Needles, Haystacks, Pins, Sighs.

Feb. 21st, 2019 09:28 am
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Posted by Katrin

One of the things on my list of things I would like to do is make a short overview article about the sources for the different kinds of goods I carry – for myself, for the crafters who make these things for me, and of course for my customers. It’s one of the things, however, that are usually a) not urgent, b) not crucial for being able to carry on, and c) taking a lot more time than expected or readily available.

From time to time, though, something comes up that prods me into looking for more info, and trying to collect that, and this has happened recently. The things under my scrutiny? Pins and needles. And oh, I can tell you… it’s an abyss.

As is often the case, there is a little bit of literature that is easy to find, and that does give some information. For Germany, it’s Stefan Krabath’s work Die hoch- und spätmittelalterlichen Buntmetallfunde nördlich der Alpen, and for Britain, Chris Caple has written a number of things about pins. In addition, some pins and needles are listed in the context of works about textiles or garments or textile/garment accessories.

Overall, though, this is a group of finds which is hard to find – and even if pins or needles are listed in some archaeological publication, there is often not much information about them. Ideally, I’d like to know the material (brass? bronze? copper? some other alloy?), the length, the thickness of the shaft, the date (which can be a real problem, as these things are typologically long-lived) and in addition, I’d like to have a drawing or at least a photograph. In many cases, there is none of this apart from the mention and a very rough date… which does not help me at all in looking for pieces to get someone to replicate.

Added difficulty: Germans like to use that “needle in a haystack” idiom, which means that it’s a very good idea to put “-heuhaufen” in your searchwords (though that in turn might toss out valid results, the usual dilemma).

So I’m looking into articles and trying to get enough material together – to both write up a little info thing, and to decide on what I would like to have made (and then the next step is to find out if the metalworking people I’ve contacted can, and will, do it).

And this, of course, is where I segue into a bleg – if you have any nice documentation of pins (preferably high medieval, as the late stuff is way easier to get info about), please let me know – I might end up with replicas of these in my shop…

[syndicated profile] evashistoriccostumes_feed
Three years ago I made a kirtle based on one of the patterns in the Tailor's book of Enns, published by Marion McNealy and Katherine Barich in their book  Drei Schnittbücher.

It was now too big, and luckily I didn't take it in at my thinnest period, because then I wouldn't have been able to wear it again. Instead I took it in two weeks ago, and this week I finally got around to finsihing the lining again.

I'm home sick, so no really period background orheadwear, but here it is.

The old version.
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Barnet Newman - Who is afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue III. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

A bit curious opening for a blog on medieval furniture, a contemporary artist that has attracted much attention with his paintings, especially those (including this one) that were violently attacked with knives by people who did not like the art style. But hopefully the image makes sense when reading the remainder of this post.

Around seven years ago I was helping our neighbours with the transport of a new sewing machine for (historic) shoemaking. At the place where we collected the machine, there stood a neglected Glastonbury type chair. When the owner heard that I made medieval furniture he donated me the chair. I did not like the chair. It was ugly, made from cheap spruce and had become mouldy from staying outside too long in rainy weather. But I thought perhaps I can upgrade the chair into a version that my neighbours will like. Then I discovered that this Glastonbury chair was wrongly constructed (see previous post). More work needed to be done.

It became a long term project, I only worked on it when the projects I liked were finished and I had nothing else on hand. First, the chair was cleaned with chlorine to remove the mould and the parts were dried for several months. Then, the construction was corrected by glueing an extra piece of wood on the outside of the backrest, so the were parallel again with the rest of the chair. There is no historical evidence for such a solution, but it works and is easier that reworking the seating and backrest. Then, to create a more comfortable chair, all sharp edges were rounded, either by using a router, spokeshave, draw-knife or scraper.

 Left: the extra piece of wood added to the backrest to enable a parallel armrest. Right: the trefoil decoration on the armrest.

Next, I carved a 'Gelderse' (Tudor) rose on the backrest, as this is the sign of the historic clothing company of my neighbours. Also I made some trefoil decorations on the armrest. In the end I had an upgraded, but still ugly spruce chair. Only one thing could hide that it was made from spruce: paint.

