Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Season Start!

The season has started, and I am off to Freienfels. If you are in the area, drop by - I'm somewhere on the lower meadow.

If you'd rather read science fiction stories, you can go here and enjoy the links to finalists for the Hugo and Retro Hugo Award. (A friend sent me that link. I am not sure yet whether to thank her for it or not... so much to do, so little time. Having interesting stuff to read does not make it better.)

Regular blogging will resume on May 6 - so you will have some more time to read while I am off to sleep in a tent and have coffee boiled over a fire. (Yes, I know coffee is not medieval. I will enjoy it anyway.)

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Ah the woes.

Collaboration can be a wonderful thing. Collaboration can add new insights, different perspectives, throw up new questions and give answers that one person alone could never have found. Successful collaboration means being able to do something you alone would not be able to do.

Collaboration, if it works well, means less work and less re-inventing of the wheel for everyone involved. More efficiency. Plus the exhilaration that comes with the feeling of, for once, not being alone. Of having someone who pulls the weight with you, that you can carry the load together.

When it goes badly, however, having agreed on a collaboration means nothing but headaches, and heartaches, and the exact opposite of efficiency. There's the added bit of irony that the more a project could profit from collaboration, because each person in the team has expertise and knowledge and a specialty field that has little overlap with the others', the worse it will go and the more heartache it will cause if somebody drops out or does not deliver.

I have had both - the successful collaboration (thanks, colleagues!) and being left alone by drop-outs. It's unfortunate, and bad, and sad, when a collaboration dies. Bad enough when your colleagues tell you straight out that they have to stop working on the project, for a while or forever, because something came up that needs all their time and energy to handle.
It is much worse, though, if you do not get told this. If all of a sudden, communication just... stops, and you feel like you are talking to a wall. With no echo, even. And that is what I hate most about the drop-out thing - the silence. Silence regarding all your mails, all your attempts to get some communication back. You sit there and wonder whether something has happened - an email gone astray, an address going offline, something dire in the life of the other person - or if you really are just ignored, consistently and callously. Because obviously you don't even deserve a short mail saying "I got your mail, things are bad here, please go on without me, sorry."

I know, much too well, that sometimes one bites off more than one can chew. And I believe that either you manage, somehow, to deliver after all - maybe a bit later, maybe a little less elaborate and less brilliant work than your best - or you should own up to not being able to do it. Hell, there's nothing wrong with being honest and saying "sorry, I can't do this now after all". It is unfortunate, and sad, but it is at least some communication and a clear message, and either the project of the collaboration will then die a quiet little death or those remaining in the active team will know that they have to either leave that part of the field untilled or do the work themselves. Letting the others hang, not knowing what goes on? That's unfair.

Having been let hanging rather recently by more than one person, in more than one project, I am not sure when I will do another collaboration. It might be a good while - I am pretty sure, though, that I will not resist the lure forever. For the next time I get into it, though, I will try to remember the following before getting started:

- Make sure you have contact data to reach everyone in your team. Full contact data, as redundant as possible - not just a single email address. Get the full address, at least one alternative email addy if possible, and all phone numbers. You might never need them, and that's fine, but if someone goes MIA - you'll be glad you have them.

- Be clear on communication policies. Also make it clear that whenever in a project that there are problems it will be best for everyone to address these honestly and straightforward - up to and including dropping out or going dormant in the project due to issues of whatever kind.

- Get clear statements on who is in and who is not, and set clear deadlines within the project so everyone will (hopefully) deliver in time.

- Get sorted out, clearly, on who is to do which task, and in what time-frame. Get this communicated to everybody.

- Did I mention getting full contact data? Get full contact data of everybody while they still speak with you. Really.

Unfortunately and as I have learned, even being clear on deadlines and on communication and handing out specific tasks to others is no guarantee at all that things will, indeed, work out. So sadly, but most importantly: Have a Plan B ready for when all this fails, and you are left alone with no communication, no help, and a half-written paper that you don't have the skills, knowledge, or even literature to finish up on your own.

In German, the English term "team" has become pretty much a standard part of our language, and we use it a lot (it's shorter than "Arbeitsgruppe" or something with a similar meaning in German, you see?).
In German, there is also an only half-joking explanation of TEAM as an acronym, standing for "Toll, ein andrer macht's" (Great, someone else will do it). Yes. Well. I think I don't need to say more.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Winter! In spring!

