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!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

I have a hard time believing this.

If you are somewhere in the western bit of Germany (or can get there for the weekend) and don't have something to do yet, you can go to a tourney. A proper one, not one of the stuntmen and cascadeur thingies, but a honest-to-goodness sporting event tourney, including a melée with several knights on horseback.

During this weekend (starting tomorrow), there will be a reprise of the Grand Tourney of Sankt Wendel. The original tourney was held in honour of the emperor's visit, and the modern one is held for the 500 year anniversary of the tourney. There is a bunch of hardcore jousters and it's promised they will have the proper gear: reconstructed armour, reconstructed saddles, specially trained horses, all the works. I'm no jousting person which explains why I have not heard about it, but it seems to be all over the jousting blogosphere and internets.

I'd love to go there, but I have learned about it a little late, and it's on the other end of the country (which yes, for US citizens, would seem to be like next door, but here, it isn't). Should you be able to get there... well... how about a few pics or a youtube video for those of us less lucky?

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Interviews with Experimental Archaeologists

EXARC is running a series of interviews with persons you might call "VIPs" regarding experimental archaeology, and the latest instance is an interview with Rosemarie Leineweber.

It's an interesting thing to read about how seasoned experimental archaeologists became involved with this area of research, and who they regard as influential for themselves. There is no separate tag or a list for all the interviews, but you can find them plus a few other articles by searching for "interview with" on the site (or clicking this link).

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Feeling peckish?

Since a lot of you readers are involved in Living History or Archaeology in some way, this might be interesting for you: Roeland Paardekooper is looking for a discussion about food. Here's his request for submissions:
For a BBC program in 1954, Sir Mortimer Wheeler tasted a reconstruction of the Tollund Man’s last supper, which turned out to be a tasteless mush. This led him to announce: "I believe that the poor chap of Tollund committed suicide because he could stand his wife's cooking no longer!"

While archaeology inspired cookery is an important and attractive way of involving the public, it also has some drawbacks. How authentic can we be? What about health and safety? Should we only cook what the public will like? Please discuss the questions and issues with ancient cookery that often arise, either when cooking as demonstration or experiment. Send your reply, between 100 and 400 words to:

And if you like, post your reply in the comments to this post as well - then we can have a second discussion here as well!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Fashioning the Early Modern - Conference

In case you are in or around London in September (and not at the Textile Forum instead), there's a conference coming up called "Fashioning the Early Modern". It takes place on 14-15 September 2012 in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

'Fashioning the Early Modern: Creativity and Innovation in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800' is a HERA funded project, and this conference will be the final one of the project.

The two-day "Fashioning the Early Modern: Creativity and Innovation in 1500-1800 Europe" conference will be organised around three themes: Innovation, Dissemination and Reputation. The following key profile speakers have been invited to speak: Lesley Miller (Victoria and Albert Museum), John Styles (University of Hertfordshire) and Evelyn Welch (University of Queen Mary, University of London).

It's still possible to register for participation. For a conference programme and for online registration (per day, regular fee £25.00, concessions available), go to:

Friday, 24 August 2012


It's a good thing that it's Friday today - I have really been looking forward to the weekend all week long. And I have managed to get the deadlined thing done before the deadline (well, a day before, but that counts, right?) and will be able to really enjoy the weekend as a result. Hooray!

Textile Forum stuff is also in the works, and I hope to have all the stuff together for an update for the participants and an update to our website on Monday afternoon. Another thing to look forward to, and coming up as fast as Xmas has a habit of creeping up come November.

But for now... weekend!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Poor cat.

We had a vet appointment yesterday, and now we have another one for next week - our poor little cat (who seems to be older than she lets on) has bad teeth, and at least three of her molars have to go. There's an inflammation, and fistulas have already developed. Poor little sod - she must be in a lot of pain, but she does not let on at all.

Plus she's going to be on a diet from now on, not because she's too fat, but because she probably has food allergies. It's a little tricky and not totally efficient to put her on an elimination diet since she's an outdoor cat and would be devastated if she had to stay inside for several weeks, but we will try it nevertheless. If we are totally lucky, it's only a food allergy - if not, she's also allergic to something else and will have to be treated with cortisone.