Left: The carved 'Gerderse' rose on the backrest, already covered in a layer of gesso. Right: The painted  rose.

The question then arises was medieval furniture painted, especially late medieval furniture. There is a lot of debate around this theme, but the answer is of course yes (see the blog of Johann International for example, the advocate of painted medieval furniture - for instance this and this post). A very large part of the medieval furniture was painted, but there are two causes why most is lost. First, time causes the decay of the decoration by use of the item itself as well as by changing environmental (moisture) conditions. Secondly, in the neogothic 19th century they found pure oak wood more to their liking. Thus, the furniture was stripped of their paint, though sometimes traces of it still can be found. The original Glastonbury chair has much decorative carving on the armrests that would have stand out better if it was painted. I do not know if this original indeed was painted, but the spruce one now is ... in Red, Yellow and Blue.

Who is afraid of a red, yellow and blue Glastonbury chair?

The broken down Glastonbury chair ready for transport to their new owners, 
the Gelderse Roos historical clothing company

Spring is Coming!

Feb. 20th, 2019 09:39 am
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Posted by Katrin

At least early spring is – as these guys in the garden stand testimony:

The crocus, as usual, is the first to go bloom. The snowdrops sit in a more shady part of the garden and will need a few more days, but they are obviously also getting ready:

Early spring also means it’s willow-pruning time, and our fence goes from its wild winter stage, which looks like this:

to being all bare of withies, ready to make new ones when spring truly comes:

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Posted by Robin Wood

I’ve been away from the blog for a while and one of the reasons is that I’ve been posting regular daily updates about my craftwork on Instagram instead. The blog is a great place though to share thoughts and I hope to do more of that starting by sharing what I have learned whilst growing […]

The post How to win on Instagram for craftspeople appeared first on Robin Wood.


Feb. 19th, 2019 09:15 am
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Posted by Katrin

Maybe, just maybe, I shouldn’t have read that stuff about procrasti-baking.

Though usually, I don’t procrasti-bake, I procrasti-cook – doing something vaguely lunch-related which takes a longer time than I should actually use for cooking. At least for everyday normal lunch cooking. Sometimes, though, both things coincide. Like for this:

It’s a Strudel, but not a classic one with Strudelteig, but with yeast dough. This special kind of dough contains boiled mashed potatoes, so it’s not a normal one either. The recipe I found was for an apple filling, but I decided to make a version with a savoury filling:

That’s minced meat, onion, pumpkin, and some olives, seasoned with rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano. And though I botched and added too little salt to the dough, and though the filling was a little too sparse, the dough itself? It is awesome.

The mashed potatoes turn the thing into a wonderful silky-smooth something. Rolled out thinly, and then left to rise again for a sufficient amount of time (I think it needed a good hour or so), it bakes into a wonderfully fluffy thing. I will definitely make this again!

And in case you want to try it, too, here’s the recipe for the dough (for the Germans, here’s the original recipe on Chefkoch):

350 g flour
20 g yeast
60 ml milk (lukewarm)
250 g potatoes
2 medium eggs (I used 2 large eggs for double the amount of dough)
75 g butter

for the sweet variation: about 50 g sugar and 8 g vanilla sugar plus a pinch of salt; for the savoury version: salt to taste

Boil the potatoes and press them to mash while still hot (you can do that the day before).
Put the flour in a bowl and make a little hollow in the middle; crumble the yeast in there, add the milk and about a teaspoon of sugar, stir in some of the flour to make a (still liquid) dough and let it rise.

Melt the butter and let it cool down again. Add mashed potatoes, molten butter, salt, sugar for the sweet version and knead into a smooth dough.

Roll the dough out thinly (I use a large floured teatowel for this, which is also helpful in rolling up the thing and transferring it to the baking sheet) and spread with filling of your choice. A thin spread of jam will do a very nice job; you can of course turn this into a classic Apfelstrudel by adding apples, or fill it with some Quark concoction.

Roll your filled dough up and let it sit in a warm place to rise for at least half an hour. Bake at 180°C (fan oven) for 35-40 minutes. Enjoy (possibly with the addition of some vanilla sauce, or custard, or a bechamel sauce for a savoury version).

I like it best when hot, and it will heat up very nicely again in the microwave.