Just for your information, it's the middle of Winter here, or more like Winter almost at its end. Huh, you say, hasn't she been going on about spring and warmth and stuff for weeks? That's true. And I'm not speaking of the seasonal white-stuff-is-lying-around-outside winter... I'm speaking of the Living History Folks' special "Winter".

You know the oldest and most common joke of LH people, right? "Ah, I'll fix that in the winter". Said "winter" often turns out to be the one week before the first event of the next season - which means someone saying "I will do that in the winter" sometimes gets to hear "And what else have you planned for that week?"

So, season's start is on Thursday, and I will be there. Which means I have less than three days to finish sorting my clothes, restocking my basket of goods, figuring out what to pack, and (most important) take care of all the deadlined and urgent things that are not yet taken care of.

One of these, by the way, is my (still not successful) attempt to source a thread in tabby, 10 threads per cm, white and undyed or naturally grey, not fulled, in garment weight. It would be perfect (I know I am being unreasonable with that) if it were made from high-twist single yarns that are not Merino wool... but I will settle for a cloth that is not perfect. It seems to be almost impossibly difficult to find such a cloth. (If you know of a source, please let me know.)

Well. Off to work, then... Winter's almost over, after all.

(This post should have gone online yesterday, but somehow got stuck as a draft. I'm sorry.)

Friday, 25 April 2014

It's tick season again.

Just in case you are living in a place where there are ticks, or are planning to visiting one: tick season, at least in Germany, has started early this year, due to the very mild winter, and we've had several days now when we picked off three or even four ticks from our cat. (They were still wandering through her fur, looking for a good spot - our luck.)

Ticks and moths are the two pests that really get me riled, and itching to kill. them. all. Moths because they eat wool and silk (yes, thank you Captain Obvious, I'm sure no one of the blog readers here would ever have guessed), and ticks because they can transmit both an meningoencephalitis and Lyme disease, and I just find them freaky.

Here's the thing about ticks that the wikipedia article does not tell you: They are hardy. Really hardy. They will survive immersion in water (even water that has a drop of dishwashing detergent added) almost indefinitely. If you flush them down your toilet? They don't care. They might come back out of the drain, even. I know of three sure ways to kill a tick, and that is pouring boiling water over them, burning them, or smashing them to a pulp. In our household, the preferred method is an old pair of tweezers (the good ones don't take kindly to being flambé-d) and a lighter. Once that thing has shriveled to a black thing with glowing legs, it won't drink any more blood. (Sometimes they pop. Be wary of exploding tick in case you burn one that has already engorged itself.)

Another thing the Wiki article does not mention directly, unless you follow links: You cannot prevent getting Lyme's if an infected tick bites you; there's no vaccine against it. It is a weird sickness that may or may not cure itself spontaneously or linger on for ages, and it can have all kinds of weird effects. The best way to be safe against it is to try and prevent getting tick-bitten; if you have one, remove it safely as soon as possible (safe removal is pulling it out; a twisting motion might or might not help), put some disinfectant on the spot, keep in mind you had a tick and survey the bitten bit for infection - characteristic symptom is a red spot that grows outward, developing into a red ring. There's no guarantee that you get that ring if you got infected, though. (Yes, Lyme's is weird in a tricky kind of way. Didn't I mention it?) So if you develop symptoms from out of nowhere... you might want to ask your physician to test for Lyme's.

That said, Lyme's can be cured - antibiotics usually do the trick, the better the earlier you catch it. The meningoencephalitis is incurable once it has set on, so go get your vaccination shot if you are going to be in an area where you can get a tick. That's about all of Europe, folks. Don't risk your brains.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Things going on.

I have actually and for a change managed to leave the library with less books than I came there with - which is very, very good as it marks something like progress.

There's still plenty of work left to do, though, both sewing work (I have to finish the last piece for the museum project) and writing work. Writing-wise, apart from the book project which is currently cooking on low flame as we're waiting to hear back from a publishing house, there are several papers in line: one to be finished once I get it back from the collaborating author; one to be translated and tweaked to finish; and one to be written. Number one, by the way, is for the next volume of the Textile Forum proceedings. Yay!

