Friday, 31 October 2014

Forum Time!

The books that were due are back in the library, my lists are all written, and stuff to pack is accumulating. It's time for the Textile Forum!

It's also time for eating pumpkin everything. So in case you are celebrating (or taking any excuse to have pumpkin foods and other delicacies): Happy Halloween! And happy Halloween weekend!

Oh, and since I will be spending the whole next week in plant-fibre bliss at Mayen, there will be no blogging until Wednesday, Nov 12. (Time to recover. It's vital. Or the only thing I can blog about is little "z"s...)

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Still busy...

Yesterday was a quite long, and quite busy, day - but also quite successful. The preparations for the Forum are going well, I have procured almost everything that I need, and the presentation is finished apart from a few more pictures to put in.

Which is very, very good, since I have to visit the library today and bring back a book or, if I manage, even two.

Not much other news from here, though - so you might want to look at the medieval tiles collection that recently got linked to in the comment section here (thanks!).

Or you might want to try and draw some circles after you've seen this:

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Stocking up.

The last few days, I did not only do some last-minute shopping for next week (I will be bringing hemp fibres, proper long ones, to the Forum), but I've also been stocking up on things. As of this morning, the linen tape in 3 and 5 cm width is back in the shop again, and I have finally taken the plunge and will soon offer naturally-dyed silk yarn for embroidery. The skeins have arrived, and now there is some winding into portions to do, and then some taking of photographs. I have a very dark blue that almost passes for black, a dark blue, an orange, brown, white, red, yellow and green - enough to serve quite a few embroidery needs!

I won't be able to get it into the online shop before the Textile Forum, so it will take a little longer before it's available - but I'm working on it! When I'm not doing the Forum preparation stuff, that is... fortunately, I'm almost finished. One of the big things still left to do is packing all the things I have to take with me, and taking care of details such as charging the camera batteries. There's a growing list of things to pack that will help me no end when I do the actual packing on Friday or Saturday, though. All hail the power of lists!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014


It's time to shower you with links again! So here you go...

Are you looking for a movie to watch on Halloween? Here's a list of 10 horror movies featuring archaeologists.

If you prefer some real-life horror, how about this: the Swedish government wants to close all of the Swedish archaeological institutes in the Mediterranean. No joke. Archaeologik has done an article about this, in German; there is a petition running against the closure. If you want to sign (please do, and please spread the word), there is an explanation at the bottom of the English translation of the letter.

For those of you interested in the history of People of Colour, check out this tumblr "bookshelf" with free downloads - the books are concerning early modern and modern time.

In case you are looking for an excuse to visit Rome, there's a Protolang conference planned for September 2015, with the CfP open.

And finally, a very interesting video on how a seemingly small change in environment can have huge effects: Wolves in Yellowstone.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Gaah. Sometimes it just won't work.

I have worked some more on the spinning wheel tuning project - and it was frustrating. Sometimes, you sit down and try things and make a prototype and do the maths and then you go for the real thing and everything works beautifully. This, however, was not one of these times. About nothing in the current setup worked as planned.

The two whorls I 3D-printed are too slippery to give good traction to the drive band. (3D printing is still very cool.) So... I tried to make the drive band less slippery. I had had wonderful de-slipping success some years ago with using Seamgrip, a sort of glue originally intended to fix holes in outdoor stuff like tents. Unfortunately, the new tube of SG that I ordered made the thread I had planned to use stiff and slick, not supple with a rubbery outside.

So, after a while of fiddling and some more fiddling and lots of cursing, I have now switched back to the prototype setup from before, which was always intended to be temporary. For the current spinning tests that I have to do, this is what I will have to use - provided it will work well enough.

After that, I will have to sit down and plan again. I have not given up yet - but it looks as if there has to be some more fiddling and making of parts before my original plan can be implemented.

Friday, 24 October 2014

More Open Access stuff. And a bleg.

The OA week has provoked some more blogging, not only here. Doug has posted a longish article about OA publishing concepts that sound a lot more reasonable than the ones I ridiculed yesterday. And one before that, with a lot more information about free or affordably-priced OA journals, and links to said journals. Go read it here.

In other news, I'm still busy editing (the Beast is losing words - it's like a book diet!) and also preparing for the Textile Forum. Additionally, I am thinking about offering an embroidery set for doing a small medieval motif, about 4 cm in diameter. I would like to offer that as a complete package with cloth (that has the pre-inked design), naturally dyed silk thread, maybe gold thread, short instructions and possibly also a small (non-medieval, but affordable) embroidery frame. Suggestions as to motifs would be greatly appreciated!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Open access and "open access".