Oh, and her age? The shelter that took her in when she was found in February had estimated her to be about seven years old. Yesterday's X-Ray showed skeletal signs that hint to an age somewhat more between 10 and 12 years of age. We have an elderly cat lady sharing our home!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Material Culture & Gender

There's a conference in planning for 2013 about the connections between material goods from the Middle Ages and Gender. Now that's an interesting topic!

From their website with info about the conference:

The Conference will consider the gendered nature of social, religious and economic uses of ‘things’, exploring the way that objects and material culture were produced, consumed and displayed. Papers will address questions of gender from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives, embracing literature, history, art history, and archaeology.
Themes will include:
• adornment, clothing and self-fashioning
• the material culture of devotion
• objects and materialism
• the material culture of children, adolescents and life cycle
• emotion, intimacy and love-gifts
• entertainment and games
• memory and commemoration
• pleasure, pain, and bodily discipline
• production and consumption
• monastic material culture
• material culture in literary texts
 The CfP is open until September 14, and the conference takes place in January 4-6, 2013, in Bath.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Durham gets remodeling!

If you have been planning to visit Durham, you are in for a little bad luck: The Durham Treasures exhibit area is closed and the textiles that were on display are in storage for an indefinite period.

But there's some good news, too: 
The reason for this is that the Cathedral is embarking on a major development of its Claustral buildings, which will see the Shop move from its current location in the Great Kitchen into the Western Undercroft (where the Treasures exhibition used to be). A new sequence of exhibition spaces in which we plan to display many more of the Cathedral's collections will be created in the Monks' Dormitory and Great Kitchen.

You can read a little more about the project, called Open Treasure project, on the Cathedral website. There's also "News" (longer term stuff) and "Notices" (short-term info on closures, events and restrictions) on the site, so it's probably a good idea to check in there before leaving for Durham.

Monday, 20 August 2012

The Manly Art.

A friend pointed me to the existence of a small book called "The Manly Art of Knitting", written by Dave Fougner. It seems to be available used only, and that to a steep price - 90+ USD from the Big River Store, at least.

However, for those of you just curious about the contents, like me, with no actual need to buy it, there's a very nice review on the Historic crafts blog. (They have since moved to a new location, here on blogspot, and it looks like a nice blog, but unfortunately with no new posts done during the last year.)

Anyways - manly art of knitting. The book appears to contain instructions on how to knit a hammock, among other things (I like that idea). A hammock would be just the thing to lie in during this summer heat we have here (though that would also mean we'd need two conveniently spaced trees... which are not to be had in our garden).

Other (not so manly) links - on Medieval Silkwork, there's a post about female undergarments in written sources.

And I should be working on my article now, the deadline is looming up...

Friday, 17 August 2012

Men's undies, medieval, and how to find them.

Cathy Raymond asked in a comment about my last Lengberg finds mention:

I blogged about that particular item awhile ago, pointing out its resemblance to the ancient Roman subligar which was worn by women, and an anonymous blogger commented that the Lengberg find had been identified as a man's garment. The blogger also claimed that a lot of 15th c German images show men wearing such garments.

The University of Innsbruck's web article on the finds agrees with my anonymous blogger--it identifies the item as a man's garment, and remarks, I believe, that it was found close to a wool fabric scrap believed to have come from a codpiece. Given that the Lengberg finds did not come from graves, I don't think that sort of association, in and of itself, is persuasive evidence. But there may be other evidence I don't know anything about that supports the identification of the garment as male.

Can you point me to any images confirming that men wore such garments? The English and French images with which I am familiar show men wearing briefs that look more like modern Fruit of the Loom briefs, but I'm not very familiar with 15th German miniatures or artwork.
These pictures are not very frequent, and most of the examples I have found are from crucifiction scenes where the two other guys are shown as well, or from similar martyr scenes. One example from a crucifiction scene, from end-of-15th-century Austria, is here in the IMAREAL. If you search for "Kreuzigung" with the timespan 1300-1600, there is at least one more example. When I'm specifically searching for those undies, I am thus looking for crucifiction scenes - though those only showing Christ will not suffice, since he's invariably shown with a cloth covering his nethers, no modern underwear.

