wool rolags or top and try spinning normal type and thickness thread for an hour each on the spindle, my two treadle wheels and the Great Wheel and see how the three compare. That's not going to happen during the next two weeks though - before I do that comparison, I will have to get better acquainted with my newer treadle wheel and be sure I can do one hour non-stop on the Great Wheel. It should be a fun, and enlightening, test though!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

More Wheel Pics!

Here are some more pics of the wheel, this time in better quality and in front of a proper background. The photos are all quite large, so you can click on them for a more detailed view.

The complete wheel is about 1.7 m long and almost 2 m in height, thanks to the large wheel with 1.15 m diameter. It's mounted with the axis between my breast and shoulder height.

The extra wedges at the foot of the spindle holders is a concession to the transportability - they serve for adjusting the spindle holders and spindle. For a stationary wheel, I would adjust the holders once and then mount them to stay - but for transportable, this is of course not helpful.

There's only one wedge to keep the wheel stand in place - just like in the medieval depictions.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Info Backlog.

There is a bunch of emails with interesting content in my inbox, and it's time for me to finally post all that stuff here.

First of all, the knitted 16th century cap collection of the Museum of London is now online. The
73 caps, coifs, cap fragments, linings and earpieces have been newly photographed, with captions containing contextual and technical information. All the pieces will have their full captions in the next two weeks.

The caps and their parts are of a large group of material excavated from sites around London by
workmen in the early 20th century. They represent an insight into everyday urban clothing and a high level of technical skill in their knitted, fulled and napped construction. Caps of this style are in collections across Europe and North America and are the focus of a lot of research interest, so we are pleased to make a large group available to the wider research community.

To browse the caps, go to the Collections Online site and enter ‘cap’ in the Keyword field with the date range 1500-1600 in the search fields.


If you are in the mood for a conference in the winter, here's a call for papers: ‘Crafting-in-the-World: the temporal and spatial dynamics of craft and its practitioners’. It is a proposed session for the 34th Annual Meeting of the Theoretical Archaeology Group, which will be held at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, from the 17th-19th of December 2012. You can view the conference website at: and get more info there. 

Crafting-in-the-World: the temporal and spatial dynamics of craft and its practitioners.
Whilst the last two decades have witnessed a prolific interest in craft studies, which have increasingly acknowledged the sociality of craft, the role of choice, and the importance of the body in the development and transmission of craft traditions, there remains an uncomfortable dichotomy between the temporal and spatial understandings of craft practice. The abundance of existing research has traditionally focused on either describing production processes or attempted to theorise how the finished products of craft acquire meaning. The separation of object from process has resulted in the products of craft looming un-tethered to practice, devoid of spatial and temporal understandings of craft practice.
In addition and despite claims to the contrary to this, there has been little coherent collaboration between academic specialisms, which has only served to heighten the fragmented nature of craft study and impeded our understanding of the subject as a whole. In an attempt to address these issues this session will encourage multidisciplinary engagement with the topic of craft, focusing on the temporal and spatial embeddedness of craft activities; what we term Crafting-in-the-World.
We are seeking contributions that will discuss the acts and arenas of production and the reunification of products with their formative processes to embrace a holistic approach to the study of innovation, production, and consumption. To complement this we invite papers that examine the intrinsic relationship between practice and space, exploring the ways in which practice is manifested in the landscape through time, looking at both the physical remains of production and the expression of crafting traditions. Contributions addressing experimental work are particularly welcome.

Papers for the session could address the following themes:
•       Reconciling continuity and change: redundancy, innovation and change (every innovation involves loss and gain); re-contextualisation of innovations; why some things change and others don’t (i.e., there is no such thing as progress).
•       Spatial articulation of craft: technological ‘features’ as architecture; space shaping practices and practices shaping space; compartmentalization of space and time geographies.
•       Tangled web of technological practice: communities of practice; Complementing, referencing, incorporating aspects of other crafts; mobile crafts (i.e., itinerant crafts people).
If you wish to submit to the session, please email by the 27th of June with the following:
 •       Paper title (maximum of 20 words)
 •       Paper abstract (150 words max)
 •       Your name, affiliation and contact details.


There's a  new magazine (or e-zine) out called Kritische Archäologie (Critical Archaeology), and it seems to be at least partly in English. The whole first issue can be seen on their website.


And finally, there's another online database of stuff: OPAL, Lower Saxonia's portal of artefacts. I have not (yet) found much textile stuff there, but it's worth a browse nevertheless.

That's it for today - hopefully you have found something that interests you!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

It's really summer here.

We have full-on summer here now, ripe strawberries, lots of sunshine, dry weather (the lawn has become Extra Crispy Summer Edition again) and heat, heat, heat. The season for iced coffee and icecream and hanging out in the garden in the evening and enjoying the sun.