I just found out that this week is Open Access Week. Yes, it's nice and comfy here under my rock, thank you for asking.

I found out, by the way, from an email sent to me by Maney. The email says they are partaking in Open Access Week - and my first reaction was "yay free access to articles!". Turns out that was wrong, though.

The email tells me about the very generous offer of 50% off the fees if you want to publish an article as OA with them. Yes, that's right - Maney is one of the "author pays for OA" journals, and their fees are quite hefty. Even with 50% off, you'll still shell out between 400 and 1000 USD. Erm... thanks, but no thanks. In my universe, the One Rule still stands: the author never pays. Yes, I know that publishers have to eat, too, and that their money does not come from publishing for free and giving away the published articles, too. It comes from selling what they have published - and I still think that it is fair to pay for what you want to read, provided it is not what Germans call a "Mondpreis" (moon price, literally - an astronomical sum that is totally unrealistic). I'm also convinced that a reasonable pricing of articles, especially older ones, would raise their income far enough that a fair-for-everybody model will be possible. (Or would you hesitate for a second to pay one or two dollars for immediate access to a paper that interests you? Instead of being asked to shell out 30+ dollars, even though the article is several years old and you do not know whether it will really help you on with your research, or not?)

You can laugh about the pricing yourself here. Incidentally, the page also offers the full list of OA articles published with Maney. I do not wonder why there are so few... (There is one about spinners and yarn regulation in 1550-1800 that might be of interest to you, too, written by John Styles.)

If you want to read some more, you can go to Paperity, an article aggregator of OA articles. (I found that via, by the way. The site seems to try for promoting OA, but also seems fairly small, impact-wise, and it has a layout that is a bit confusing to me.)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Things happening here.

The Textile Forum is drawing closer and closer, and thus we are busy preparing things and planning. I'm also doing editing work on the book project I am doing together with Gillian - we are reverting some changes that we made during one stage of the project, and both have the impression that our final book will be much better for it. It really is amazing how hard it can be to sort out the best sequence of chapters in a book - and how many bits and pieces would fit into several chapters equally well...

There's even more coming up - I have received hand-woven cloth ordered for the equipment of Lauresham, and it's washed and dried now, ready to be sent off for dyeing. The spinning-wheel tuning is also progressing, though slowly. The next step is a suitably "sticky" drive band to properly turn the whorls on flyer and spool; there is too much slip at the moment, and thus I am not getting the ratios that were planned.

Finally, I am starting to do the lists of things to prepare and to take to the "Kreativ" fair in Stuttgart. It's going to be a full and interesting November!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Hedgehogs, Grapes, and what you surely did not know about them.

There's a nice little video with Latin text from the Physiologus (with English subtitles) that will teach you totally true facts about hedgehogs. You can watch it at discarded images.

Another manuscript tells us that if you want to enchant your lover, you should feed him catnip. Nice, eh?

Speaking of manuscripts, there's a conference about 14th century manuscripts in London on December 1, and more places are available should you like to attend.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Games! At Essen!

It's autumn, and that means it is the time of year where me and the most patient of all husbands go off to Essen for a long weekend and spend that time having fun with friends, playing new (and sometimes mostly new) boardgames and cardgames, get too little sleep, eat unhealthy amounts of chocolate and spend a bit of money buying games that really tick for us.

So, with a few tweaks to the usual food and sweets supplies we pack, that was exactly what we did during the last days. The "Spiel" at Essen is, according to the organiser, the world's largest consumer game fair, and going there really is an experience. As usual for our group of four, we spent a lot of time in the parts of the fair with the smaller publishers and non-German authors. These are games that you often only get to see (and play, and buy) in Essen unless you happen to know the authors, or the publisher, or stumble across them due to sheer luck. Going through the small publishers' hall has resulted in quite a few games in our collection that are now out of print or hard to get. Many of these are getting played regularly here - such as Snow Tails, my favourite racing game, or Totemo, a cube-placing game where you are trying to get more points than all the others.

This year was a bit weak on overall, at least in our impression. We did like a handful of games, and some of them enough to buy a copy - we picked up the new extension to Flash Point (a cooperative fire-fighting game that we play a lot) and a copy of the new edition of Monster Derby, a racing game with monsters with a nice mechanics twist we did enjoy a lot. There was no real Winner of Essen this year, however.  Usually, there was one game that the whole large group of folks we go to Essen with are all excited about, and that game then gets played a lot in our quarters, plus many of us pick it up. Said game is usually something in the medium complexity range, rarely a highly complex one. This year, there was no such game - the one closest to being the Winner of Essen 2014 was a prototype one of our group brought with him. A lot of us played it, and we had an insane amount of fun, so of course we now all hope that he and his co-authors will find a game publisher.