Appeal dismissed

Feb. 18th, 2019 11:32 am
[syndicated profile] jessicamgrimm_feed
We finally have warmer temperatures and no more fresh snow here in the south of Bavaria! It is even warm enough to sit outside on the balcony :). Can't wait for all the snow to melt away. I love to go for long hikes and really feel blue when I can't in the winter due to slippery conditions. It will be so good to hike up the mountains again in a few weeks time!

Unfortunately, last week I got some bad news from the Künstler Sozialkasse: my appeal has been dismissed. I tried to gain official artist status with this organisation as it would mean that I get cheaper health insurance and a modest pension plan. The state now sees me as an entrepreneur who makes tons of money each year. The high rates for health insurance and my private pension plan reflect this. You can read my first blog post on this here.

The long letter explaining to me why I am not an artist is written in beautiful lawyer's German. I am so glad that I have a doctorate; it really helps to understand what they are saying. It mainly boils down to: embroidery has never been an artform historically speaking and can thus now not be an art form either. It is simply a craft. That's HUGE!!! This means that unless I am changing my medium, I am never going to be recognised as an artist. Over the past months, several artistic friends have indeed suggested that I should incorporate at least a little paint as that would mean that I can brand my pieces as mixed media. For laypeople: that's one step up from 'textile art' :).
The other point they are making is that my pieces don't have a deeper layer of meaning. And therefore they are no art. Plainly not true. I made the above piece in 2011 for my RSN Diploma. It translates the key-Buddhist principle of 'doing the right thing at the right time' into textile. This was one of the pieces which I submitted to the Künstler Sozialkasse to proof that I am making at least some pieces with this 'deeper layer of meaning'. My RSN advanced goldwork piece, also from 2011, is full of Christian symbolism explaining who St. Alanus was. And my most recent piece of Pope Francis certainly has a whole bunch of layers. I submitted the plans for this piece too. I don't know why they don't acknowledge these points.

But, the whole thing about a deeper layer of meaning = automatically art has a disturbing consequence. What about the hyper-realistic portraits of painters like Holbein? The naturalistic still lives of many famous painters since the Renaissance? Is that not art? Just craftmanship? I also submitted various needle paintings made from photographs of flowers I had taken myself. They were dismissed as not being art.

And what about the wood carvers here in the Ammertal that mainly copy historical wood carvings which sell well to tourists? Most of them are in the Künstler Sozialkasse. My interpretation of a historical orphrey (St. Laurence) was not seen as art either.

My conclusion thus is that my embroidered pieces will never officially been seen as art: I simply use the wrong medium. I now have three options left: 1) take the Künstler Sozialkasse to court and fight the dismissal, 2) change my medium & start a fresh application or 3) become a famous textile artist accepted by peers & start a fresh application. The first option is something I cannot afford and I doubt that I will be able to plead my case successfully. After all, I can't change the history of embroidery. The second option is something I am simply not willing to do. My medium is embroidery, I don't feel comfortable working in paint. The third option is the way I will be going. However, I will probably not submit a new application. As a successful textile artist, I hopefully will be able to pay the full fees for my health insurance and decent pension plan myself. I was raised to be a responsible citizen: you don't ask for benefits unless you really need them.

As suggested by some after my first blog post on this whole matter, I did contact the German embroidery guild to see if they could help. They never replied to my emails.

On the upside: I am now getting health insurance through my husband's employer and don't pay a penny for it. Our family income has fallen below a certain point and that made me eligible. I also met the deadline for finishing my Pope Francis piece (you'll meet him next week!) and submitting it for the Fiber Artist Network emerging fiber artists grant. I just hope that they see me as just starting out and not as somebody who has been a full-blown textile artist all these years without knowing it herself. That would just be too bittersweet....

Hugo Nominations!

Feb. 18th, 2019 09:54 am
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Posted by Katrin

Hugo nominations are open again, and as usual, I’ve not done much reading of new books and novelettes and short stories in 2018 – so I don’t have a lot in my head to nominate.

I have, however, done some listening to stories on Escapepod and its sister podcasts – and my favourite story of 2018, by far, still is “A Cure for Homesickness“. It’s just beyond brilliant, and if you like stories about humans and aliens at all, go have a look at it (you can also read it beyond that link if you prefer that to listening).

