Bielefeld spinnt is over, and I’ve sort of regenerated a bit – thanks to a nice, relaxing day off work yesterday. It’s sort of funny to turn a Tuesday into a personal Sunday, but nice in its own way. Plus you can go shopping (which in Germany is not possible on a real Sunday, as all the shops are closed.)

The fair was lovely, but altogether also quite a trip, and quite exhausting. Going to a fair with a booth is always a wild ride, with a lot of delight but also a lot of stress. (In case you are interested, I can give you a rundown on my days – let me know!)

In Bielefeld, Margit and I were in the larger hall of the main building, on the ground floor. That meant we were smack dab in the middle of a light, airy room, and right beside a coffee booth too. It’s always good to be near a coffee source!


View of my bit of the fair – the table all set up and ready for the fair!

With the courses that both Margit and I gave, together with alternately manning both booths when the other was teaching, we did keep busy all weekend long.


Margit’s stall and mine, side-by-side or whatever you call it when two stalls form an L-shape…

So busy, in fact, that I didn’t get to knit a single stitch the whole weekend, including the evenings. Which means that neither the Baton Rouge jacket nor the Moyen Age sweater are finished yet.

But after all, I can knit at home and all the time, but at the fair, I had the opportunity to meet and chat with lots and lots of nice people, and I sold so many distaffs and spinning kits that I have to make more straightaway to have a bit of a selection to bring to Weikersheim. That’s part of the obligatory After-Fair-Homework. (There is no fair without homework. Never. There’s always something you discover that needs mending, or changing, or some other kind of attention – and that’s on top of the usual after-fair work such as taking stock and doing the book-keeping.)

So thanks to the organisers for all their hard work, and thanks to all the helpers at the fair – I had a lovely time, and I’m looking forward to the next German Ravelry meetup!


Posted in markets and fairs, the market stall | Leave a comment

You might have read about that Viking warrior found in a grave in Birka, Sweden, who was a woman according to DNA tests. The original article, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, is open-access, so you can go read the real deal for yourself. It’s titled “A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics” – a rather spectacular title.

There are always issues with gender stuff and archaeology. One of them is the fact that yes, for a long time, if someone was buried with a spindle and beads, it was obviously a woman, and if someone had weapons, it was obviously a man. While this is probably the truth in most graves, in some cases, later anthropological study has shown that there is the occasional exception to this archaeologist’s “rule”, and has led both archaeologists and anthropologists to the firm conviction that it would be a good thing to take in-depth anthropological data for every skeleton found, and if possible, maybe even DNA checks, instead of just assuming things. That’s a pipe dream, though, with the scarcity of both funding and personnel in these disciplines, so we’ll have to keep on going as best as possible and be delighted about the occasional opportunity to go deeper.

So, what about the Viking warrior woman? I’m not completely convinced that the person buried in this grave was “a powerful military leader”. For that, I’d personally expect definite traces of hard military labour, and possibly also evidence for some healed wounds from battle. We may have an unusual woman there, and possibly also one who fought – but it might also be a woman buried with weapons out of some honorary reason. We actually don’t know. History on a whole, after all, was not cut-and-dried at all, but just as colourful and as varied and capricious as human beings are.

And as usual when there’s an interesting find, there is discussion, by people who offer very interesting thoughts. One of them is Martin Rundkvist who writes in Aardvarcheology. There’s also a critical response to the original article written by Judith Jesch, which you can read on her blog.

It remains… interesting.



Posted in archaeology | Leave a comment

And here you go again, with an assortment of links in various flavours!

Maybe you have seen the claims that the Voynich manuscript has been deciphered – this has been debunked right away. Bonus article about how it’s not been solved.

BBC Travel has a post about the last woman who works with byssus (the silk-like fibre harvested from the mollusc pinna nobilis).

In case you ever wondered where you’d end up if you could tunnel straight through the planet (who hasn’t?), here is Antipodes Man and his map to finally solve this for you. (Spoiler alert: Chances are high you’d be swimming. Better pack those swimming clothes, and probably even better: a boat.)

If you’re in the UK, UK Handknitting has a workshop list for all kinds of courses and workshops around knitting and crocheting… just in case you are looking for one (or maybe want to offer one).

And that’s it for today. I hope you found something of interest!

Posted in and now for something completely different, archaeology, knitting | Leave a comment


The current knitting project, Baton Rouge, is coming near its end – the lace border around the front is almost done, and what remains now is to sew the (already blocked) sleeves together and sew them in – and then I’ll have a nice new silk jacket.

There were a few tangles at the end (metaphorical ones) – I picked up more stitches than the pattern called for to have sensible spacing between the stitches in the first knit row, then worked k3tog instead of k2tog in the first lace row, after trying with the original setup for a bit and quickly finding that it made the lace too squished together.

