Among the things on today’s list: Spinning. Which is what I shall do now, amused by some nice audiobook (The Princess Bride, just in case you’re curious. As opposed to my usual rule of consuming English fiction in English, it is the German translation – but the reading is very, very entertaining).

Meanwhile, here’s a link for you about how knitting needle material may affect your gauge.

While we’re at that topic, here’s the Knitting Reference Library from… which shows, nicely, that tastes in shapes have changed quite a bit over time!

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Things are going more or less as planned here – every morning, I make a list of the things I want to get done during the day. Every evening, I find that I have not been able to get all of them done; partly due to mis-estimating how much I can fit into a day, partly due to not being able to finish them off because of missing information, or waiting for something, and partly because other things got into the way, or I decided to split the work over two days for a reason.

Still, progress is being made. This year at the Forum, we’ll have not one, not two, but three tests/experiments (plus some extra dyeing with a fermentation vat that does not count for these) and they all need preparation. So I have wound skeins with 5 g of yarn each, and I’m working on putting the plan and protocol together for the repeat of the Pompeii dyeing experiment plus its add-on (I blogged about that here). It’s proving to be not so simple to get all three batches done in a sensible way, so there’s a good bit of thinking and checking and double-checking involved in making that plan (which is not yet finished, and probably will not be completely finished today, since I will want to go over it once again with a fresh brain…).

For the second experiment I’m deeply involved in, I have been spinning yarn – one batch with really high twist (a spinning angle of 45-50°), which is already finished, and has its twist set, and is now waiting for its partner. Which is a second batch with less twist (spinning angle of about 30°), about half-finished; and that is another thing I did today, some spinning. With the fabulous Zwirnzwerg! I’m really happy that I have this e-spinner now, it does help immensely especially when going for high-twist yarns. I could never have spun the 50° yarn in that time with any of my spinning wheels.

Why the yarns? We will be testing dye penetration in different fabric densities and with different yarns to find out how reliable the white spots between yarns are to indicate whether something was dyed in the piece or in the yarn/fleece. Which means spinning, and weaving, and then dyeing, the latter two done during the Forum.

There also has been ordering of supplies and materials for the Forum, and there will be more lists of things – things to bring for the diverse activities, lists of when what part of which experiment will take place, lists of meals planned by the catering service, and so on. Good thing I like lists!

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Right in the middle of the preparing-for-November madness that is going on here, I have finally, finally managed to take photos of things. New things. For the shop.

Exhibit A:


Stone spindle whorls. These have been on my wishlist for oh, so long, and finally things came together: finds to base the whorls on (from Coppergate, York, dating to the 9th to post-12th century), and somebody willing and able to make them. I’m very happy with these, and I hope I won’t be the only one!

There’s even more whorl-y goodness. The lovely potter who makes my wheel-thrown whorls has made another batch, and has made more different forms this time: biconical, roundish, and the conical/discoid form I had before. So, Exhibit B:


I’m all in love with all the new whorls, and sorely tempted to diminish the stock by sneaking some of them (or, to be fair, a lot of them) into my own personal toolbox…

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Some years ago, when we moved into our current home, I planted a little madder plant in the garden. That little madder plant has since grown… and taught me that madder grows like, well, mad.

It’s not a really beautiful plant with its long stalks that are prone to fall and lie flat. It doesn’t have spectacular blooms (they are small and yellow, and the madder berries are round and black, so nothing eye-catching either). It has no lovely smell, and it’s not nice to touch – quite the opposite, in fact.

What it does, though, is grow. Grow and take over as much of the garden bed as it can, sending out its roots below ground and suddenly sprouting up. This year, it ate at least two of my tomato plants that I, foolishly, set too close to the madder patch. Thus I decided it’s time for the madder to be harvested… and the beautiful sunny weather yesterday was just the right invitation to dig some red roots.


I got about one bucket full of roots, and there is still some left to harvest. The roots are brittle, and have colours ranging from bright orange to a deep red inside, the older the darker. They also have a very interesting, kind of sweet-ish smell to them.


Madder root with an orange core…


…and with a dark red one.

Now they will need to dry, and then they’ll be cleaned and shredded into pieces, and then… they will hopefully dye a nice deep red. And my tomatoes will be safe for a few years. Probably.

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Routledge Publishing is doing a “Themes in Archaeology” thing, and they have finished setting up their themes now. To celebrate, the articles under these groups are free to read until April 30, 2017 –you can find the theme collection here.

In unrelated news, I’m working on the outline of an experiment we will do at the Forum, about how well dye penetrates a finished fabric. This is all very, very exciting, as whether something was dyed in the piece, in the yarn or in the fleece is quite a big difference regarding workflow and craft procedures – and after our experiment, we might have a tiny bit more knowledge about whether white spots could be expected in a piece-dyed fabric or not.

My typing is a little slower today, though – because the little cat is again hanging out on my desk, and I don’t have the heart to set her down… she’s having a few tough days, as she hurt one of her legs. As a result, she is to take pills (which she hates), painkiller (which she loves, it seems to taste like heaven) and, worst of it all, she is not allowed to go outside, to keep her from overworking her leg. So here I am, with one sad, bored, unhappy cat who needs a lot of cuddling and attention. Sooooo bored. Poor kitty.

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I’m into preparations for the Textile Forum up to my ears and beyond – there’s spinning to be done, and planning for experiments, and things to be organised. So while I am squinting at my hand-spun yarns, making sure it has enough twist, you can look at these glorious microscope photos from the Getty, showing metal threads in an early modern tapestry named “The Triumph of Bacchus”:

Art under the Microscope: Threads.

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Occasionally, I am knitting things that require some row-counting. I’m usually not in a state of mind to go down a list of rows without some aid to help me keep track of which one I’m in, so I have been using dice to keep count for me.


Usually this was a special die, though – it’s a countdown die, which means the numbers are arranged in a way that you can easily find the next one in sequence. (It also has 20 sides, which is enough for most sequences.) Normal dice have the numbers arranged differently, and I was using a normal D10 (a ten-sided die, for those of you not familiar with this) which always meant some searching for the next face to move up.

Recently, though, there was the Spiel fair in Essen. And, as usually, I went there and had a glorious time and looked at lots and lots of games and game-related things… which includes stuff meant for roleplaying.

Now when you are roleplaying, it can happen that your character gets into a fight. You throw some dice, someone else throws some dice, and suddenly, your character gets hurt and you need to keep track of its health points… and while you can do so with a sheet of paper and a pen, or some other way of counting, there’s a new gadget around for this: a life-counter ring.

As in: something you can wear on your finger and use to easily and conveniently keep track of which number you are at.

Are you thinking the same thing I was thinking?


This knitting action is obviously missing the hand I need to hold the camera. Also, the ring should be turned to another spot – it has a clearly marked area for the current numbers somewhere behind my index finger.

Right. New counting thingummy for knitting. I haven’t used it in earnest yet (my current knitting project is not in the row-counting part yet), but have tested it, and it works fabulously. There’s a little spring wire between the two numbered rings that makes sure the count only changes when you want it. For that, you gently press the ring towards the middle and then turn it. It’s made from stainless steel, about one cm wide, and comes in blue (my colour), rainbow, gold, or black. It will also count up to 99, which should be plenty for all knitting purposes.

If you want to have one, too, the company making it is called CritSuccess, and they do ship worldwide. They also have a lifetime exchange policy – if your ring gets damaged, doesn’t fit anymore, or you have any other issues with it, you can exchange it for a new one.

Now if I didn’t have such a heap of work waiting to be done, I could go do some knitting…

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