Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Everything as it should be (except I'm a bit behind)

There's a cup of tea standing beside me, Blogger is acting up and not letting me post like usual, and I have to both read as much as I can in the galley proof and prepare a nice little trip that will start tomorrow - to plan and organise things for the Textile Forum in September.

This also means that there will be no blogging for the next few days - regular blog updates should resume on Tuesday next week.

And I am totally looking forward to our planning trip!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

News from the Grindstone-Nose-Meeting

Here I am, in reading land, working my way through the thesis again. This is the second proofread in preparation of print, and I do hope that nothing untoward will happen with the text when those last corrections and layouting tweaks are done - it would be heavenly if the next step would be for me to happily say "Yes, that's all print-ready, I found nothing more!"

However, I am glad to report that this time around, reading goes much, much faster, since I don't double-check things anymore. And maybe I was utterly out of proofing practice, too. I'm not so sure that I can finish all within the week, but at the moment I'm already a very good way into the stack of printed paper (and I hope that it will go a little faster in the catalogue part, too - with all the pics taking up real estate on the pages).

In other news: I have made the newspaper - there is a little snippet about me in the arts & entertainment section of the regional paper, the "Erlanger Nachrichten". Newspaper articles - or journalistic articles in general - are always an exciting thing in two ways. For one thing, it is of course exciting to be able to tell or show more people about what you do, and maybe why it is so great/important/wonderful, but the second part of the excitement is that you can never be sure if the article will actually sound like you tried to sound.
Well, in this case, I am more than happy with the little piece. I love the writer's voice, and I think he did a wonderful job in writing it. The article is online, and you can have a look at it here. If you don't read German, there's at least a photo for you.

In other other news: I'm still bitten by the knitting bug, I now have more knitting needles thanks to my parents (and splendid ones, too) and I have a new brainfart that is being translated into knitting. With an allover stitch pattern, lots of delicious maths*, beautiful curves and an almost-totally-invisible decrease that mesh together perfectly, I am totally excited about this. The knitting is coming along nicely, the pattern is a tingling mixture of relaxing and interesting, and I hope to have it up for testknitting soon. For those really obsessed with symmetry, there will even be a "perfect symmetry" option. (Which I am not using for the prototype, by the way: For once I actually decided to not do everything at once and in the hardest possible way.)

*Maybe I should mention right here that knitting the finished pattern will not include maths. Just counting. Easy counting.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Pictures of St. Louis Shirt

I hang around on a few mailing lists and in a few groups, and usually I just lurk in there and read most of the posts. Sometimes I wonder whether it would not be a smart move to unsubscribe from most of those groups and lists, since I don't participate much and since there's often chatter that I find distracting. And then, once in a while, a real gem comes up that makes me glad again about my subscriptions.

A few days ago, such a gem turned up on the 75years mailing list, a list focusing on the years 1250-1325. In a conversation about SCA baron titles (which I almost didn't read, since it falls under "chatter" for me), Michael posted a link to his flickr album with pictures from the St. Louis shirt.

In case you do not know about this shirt, it is said to have belonged to St. Louis and is nowadays in Paris. There was a bit written about the shirt by Dorothy Burnham, but as far as I know, there is no in-depth research published yet.
As Michael writes in his post, the shirt is in the Notre Dame museum, on display and quite easy to see - and no-flash photography is permitted. That is what he made good use of. You can see the photos here on his flickr page - and thank you very much, Michael!

Friday, 19 February 2010

We have Space-Time-Coordinates.

There is a German proverb that says "Gut Ding will Weile haben", which translates roughly to "a good thing needs its time".

Well, it has taken time enough, the planning for the Textile Forum 2010, and we can finally announce a place and time where the second European Textile Forum will take place. From the 6th to the 12th of September 2010, the ArcheoParc Val Senales will turn into a meeting place for historical textile workers. It will again be possible to share knowledge, experiences and problems with other enthusiasts and finally discuss all things textile (almost) 24 hours a day, without your conversation partner's eyes glazing over due to boredom. There will again be lodging with full board for the participants, keeping everyone fed and thus free to concentrate on the important thing only - talking and doing textile stuff.