And then there's the usual stuff to be handled: Preparation for the summer season (checking the inventory, packing up, checking and last-minute-repairing of things, and so on). Trying to get the study back into something that, with bad lighting and half-closed eyes and possibly some helpful intoxication, can be regarded as a semblance of order. Oh, and tax time is coming up too. Plus there's some knitting stuff going on (there was a lag caused by the need for some more test-knitting, but I think I am about past the maths-and-thinking stage now, too).

So no chance for boredom, as you see... plus tomorrow is the Day of Birthdays! (April 25 seems to be a good day for having a birthday. I know three people already who celebrate on that day...)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


The conference for Dyes in History and Archaeology will be taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, on October 30 and 31 2014. It's number 33 in the series, and the call for papers is currently open. Abstracts have to be submitted by May 30. There's a website, but it's not including the current CfP. If you are interested, send me an email or leave your email address in the comments, and I can forward you the contact data and template.

And a second CfP that reached me with the request to spread widely, so I will just paste it here:

Call for Papers, Annals of Leisure Research, Special Issue: THE DRESS ISSUE

Guest Editor: Prof Alison L Goodrum, Department of Apparel, Manchester Metropolitan University, England

According to Entwistle (2000: 6) “all people dress the body in some way, be it through clothing, tattooing, cosmetics or other forms of body painting. To put it another way, no culture leaves the body unadorned but adds to, embellishes, enhances or decorates the body”.  In this scholarly definition, even Nudists and Naturists, although eschewing material items of clothing, are dressed, be this in the form of, say, a splash of perfume, a slick of moisturiser, a necklace or a goatee beard.  This Special Issue takes this expansive definition of dress and explores its application to, and significance within, Leisure Studies.

The links between dress and leisure are multiple, longstanding, and range across time and space.  In the 1920s, for example, French couturière, Coco Chanel, gave utilitarian jersey fabric a high fashion ‘spin’, endorsing its easy-to-wear qualities as a motif for modern living.  And, today, stretchiness and comfort remain as important material properties in both active- and leisurewear.  While certain leisure pursuits call for ‘dressing down’ and the wearing of decidedly non-specialist dress, other leisure activities demand modes of dress that are strictly policed and/or technically sophisticated.  On a cultural note, sports-based communities such as ‘Bikers’, ‘Skaters’ and ‘Surfies’ identify themselves tribally through esoteric sartorial markers (favouring a particular brand of clothing, for example).

The current resurgence of handcrafting, knitting and home dressmaking as a cross-generational, fashionable, and often gender-distinctive, pastime, presents yet a further link between leisure and dress: one that relates to making-as-hobby.  The vernacular in dress is pertinent, too, to sporting spectatorship. For example, fans may use make-shift props, face-paints and fancy dress costuming to display support for individual players or teams. More generally, sports fans comprise an eager and profitable cohort of consumers keen to purchase goods relating to their interests such as replica kits and commemorative garments and merchandise.

Shopping for fashionable dress and accessories is itself, for some, an all-consuming pastime or passion.  The practice of shopping has altered radically over the past decade with internet and TV shopping offering alternative routes to market and, with them, shifts in the consumer experience.  Other alternative sites and spaces for the consumption of dress include the car boot sale, thrift store, flea market and swap shop. These informal, often festive or festival-like spaces, move the consumption of dress from formalised retail industry into the realm of entertainment.

The Special Issue seeks, then, to capture, and to map, the diversity and dynamism of the many links between dress and leisure. The discipline of Leisure Studies has engaged with these links but has tended to do so in a haphazard way, touching on dress as an adjunct to, or spin-off from, larger projects. The proposed Issue will marshal together original research papers on dress and leisure, an underexplored, and perhaps under-considered, area in Leisure Studies. The outcome will be a publication that repositions dress as a central, and significant, subject in, and for, leisure, whilst simultaneously promoting leisure as a rich topic, too, for scholars from such disciplines as fashion theory and dress history.  We welcome paper submissions that address any of the following (and related) topics on dress and aspects of leisure (as well as relevant others):

