I’ve already hinted at it – while the packing cloth has turned out very nicely, and the sailcloth is about as perfectly as I had imagined it, there’s a third type of fabric to be done… and that one is acting up. Considerably.

Doing archaeotechnical work (as in “recreating stuff known from archaeological sources”) is interesting, and exciting, and lovely, and usually it is great fun. It is even more so if you are doing it as part of your work, and are actually getting paid for it.

However, archaeotechnical work also includes a guarantee that you will occasionally get kicked into your face by your technique and materials. You’ve not estimated correctly how long something will take, or how difficult it will be. Something behaves unexpectedly and throws all your plans into the garbage bin, leaving you to draw up new ones and do the work again. Leaving you also to lament your monetary gains that are joining the plans at the happy bin-party as your work hours, now unpaid, rack up and up and up. Germans have the term “Lehrgeld” for things like that – the tuition fee you pay, in this case to life.

And yes, all of the times in the past that something like this has happened, I did get to learn a lot from the experience. However, it is still painful. It’s not only the feeling that you have made a mistake, or two; it’s the tendency for a bad feeling to creep into your soul, making you think that maybe you are not competent at all. Maybe it will never work. Maybe you should never have agreed to do it.

It’s especially painful if it is taking a colleague along for the ride, and the self-doubts are not getting fewer with someone else hanging in the same bad spot with you. There’s no way out, though, but to try it again and again, keeping at it until you succeed. Hopefully before the deadline has rushed by… and at the moment, I think I can already hear it. (It does not help that February has fewer days than any other month in the year…)

If you’re looking for me? I’ll be spinning some more. Again.

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Sometimes, checking Twitter makes me discover really interesting things… like the fact that sheep play a part in keeping me healthy. Just like my dad, and my mum, and even the most patient husband of them all… who, like me, take regular Vitamin D3 supplements. (Coincidentally, today is the day when I have my weekly dose. How fitting.)

And due to that random tweet today, I learned that Vitamin D in the usual prescription preparations is derived… from lanolin. Which, as you probably know, is the waxy stuff that makes sheep’s wool nice and greasy and water repellent. The process is rather complex, and you can read about it on Wikipedia or in this less technical blog article.

As an aside, while we’re on that topic – if you are like most people living in Middle or Western Europe and don’t have an outdoor job, or even if you have an outdoor job, you might want to ask your doctor to check your Vitamin D levels, or if you prefer not having your doc do it, there are even prick-your-own-finger-to-bleed-into-this-small-vial kits that you can use to get the levels checked. Most of us living in Middle/Western Europe have too low Vit D levels, and that stuff is essential for a metric fuckton of important body functions. Mine were critically low when I had them tested, and my dad’s were almost lethally low.

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Today is one of those days… when the weather is grey and I’m tired and nothing goes just as it’s supposed to do. To put it more precisely – one of the fabrics for the current project is not going along as it should… which puts us into an awkward spot trying to fix the issue and finish the project in time.

So I do what I can – put in as much time as possible to solve the problem, breathing deeply, consuming lots of motivational hot drinks, and hoping like hell and high water that everything will go smoothly this time. The cat, bless her, helps me hang out on the sofa working by curling up and purring along… and so do various fiction podcasts, without which I’d probably have gone crazy long ago.

Keep your fingers crossed that we’ll be able to beat the clock and the fickleness of threads (which are unpredictable buggers!)…

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I forgot the most important thing about the sailcloth in yesterday’s post… it has been cat-approved, as you can see in the picture!


The cat, of course, had to lie down on it when I placed it on the floor to measure out how much it has shrunk during fulling. Obviously it is acceptable as a catplace. (I’d cuddle into that cloth at any moment, too – it really feels wonderful, thick and warm though sturdy.)

Measurements, by the way, changed from 251 cm in length to 235 after washing to 230 after fulling; width shrunk from 52.5 straight off the loom to 48.5 after washing to 43 after fulling. It was relatively gentle fulling, I could have done more – but my sources say “lightly fulled” only.

Posted in museum projects, reconstructions | 1 Comment

Yesterday was, again, a beautiful day, so I went for a walk. For about an hour. In the bathroom.

You probably guessed it – my walk took place in warm water with a little soap and with the piece of sailcloth under my feet. Here are the results – first, the cloth straight off the loom:


and after having been washed once, gently,


which did not make too much of a difference, and finally after fulling by foot:


The comparison pictures are taken from the exact same spot (I stitched a marking angle with red thread into the cloth, you can just discern it in the upper right corner next to the frame thing). It’s fascinating how the cloth changes by fulling, and it is not only the optics; it now feels somehow fuller and stronger yet with a soft, fluffy finish at the same time. It has shrunk a little, though not very much, and from my first rough counting it fits exactly in the approximate 5 to 4 threads per cm that it should.

So… whew. Second of three pieces of cloth done and finished, and just as it should be. Now it only needs to be cut into the pieces required by the museum and hemmed – nice work to do while sitting in the sunshine!

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Occasionally, really cool things happen in this world… such as the Met making its images all open access. That means 375,000 images of public domain works to share, remix, or use in any way you want to, under a Creative Commons Zero license.

This is wonderful!

You can go read more about the open access here, and here is the starting page for image and data resources so you can go have a rootle. They also have an extensive list of publications that are available online and for free, and you can find those here.

And I think the Met now has a few more people loving it…

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Now, finally, after hanging out for a while, they have been soaked and patted in form and stuck with pins:


My very first sweater. Once it’s dry, I get to sew it together (exciting!) and then I’ll get to find me some nice buttons for it. Yay!

(It’s Vignette, modified a bit regarding the fit.)

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