We are working on the preliminary programme and will keep you updated - via the blog here, the Textile Forum Website and the Forum Newsletter. Stay tuned for more information on the programme, practical things and the Call for Papers!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Do I see a pattern here?

An hour or two after I had blogged yesterday about the galley proofs being on their way here, the postman came and delivered.

So today is reading day! I am arming myself with a pot of tea and a red and blue pen and reading my way through the book (again). Fortunately, this time I need to focus less on finding all typos and on checking all footnotes, since that was all done last round - so I can just read to catch any bad remaining errors and to check if there are any layouting problems left. Which feels like a much, much easier job.

And I think I will be overwhelmed with happiness once this baby is out in the shops!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The Proof is on its way.

An hour or two after I had blogged yesterday, I received an e-mail from the layout lady at the publishing house telling me that the proofs are in the post, on their way to my place. So there's the second round of proofing coming up for today or, at latest, tomorrow.

In other news, the conference proceedings book from NESAT X is out, and date and main topic for NESAT XI have been announced - it will take place in Esslingen in 2011, focus will be methods in textile archaeology, and the poster session especially welcomes experimental archaeology topics. More info and registration form can be found on the official website

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Dates and Stuff.

With the new year now firmly in the saddle, dates for the summer season are slowly lining up on my calendar. And it already becomes clear that 2010 is The Year of Unfortunate Date Collisions, with lots of things falling together - like almost all official holidays with Saturdays or Sundays, and a few of my private fixed date events with work events (and should you wonder: work will win).

There are already a few work dates I am very, very much looking forward to. I am planning to go to Cave Gladium again in 2010 - that will be August 9 to August 14. Since I later heard from some folks that they would have loved to attend a workshop, but didn't hear about it in time, this year I am planning to have the 'shops during the week (to leave the weekend for shopping and all the other weekend stuff) and get it much more public much earlier.
There will be more workshopping and a talk/lecture in Austria, too - I am going to the Spectaculum in Friesach, end of July/start of August. You can read more about the programme here on the official pages. The workshop will teach participants the basics of medieval sewing - differences between fabrics, materials, stitches and seams. Because seam types, stitches and fabric type were purposefully matched for the desired results, this is something like "medieval sewing 101", giving the groundworks for sewing and tailoring medieval style. I love this workshop topic because the lowly hand-seam is underestimated so much today - and lining all the possible stitches, seams and hems up in two sampler cloths - one wool, one linen - shows so much of the possibilities.

And speaking of dates: The book is being layouted at the publishing house, and I am waiting for new work (second proofing) any day. Once the packet is here, I promise I will do my very best to be totally quick in reading, proofing and sending back/responding. Very much fitting the situation and the question that usually pops up at some point - "why does that all take so freakingly long?", INTERN (who does write herself all-caps) has put up a nice blog post summing it up here.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Montag, Mo(h)ntag...

Poppy seeds have a long history - there have been finds of poppy seeds from Germany dating back to about 4600-3800 BC. While opium, also derived from the poppy plant, was used only for medicinal reasons in Europe during the Middle Ages, poppy was listed in about every compendium of plants for food and medicinal use - the Capitulare Karls des Großen, the plans for the garden of St. Gallen, and so on. Poppy seed oil was not only used for food purposes, but also for mixing paints, since it dries up. (All after Körber-Grohne, Nutzpflanzen in Deutschland).

And why do I write all this? Because some years ago, we became acquainted with the family recipe of a good friend of ours - a poppy seed cake. And what a poppy seed cake! It combines all good things - poppy seeds, freshly ground and heated up with milk to release all the flavours; yeast dough; streusel topping and finally an icing of lemon juice and sugar. This cake is heavenly, and the recipe I have is just too good not to share. So here you go - a typical German-style family recipe:

Mohnrolle mit Streusel (Poppy seed cake roll with streusel)

For the dough:
Ingredients: 500 g flour, 30 g yeast, 1/5 litre milk, 60 g butter, 60 g sugar, 1 pinch of salt.
Instructions: Make yeast dough from this.

