Sunday, September 10, 2023

Fashioning The Viking Age

Happy September!

During the summer I was too busy to think about historic costume, let alone blog about it.  

So it was a delightful experience to learn from the University of Copenhagen's website, that the ongoing Center for Textile Research project on Viking Age clothing (called "Fashioning the Viking Age") has led to the publication of two books so far:  "Fibres, Tools & Textiles," and "From Analysis to Reconstruction." Both are available for free download on this website.  Alternatively, one can order paper copies of the books (though not for free).  

I haven't had time to read either book yet, but they are wonderfully illustrated with full-color photographs of actual finds as well as reconstructions.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

New Ancient Rome Channel

The video embedded in this post is from a newish YouTube channel called Imperium Romanum. The presenters are based in the Netherlands, and plan to increase their production of videos in both quantity and quality and to cover all aspects of ancient Rome, including clothing and food.   

Above, I have chosen to show you a short documentary-style video about the clothing of ancient Roman soldiers and gives a good overview of the factors that drove Roman military clothing design.  Check the channel out if you have any interest in ancient Rome; the videos are short and fun to watch and contain good information.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Stone Age Fabric

Happy Easter!  It's been a long time since I've had time to blog and the energy to blog at the same moment.

Today I found an interesting article from about cloth specimens found at Çatalhöyük, a Neolithic (New Stone Age) cite located in the area now call Turkey. Çatalhöyük was inhabited about 8,000-9,000 years ago.  Lise Bender Jørgensen, a respected textile archaeologist, recently published an article, along with other researchers, in Antiquity, an archaeological journal, about research into Çatalhöyük fabric finds, the oldest woven fabric finds currently known.  

The research showed that the textiles found at Çatalhöyük were made from plant fiber.  Interestingly, the plant fiber found turned out not to be flax or ramie.  Instead, several of the specimens found turn out to have been woven from bast fiber from oak trees.  Oak timber was used for building construction in Çatalhöyük, and apparently the inhabitants derived fiber from the oak bark for their clothing as well.  

The article may be read here.  I commend it to my readers' attention.  I do not know at present how to find the Antiquity article on the Internet, and I cannot afford to obtain the relevant issue.  If I do locate the Jørgensen article I will revise this post.

EDIT:  No, it didn't take long to track down how to obtain a copy of the article. Cambridge University Press is making the Antiquity article available on line for $26.00 USD here. I may wait until my finances improve to buy myself a copy.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

One Afternoon Tutorials--Miscellaneous Accessories

Today's collection of One Afternoon Tutorials focuses on  a few specialized accessories, such as Victorian watch fobs.  They are short projects mainly because they make small items and don't require a lot of expensive materials to create. 

Cravats.  A cravat is a neckcloth used to give varying looks to suits, mostly during the Victorian periods. The tutorial on this item, by Folkwear, the pattern company, comes with a quick bit of history for the item. 

Ribbons for Victorian Shoes.  Try the link here.

Suffragette Sashes. It is possible to buy these from vendors on Etsy, but once of those vendors made a nice tutorial on how to make one for yourself.

Victorian Watch Fobs.  This is the kind of fob that consists of a ribbon, in satin or velvet, that is about three-quarters of an inch (about 1.9 cm) and about 3 inches (381 cm) long.  They require inexpensive metal fittings.  Consult the blog of The Pragmatic Costumer, here.

I have a few ideas for posts, but mostly I haven't had time to sit down and develop them.  Hopefully, I can do that next month. 

Monday, August 22, 2022

Shawls and cloaks, part 1

Today, I discovered that Hilde Thunem has published the beginning of a new paper, this time on Viking era shawls and cloaks worn by women.  That paper can be read and/or downloaded here.

The portion of the paper that Hilde has completed is a description of the various archaeological finds that appear to be pieces from a shawl or cloak, along with descriptions and pictures, and explanations of the reasons why they nave been so categorized.  The harder part, picking through the known information to arrive at conclusions upon which to base clothing reconstructions, is not yet written.  Based on Hilde's other articles, though, it will have been worth waiting for.  

I am still reading through the completed parts of the paper and already have learned many things.  Hilde's work should not be missed by anyone interested in Viking era clothing.


P.S.  Sorry to have fallen behind on updating this blog, but I had a good reason:  my husband was diagnosed in June with stomach cancer.  Fortunately, it was a type of tumor that is very slow growing, and had not spread.  He had surgery in July to remove the tumor, and is now recovering well.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Knitted Cord, Revisited

Years ago, I wrote more than one post on the subject of lucets, specifically oriented toward discussing the subject of whether the Vikings used lucets, or a similar knitting technology.   

This month, Piecework magazine has published an article on "knitting nancies," or knitting spools, spool knitters, or corkers, or any one of more than half-a-dozen other names for a simple device that makes square cord that is similar in appearance and structure to luceted cord.  The Piecework article can be read here

The author of the Piecework article,  Mary Polityka Bush, does not discuss the Victorian lucet, or the controversy about whether the Vikings used lucets (and if so, what they might have looked like).  She merely discusses what she was able to discover about the device from early modern times (i.e., late 16th century and later) onward.  

What Ms. Bush found isn't much!  She found a suggestion that a kind of "knitting frame" might have been in use as early as 1535 and that such a device was permitted to be used by professional knitters.  She also discusses modern variants of the two-peg knitter, and that such "spool" knitters could come with different (even) numbers of pegs.  But most of her article is anecdotal evidence of the use of spool knitters by 20th century fiber artists, and lovely, full-color photographs of different modern spool knitters.  

So the evidence for the invention and development of modern "spool knitters," like the evidence for Viking-era lucets, is similarly anecdotal and inconclusive.  It is even possible that the Vikings or another early people invented the "lucet" but that the invention was lost, and later reinvented--possibly more than once.   That's one reason I keep posting my little articles on the subject of knitted cord.  Maybe through collecting such snippets I may eventually locate enough information to make an attempt at solving the mystery.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Costume History--on Quora?

A few months ago, I read, on Quora, a piece about a historical costume fact of which I was ignorant, and which was genuinely interesting.  The piece can be read here (scroll down to the answer by Randy Long, former retired systems engineer; that's the piece I mean).

The gist of the article is that, in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, when men in America and Europe typically wore suits as a everyday matter, suit jackets were cut differently.  Specifically, they were cut with higher armholes that conformed to the torso much better, and as a result those jackets did not ride up when the wearer raised his arms, in the way that men's suit jackets (and women's suit jackets, for that matter) do today.  So the earlier suit jackets looked nicer and, in addition, were more comfortable to wear.

Why the change?  Because it was a lot cheaper to make ready-to-wear jackets with the low armholes--particularly for the ready-made clothing market.

If I ever make enough money again, I will order one custom-made suit, I think, with proper armholes.

EDIT (2/1/2023)  I just found a blog called Parisian Gentleman with the author's own take on the problem of modern suit jackets with armscyes (the correct word for "armholes") cut too low.  You can read it here in English or here in French.