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.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

April HSM Project

April already.  Wow, has the time flown.

Between financial activities (work, taxes) and political (don't ask) activities, I have had little time to even think about this blog for the last two months.  However, I do have a happy development; I have decided upon an HSM (Historical Sew Monthly) project for April!  

April's HSM theme is "Bags."  I finally decided to buy myself a replica of the Great Bulgarian bronze mirror find, which is barely 2 inches (about 5 cm) across, for my birthday.  Though it's not a "Viking" piece, it's not impossible that a Viking might have obtained such an item through trade.  All I'd need to make a small drawstring bag to protect it is a small scrap of wool and a similarly sized scrap of linen, seamed together wrong side to wrong side in such a way that the seam allowances do not show, with a channel seamed in near the top for a closure.  I think I still have a small amount of thin cord that I could use as a drawstring, but if not I could probably braid some from thread if need be.  

It would be a very quick project, which is the sort of thing I need right now.  Wish me luck in actually finishing it before May!

P.S.  The blue cord I use to close my bag of (speculative) Viking age toiletries is perfect in thickness for the little bag I have  in mind, but is way too long.  I might cut some of the extra length off and use it for the little mirror bag.  


Monday, February 21, 2022

Archaeological Textiles Review No. 63

At the beginning of this month, Issue No. 63 of ATR, i.e., the 2021 issue of the Archaeological Textiles Review (formerly Archaeological Textiles Newsletter, or ATN) was made available for free download.  ATR is published by the Friends of ATN, and hosted by the Centre for Textile Research in Copenhagen.

As always, ATR has excellent professional research articles on clothing, textile, and related finds and research.  The subject matter of its articles ranges throughout history and prehistory and is worldwide in scope.  They consider themselves an "open source" journal and for years have made all of their back issues available, all the way back to ATN No. 1, here; just look at the left-hand side bar and select the link for "Download issue".  

But I'm writing about ATR again now because their latest issue has an amazing number of articles about Viking age textiles and/or clothing, and I thought that those of my readers interested in Viking age clothing would be interested in reading them.  Here is the list, complete with the page in the current ATR issue on which each article starts.  Judge for yourself.   All articles in ATR come with bibliographies that are a gold mine for further research.

Julia Hopkin.  Raincoats or riches? Contextualising vararfeldir through multi-perspective experiments. (Page 31)  The article describes the author's physical experiments involving making samples of different types of fabric, including vararfeldir, the shaggy "fake fur" exported by early Iceland, in an attempt to gain insight as to what qualities of vararfeldir made it valuable and desirable during the late Viking age.

Vedeler, Marianne. Golden textiles from Gokstad. (Page 47)  The author describes early textiles woven with precious metal thread, including two textiles found in the hollowed-out ridgepole of the burial chamber of the Gokstad Ship.

Jørgensen, Lise Bender, Moe, Dagfinn and Lukesova, Hana.  Viking Age textiles and tapestries: drawings by Miranda Bødtker. (Page 58)   Miranda Bødtker worked for many decades making technical drawings for botanists, zoologists and archaeologists at the Bergen Museum in Norway.  The article gives a brief account of her life (she passed away in 1996 at the age of 100!) along with excellent photographs of some of her drawings and of the textiles they depict.

Mannering, Ulla.  Fashioning the Viking Age: status after the first three years. (Page 138)  Parts one and two of this project were concluded in 2021, and the article summarizes the results.  They include full color photographs of two reconstructed outfits:  a man's outfit based upon the Bjerringhøj grave find, and a woman's outfit based upon the Hvilehøj grave find.  

For readers whose clothing interests predate the Viking age, the following articles may be of interest as well.

Nørgård, Anna.  Reconstructions revived:  a handweaver's personal perspective. (Page 90) A long, well-illustrated essay about well-known reconstructions of ancient Scandinavian clothing by a woman personally responsible for many of them.  With good photographic and sketch illustrations.

Grömer, Karina, Ungerechts, Silvia and Reschreiter, Hans.  Knowledge sharing:  a newly found 2,700-year-old tablet-woven band from Hallstatt, Austria.  (Page 115)  The article describes a newly-discovered tablet woven band, and provides a weaving diagram, in full color!  The band itself is depicted on the cover of Issue No. 63, and a color photograph of the reconstructed band appears in the article.  

Grömer, Karina, Saunderson, Kayleigh and Pomberger, Beate Maria.  Metallic idiophones 800 BCE to 800 CE in Central Europe:  their function and acoustic influence in daily life. (Page 129) "Metallic idiophones" are metal ornaments fastened to clothing that make noise by jingling, rattling, or clinking.  This article discusses some of them and discusses ways to discover how they sounded when worn.  Well-illustrated with color photographs, sketches, and graphs.