There’s a whole list of stories from EP that are nominate-able, and I loved quite a few of them – plus there are more eligible stories on Podcastle, Cast of Wonders (including “Ava Paints the Horses”, which I had the pleasure to narrate), and – if you are into horror and not such a wimp as I am – Pseudopod.

So. I will go and nominate – and if you are, like me, one of those who can hand in a Hugo nomination, please do so. It doesn’t matter if you have not read everything, and it’s not necessary to fill in every slot or every category (most of them, on my ballot, will stay empty) – but it is a wonderful way to draw attention to something you really loved in 2018, and who knows, your nomination might be the difference for something ending up on the shortlist and something remaining unknown.

And the shirt with Sir Måns in it

Feb. 17th, 2019 03:26 pm
[syndicated profile] evashistoriccostumes_feed
And this afternoon Måns came to pick up his shirt, he's leaving for Estrella in the US in a few days.

The last one makes me think of how the legend of the foundation of Gothenburg is usually depicted: Gustavus Adolphus II pointing and saying "There is where you shall build the town".

Photo by Eva Ekeblad, from Wikipedia.

birthday and valentine shirts

Feb. 17th, 2019 02:17 pm
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Posted by opusanglicanum

Both of which sort of didn’t happen. I was ill on gareth’s birthday, so we didn’t go to see the lego movie, and he was ill on valentines, so we didn’t go to York for the day. We have agreed that we owe each otehr a day out when we both feel better.

He still got his shirts though, even though they’re all somewhat plain this time. The madder one are still on my workbench wiating to be sewn, but I had a bit of drama with my sewing machine whereby the little pin that holds the needle in palce shattered, so I rang the man at the sewing machine shop, who said he’d save one for me and pout it in a safe place. a few days later when I trekked all the way into town, he wasn’t in the shop, and his colleague didn’t know where the aforementioned safe place might be, so I ended up waiting for it to be posted out when they found it. I also ordered one off the internet. They both turned up on the same day. Obviously now that I have a spare it will never break again.


A simple black and white houses print. I used some lovely chunky black and white buttons I’d had for ages.

We both really liked this print, it’s all old ads for silly spy toys like decoder rings and x ray specs. The blue plaid buttons just felt right.

Palm trees. You know that thing where you end up inadvertantly dating your dad? Whenever I give my dad a birthday card with arandom vintage car or tractor on it, he pops it under his giant magnifier and tells me what breed of tractor it is. Gareth sat and told me what type of palm trees were on his new shirt. Sigh…

I’m still not sure about this one. It’s spotty cats, which is the closest we can get to a print with bengals on. Gareth says the Sunday Times men’s fashion supplement said that leopard print is on for men this year, so he’s fashion forward. erm…

This one made my eyes go funny. It’s white tigers, with orange tiger buttons.

And he may not have got to see the Lego movie yet, but I made him a lego cake for his birthday. It’s homemade marzipan rather than fondant, since niether of us can see the point in fondant. It takes an awful lot of colouring paste to get marzipan to go red though. It’s actaully rather good for me, since cake decorating is not one of fortes (I like baking because I like to eat, but decorating cakes annoys me because I hate my fingers being sticky) There’s still rather a lot of it left, I’ve been right off food all week, especially sweet stuffs

Sir Måns' 16th century shirt

Feb. 17th, 2019 10:11 am
[syndicated profile] evashistoriccostumes_feed
I have been very busy knitting my husband's 50 years' present, without him noticing, so there hasn't been much historical sewing lately. I made a 1940s dress for work two weeks ago - and I finished Sir Måns 16th century shirt. That it took so long for it to be finished wasn't my fault really, the embroidered cuffs and collar were, as you may remember,  finished in August, but I didn't have enough fabric for the body until January this year. As soon as he brought it to me, hand sewing the shirt was a piece of cake.

Bascially I'm using this pattern, based on the Warwick shirt (scroll down), which I have used since the early 2000s, though taken from a now dead site.

Anyway, here it is

Close-up of the collar and cuffs, while cosntructed:

And, for good measure, my husband's sweater:

The True Cost of Driving a Car.

