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Wonderful things

Such things!

The Eddic Poem of the Vikinges Who Do Go Berserk

Oon Vikinge, al aloon
Carveth a bynde-rune on a bone.

Two Vikinges heed the calle
And steer their longshippes to hys halle.

God-night, Rune“: An Old English Translation
Cassandra Rasmussen

Goodnight, Rune. Goodnight, Stone.
Goodnight to the sleeping king, laid alone.

Goodnight goblets, and golden plates,
Wondrous workmanship, wrecked by the Fates.

The Cat in the Hwæt“: An Old English Seuss Translation
Cassandra Rasmussen

Hark! We have heard tales sung of the great storm,
And the raindrops that fell like cold, wet spears,
how they smothered the unshining sun!

And best!

Gloria the Cow

A cow in a Christmas sweater! Gloria was decked out for a charity fundraiser. There’s an interview there with the knitter responsible.

Doing what we do

This essay by Sara Lamb resonated with me:

I told her I love textiles, I wish more people did, and wish more people understood what makes a good textile, what makes good technique, and in support of that, I am willing to share what I know. I know a very small portion of the textile world, but I know my part very well! It’s likely what keeps me writing this blog, that desire to expand our base of spinners, dyers and weavers. That, and the wonderful feedback I get from readers!

Yes! And for me, the desire to learn new things and share my knowledge. I try to always be coming up with new ways to teach, and new ideas to cover. FFF was a few weeks ago, and as I often do, I tried out something new and experimental: how to analyze and chart a tablet-woven band from an already-woven band or from a photo. Some of that process is intuition and experience, and some of it follows a systematic process that can be taught. At least, my students seemed to get the idea.

I’m also disturbingly happy to teach a class on something I don’t know that well, because I’m confident in my ability to figure it out beforehand, and to keep ahead with my students, and in my general teaching skills. (I probably shouldn’t admit this, should I.) You want a three-day class on something I haven’t done in four or five years? No problem!

But that gets more knowledge out there, more textile goodness, more people who’ve at least tried these obscure techniques. My great joy, you all know, is obscure fiber arts that use minimal equipment. Tablet weaving is sort of vaguely well-known, and ply-split is becoming more available, but there’s very little on sprang beyond what Carol James is doing, and some of the other odd techniques are mostly in technical publications rather than popular ones (fingerloop braiding, fr’ex).

Teaching is how the knowledge and the enthusiasm are spread, that hands-on face-to-face transmission of fiber arts. If you think about it, we’re carrying on something that’s been happening for millenia in not too different a fashion. Our skills aren’t the necessity they once were (but just you wait until after the apocalyptic crash of civilization!), but they still satisfy some need for many of us. The gathering to learn and to teach is part of that satisfaction.

Though if I had the time, I’d be writing popular books on everything Peter Collingwood ever wrote about, except rug weaving.

Still alive

If just barely for a bit. But home, recovering, starting to think about fiber arts again.

Prompted by this, in part, courtesy of a group of fabulous friends.


What to do with two skeins of qiviut? (And science qiviut too, from the Large Animal Research Station!). Something wonderful, a lace scarf almost certainly, just as soon as I figure out what. My urge to make something incredibly complicated is at war with my realization that I’m not really up to complicated yet. Meanwhile I’ll just pet it. A lot.

I also have some lovely Habu weaving yarn from another friend, but I’m too lazy to go get it so I can take its picture. (What? You think I was joking about petting the qiviut?) And I need to do a bit of weaving before my FFF class

But one thing at a time, and right now I’m trying to close some tabs.

Vikings in Ireland, a series of videos produced by the National Museum of Ireland.

Christina Petty has prepared a thesis on warp-weighted looms for the University of Manchester: “Warp Weighted Looms: Then and Now Anglo-Saxon and Viking Archaeological Evidence and Modern Practitioners.”

How to Be a Hedgehog“, according to manuscripts in the British Library. You MUST watch the video.

Trygvi is taking his role as Supervisor of Recuperation and Snuggling very seriously.


