Friday, February 5, 2016

Another Book for the Viking Lovers

I just learned from a closed group on Facebook that The University of Copenhagen is selling the following print-on-demand book in the museum store on its website:
Lyngstrøm, Henriette Syrach, ed.    Refashioning Viking Age Garments:  Archaeology at the Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen.  (2016).
It is available in English here.

The University has a freely-downloadable PDF on the book's sales page which contains a list of all the papers that appear in the book  I have reproduced that list below.  (Note that there's a paper by Hilde Thunem in the book.)
  • Tim Flohr Sørensen, University of Copenhagen: Archaeological Reconstructions: Between Fact and Effect.
  • Ole Thirup Kastholm, Roskilde Museum: Tribal Communities and Archaeological Reconstructions.
  • Eva Andersson Strand, CTR University of Copenhagen:  Viking Age Textile Production, a brief introduction.
  • Irene Skals, National Museum of Denmark:  The Use of Wool Fibre Analysis as a Tool when Reconstructing Textiles.
  • Ulla Mannering, National Museum of Denmark: Skin and Fur in the Viking Age.
  • Lise Ræder Knudsen, Conservation Centre Vejle: Tablet Weaving on Reconstructed Viking Age Garments – and a Method to Optimise the Realism of Reconstructed Garments.
  • Louise Schelde Jensen, Bork Viking Harbour: Garment Colours.
  • Gvido Libmanis, Copenhagen:  Rus Garments Who Wore What and Where? What did it Look Like Then and How to Convey That Knowledge Now?
  • Ida Demant and Anne Batzer, Land of Legends, Lejre:  The Good Garment Reconstruction.
  • Charlotte Rimstad, CTR University of Copenhagen: The Hedeby Textiles: New Inspiration foReconstruction. 
  • Hilde Thunem, Trondheim VikinglagWith a Pleated FrontPossible Reconstruction of the Hangerock (Selekjole) in Grave ACQ from Køstrup.
  • Elizabeth R. Palm, Commercial Reconstruction –A Balancing Act.
  • Maria Ojantakanen, The Viking Village in Albertslund: The Use of Garments in Reconstruction Environments.
  • Bodil Holm Sørensen, Viking Museum Ladby: Viking Garments on show at Viking Museum Ladby – First and Second Edition Garments. 
  • Maiken Munch Bjørnholt, Ribe Vikinge Center: A Garment Project at Ribe Vikinge Center.
  • Stine Nordahn Frederiksen, The Tycho Brahe Museum: Garments of the PastMuseums of the FutureAbout how Reconstructed Garments (perhaps) can be used in Museum Political Strategy. 
The cost of this volume is about $36.00 USD, but the postage appears to be about the same amount, so I won't be buying this book immediately.  But I'm glad that it exists, since I am eager to learn the authors' perspectives of Viking clothing reconstruction.  Even more importantly, I want to see what light they shed on the original clothing, and about what I can do to reconstruct Viking clothing today.

EDIT:  (2/6/2016)  Apparently I read the shipping terms section of the University's site wrongly; several American correspondents report having paid approximately $5 USD for shipping.  Also, my wonderful spouse read this post and noted that I have a birthday coming up.  I may end up getting a copy of this book after all!  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Gotland Find Articles

Ironically, I missed out on the January "Historical Sew Monthly" (with the theme of "Procrastination") by procrastinating too long.  

I'm working on a more interesting post for later this week, but for now I want to mention that some of Dan Carlsson's papers and short illustrated monographs Gotlandic Viking era finds--including beads, items made from bone and antler, jewelry, combs, and knives--can now be found for free download on 

The bead monograph is here.

The bone and antler craft paper is here.

The jewelry monograph is here.

The comb monograph is here, and the knives monograph is here.   Happy reading!

One final word.  On the Arkeodok website high-quality images on CD-Rom of many other Gotland finds are available for purchase. I urge you to buy some to help support the work of Carlsson and his team if you need to look at quality pictures of such finds very closely for research purposes.

EDIT:  (2/4/2016) My original post had some really bad organization and syntax errors, which I have fixed.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

More Early Period Links

Over the past few weeks, I have found a number of very interesting, free articles about early period costuming and textile issues that I'd like to share.  I'm still working my way through them, so I can't say a lot about them, but you can have the fun of downloading them and reading them yourself.