Poppy seed filling:
Ingredients: 500 g ground poppy seeds, about 1/2 l milk, about 3 tblspoons semolina, 2-4 eggs, a little bitter almond aroma, ample sugar.
Instructions: Cook a thin soup from milk and semolina, put in poppy seeds. Stir well and let it cool. When cool: mix in eggs, sugar and aroma until mass is spreadable. Sugar to very sweet taste because poppy is slightly bitter in taste. Amounts needed may vary; add in only 2 eggs at first to keep the filling from getting too liquid. Should it be too stiff, add boiling milk.

Ingredients: 200 g flour, 125 g butter, 125 g sugar
Instructions: Mix flour and sugar; knead in butter (cut into pieces) until streusel result.

Ingredients: 250 g icing sugar, lemon juice
Instructions: Mix until spreadable.

How to make the cake: Roll out dough until thin. Spread poppy seed filling on it and roll cake into a roll. Place on baking sheet. Moisten roll with cold water and place streusel on top. Bake 50-60 min. at 190-200° C. When cool, ice the cake.

As you can see, it's quite... non-elaborate, and thus always reminds me of medieval recipes - "hey, anyone knows how to make this or that, so there's no need to describe it". However, here are some add-ins from me to make it a little less non-elaborate. (If you don't know how to make yeast dough, I will not describe it here. Go find out - it's totally worthwhile to acquire "make yeast dough" as a basic cooking skill!)

Ground poppy seeds are best used fresh. You can use a poppy seed grinder, which will process absolutely nothing but poppy seeds, or buy freshly ground poppy seeds - though that can prove a bit difficult.
I use about 360-400 g of sugar for the filling, and usually only 2 eggs. The icing will take the freshly pressed juice of one to two lemons.
Roll out the dough really thin; to transfer the roll to a baking sheet, roll out on a clean tea towel, spread filling on it, roll by lifting one side of the tea towel and carry the roll to the sheet on the towel, there to let it roll off. Handle very carefully, or it will burst. When spreading the filling, don't spread it all the way, but concentrate on the side where you will start rolling and leave the opposite end free - the filling will spread more while rolling.
Baking in our oven takes about 50 min at 170° C in our fan oven.

This cake is a fair bit of work - grinding the poppy, preparing all the different bits - but is totally worth it. And I will now go and have a piece of the little that is still left from the weekend...

Friday, 12 February 2010

A Blogger's Dilemma.

I'm in a Blogger's Dilemma today.

Let us assume that this blog has non-knitting readers as well as knitting readers (I think that's still the case, if I haven't chased off the non-knitters by now). Let me state for the non-knitters that there is a well-known online knitting magazine, that also happens to be free of charge (which is named, ever so fittingly, Knitty). In said online knitting magazine there are regular issues and, in between these dates, "surprises" - extra patterns coming up.

Now, Knitty is a good, professional magazine that pays their pattern-makers money (not too much, but they do pay a honorarium) and generates traffic for their sites (quite a lot). They also have a newsletter that will inform subscribers about the new issues and the surprises. They are, in addition, so well known and liked that forums like Ravelry will, of course, have threads mentioning their patterns - both regular issue and surprise patterns. So you can probably assume that most knitters who are active online have at least heard of Knitty.

Now for the dilemma. If, say, there is an absolutely delightfully weird and skewed sock pattern in a surprise issue of Knitty, should a blogger with an audience of both knitters and non-knitters mention the totally delightful weirdness of that sock pattern? The breathtaking hotness of the heels? The wonderfully biased stripings of the variegated yarn? The fun fact of a sock toe starting at the big toe instead of somewhere in the middle of the foot where there's actually no toe sticking forth to fill the very tip of the sock? Even devote a whole blog post to that single sock?