Fun was had. Mission achieved. And now? Tea, and back to work...

Friday, 17 October 2014

Even more sprang.

After yesterday's blogpost, I had some more of a look around the internet - and lo and behold, there is one of Dagmar Drinkler's presentations online.

You can download it, as a pdf file, here. It's in German, but even if you do not read the language, it might well be worth a look, since it contains a huge number of pictures of tight-fitting legwear, plus a number of pictures of sprang with diverse patterns.

And with that, I shall leave you to the weekend : ) which I am planning to enjoy thoroughly!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Sprang, more of it.

One of the things that I really learned much more about at the London conference was sprang. Dagmar Drinkler and Carol James did a joint paper about tight-fitting trousers in Antiquity and Renaissance, and their arguments for at least some of the depicted trousers in artwork being made in sprang were, in my opinion, absolutely solid.

Even better was seeing and touching the sprang objects they both had brought, and seeing a pair of trousers in action (worn by Carol James). Together with seeing lots and lots of pictures of the Coptic sprang "hairnets" (many of them look more like caps or bags to me, since the word "net" does evoke some kind of openness or lacyness for me), my understanding of what is possible with this technique has grown a lot.

Carol James, by the way, has a website and a blog; she has made a few instructional videos, and you can also buy a book with instructions from her. Do check out her website, there is amazing stuff to be found on it!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Autumn has come.

These days, the light has become golden, and leaves are starting to fall off the trees in nice autum colours. Mornings and evenings are colder, and I'm waiting for the first leaves of our willow fence to fall off, too - they are still hanging on, but are getting yellow more and more.

Now, autumn is definitely pumpkin season. Not only because of yummy things you can do with pumpkins, but also because of the pumpkin art that is done around Halloween (and yes, Germans do enjoy that too). If you are looking for some inspiration, look at this gallery of pumpkin carvings.

And should you be one of those that like a bit of garlic in their pumpkin meal, here's a nifty trick for peeling a lot of garlic, really quickly:

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Online stuff for your reading pleasure.

There's two things online that I recently heard about, downloadable for free.

One is the conference proceedings of Computers in Archaeology from the 2012 conference: Archaeology in the Digital Era: Papers from the 40th Annual Conference of Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA)
 and the second thing is Christina Petty's thesis about the warp-weighted loom, both in archaeology and in current practice, available here.

Monday, 13 October 2014

That was input. Serious amounts of it.

I'm back from a breathtakingly wonderful conference! It was lovely all around: the venue with the absolutely brilliant and incredibly helpful staff, the papers and, of course and most important of all, the people. The only more-exciting-than-necessary part of the journey was the journey itself, where I had regular adrenaline spikes due to delayed trains. (I arrived in time, and safely, on both legs of the journey even if it did include some running.)

Quite a few of the topics in the conference were things that I had heard of before and that I had a basic concept of, but the papers gave me a far deeper insight and in some cases real revelations. I have learned so much more on the possibilities of sprang alone that my mind still feels slightly boggled. I'm also feeling a very noticeable desire to run into the basement, put my sprang frame together again and finally delve a little deeper into the technique. The possibilities shown at the conference... let's just say my skills need to improve.

Sadly I couldn't stay in London for longer, and I did not get to see too much of the city (the walks that I did, most of my concentration was focused on something else, such as chatting, or looking for a specific place, or shop). I got to meet with some friends, though, who took the trouble of travelling into London just to hang out with me for a few hours. I also got the compulsory shopping done, among that consolation biscuits for the most patient husband of them all, and mustard powder, and clotted cream. Things you just can't get in Germany.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Even more links.

Jstor has launched a new thing called Jstor Daily - you can find it here. The idea behind it is to take news articles from normal news and link them up with science related to them. It sounds like a nice idea!

If you prefer reading science stuff right away, maybe this thesis is something for you:
Christina Petty, Warp-Weighted Looms Then and Now. Anglo-Saxon and Viking archaeological evidence and modern practitioners. It's a brand-new thesis, and it is downloadable for free. Enjoy!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

London Calling.

Yesterday was, again, quite busy - the taxes for the last quarter are taken care of, there is plenty of stuff to do on my laptop, I have packed spindles and wool for the demonstration, Textile Forum organisation has been taken care of as well... and now I am on my way to London.