Unloading the car yesterday was a quite, quite hot affair, so I am happy that I did not have to do the presentations in heat like that, but in a rainy night instead. And today's agenda mostly lets me stay in the comparatively cool indoors, where I shall endeavour to catch up with all the paperwork that has accumulated again... boring to do, but a good excuse to stay in the cool.

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Wheel - with pictures.

The Museum Night in Mainz was very nice, if quite taxing - it's just a difference whether you are doing all the showing and explaining during the day and normal working hours with good lighting or during the night. We had a rather warm night, but unfortunately not a dry one! The visitors who braved the spouts of rain, however, were a wonderful audience, and it was a delight to show them crafts with wool.

The wheel did very well on all accounts, from an easy and unproblematic setup to its performance all during the night, even with changing air temperature and changing humidity levels. The only little thing that needs fine-tuning is the adjustable connection for the leather drive band - but I already have an idea for that. 

And here, finally, are the promised pictures of the new Great Wheel:

 The last step in construction - cutting the mortises for the spindle stand tenons.

 Fitting the tenons.

The finished, disassembled Wheel - a base board, four legs, spindle stands, wheel stand, the wheel itself and a box of small things for assembly and adjustments.

It fits! It fits! That's the car with the presentation stuff, just before I left for Mainz. The wheel is hanging under the car roof, and the rest of the parts are hanging out with my other wood utensils and furniture.

And here it is finally, in action! Wedges hold the stands, and additional wedges under the spindle stands and in the leather spindle bearings allow adjustment of the whole setup so spinning is smooth. One night's worth of testing says: It's a fine, functional tool!

Friday, 15 June 2012


Today's blog is a little later than usual, because the first thing I did this morning was sneaking off into the workshop again. I've managed to fully install the wheel stand yesterday plus almost install one of the two spindle stands, and I wanted to see if I couldn't get the second one finished and installed (that is, mortise and tenon done) before blogging time.

Well, it did not quite work (there's still the very last bit of installing and fine-tuning to do) but almost. I'm almost, nearly, virtually done now - there remains to measure in, drill and clean two more holes for two small wedges and then fine-tuning of the drive band and spindle stands. Oh, and cutting and filing the axis, plus drilling a hole for a cotter pin to secure it... but then it's really, finally done.

Since the wheel is made to come apart for transport, all those fine-tuning things and a lot of small details have to be just a little different from what they would be for a fixed wheel - a good amount of things has to be adjustable, or has to fit just snugly enough but not so snug that it won't come apart again. So I do hope fervently that the fine-tuning solution for the spindle stand that I just thought of will work... if not, I'll have to think of something else quickly. (Spoiler: I already have a if-really-necessary-I-can-do-that solution in the back of my head.)

So. Off into the basement again.

Oh, and by the way: You know that your woodworking tools are sharp enough when you only realise you've nicked yourself when you see brightly red spots appear on your working piece...

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Off to new heights.

After the day off yesterday, which was really relaxing and nice (and oh so needed!), I'm now itching to get downstairs and full of sawdust again.

I could not resist to test for the height of the wheel and how it would turn yesterday, though, so I clamped it to the bookshelf and took a turn or three... and figured out that the axis height that I had intended was too low by about 12 cm. So the wheel is now off to new heights, so to say - I have adjusted the height in the plan... good thing that there was some room for adjustments left in all the pieces that I prepared until now.

So the next steps are: mounting the feet in the main board, mounting the wheel to the wheel stand, and then putting the wheel stand into the main board via mortise and tenon. Exciting prospects!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The wheel stands.

The wheel is finished - not as elegantly joined as I had dreamed, but it's joined, it turns smoothly, and it looks quite nice. Photos tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, when it will be hopefully all done and finished.

Other wheels have turned as well: The Textile Forum programme is now settled, and we are very much looking forward to it! For the news, just visit our Forum website.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The hump before the finish line...

The wheel-building progress is stalling a bit - joining the rim proved to be more fiddly than I had hoped and expected, so the wheel itself is not yet all assembled. I'm now testing an alternative method to do the final rim join, and if that works, I'll get to it this afternoon.
If it will not work, I'll probably just take the rest of the day off regarding the wheel and tackle it again tomorrow, with (hopefully) more energy and success!

And for now, it's a bit of desk work to do...

Monday, 11 June 2012

News from the Wheel Workshop.

The spinning wheel is progressing well: I finished the bending part of the process this weekend.
Here's a pic of the bending in preparation: in front of me you see the steam box for the wood (not yet filled - it's preheating) and in the foreground the jig for bending my wheel rim around. It might have been even better to cut the jig with a slightly smaller radius than required for the final wheel, because bent wood will spring back a certain degree, but it's working like that as well.