Will the knitters be bored because they, of course, have already looked at the pattern and admired the shrewd cleverness of the pattern designer? Will they turn away and say "uh, another lame blog entry about things long known"? There are at this moment already 40 projects of this sock on Ravelry, after all (rav links only accessible to members, sorry).
Meanwhile, will the non-knitters cringe with boredom, or will they rather scratch their heads and say "uh, she's gone completely over the brink now, let's go look for another blog to read regularly instead - one with no weird and/or boring knitting content", because they might not understand how a sock construction can be totally exciting?

Please tell me. I'm all curious.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Cold-battling techniques

First of all, thanks for your kind wishes to yesterday's post!

I am already much better - if I get a cold or a flu-like thing, it usually hits me hard, totally flattens me into bed for a day or two, but gets rapidly better from there. However, every time I had a cold and am able to think again, I am fascinated by all of the different cold-battling techniques that different people adopt. I had never heard of oranges with honey, for example - but it is certainly a good idea, plus it leaves the honey unheated.

So here are two tried-and-true cold medicines from my family.
My Dad absolutely swears by something he calls "beekeeper's tea" - it's just honey dissolved in warm to hot water. As always with honey conconctions, it is best if you get the water to a temperature that will feel like a hot drink when you consume it, but is not too hot - honey loses some of its beneficial ingredients if it is heated to more than 40° C.
It's only recently that I really tried beekeeper's tea against a cold, and it did ease things a lot. I don't know why I never tried it before - maybe the urge of youth to seek one's own solutions? One very big plus of beekeeper's tea is that if you have a mug, a spoon, a glass of honey and some warm or hot water, it is very quick and easy to make - no need to wait for tea to steep or similar things. I like to spice mine up with ground or fresh ginger - I feel that this improves it once more.

When I was younger, I found out by chance that a winter juice concoction would also work very well to ease cold or 'flu  symptoms - hot apple juice with spices and honey.
Take a litre of apple juice (pure juice, of course) and put it into a pot; add about one and a half to two teaspoons of cinnamon, a good teaspoon of cloves, and fresh or ground ginger, and heat; do not let the juice come to a boil, just heat it until it is hot enough to pass as a hot drink when put into cups or mugs. Stir occasionally. Once it's hot, take out the cloves and sweeten to taste with honey. This tastes nice (I think), is suitable for children and, after drinking more than one mug of it, has the side-effect of making you quite tired (I don't really know why, but it does) and ready for some health-promoting sleep. When I was properly stricken, I would drink almost the full litre all by myself and then keel over and sleep.
It also makes for a nice depth-of-winter drink, a kind of alcohol-free substitute for mulled wine.

And for food... nothing cries "comfort food" more to me than noodle soup when I'm unwell.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Where are those emergency pre-written posts?

Somehow, the last of the pre-written posts got used up a while ago, and I never made some more. You know, those posts that can be slapped onto the blog when things happen and the last thing you want to do is blog?

Today would have been a prime example for such a day - the cold I've caught somewhere back last week really hit me yesterday, and I spent the day mostly in bed. It is much, much better now, but I'll still be taking today off for recuperation. (Also, the ol' brain is not yet fit for proper thinking again.)

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

It's live.

The spirally hat pattern is now live and can actually be bought - for example by clicking this little button:

which will bring you to a Ravelry shopping cart with Paypal paying option.

I have thought about pattern pricing quite some time, and have finally priced the hat at 5.00 Euros - I believe that with the quite uncommon hem construction of the hat, that is still a fair price. The pattern is done in a "chatty" style, because I myself like to be told what will be going on in a pattern section - that helps me to understand what I am knitting and why, and also helps me to avoid or at least correct mistakes more easily.

Apart from that, I seem to have caught a bit of a cold, so it's honeyed tea and reduced thinking abilities for today...