The second, bigger, tangle happened about where the picture was taken – there’s supposed to be four rows with yarnover holes as per the picture in the pattern. Which will happen if you make row 11 a p2tog, yo row and not, as the pattern also tells you, a p row (there are two listings for r. 11, and guess which one is first in sequence? Right. The purl one, which is the wrong one). So I purled a bit, then found the mistake, tinkered back and did the correct r 11.

Soon now. Sooooon. And once this is finished, I’ll get back to the sleeves on Moyen Age!

Posted in knitting | Leave a comment

Today, I’m off to Bielefeld, to set up the shop there, give a workshop on spinning and have a fair amount of fun.

Today, by the way, is also my one year anniversary of reaching my goal weight, and I’m happy to say that I am still in the goal weight range (with fluctuations, depending on water retention levels, which are closely connected to stress levels), and still very, very happy about it.

While most of the time I manage quite well, there are times when it’s not as easy for me to keep the right balance between eating enough and eating not too much. Especially in these times, I can really feel that both the years of being overweight and the wild ride I took as the weightloss phase certainly left their traces, and I get really odd trains of thought. These things usually happen when I have a good bit of water retention that is hard to explain and stays for more than a few days, making me rather… anxious. Yes, even if I can be pretty sure it’s water, and will go away, and even though I know that in some cases it will take at least two weeks before it starts flowing out. In these times, I sometimes also have problems estimating how much food I’ll need (with not-so-nice side effects if I underestimate too much)

Overall, though? Everything is fine and dandy. And I am happy.

Posted in and now for something completely different, health | 2 Comments

Actually, this title is half a lie, because only one picture is an actual garden pic – this one:


It’s a surprise gladiolus that one day just turned up here, and now it’s blooming brightly red and standing tall. Well, with a little help – the flower stalk actually had grown so tall that a heavy rain flattened it down to the ground, and it needed a support to keep it upright after that.

The other one is of a plant that resides in our wintergarden – sea kale.


This is a plant grown from seeds that I took from actual wild sea kale on one of our trips to Britain (so it’s a pre-Brexit-Britain-exiter!). Sea kale doesn’t grow easily from seeds, and it took about 20 of them to get me one single plant, which I then tried to coddle and coax into growing.

It was… rather uncooperative, languishing with only two or three small leaves… not very promising at all. So I kept it in the protective wintergarden environment, and then it got its very own nice large pot with water reservoir, and still… nothing.

I did know that sea kale is a halophyte, but as I also knew that it had been grown inland in former times, I had not added salt to its diet straight away. (The German wikipedia article about halophytes is much more elaborate than the English one, by the way, so if you read German, it’s the better choice.) Then, finally, I started watering it with the water we had boiled our pasta in. Salty water. With lovely sea salt. And slowly, this little plant started to grow a few more leaves, and to get a little larger. It’s still not very large – especially not compared to the huge, huge sea kale plants growing on the British Coast – but it might just need more salt, and I’m sort of afraid to overdo it, so I’m upping the dosage only slowly and slightly.

Moral of the story: there are plants that can tolerate salt, and plants that actually need salt, and the latter will not do well without it, even though they might survive (if barely) in normal soil. Salting the earth, in that case, is actually helpful!

Oh, and bonus proof it is a cabbage species:


The little yellow dots are cabbage white butterfly eggs.

Posted in garden things | Leave a comment

Talk Like A Pirate Day is drawing nearer again (September 19!), and that is a good reason to pull out the Pirate Robert hats again and take some more photos – especially since the hat pattern is going to be featured in an article soon (and I’m utterly excited about that!).

Some things, though, are notoriously hard to take good photos of. Gold embroidery, or gold brocading, for instance – the glittering gold has a tendency to mess with the exposure time calibration of cameras, and this tends to result in really bad pictures.

While knitted hats are usually not suffering from exposure time problems due to gold thread, small cables also have a tendency to look really obvious in real life, just to suddenly and quietly disappear into invisibility on a photograph. Human eyes and human brains are just really, really good at seeing 3D and making the most even of small differences of light and shade.

So I was very happy about having two nice little photo lights, and a good tripod, and some time for fiddling. And some more time for fiddling. Then some more. There were also some, um, alternative supports for the two photo lights so that I could adjust them juuust so – a few millimetres, or a few degrees of the head angle, already made a huge difference in the outcome.


Lamps, a styrofoam head with the hat, a camera on a tripod. And some motivational coffee (not shown).

In the end, though, I did get a few decent pictures – so I’d say the fiddling was well worth it!


Posted in behind the (website) scenes, knitting, photography | Leave a comment