Feb. 15th, 2019 09:59 am
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Posted by Katrin

One of the fun-not-fun things I get to do every year, at the start of the year, is do my car cost calculations for the tax stuff. The car we have (which stands in the garage most of the time) is owned not by us, or myself, but by my company, so its costs are part of my business costs.

I am, of course, allowed to use it for private things as well – but as it’s the company’s car, this counts, for all bureaucratic purposes, as something called “Leistungsentnahme – Nutzung von Gegenständen für Zwecke außerhalb des Unternehmens” (use of goods for purposes outside of business), and that, in turn, counts as part of the generated income… and that, in its own turn, is what I owe 19% VAT for.

If you are confused now, let me un-confuse you: I have a car (that I paid for), but if I use it for private purposes, I have to calculate the actual costs per kilometre, figure out how many km I have been driving for private stuff (which means keeping and then going through the vehicle log), calculate the value of that, and then pay the 19% of VAT of this value to the state. So I basically have to pay to use my own car… which is in some sense feeling so absurd that it makes me laugh a little inside every time.

The side effect of having a company car and having to do all this mathsy stuff on its costs? Getting a very, very clear picture of how much a klick of driving a car really costs. Now, mind you, our car gets relatively little use – I end up at significantly under 10,000 km per year, unless some really unusual, weirdly long journeys happen – and of course, figures can change. But if you’ve ever heard of the 0.3 € costs per km that are often used as a basis for calculating driving costs, and thought to yourself “well, that is way more than I pay”, you were probably falling into the same trap that I did before changing to company car. Most people only look at the obvious running costs, which is the fuel (and maybe the oil), but really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Yes, if you only reckon fuel costs, driving 500 km seems to cost very little in comparison to going with public transport, such as metro or train.

What gets forgotten, though, are all the other costs… and there are plenty of these. You have to buy the car. Insurance for the car is obligatory in Germany, plus there’s car taxes. Maintenance costs – regular checks to keep things running – as well as repairs. Costs for the garage. New tires, necessary once in a while. Possibly membership in some club for accident and breakdown cover. Costs for TÜV (regular vehicle inspection).

Which means that many years, our car has not cost .3 € per kilometre driven, but something in the range of .34-.35 €. This means ten km cost three € fifty – that’s a coffee in a café. Driving a hundred costs 35 €.

Of course, some of the costs per km will go down if you drive more. We have a diesel car, which becomes cheaper (because of high taxes, but low fuel costs, comparatively) if you drive more. (There are studies that come to the conclusion that electric cars are already the more cost-effective solution, though they do not state how many km per year they used as the basis for the calculations.) But then you will also have service intervals coming up faster, and there will be more wear and tear. So let’s say I drive more and can calculate with .3 € – even with this number as the actual costs, public transport will often be cheaper. If I manage to get a super saver price, it’s sometimes just a fraction of what the car would cost, less than half the price if I’m lucky.

Added bonus? If I’m sitting in the train, I can do whatever I want to. If I am sitting in the car, I have to drive. Maybe I can listen to some podcast on the side, but knitting or reading or writing are right out – which are all things I like to do during train rides. So if I can, I’ll use the train for travel.

Obviously, there are things where this is not possible, such as fairs, when I fill the car with stuff – but I’ve successfully lugged stuff for a workshop or a work meeting in the huge suitcase I have just for these purposes all through Germany and, indeed, across borders. That suitcase fits about 16 clamps plus a lot of extra stuff. It’s not fun to lug it up or down stairs when fully loaded, and not fun to run with it when the train is delayed and I have to hurry to catch the next one – but I still love being able to go to a work spot per train. I just try to see these things as free fitness training.

So – are you a train/public transport or car person? Have you ever figured out the true cost of your car kilometres?

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Posted by Katrin


For the industry, which has a considerable interest in knowing if their products will stand the test of time (especially if stuff is intended for outdoor use), there are a variety of tests and testing apparatus available, from placing things into the Arizona desert (yes really!) to simulating direct sunlight with filtered special lamps. Even there, though, a lot of different parameters are not closely monitored or regulated (there’s a nice German pdf here about the challenges, from a symposium on the topic of colour fastness).