Monday, 8 February 2010


I'm blogging late because I have been busy proofreading and correcting the knitting pattern for the spirally slouchy hat! There are totally amazing people on Ravelry who have test-knit the hat for me, provided wonderful feedback and been very, very patient with my maths glitches (oops!).

So if nobody reports a last-second problem, the pattern will go live tonight or tomorrow morning - and it will be available for purchase from here, from my website and from the Ravelry store. And I am totally excited about this!

Here is a preview of the hat, graciously modeled by Christiane from

Friday, 5 February 2010

Friday is our Day of Plenty

Almost one year ago, I wrote a blog post about our then fairly new grocery box subscription. Now it is winter again, we still have the grocery box, and we are still totally happy with it. The box has changed our grocery shopping habits, changed our eating habits and our cooking habits.
It also makes me think of Friday as the Day of Plenty, because that is when the new box arrives, filled with fresh organic fruits (from all over the world) and vegetables (from our region only) - food that will see us over the next week. I hand the empty box from the last delivery back and get a full one; I carry that into the kitchen and place everything on the counter, and then I take a moment to step back, look at all the food and feel very rich and very, very lucky.

And because we get only regional vegetables, I feel as if I now have a better connection to the area I live in. There is a lot of farming going on right outside the urban sprawls here, and a grocery box subscription means support for the organic farms in the area, less grocery shopping and dragging bags home for us, less carbon-dioxide and fresher produce due to very short transport, and jobs for the totally wonderful, nice and enthusiastic people who run the subscription service - it's a winners-only situation. (By the way, this winter, there's less cabbage and beetroot, but more black salsify and red kuri squash. I had never cooked either of those before this winter.)

There was a coconut in last week's box, too. It had been ages since I last had eaten a fresh one - when I was a child, I remember that my parents had sometimes bought one, gotten it open, and then there was a little coconut water in there that everyone could try with a small sip. I remember that, when buying the nut, the aim was to find the one nut with the most water in - and despite our careful selection, there was never more liquid in it than perhaps a very small glass about half-full.
Last week's coconut from the box? It was almost half full with the water. Lots. And it was sweet, delicious water - just like the nut itself was sweet and delicious.

Need I say that we have been eating very well this last year?

Thursday, 4 February 2010

I know the most wonderful people.

Yesterday evening, after the Most Patient Man On Earth was back home from work, he casually told me that he had ordered a new hardcover book from our mutual favourite author.

I tried not to flinch - we had been ordering our English books from Amazon, like I wrote yesterday. And a new book from C.J. Cherryh - the first volume of the next trilogy she writes - that is something to rejoice about, after all!
I asked him what publishing house the book is from... and he says "oh, I don't know - I think it's Daw (it is, by the way, and Daw belongs to the group)... and I didn't order it from Amazon."

The Most Patient Man had not only read my blog, he had also clicked on some links, and then read some more, and clicked some more, and (via a comment from a lady in France) found an on-line bookseller based in the UK, with free shipping wherever they ship, worldwide. So the link above? Will not lead you to the Amazon site, but to For me, that means getting used to a new online bookshop structure. They may not be as large as The River Shop (yet), and they might not have as huge a selection as The River Shop, but they will be seeing my (our) money for English-language books now. And my links, with the little traffic that might bring (since while I am utterly happy about the two new followers this blog got during the last few days... realistically thinking, this is a teeny-tiny blog with really not so many readers). And thus hopefully you (as you follow my links) and maybe your money, too...

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Amazon and The Macmillan Fail

You'd have thought that after last year's Kindle eclat, Amazon would have learned their lesson, right? That it is just not smart to mess with books listed on the website by just taking them off (and taking them off reader's Kindles too, while you are at it)?