·         Style tribes and leisure/sporting subcultures and fandom
·         Performance-, active-wear and technical design in/for leisure and sport
·         Histories of leisure and dress
·         Spaces and sites of/for leisure and the performance of dress
·         Buying, shopping and consumption of dress as leisure, pleasure and/or anxiety
·         Leisure, sport and the dressed and/or undressed body
·         Collecting dress, shoes, accessories and bodily adornment/s
·         Craft, making and the (domestic) production of dress as a leisure pursuit
·         Leisure, dress and non-conformity/subversion

Important Dates for Authors:

Submission of Abstracts: Please send proposed paper title and an abstract of no more than 250 words to the guest editor, Alison Goodrum ( no later than 21st July 2014. We will advise the outcome no later than 4th  August 2014.

Submission of Full Paper: 2nd March 2015 (further details to be advised upon confirmation of abstract acceptance).
Publication: First issue of 2016 (approximately January)

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Moar answers.

Doug asks
So maybe you have answered this before but I was wondering how you got involved in researching/making textiles.
I might have answered this before, but I actually can't remember - and since I have no idea on where to find the post, if such a one does exist...

It all started ages ago, when I was sweet seventeen years old. In a small village close to where I grew up, there was an annual "Ritterfest" (which is a medieval Festival thingie). One of my school comrades lived in that village, and she participated there, showing visitors how to make felt - so the next day, I dressed up in something not even vaguely historically correct and joined her, and the rest of the fun. I fell in love with the camaraderie and the bonfire evenings and hanging out and singing songs with other people around said fires that weekend. Shortly after, I started going to other, similar, events with a few people from that group... and that, of course, meant that I needed something to wear. The first piece I made for myself was a hood, by the way, and nothing I made back then was historically correct.

Fast forward about two years - time to decide what to do after school. After realising that the things I had thought about were not what I wanted to do after all, I sat down and made a list of stuff I would like to have included in my job. Things like being able to work outside, but also doing reading and desk work; maybe do something that involved other people; something practical, and something that had to do with the Middle Ages. When leafing through the Uni Guide, I stumbled across something that seemed to fit: Medieval Archaeology. And that's how I ended up in Bamberg. My parents were happy to support the choice I made, study-wise, and made it possible for me to become an archaeologist. (Thank you so much, you two!)

Back when I started my studies, going to medieval markets and similar events was still considered something a bit weird and thoroughly un-academic, much more so than these days. It was a growing trend, though, and I kept on going to these events, using them to try out garments and equipment pieces and crafts techniques. Now, however, I also had proper archaeological literature about medieval textiles, so my clothes did improve. (Over time - that was a longer process.) Textiles fascinated me more and more, and by the time I wrote my master's thesis, I was fully focused on textiles and clothing - a development I have never regretted.

And that is the full story of how I ended up researching garments and textile techniques - a teenage friend, a few lucky coincidences, some uni colleagues also interested in textiles who pointed me to books when I started out, and the opportunity to try out things and gain experience with cloth and clothing "in the wild", they all came together to make me insatiably curious to learn more about dress back then. (Hint: It hasn't lost any of its fascination on me yet.)

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Answers. To your questions.

Thank you for asking stuff in the post from two days ago, Suzanne and Marianne!

Regarding the Schnittbücher from the Kickstarter project, the Kickstarter books are scheduled to go out in June this year (though I wouldn't be at all surprised if it took considerably longer, knowing how things go in the publishing world). Marion says that they will be available  via Amazon US and DE after the rewards have gone out - so you will be able to get your copy.

And Suzanne asks about sewing techniques in 7th century. As far as I can tell, there are about the same stitches and techniques in use as for later sewing -with the exception of things like buttonholes, which were not yet so in vogue. There's a nice overview of sewing techniques published for the Haithabu finds (later than your intended period, though) and these are not too different from the later garments. There's not so much variation to be had for a straight seam, after all: running stitch seams and overcast seams are already found in the Hallstatt material from Bronze and Iron age.
7th century Frisians are, unfortunately, not very much in my core confidence zone either, and I can't think of any books with good textile finds from that era and region off the top of my head - sorry.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Heartbleed... have you changed your passwords yet?