So if even the industry has some trouble getting comparable results… well. Let’s face it: Our household methods will always be squishy. It’s like dyeing tests, or so many other experimental archaeology things using natural resources: a huge amount of variables, many of them not easily measurable or not measurable at all.

I had a chat with a conservator about just the topic of how reliable these tests are, or how helpful, because of anti-UV-coatings on windows, a while ago. Basically, what I remember her saying was that yes, some of the UV is filtered out – but as the coatings also degrade with time, it is hard to say what comes through, and how much of it.

However, these household method lightfastness tests usually serve one of two purposes – an absolute indication or an indication of relative lightfastness, compared between different dyes or procedures.

One, trying to get an “absolute”, is of course difficult – but if we accept that the absolute is not necessarily comparable to other tests, or will not give a definite number, it can still be useful. A case for this could be: a dyer wants to know if she can use a specific dye method (type and amount of mordant, type and amount of dyestuff, and method of mordanting and dyeing) to get lightfast results. Or someone has fabric or yarn with unknown dye used on it and wants to figure out if the colour will last when used for a garment before investing knitting or sewing time. In that case, as most of the textiles will be used mostly indoors, having a fastness test inside a window will simulate real life nicely enough – and hanging stuff into a window for 3 or 4 months in summer should show if the fade is strong, or within tolerable limits for everyday use. This will, of course, have different results depending on how sunny the exposure time is, what place the test is taking place at, the humidity, the type of glass and so on, but it should still give an indication for the useability of the dye run.

The relative lightfastness, use number two, is our reason for the lightfastness tests. It’s intended to give a direct comparison between different dyes or different procedures, in our case if there is any difference in fading between the samples that have a very similar colour to start with. I fully expect there to be fading, even significant fading, as birch leaf is not the most lightfast yellow to start with, and we used weak end-of-year birch to boot, but no matter how strong the fade will be – as long as there is noticeable fade, we will have the possibility to directly compare the fade between similar colours.

Another use for this relative test would be testing the relative lightfastness of different dyestuffs resulting in a similar colour, such as birch, weld, onion skins (widely famed for their rapid fading) and friends (much of what grows green dyes yellow, so there’s no dearth of choice here), or testing the relative lightfastness when using different mordants, or different dyeing temperatures, or different lenghts of immersion, and so on. In these cases, as all the samples are stuck into a given place at the same time, and thus have the same conditions over the course of their test, it is again of little matter whether these conditions are normed or not.

So, to sun, er, sum it all up: Yes, lightfastness tests done by sticking stuff inside windows are not really comparable or give absolute numbers, and it’s unknown how much bleaching actually takes place through the glass as compared to unfiltered light, but this very simple test still serves its purpose.

If there is a real necessity to make the results a little more comparable, and get something more in the direction of absolute values, there is a possibility – which is using a comparison scale with known lightfastness values as a benchmark. One of the things used for this is called the Blue Wool Standard, a card with textile strips on it that are dyed blue in progressing depths. These bleach out at a known number of megalux hours, so there is an absolute indication of lightfastness of your candidates. If you are a dyer or an experimental archaeologist who needs something like this, you can buy the scales, for instance here. (No, I’m not affiliated in any way.)

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Posted by Cathy Raymond

Fabric, dry rubbed, mostly on the left side.
Today's photograph shows the results of my first attempt to "calender" my linen.  Calendering is the technical name for any process used to make a fabric smooth and to give it special properties, such as shininess.

On an industrial scale, calendering is done by running otherwise completed fabric through large rollers, and applying lots of pressure.  I have no idea how much rubbing the Viking women applied to their linen; a certain amount of trial and error will be required here.

The first photograph shows the fabric after it had been rubbed for about a minute with the glass stone; again, click the photograph to see it bigger and with more detail.  The result was a pronounced smoothing of the fabric, but only a faint increase in shininess that doesn't show up very well in the photograph.

At that point, I started looking for more information about the process.  Phiala's String Page states that linen can only be cold pressed (i.e., without heat) so long as it is damp, and I have seen similar comments on other educational sites.  That suggests that damp rubbing appears to be the way to go--particularly given my lack of obvious results from dry rubbing.  But how damp?  Slightly, or just short of dripping?  And for how long?  I suspected that if linen needs to be damp to be affected this way, the rubbing probably needs to continue until the linen is dry.