Well... it seems they haven't learned.
With the rise of e-books, a discussion has come up between publishers, agents, authors and (e-)booksellers about fair pricing of e-books and fair shares of profits. Then last week Macmillan (a not-so-small publishing group) wished to discuss a move to an agency model/commission sharing with their e-books on Amazon. The latter wasn't delighted (though actually they would not lose money with that model - on the contrary). And just because Amazon thought it would be good to throw a tantrum... they pulled Macmillan books off their website. All books, mind you, not just the e-books. Why on earth they thought that to be a good idea? I don't know. But it makes me a bit wary of them.

I do rely on Amazon for a stack of things - English books, mostly, and the (very) occasional non-book item. Their wishlist or direct links are a very convenient way to give other folks an idea of the things you like or to make sure that the presents you receive are really what you wished for. Their "express shipping" option has made me happy once and saved my butt one other time (though I do prefer buying in local brick-and-mortar stores for those goods normally). But actions like these make me think of looking for an alternative.

My book is being listed on Amazon by now, and I had originally planned to post about that today. I was pondering to post a link to the A.-site for it, but I was of two minds about that, because I still believe in supporting the local bookstore. I won't post a link to their site now.

There are more options than just the Big River Store: You can pre-order the book via every brick-and-mortar and every online bookshop. You can order directly from the publishing house. Or, if you don't want the book straight away and really soon, you can also buy a copy from me - I will be dragging copies of the book along to every market and event I will be going to in 2010, and I will be happy to sell them (so I don't have to drag them all back home).

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Lookee here, an unfinished hat!

This is where (and what) I'm currently at:

That is the Seriously Slouchy Spirally Hat (or does Slouchy Seriously Spirally Hat sound better? I can't decide...) all knitted, waiting for bind-off. In this picture, you are looking at the inside of the hem. The lower edge is folding up to give a nice, scalloped lower edge to the hem, and then it roughly looks like this before binding off:

It's made with a contrasting band and bind-off at the lower edge. The funny wobbly-crumply shape is the hat in its pre-blocking state - this pattern really needs some blocking after it is finished. It will look a lot better and much more impressive after bind-off and blocking, I promise. (And I also promise you a picture.)

This very hat, though, needs to be bound off first. Which is what I'm going to do now.

And then I only have to wait for the pattern testers to deliver their feedback to get the pattern ready for publishing. Hooray!

Monday, 1 February 2010

Ah, the joy of non-functioning software

While blogging on Friday went off into the 'Net without any trouble, things quickly went pearshaped from there - with the wlan on and off again and on and off and finally off only. And then something in the innards of Windows, in the regions where the little drivers sit and make their thing, digested itself. And it was not possible to put that Humpty Dumpty back together again - so I finally had to reinstall Windows.

Let me tell you: That is quite an experience. I think it must have been a dozen times that the computer booted and did something (always stating "setup is preparing your computer for first use") and then re-booting. After a while of this continuous rebooting game with things done inbetween, it cried for the supplementary driver CD (which it got) and then had some more quality boot-and-reboot time. And then it actually finished.

On the down side, that now means that I have to re-install the ten or so programmes that I had already installed. On the up side, the pre-configured and pre-installed computer came with about 30 Gigabytes taken on the drive C. Thirty Freaking Gigabytes! For the operating system! I remember those times - that are not so very long gone - when a whole hard disk with 30 Gigabytes was a huge disk, and a very modern (and expensive) thing to have. Maybe I have lived under a rock the last years, but do operating systems really need to have so much disk space? I had very much planned to use the extra GBytes for storing more photos and documents, not more system. Well, after the re-installation, the new system takes up only (only! hah!) twenty gigabytes. That's ten more for me (once I figure out if some partition magic programme can shift partitions on Win7, that is).
Oh, and the connectivity problem, by the way, is not completely solved yet - though we now have a better idea what might cause the problem. So there will be some more configuring fun in the next days.

On the non-so-software-front, not too much got done (obviously) - a little bit of sewing on the tent and a little bit of knitting. I hope to get the hat testknit finished today or maybe, if I can't find much time for that, tomorrow.