If you haven't heard about it yet, there has been a flaw in the encryption protocols of Open SSL, and the so-called "Heartbleed bug" may have leaked personal information you had on these servers. So if you are using sites on the Internet that were affected (and who doesn't - Google is one of them) you might want to change your passwords.

Here's a list of affected sites; here is another one with a bit more explanation on how the bug was discovered (and links).

If you want the short and sweet explanation, here it is courtesy of XKCD:

On a totally different note - you can still ask me anything on yesterday's post. I'll keep checking for new questions until (and including) the Easter weekend. So go crazy!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Ask me anything!

I think it's time again for questions! I am pretty sure I did this before, but can't find the post anymore. So I'll make up new rules...

Ask me anything in the comments, and I will reply as well as I can. Exceptions are made if it's too personal, or if it will require in-depth research work, or involves a trade secret. Otherwise, I'll do my very best to answer your question.

So... anything you want to ask me?

Monday, 14 April 2014

Stuff on a Monday. Mostly coffee stuff, well, because? Monday.

How did the weekend pass so quickly? Is it really Monday again? Well, at least the overcast skies had the good grace to come today, not yesterday or Saturday, when we could enjoy some splendid weather, and I actually managed to get some gardening done.

Speaking of splendid - if you were thinking of moving to Stockholm, you might want to watch this ad video. Or if you like card tricks.

You can also get good coffee in Stockholm... I remember the first time I was in Scandinavia, I was totally amazed at the huge cups of really decent-to-totally-yummy coffee (with lots of milk) that you could get in any 7-11, or actually about anywere. Scandinavians run on coffee. Which seems to actually be healthy.

I didn't drink coffee until I was something in my twenties, when I slowly got fond of the taste, and now I do love a good cup of coffee, preferably with milk in it (lots of milk). A few years ago, we bought an Aeropress for our home, which is quick to use, makes lovely coffee, is easy to clean and does not take up much space. Like any German household, we have an electric water kettle to heat water anyway*, so it's one less appliance to find room and a socket for. Our coffee consumption, needless to say, has increased noticeably since introducing the Aeropress... small wonder.

Writing so much about coffee makes me want one. I think I will go have one now. Yum.

* The water kettle is about sixteen years old now, it would probably get totally jealous if we brought in another gadget that can heat water!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Aah gah.

The day has not even stated properly, and I'm already feeling scatterbrained. That's not good, especially not since I have a stack of reading work to take care of today, and a trip to the library on my to-do list.

So in best scatterbrainy tradition, here's stuff for you to look at:

Mediävist Jaques Le Goff died on April first (not a joke). He was one of the big guys (here's his Wikipedia page).

Medieval Manuscript blog has horses fighting so their owners don't fight alone. (They also have lots of other fun stuff. That blog ought to be on your reading list if you are interested in manuscripts and quirky pictures therefrom.)

There's a tumbler about People of Colour in history (including medieval times), with interesting links.

And here's a collection of pictures for long late-medieval hose.

Finally, in case you have a vacuum cleaner that seems to have lost some of its initial amazing sucking powers over time? Try cleaning the hose that connects the vacuum to the tube and nozzle. Ours turned out to have accumulated much more clogging dirt stubbornly clinging to the inside of the tube than we would have believed possible...

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Board games, and co-op play.

We have friends (yes, really, we do) and a good number of them - almost all of them, in fact - are as fond of a nice boardgaming evening as we are. So it's a small wonder that we have a night gaming with friends quite frequently.

If you are involved in gaming and know your way around a bit, the term "euro-game" or "German-style board game" will mean something to you. If not, here's the thing in a nutshell: typical European or German games have the players aim for victory by competing for victory points or a similar progress measurement, often with a catch-up mechanism for the stragglers and a brake mechanism for those way in the front. While luck plays a role in most of these games, you also need to evaluate which approach you want to take, and there may be an end accounting that can severely shift player order (and thus have you win more or less unexpectedly). If such a game is well-made, it is very intense gameplay and a huge lot of fun - and as there's no player elimination, you can take part until the very end.