Archaeological Textiles Review has made its Issue No. 55 available for free download. Because of the way the web page is set up, you have to click on the link on the left hand side that says "Download Issue" to get to the page with the downloads on it.*  Issue Nos. 46-54 are available for free download as well.  Interesting articles in Issue No. 55 include:  a summary of a PhD thesis on textile production in Classical Attica; a detailed article about reconstructing the cut of the clothing of the north Caucasian Alans in the 8th - 13th centuries CE; and an article about colors found in Latvian archaeological textiles dated between the 3rd and 14th centuries CE, complete with a detailed listing of fragments for the article.

Other interesting items include the following:
  • Gleba, Margarita & Harris, Susanna. "Bronze Age Moss Fibre Garments from Scotland--the Jury's Out," Archaeological Textiles Review No. 57, pp. 3-11.  The article can be found on here.
  • Dode, Zvezdana.  "Costume as Text", in Harlow, M., ed., Dress and Identity, pp. 7=18 (BAR International Series 2356, 2012).  Also available from; link here
  • Vajanto, Krista.  Dyes and Dyeing Methods in Late Iron Age Finland.  Dissertation scheduled for public discussion January 16, 2016.  Although this one is quite technical, I'm looking forward to reading it and learning more about what colors and dyes were used in Iron Age Finland.  The thesis can be found on the website of the University of Helsinki here.
  • Ms. Vajanto's master's thesis, about the nalbinded mittens found with the woman in Eura grave 56, can be found on her web page here.  Unlike her PhD thesis, this paper is in Finnish.
  • Sindbaek, Søren.  "Crossbreeding Beasts:  Christian and Non-Christian Imagery in Oval Brooches", in Garipzanov, Ildar, ed., Conversion and Identity in the Viking Age (Turnhout:  Bropols 2014)  pp. 167-193.  The article can be downloaded, again from, here
Finally, for the medievalists among my readers, Beatrix Nutz has made an article that she wrote with Irene Tomedi about dyed textile finds at Tyrol Castle available on, here.  The text is in German and Italian, not English, but it's well-illustrated with color photographs of the finds.

*     The cover of the issue labeled Issue No. 55 says "Issue No. 54" on it but that is a typographical error. The issue with the mostly sky blue cover and the sketch of a flower on it is what you want.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

An Early Renaissance Outfit?

Painting of Mary Magdalen, attributed to the
workshop of the Master of the Mansi Magdalen 

(c.1490 – 1530 C.E.) Photo from
Happy New Year!  I'm starting this New Year with something a bit different; a piece of period art showing a style of costume I have never encountered before.  Maybe one of my readers with better knowledge of early Renaissance costume can help me learn from what I'm seeing here.

I found the painting to the left on a Pinterest board, and chased the link to track down this larger copy of the image. The painting apparently is attributed to the workshop of the Master of the Mansi Magdalen. The Master of the Mansi Magdalen was a Flemish artist who painted at the very beginning of the 16th century.  Wikipedia reports the supposition that the artist's real name was Willem Meulenbroec, a pupil of Quentin Matsys

However, my concern is not with the artist, but with the subject's costume.  Although one cannot count upon pictures of saints to be wearing period fashions, they sometimes do, and the painters from the Low Countries were more likely to depict real clothing on saints or allegorical subjects.  

In addition, the outfit shown on the Magdalen has elements that appear in period art on real people. Her body-hugging gown is trimmed with fur and has long, hanging velvet sleeves and a broad sash. A diaphanous black veil hangs from the back of her oddly shaped but sumptuously jeweled hat. Similar elements appear in other late 15th century and early 16th century art--though not in quite these forms. For example, voluminous sleeves and fur-trimmed velvet gowns with close-fitting bodices, appear in the art of this period.  But I can't recall seeing another dress that features a close-fitting bodice with voluminous sleeves.  The hennin, a conical hat often worn with a sheer veil, is seen in art of the late 15th century.  But I've never before seen a hennin or other 15th-16th headdress that flared out so awkwardly over the ears, or had a black veil.

I would really like to hear from anyone who has any information about whether similar outfits appear in other early 16th century works by Flemish or Netherlandish painters, or whether there is other evidence for the wearing of a similar style in the real world at that time.  Also, does anyone have ideas about how such a gown might have been made?  Please, educate me in the comments!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Plans for the Historical Sew Monthly 2016

Earlier this month the Dreamstress put up the proposed challenges for the Historical Sew Monthly ("HSM") for 2016.  Her page, which can be found by clicking on the "Historical Sew Monthly 2016" image on the upper left hand side of this blog page, explains what the HSM is about better than I could.