Thank heaven I only have two yards of linen to handle. 

There will be more on this subject after I have had time to experiment with damp rubbing.

EDIT:  To correct my spelling error:  Rubbing fabric to smooth it and give it a nice finish is called "calendering," not "calendaring".  
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Posted by Katrin

There’s been comments about the lightfastness test setup which, in most cases for hobby and smallscale professional dyers, consists of picking a south-facing window and sticking stuff in there for a given amount of time… which is very obviously not a scientific way for evaluating lightfastness.

First of all, though – let’s take a closer look at the things that happen when light hits that textile. I’ve brushed up my knowledge a little bit, but please note that I’m not an expert, and I’m going to put what happens, as I understood it, into very simple terms. If you want the nitty gritty details, you can check out “Chemical Principles of Textile Conservation” by Agnes Timar-Balazsy and Dinah Eastop (published 1998), where pages 88-92 and 225-232 will bring you many insights.

Basically, what happens is that the light hitting the fabric inserts energy, and this energy can cause chemical reactions on molecular levels. One of these processes is photolysis, where bonds in the dye molecules are destroyed, leading to a different chemical structre and thus a change or loss of colour.

The second process, and even more important than straight photolysis, is photo-oxidation. When this happens, a carbonyl group in the dye molecule changes to  carboxyl group, leading to a shortening of the dye molecule and thus a colour fade. This process is usually slower if humidity is very low, and can also be slowed down by an atmosphere with less oxygen (though some colours may fade faster in a vacuum – so you can’t be sure if that is good or not). Metals including iron and copper, as well as their compounds, can aid photo-oxydation. Even nastier about this process is that it can result in active radicals such as hydrogen peroxide, which is a bleaching agent, speeding up the fading of the textile.

Different dye molecules are more or less prone to these reactions to light, which explains the varying lightfastness levels of dyes. Both UV light and visible light provide energy for these reactions, but the wavelengths do make a difference.

So… now that we all know, more or less precisely, what happens when the dyes fade, we can get back to testing.


Feb. 13th, 2019 12:49 pm
[syndicated profile] hoveloghage_feed

Posted by havardkongsrud

Mai måned var det tid for å vri vidjer (høst eller vinter i følge noen). Da stiger sevja, og bjørken slipper barken lett. Det var mange som skulle vris, på en enkelt gard kunne det gå et 70-talls vidjer i året. Som herk eller spennil ble de brukt til alt, fra å tjore dyr, til å binde sammen kve og binde opp skigard, til truger og transport. De er en rikholdig funnkategori i middelalderbyene våre, og finnes form av jernkopier fra flere middelalderkirker, Melhus, Dolstad og Våler. Og som moderne kunsthåndverk.

Dørring våler

Dør- eller klokkering Våler kirke, Hedmark. Smidd i jern. Eldre katalogtekst: «Ring af Jærn, snoet af tre vredne Stænger, som ved Enderne er forbundne med en kunstig Knude. Ringens ydre Tvermaal er c. 41/4». Har hørt til Vaaler Kirke i Solør, Hedemarkens Amt, og var i sin Tid anbragt paa Døren i den eldre Kirke, som blev nedreven 1805. Ringen er efter et Sagn bleven kaldet St. Olafs Spenning«. © 2018 Kulturhistorisk museum, UiO / CC BY-SA 4.0

Det er flere varianter. En vanlig løsning, «Gråtaren», var å lage låsen ved å slå en knute i den tjukke enden, forankret med en løkke fra den tynne enden som så ble spleiset tilbake inn i løkka. Til Olavsspennil/Stefansbragd/ Stefanspennil lages låsen ved å legge den tjukke enden i en spiral, som så låses ved hjelp av to omganger av den tynne enden før den spleises tilbake inn i løkka.   Olavsspennil. De kunne skjøtes i lengden.