Relatively recently, there is a craze for co-operative board games, and we (as well as a good number of our friends) love those a lot. It's the "all of us together against the board" approach, where Bad Things happen after every player's turn, determined usually by roll of dice or cards drawn. I like not competing against each other, and sticking heads together to figure out how to solve a tricky situation... only to face an even trickier one after the next draw, or next die roll. Yesterday, we managed not to defend the realm... so if an orc or demon turns up on somebody's doorstep, it might be our fault. Don't come to blame us, though. We did our best.

If you are totally interested now, here's some of the co-op games that I myself really like:
"Defenders of the Realm" is a typical fantasy-themed co-op game with quite a bit of luck; you have to defend the realm and the main city against the four generals marching in, and - of course - their minions.

For those that want less fantasy and a little less luck as an element (though not much less), "Pandemic" also makes you defend the world - against viral illnesses spreading across the globe and threatening to kill us all.

Not hot enough? Then you could always go check out "Flash Point Fire Rescue" - you are a firefighter, called to a building to rescue the persons inside and keep the flames in check while you are doing this. This is quite luck-dependent, and if you have a tendency to botch dice rolls... well. It will get hot.

There's also the really hard "Ghost Stories", where you are a taoist trying to defend your village against malevolent ghosts.  I think this is one of the hardest, if not by far the hardest, of the games listed here - even in the most relaxed setting, you will need flawless cooperation, really good use of everyone's special power, and more than a touch of luck to win.

Finally a very different co-op game: "Hanabi" is a little card game where you try to put on some nice fireworks together. The twist? While all the others can see your cards, you yourself can't. Which means you will have to get hints (limited number available) to know which card to play... this is tricky, and intriguing, and should not be attempted half asleep.

So in case you are looking for a game a bit different from the usual "Hah, I won and you didn't", maybe one of these will delight you, too!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Printed cloth, medieval.

When I'm not bursting with my own ideas to blog about, I usually take a look at the blogs I follow - only that they seem to be in spring quiet (spring tiredness?), too!

There's one very interesting post about printing designs on cloth in the 14th century, though. The text is German, but you can look at the pictures (there are plenty) over here.

Otherwise, not much new hereabouts - spring is going on, work is still piled high, stuff is happening albeit not fast enough. I think I might add a second cool superpower to my wishlist - writing really good papers in an incredibly short time, and possibly several of them parallel. (The first one on my list, in case you want to know, is being able to read, understand and speak every language there is.)

Any more suggestions for really cool and useful superpowers, while I'm making that list?

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Season Preparations.

It's the time of the year when the first events come closer and closer, and with them the flurry of activity for preparation. We bought a new pot last year, for instance, and spent an hour on Sunday afternoon preparing it for use.

I was taught that iron cookware, whether cast iron or sheet iron, needs seasoning or breaking in ("frying in", the Germans call it) before use. This, of course, does not apply to stainless steel... but iron? It will definitely win by this.

The seasoning is done by frying potato in fat (I used sunflower seed oil) with salt, after previously cleaning the new pan or pot with hot water and some dish soap or other suitable detergent. The goal is to coat the small irregularities in the surface - and that can be done with polymerised fat and carbon black. There are instructions on the internet to use potatoes cut into slices, but you can just as well use potato peels for the frying, and then use your freshly seasoned thing to have some nice fried potatoes.

And in case you want them right here, right now, the short instructions for doing it: Heat up the clean pan, adding the fat (should be fat suitable to high temperatures!). Heat the fat until a potato peel dropped into it starts to sizzle; then add in all the peels and a generous amount of salt (which acts as a scrubbing agent). Move the stuff around in the pan, going on until all the potato is nice and black, and ideally, the bottom of your pan or pot should be darkened, too. That's all there is to it! The internet, of course, knows of a gazillion additional ways to do it, but that's the method I use, and it works well enough for me.

Plus I always get to remember that one time I was at a medieval market, and I went past the camp where a friend was... he hollered me and asked me if I would like to have some potato stew, they had plenty left over. Now, that group is one that usually cooks medieval-ish, so potatos were really surprising me. It must have shown on my face, as I was promptly told that a whole bunch of folks from that group had bought new frying pans on the market, and had wanted to break them in right away, for which they needed... potato peels. Which did explain the unexpected potato stew, since they ended up with a lot of peeled potatoes that way. (Very tasty, by the way.)