Free Norse clothing book

Via Katrin Kania:

Aarhus University Press is doing a free ebook of the month series, it seems, and this month’s book is Medieval Garments Reconstructed: Norse Clothing Patterns by Lilli Fransen, Anna Nørgård and Else Østergård.

Moving right along

The Archaeological Textiles group has the rudiments of a website now. If you are interested, please head over there to get information on how to sign up for the email list. While some parts of the study group will be restricted to Complex Weavers members, the email list is open to all.

Our first plans involve making the website prettier, and starting to pull together resource lists. Please be thinking about your favorite books, websites, museums with online collections, etc. I’ll be cannibalizing the lists on this site to give AT a good start, but there are lots of resources I’m not familiar with.

I need to close some tabs, so here’s a link round-up:

Currency collages
. Nothing to do with fiber arts, but I thought they were neat (via Nick).

Farming with 11th-century tools.

Laura sent me a couple links on a Bronze Age find in Dartmoor with preserved textiles, including a basket and a braided bracelet I’d like to see a structure diagram for, or at least a better photo.

Knitted sensors
: an interface linking fiber arts and technology.


I had fully intended to take good pictures of the new resident of my household, but Cawti nosebumping and marking the iron chicken was far too cute to ignore no matter HOW bad the lighting was.



No, I am not entirely certain why the chicken was in the bedroom. Honest.

Miss Chicken needs a name. I’ve already gotten some excellent suggestions, but am soliciting more. If you had a frilly Rhode Island Rust, what would you call her?

Archaeological Textiles

Laura Thode and I are proposing a new study group on archaeological textiles for Complex Weavers. And when I say “Laura and I,” I mean that she has done all of the work.

The announcement appears in the current CW newsletter.

The medieval textiles study group has been defunct for many years now, and we’d like to replace it with something slightly broader, and thus hopefully more likely to persist.

Here’s the information from the newsletter:

We are proposing a new study group to be called Archaeological Textiles, which will cover everything from textile impressions in prehistoric ceramics to relics in cathedral treasuries. This group will have an online presence, and members will submit contributions for a newsletter. If enough people are interested in a sample exchange, that can be considered as well. Dues will be based on costs for web hosting or mailing printed copies of the newsletter. We will be at Seminars in June and would love input; otherwise, feel free to e-mail questions or suggestions to Laura Thode at at gmail dot com Please put Complex Weavers in the subject to be sure I see it.

I was incredibly disappointed to have to cancel my CW attendance this year. Getting a new study group off the ground should keep me busy until next time (2016, somewhere in the middle of the US).

Weekend reads

Need something to read? The online archive of the Textile Society of America Proceedings goes back to 1988, and includes all sorts of fascinating information on textile technology, culture, trade, symbolism, and much more. 

How about an odd intersection of entomology and history? Fly larvae in the sarcophagus of Isabella of Aragon tell us something interesting.

Too much reading? How about something to watch instead: The League of Extraordinary Dancers, a free online serial. I’m totally enthralled.

If even that is too much for a Saturday, let me present Trygvi’s new feature, “Boxers Destroying Things.” I expect the Velocikittenraptors will be making occasional guest appearances.

Naalbinding speed?

I received an email question recently about the relative efficiency of naalbinding and knitting.

Many of the very experienced naalbinders I know find it as fast as knitting, but all of the novice naalbinders find it much slower.

I don’t know of any formal study of the subject, but how about an informal survey? If you both naalbind and knit, please leave a comment here (at, please, even if you normally read the LJ feed), and tell me:

How long you’ve been knitting?
How long you’ve been naalbinding?
Your thoughts about the relative speed as you practice them.
Any other comments.

I’m curious!

Smell like a Viking

York Visitor Centre created a Viking-scented body spray. No really: I’m not making this up, and it isn’t April 1. Mead, blood, smoke, seawater and so much more.

Not only that, you can get a Smell-o-vision travel guide.

I’m… amazed. Or something. I wonder how I can find a decant of the body spray for Thora…

Utterly unrelated: take a look at this lovely 898-page Dutch watercolor mixing guide from 1692. Such patience! Every time I start something like that, I end up closer to 9 pages than 900.