  • «Vidjespenning» på Digitalt museum
  • Ove Arbo Høeg 1976, «Vidjer«, KLNM bd 20
  • Ove Arbo Høeg 1977. Vidjer og viuspenniler, Norveg tidsskrift for folkelivsgransking bd 20. – Ikke tilgjengelig online.
  • Birthe Weber 1990, «Tregjenstander«, i De arkeologiske utgravninger i Gamlebyen, Oslo bind 7: Dagliglivets gjenstander del 1, Akademisk forlag.
  • Elin Gilde Garvin og Torfinn Kringlebotn 2000, Bjørk. skog, tradisjon, inspirasjon, emne, håndverk, Aust-Agder husflidslag. – forklaringa her er litt sprikende. Det er ikke nødvendig å dra barken av med knivryggen om vidja tas når sevja stiger, og det er vanlig å vri fra tynneste, ikke tjukkeste side.
  • Arne Høyland 2007, «Vest-norsk vidjemaking«, på Miljølæ
  • Mari Mosand 2016, «Vidjespenning«, bloggpost på – lenke til artikkel på er død etter omorganisering der og lar seg ikke gjenfinne.
[syndicated profile] cathyscostumeblog_feed

Posted by Cathy Raymond

Fabric as received.  The coins are to give scale.
These pictures show the changes in appearance of my linen fabric after soaking it for about 4 hours in lukewarm water, washing it in lukewarm water, and letting it hang up overnight to dry.  Click on any of the photographs to see the image larger and with more detail.

The first photograph shows the fabric as I received it in the mail, before any soaking or washing was done; I've added a .5 Euro coin and a US quarter to the photographs to give the viewer a better idea of the scale of the grid of the fabric's design.  The Etsy vendor's page said that the squares of the grid are 3/4ths of an inch on each side, and that looks approximately right though I haven't measured them.  

In person, the fabric looks more orange in tone, and less rose-colored, than it does in the as-received photograph, and the grid threads appear to be yellow in the direction of the warp and light sage green in the direction of the weft.  As my first post about the fabric shows, I thought that both sets of grid threads were white when I placed my order, but the difference between the photographs of the fabric on Etsy and the actual appearance of the cloth is subtle enough that I feel no need to complain to the vendor or abandon the project.

Fabric after soaking, washing and hanging to dry.
The second photograph shows the linen after the soaking, washing, and drip-drying had taken place, but before anything else had been done with it.  Because it was taken during the day, with natural sunlight coming in the window, it shows the true colors of the fabric.

At the point where I had the washed and dried fabric, it occurred to me that I didn't really know anything else about the rubbing process.  Do you rub the fabric when it is dry, or  while it is damp?  Maria's post doesn't answer this question, but I've seen at least one Internet article claiming that you should keep a spray bottle of water or other means to keep the cloth damp as you rub.  I will try both approaches, on different ends of the cloth, and photograph each, before I decide on how to treat the rest of the cloth.  At that point, it will be time for another update on this project.

Lightfastness Tests!

Feb. 12th, 2019 05:02 pm
[syndicated profile] togs_from_bogs_feed

Posted by Katrin

Well, it’s a bit to wait until the prime season for lightfastness tests (three months in a south-facing window in summer, I’ve been told, would be the perfect thing), but the fabrics from the Dyeing Experiment are all set and prepped… and I might hang them into a window a bit earlier than full summer:

I’m really, really curious to see how well these will hold up, and if there is any difference between the metals that have not made very obvious changes to the colour, and the reference.

So. Summer. I’m ready for you.

Need to procrastinate?

Feb. 11th, 2019 01:56 pm
[syndicated profile] togs_from_bogs_feed

Posted by Katrin

There’s a lot of nice ways to procrastinate. Not that I would ever do this, right? Well.

Just in case you have some extra time to spend, or need something to make you spend some extra time that you don’t actually have, here’s a link to the Cenobium project, which has wonderful images of Romanesque capitals. The project name stands for “Cultural Electronic Network Online: Binding up Interoperably Usable Multimedia” and the website features a multimedia presentation of Romanesque cloister capitals from the Mediterranean region with high-resolution digital photographs, 3-D models, and panoramas.

Or are you looking for something more substantial than digital images? In that case, you might prefer to procrastibake. Apparently this is not only a thing, but even has its own hashtag on Twitter. So – some really cool baking if you are both a language nerd, history lover and friend of mathematics is this cuneiform tablet with a mathematical equation. In gingerbread.

Hm. Now I wonder if there’s a nice kind of non-gingerbread cookie dough that would be a good cuneiform base…



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