Oh, and once your thing is fit for use, clean the pan by wiping it with a rag or rinsing it with water. If there's stuff stuck to it, you can also salt it down: Heat a handful of salt in the pan, moving it around until it is brown and your pan is clean. That are the preferred cleaning methods for seasoned iron that I know.
You can use soap or dish soap if really necessary, but use it sparingly - it will take away from the seasoning. And use? Makes your cookware better. So bring on these fried foods...

Monday, 7 April 2014


Monday! Spring! My nose itches! There are links for you!

First of all, Doug's Blogging Archaeology Carnival has ended, and here is the final post.

Secondly, the Canadian Conservation Institute has Notes and Publications downloadable on their server. The Notes are all free (some of them are a bit older, but should still prove helpful), and the Technical Bulletins are available as a free pdf version once they are 5 years or older.

Thirdly and finally, in case you are looking for something small to knit for an unusual recipient, there's always penguin sweaters.

Friday, 4 April 2014

It's taxing. Which means... cat pictures.

Every quarter of the year, I have to file some tax stuff... and guess what? It's time for that. Which is... taxing.

Well, it's not that bad, but it will require some coffee, and possibly some chocolate. While I deal with this and with the backlog of emails and writing and stuff so I can finally get caught up (in my wildest dreams, this happens today), why don't you have a few photos?

... a closeup of the fillet in the Manesse-Style:

... and since you all seem to like those buttons as much as I do:

 ... and finally some gratuitous cat pictures. Because I know what the Internet wants (and I confess that I had a need for them as well). 

That was the piccie part.

If you want more to read instead of cat and button pics, there's a list of 550 archaeological blogs over at Archaeologik - in different languages, many of them English.

Also, this Saturday is International Tabletop Day - see the tabletop day webpage if you want to find a game shop or gaming place in your area.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Random stuff on Thursday.

Some bird relieved itself against the window of the study... resulting in a long and enthusiastically white diagonal across the glass. Well done, bird. NOT.

Otherwise, I am sneezing (thanks to nature exploding around here). The willows are budding, and I will probably not get peaches this year - the peach tree is making leaves, but no blossoms. I will survive. And I will make sure to tell the peach tree it's supposed to make peaches next year, or else. (Worked with the strawberries a few years ago, it did!)

If you were thinking about getting the early modern Austrian tailoring books via Kickstarter, you have about 9 hours left to pledge.

Finally, just in case you are interested in my plans for today: putting together the documentation for the garments I made, taking a few last photos for my own documentary purposes, and packing it all up to send it off. Squeee! (I'm a little torn between wanting to keep the beautiful clothes and being happy to have it off my hands at last, but it's made much easier by the fact that a) I know where I can get the stuff these garments are made off and b) the woman's clothes won't fit me anyway.)

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Welcome to April.

April is one of the special months for me - a few people that I really like have their birthday in April (three of them on one day, actually), it's peak hayfever time for me, the garden needs some attention, and preparation for the start of the season gets done (more or less, like you do).

The taxes also start to feel more urgent in getting done, and it's lovely to sit outside in the warm sun, and my craving for ice cream becomes much stronger again. This year's April has a few additional deadline sprinkles to its name, and I think it will be a while before I am back to normal levels of stuff to be done.

What April also brings, though... is the funny stuff. When I opened my HabitRPG yesterday, I found that my avatar now looks like this:

Very springtimey!

If you want more of the kind, look at the April calendar page on the Medieval Manuscripts blog, or have fun with the list of pranks put together at Archaeologik (partly German, partly English).
Another list is here - have fun!

Meanwhile, I will try to tackle my task list without making the tasks cry too much. These oniony charms, you see...

Tuesday, 1 April 2014



is what I did yesterday.

No, not making buttons, but taking photos of the finished (and almost-finished) pieces. The pictures are now hanging out on my computer, waiting to be sorted and processed, but you are getting the very first one as a treat. Here you are.

The photo session planned for the afternoon made yesterday a quite hectic day, but it was totally worth it, and the end of this project's hectic phase (which has dragged on for weeks altogether) is finally drawing to a close. And high time for that it is, since a lot of other stuff has accumulated, clamoring for attention and being taken care of. But not before I get some coffee. And possibly some chocolate... because life is just so much better with both.