So today I can start putting the wheel together. That means glueing the rim in one part, sawing the spokes to final length and then fitting the rim around the spokes. And then the "only" bit of work left is to put the wheel onto the stand, align the spindle and spindle holders and put them in as well. But first the wheel.

This, by the way, was the contraption steaming the second half of the long strip to be bent:

And now I'm off to the workshop again!

Friday, 8 June 2012


Yesterday was a public holiday in Germany (hence the blog silence) which I had totally forgotten about and was only reminded Wednesday afternoon (hence the unannouncedness of the blog silence).

I spent the day in the most wonderful if exhausting way. It started with a little stroll through the garden and a bit of weeding in the morning sun, then a nice breakfast together with the most patient of all husbands and a friend (and no, that was not the exhausting part). After this, the friend and me and our upstairs neighbour all found ourselves in the basement - just the thing to do when there's lovely early summer weather outside - and did various woodworking stuff. Planing, mortise-cutting, drilling, sawing, neatening... which meant that I made very, very good progress on the spinning wheel, in lovely company and while lots of fun were being had.

And the work culminated in me successfully steam-bending the first of the wheel rim parts around the completed form, with some help from our friend (who made the steaming box and has done steam-bending before). Now the next part for the wheel rim is in the water, soaking to be bent during the weekend, and then, soon, it will be time to put all things together and find out whether it works as well as intended...

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Tools, anyone?

Since I've been working with tools now, it's very fitting that Gillian shared this lovely bit of knowledge with me: the publication of the Maestermyr tool chest is available online. It's the full publication from the 1980s, in English, so it includes the full catalogue.

The site it's hosted on is some kind of e-library, though I could not figure out whether it's a private or an institutional one.

If you would prefer today to test your knowledge on experimental archaeology, you can go here and try to solve a crossword puzzle about the topic. I did not manage to do it without some cheating, but my excuse is that I'm not in the UK or US and thus do not know the masters there... and I'm a textile person, anyways. Best excuse ever.

Speaking of textile person: the cross-and-post tabletweaving thingie is finished. It could do with some more neatening at a few places, but it's done, it's functional, and it comes fully apart. Yay. Plus I now know how to do mortises. This was the mortise-practice-piece for the spinning wheel parts that need mortises, after all.

Here's the thingie - the weave is just clamped to the posts for now, but I will wind it on properly for working with it.

The wheel is also coming along, slowly but steadily - on today's agenda is to saw and construct the jig for the wheel rim and the jig for drilling the leg holes for the stand.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

More woodworking today.

I spent a few hours in the workshop yesterday, having a lot of fun. It's been ages since I last used powered tools extensively, and I still never used them as much as this time around. I can absolutely appreciate the beauty and the special feeling that comes with doing everything the slow way and by hand, but I'd never build a wheel in that way.

And now I'll finish my tea and bumble off to the workshop again, for a little intermezzo: the tablet-weaving "loom" is on today's agenda. And maybe I'll even remember to take some pictures...

Monday, 4 June 2012

The Spinning Wheel!

Finally, all things necessary have come together: The wood that I need, the machines and tools that I need, and the lovely upstairs neighbour with time on his hands to show me how to use the machines. So on the weekend, I started work on the new wool wheel.

As German strategist von Moltke once said, "No battle plan survives contact with the enemy" - I have already made some changes to the plan that I drew in meticulous work. The board that will carry all the rest of the wheel has gotten somewhat slimmer (so that it could fit into the planing machine), and it's not all even (though that does not bother me a bit), and it's about 5 cm shorter than intended originally. But all that is no big deal, since the plan was more or less drawn after a Psalter illumination and part of the plan was to adjust as necessary.

In addition to the wheel, and in some way also to practice some of the procedures, I am also planning to build a crossbar-and-post tablet weaving "loom", which means a run to the hardware store today. And the loom will come in very, very handy for my latest weaving project which will also travel with me to the RGZM in two weeks. Fortunately, the thing is an utterly simple affair... rendered even simpler by my planning on how to build it.

Friday, 1 June 2012

On the Upswing.

Life is looking good - the taxes are all done and sent off in time, the cat is enjoying her fine-weather observation place at the window (she's still not allowed out, but will be soon), I will be able to start building my new spinning wheel on the weekend, and it has finally rained yesterday. And this time, it wasn't just a bit of rain and then heat again, no - proper ground-drenching rain, much needed by nature all around here.

And to top off all those good things, Sabine and I had a conspirative phone call yesterday and planned the programme for the Textile Forum in September. This time around, we had offers for some presentations that are about new or rarely covered and quite complex topics, so we will reserve some more time for each of them - plus we managed to sort things into something like theme days, and we are really happy with how things are working out. The programme is not all finished yet, but we hope to finalise it soon, and then we'll post it to the Forum homepage and send it round in a newsletter. Things are happening, and they are exciting!