Sometimes the corresponding undies are also shown in bed scenes or in "battle for the trousers" scenes. Those topics are usually searchable in most piccie databases, so I'd recommend them as search terms.

(Technically, you can also search for clothing - underwear or underpants on IMAREAL. However, the tagging is not always complete or correct, and that search will not necessarily find you all the instances. This is not intended to bash the IMAREAL tagging - I have a private, tagged, picture database and I do know how hard it is to do it consistently and correctly all the time.)

Oh, and regarding the male-or-female discussion: We have proof (picture proof) that these types of underpant were worn by men, but that does not exclude them being worn by women. We just have no picture (or other) proof for it yet. So personally, I would say that it's not very likely that a lot of women wore them, but that they might have been used by some, or in some circumstances as for controlling blood during menstruation, for example.

I hope that helps!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

It's raining outside...

... so maybe you have the desire to look at pictures?

There is a large-ish list of picture databases and meta-search sites for pictures here on Wikiversity. The text is German (but the links are clickable from anywhere in the world, as usual), and lots of the databases are probably non-relevant regarding medieval textiles and costume, but have a look yourself. The last parcel is international sources, so at least they should also be available in English.

And if you find a real gem in there somewhere, please tell me!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Lengberg Underwear

You have of course heard about the Lengberg Underwear finds - Beatrix Nutz is still very active publishing them, and a new article in French is in "Histoire et Images Medievales" published this month.

Meanwhile, others are putting their own experience together with the new finds, such as Isis Sturtevagen, who has a very interesting article about medieval underwear on her blog.

In non-bra news, the first Call for Papers for the 2013 UK Experimental Archaeology Conference to be held at Cardiff University and St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff, on 11 – 12 January 2013, is out. Information and the usual other stuff ; ) can be found at the conference blog/website.

And finally, and something totally different: There's a new archaeological dissertation blog online, about “Sámi circular offering sites – a comparative archaeological analysis”. It is a PhD project in archaeology by Marte Spangen, Stockholm University.
I think it's very nice that more and more PhD folks blog about their work!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

News from here and there...

So... now for the catching up. (More or less, that is.)

There's a MeDaTS meeting (the autumn meeting) in October, as usual in the British Museum, and the topic is "Well Worn Weeds: Underclothes, Linens and Vegetable fibres worn next to the body". It's on Saturday, 27th October 2012, and you can see more details including conference fee and contact data here. Now, if I were in London...

The CfP for the International Conference “Theory and method in the prehistoric archaeology of Central Europe” is already past, and there's bound to be a programme up soon. The event is 24th–26th October 2012 in Mikulov (Czech Republic), the sessions are already fixed and described on the website, and registration for participants is open.

Meanwhile, we are finishing the last behind-the-scenes detail planning for the Textile Forum, I have an article to finish off and a presentation to structure (and it is giving me a hard time, unfortunately). And the cat may have asthma. And to top it all off, Facebook is making me get timeline. Gah. Which means I will have to hunt for a cover photo... just what I needed, another excuse for procrastinating.

Monday, 13 August 2012

I'm back!

I had a wonderful, fun summer break, and now I'm returning to work - the Textile Forum is creeping up and needs some attention as well as some other stuff (as usual).

The weather is still beautiful though, more inviting to have ice coffee in the garden than working. It's a good thing I can sit in the open wintergarden for work and at least enjoy the warmth and fresh air outside, and watch the birds eat the half-ripe kernels from the sunflowers! There's whole flocks of them on one flower at some times. The first few chilis are also ripening, and we have already munched quite a lot of tomatoes and mini-cucumbers (melothria). And there's even a melon going to be ripe soon. (The downside of all that garden joy? Being away for some time and not keeping up with the weeding means catch-up work has to be done there as well. Fortunately it can be done while munching tomatoes and cucumbers...)