Meanwhile, for you, there is a link to the charades or riddles from Jane Austen's Emma; and one to a German-language article about two children's graves, recently discovered.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

It's a long way to the end of the List.

There is, as usual, a stack of things to do today... before I leave for London tomorrow. I can't believe it is tomorrow already. Good thing that my presentation was finished before I left for Tannenberg (well, apart from that one last picture I have to scan and place today, and from going through it once more to make sure I will stay in time.) Somehow, this year, the autumn is chock full of things to do and of dates to keep. Yesterday was thus incredibly busy, and today will be no less so. At least life won't be boring anytime soon!

While I am refilling my travel necessaire and packing the things for the demonstration bits of my presentation, you can amuse yourselves with some links.

For example the snark about the media treatment of a grave at Powered by Osteons.

The British Library has an interesting post about whether to wear white gloves or not.

Doug is doing a series about crowdfunding archaeology.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is offering fellowships; information and the possibility to apply for a fellowship are on this page.

Finally, an excerpt from The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing: Traditional Recipes for Modern Use by J.N. Liles about dyeing on fermentation vats.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Back home for a short time!

I'm back from Tannenberg, which was lovely and sunny and a lot of fun - we ended up one evening hanging out with our friends, who had their tents right next to ours, reminiscing and singing old and silly songs from our childhood.

Now there's a stack of things to take care of before I rush off to London to the Collingwood conference - among these trying to get the online shop back onto track. There seems to be a bug related to the shipping-cost calculation, and I have not been able to exterminate it yet. So should you have tried to reach the online shop and had no luck - sorry, I'm working on it!

Thursday, 2 October 2014


This weekend, I'll be at the last medieval fair thingie for this season - in Tannenberg. Should you be in the area, please drop by. As usual, I'll have my market stall somewhere on the meadow below the castle.

And accordingly, there will be no blogging from tomorrow (when it's a public holiday here anyways) until Tuesday. Maybe this dancing traffic light will make your waiting easier:

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Funding, Open Access, and "Author Pays".

I've been pointed to a discussion about the journal "Internet Archaeology" by a friendly colleague. The journal IA has recently dropped its paywall and is now free access for everybody - to which I say Hooray and Thank you.

However, as someone in the discussion on Antiquist points out, it's not all free. The journal is financed by an "author pays" scheme, which means you need to be able to pay for having your paper published. The discussion quickly goes off into other terrains where there are problems in data access, but for me, the interesting bit is that one of the contributors says that "author pays" is not a problem, since nobody pays for that out of their own pocket anyways.

To which I say... not true. Definitely not true.

I would never publish in an author pays scheme, not only because I am a firm believer in the principle that the money flows towards the author, not away. I would also not be willing to shell out even more money for an experiment, thankyouverymuch. As a rule, I pay for my experiments myself, because getting funding for them? Difficult. Having an institution behind you makes things easier, but even then it's not guaranteed that you will get funding. Plus the time you have to spend on trying to secure said funding... never underestimate how much of your time, and energy, applications can suck out of your life.

I had plenty of experience with that topic when I tried to secure funding for my phd thesis (hint: I didn't get lucky). You have to do a new application package every time, then it takes ages to go through the system, and finally if you don't get funding, you have to deal with the emotional fallout. (At least I did.) At the end, I estimated about two to three weeks' work worth for each application. There's quite a lot of times that I've heard people complain that they are not getting around to really working, because in order to secure further funding so they will not lose their job, all they have time for is write one grant application after the other.

At some point, especially if the experiment is more work-time and not too much monetary investment for the things you need, you might decide it's not worth the effort to go for funding, and just go ahead and do it. Then, at the end, if all went well, you have an experiment and some results... and there you are. The thing should now be published. The last, very very last thing that I, personally, want to do in that case? Pay the journal.

So who is going to pay the people working at the journal? Actually, I would be fine with a paywall for journal articles - let the reader pay. With one caveat, though: make the prices reasonable. 30 or 50 USD for a 10-page article? You bet that nobody who can get around paying that will pay. However, if you charge 10 or 15 USD - that would be much more reasonable.
And for things that are older than, say, 2 years? If the journals would just charge one or two dollars, you can bet that I would not take the trouble to get the article via the library, or maybe ask a friend who has access. I'd pay, just for the convenience of having it at once. Because it's not a high price, and I'd be comfortable in paying that. Probably a lot of other folks would think exactly the same, and do exactly the same.

Oh, and in my ideal world? The author should get 10% of the income that the article generates. Fair pay for the work that went into it.