This year, none of the challenges are repeats of previous years.  I like them all, and can easily think of projects I might do for most of them.  I've reproduced the Dreamstress's list below; my tentative plans for each appear in italics.
  • January –  Procrastination finish a garment you have been putting off finishing (a UFO or PHD) or make something you have been avoiding starting.  Most of my projects fall into this category!  Probably the smartest to designate for this challenge should be my Lithuanian Iron Age Shawl.
  • February – Tucks & Pleating – make a garment that features tucks and pleating for the shape or decoration  My planned Køstrup apron dress would be appropriate for this one; it will probably incorporate both tucks and pleats.   It seems unlikely I'll be able to get back to it in February though.  
  • March – Protection – make something to protect yourself (from weather or injury) or your clothes (from soiling etc.).  I have no immediate ideas, but a true apron would be good. Something functional; maybe in a medieval style.
  • April – Gender-Bender – make an item for the opposite gender, or make an item with elements inspired by the fashions of the opposite gender.   If I'm right about the style of cloak worn by the völva in Eric the Red's Saga, it is a garment that was worn by high-ranking people of both sexes.  Maybe that should be my April project.
  • May – Holes – sometimes the spaces between stuff are what makes a garment special.  Make a garment that is about holes, whether it is lace, slashing, eyelets, etc.  This screams of early non-weaving textile techniques to me; either nalbinding, two-hole tablet weaving, or sprang.  If my sprang cap isn't done by this point, I'll do it for this challenge.  If it is done, maybe I'll try again to nalbind socks or mittens for myself.
  • June – Travel – make a garment for travelling, or inspired by travel.  Hoods are excellent for traveling; perhaps the hood for my völva costume will finally get made.
  • July – Monochrome – make a garment in black, white, or any shade of grey in between.  I still need to complete the wool shift for my 8th century Danish ensemble; there may never be a better time.
  • August – Pattern – make something in pattern, the bolder and wilder the better.  Wow, this one may be hard.  I detest most patterns, and for my period of historical interest the only patterns used are stripes and plaids.  Perhaps I should try to reproduce the Hammerum dress? A subtle pattern is still a pattern, after all.
  • September – Historicism – Make a historical garment that was itself inspired by the fashions of another historical period.  This one is hard to pull off if your costuming period is before the Middle Ages.  My instinct would be to make a 1800-1810s gown, except I have no place to wear it.  This one will take some thinking.
  • October – Heroes – Make a garment inspired by your historical hero, or your historical costuming hero.  I still need to make my Ler outfit, and the planned blouse for that outfit was to be made based upon a tutorial written by the Dreamstress, who is one of my heroes when it comes to historical costuming. 
  • November – Red – Make something in any shade of red.  The fabric for my Køstrup dress is a rose red and my sprang cap is to be pink, so I can work one of those two projects in here if I don't complete them earlier.  If not...maybe I could make a red nalbinded hat?
  • December – Special Occasionmake something for a special event or a specific occasion, or that would have been worn to special event of specific occasion historically.  If I can finish my völva costume, complete with all components, by the end of the year, that will do nicely.
I would love to hear about my readers' plans for the 2016 HSM in the comments.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

HSM #12--Re-Do

Now it's December, and the final challenge of this year's Historical Sew Monthly is upon us.  The challenge theme is "Re-do", and the challengers can undertake any one of the previous 11 challenges, and do it again.

I've decided to go back to Challenge #6 ("Out of Your Comfort Zone")--and try to complete the sprang cap I wanted to make back in April. Sprang is an ancient textile art that was used by the Viking era Scandinavians, among others, and I'm hoping that completing this project will at least teach me the rudiments of the technique.  This item also qualifies as a re-do of Challenge #7 (Accessories), so I can "re-do" two challenges in the same project!  Assuming, of course, I manage to carve out enough time before the end of the year to work on it!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

More "One Afternoon Tutorials"

A few years ago, I compiled a long list of historical costume-related projects that could be completed in an afternoon.  It occurs to me that, since I compiled that list, I have encountered (and in some cases tried out) additional tutorials that deserve a place on the list.  So here are a few more tutorials for quick historical costume projects that one could easily do over the holidays. 

From Janet Stephens's video tutorials:
The earring project took me less than 5 minutes to complete, and the necklace not very much longer.

From Catrijn vanden Westhende: 
From Teffania's Stuff: 
From Craft Stylish:
The photographs on the page will show you what Dorset buttons look like.

From Jen Thompson, at Festive Attyre:
Some one-afternoon garments don't need much of a tutorial, such as my Iron Age skirt. Sometimes it's better to simply look through one's fabric stash,  measure, experiment, and have fun.  I hope these tutorials (and the last-minute projects I talk about on my blog) will inspire someone to do that.

EDIT: (12/17/2015) Fixed two broken URLs in the list; apologies to anyone who might have been frustrated by them.