I need some guinea pigs. Or, as the Germans call it, “Versuchskarnickel”.

I have mentioned I was planning to make a video workshop on the pattern-free tablet weaving method, right?

Well, the “planning to” has progressed to “I have a script, and a camera, and I am getting started”. Which is nice. However, since this is the first thing in that line of work, and since I want to make sure that what I am doing is going to work for those who will be watching the videos, I need some guinea pigs to give me feedback on the test runs of the lessons.

What does that mean? It means I will send you download links to the videos I have made, taking you through the course from start to finish, with probably some wait times inbetween as things get into the way or I get sidetracked or have technical issues. You will be getting test run videos that are probably badly cut (I will not invest oodles of hours into the test run) and contain the occasional verbal blunder. Some of them will not be made with the final materials.

Your task, if you are joining the merry band of furry victims, will be to watch the videos, follow the instructions, and tell me everything that was not good, not clear, not helpful, or otherwise shitty. (And yes, I fully expect to hear a lot of “this was shitty” – after all, it’s first steps in many regards for me.) That starts with the instructions themselves, obviously, but goes on to camera work and camera angle, lighting, or maybe just the fact you find that my beheaded upper body is twitching too much while holding shears and bits of yarn into the camera. (I will also ask you to provide your full contact data, and sign an agreement form that you will not pass on or publicise the videos or parts of them in any way.) I’m not keen on hearing that I am doing a lot of things badly, but I much prefer hearing about them from a band of testers with minds steeled against weird takes than from the paying customers later on.

What do you need to join in? Basically, just the will to do it, and enough time for doing the tablet weaving according to the instructions. It will eat some hours, as it is a slow task, but if you are interested in this, you will probably find it fun and not tedious. You do not need to be an expert in tablet weaving – in fact, I’d be happy to have one or two absolute beginners in the group, and you will be able to follow along just as well, as we’re doing the system from scratch.

You will also, apart from your general willingness, a way to watch the downloaded videos, and the time to do stuff and then give me feedback, need 30 tablets plus yarn to weave with… and two points to tie your warp to. There will be a video bit about tools and materials, so you’ll be informed properly. (Or so I hope.)

I am aiming for about a dozen folks. So… if you are interested, let me know via mail, or contact form, or through the comments here – preferably with a short summary of your previous tablet weaving experience, so I can get a basic idea, and I’ll get back to you with further info!

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I’m currently busy preparing for the European Textile Forum – which mainly means writing lists, writing even more lists, and dragging things into heaps according to the lists to minimise the risk of my forgetting some crucial tool or material.

Also – last-minute ordering of things I’ve run out of, or that will be necessary. We will be doing another run of the Pompeii dyeing experiment (looking at the influence of metal kettles on the dyeing outcome), as we’ve found somebody willing to do an analysis of the mordanting and dyeing liquids to see how much metal ions are in them, so I’ve harvested birch leaves (currently residing in the freezer), and I will need to make sure we have enough yarn, fabric, and alum for the dyeing experiment.

And on top of all this, I should actually be sitting down, finalising my bits of presentation. Which includes having my tablet weaving test band set up so I can use it at the Forum. Fortunately, the warp is already done, so I only need to get some initial wefts in. I have a few additional plans for that test warp, though (and you will hear about this soon), and if I can in some way manage, I want to do the associated weaving before the Forum too.

Can someone hand me an extra day, maybe, please? Or two?

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To my and Heather’s great delight, we are in the very, very last stage of getting Ancient Textiles, Modern Science 2 all done and set – the last proofs have arrived, and it’s only a matter of giving the book a very last read, catching the very last typos, before it’s all good to go to print.

Yay! Getting this book done was a string of pitfalls and delays, due to all kinds of things – crashing computers and illnesses only being two of them. So I’m really happy to get this to a close, and consequently proof-reading is what I am doing now!

If you want to have a look at what the book will contain, it’s already listed on the Oxbow website, and you can even pre-order at a special price!

 

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I’ve wanted to try my hand at making video lessons for ages and ages now – and with the tablet weaving lightbulb finally going on in my head, it is finally time.

So now there’s a little camera hanging out in out living room (and yes, it is rather small, that gadget) and there is a table set up long enough for warping, and I am working on scripts for the first few sections of the video course, and there is, of course, testing. Lots and lots of testing.

Testing of the camera. Testing of the remote control for the camera via smartphone (which sounds better than it is, unless you want to have gratuitous weird sound effects). Testing of angles, and light, and going through the moves according to the script, and looking for things to wear that will be contrasting enough with the things in my hands to make the latter actually visible. (Black t-shirt is out. I knew that beforehand, but I was too lazy to change for that first going through the moves…)

(I think I might have to do some ironing here…)

Just like with product photographs, it is amazing how the eye and brain gloss over things until they are frozen in place in a photograph – and then you suddenly realise that something is at an angle, or looks lopsided, or that the crinkles, yes, are really visible.

Also testing: backgrounds for the weaving sequences to make sure the tablets and threads will be clearly visible.

There will be larger, thicker tablets with thicker threads for the real video, but it can’t hurt to try out with some already available ones beforehand, right?

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My current holiday knitting has finally been finished! Now winter can come (it was a scarf).

It is actually already blocked and the (two) ends are sewn in, so it really is finished and not just in the “finished but not completely so” stage that a lot of my knits spend a while in.

And because knitting progress is much nicer in pics… here you go:

This is what came off the needles – and the tiny ball of yarn is what was left. I modified it a tiny bit by leaving out one of the repeats of the middle section, though in retrospective I could have done that and still have one or two repeats of the last section – this way, I have three of the last section. Also good.

This scarf was supposed to measure about 150-160 cm in length after blocking, with about 20 cm of width.

Well…

Mine turned out more than 2 m long, and significantly wider than 20 cm. So I now have a really long, really wide scarf.

 

(I also realised that blocking a plain straight edge is better done from the middle outwards than from one side… made a huge difference. One day I will learn how to block, I’m sure.)

It is a really nice scarf/stole, and it was nice to knit as well. The pattern is Siren Song by Louise Zass-Bangham, yarn was my handspun.

One happy knitter.

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So… the computer is sort of back to normal, the internet issue has been resolved. There’s something deep in the innards of windows called “winsock catalogue”, and if that catalogue somehow becomes faulty, the connection does not work anymore. Fortunately there are search engines, and there are other machines in this household that have internet connection, so following the semi-old adage “if in doubt, google it” I found that as a possible solution, followed the instructions, and there I was, back in touch with the ‘Net.

I also searched for the reason for the bluescreen (which kindly also includes a self-description number), and it looks like there is a hardware fault to blame, either the RAM or the HDD. Since a thorough test of the RAM brought no errors, it is probably that my disk is nearing the end of its lifespan. Sigh.

So I’ll be buying a new drive sooner than later.

And because this is probably all really boring for you (it would be for me, if it weren’t my data, and thus a good part of my livelihood, on the line), here are some links to add some proper content to this post:

If you happen to be in England or are coming to London, there’s a new exhibition starting in the British Library this Friday: Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War. It will run until February 19, 2019.

There have been dye analyses made on an ancient sock held in the Smithsonian, and the result is that several different colours have been achieved using the tree usual suspects woad, weld, and madder. Here’s a shorter article about the sock in the Smithsonian magazine, and here is the complete article about the analysis of the sock and three more fragments: A multispectral imaging approach integrated into the study of Late Antique textiles from Egypt (Joanne Dyer, Diego Tamburini, Elisabeth R. O’Connell, Anna Harrison).

And right around the corner from where I live, there will be some archaeology done: Three digs are scheduled to be made in the Nuremberg area, two starting next week and the third next year… (article in German).

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I like modern tech. I am very, very fond of my little computer, and I’m even more fond of its connection to the Internet, source of all things imaginable. Plus email, of course.

So I was a very unhappy little camper when I had a bluescreen of doom, which resulted in a surprise reboot with gratuitous checkdisk, and the latter telling me there are some inconsistencies (as in there is stuff that is supposed to be used for data, but looks empty). Not fun. Not fun at all, and it makes me a little wary about the state of my hard disk.

Just in case, I’m now making a second, separate backup (because I don’t want to overwrite files on my regular backup with potentially corrupt ones) and then I’ll see what things look like. Also then I’ll try to find out why the thing refuses to connect to the Internet… which requires doing stuff to the innards of Windows, and rebooting, both things I’d prefer to do only after backing up my data.

If you have a computer, and are not backing up regularly yet – go get yourself an external drive or two, download SyncBack or some similar backup programme (there’s plenty of free ones around), and get your data safe. You never know what will happen, or when, and having a backup is a really, really good idea. I have had three disks die on me up to this day, not counting the currently maybe-not-so-healthy-anymore-one, and two of them happened during my thesis writing. I learned the hard way about the importance of backup with the first crash, where I had no backup at all and actually went and paid for professional data restoration. I was lucky and got all my data back, though it took a while and cost what was for me, back then, a really painful shitload of money, so since then I have been a conscientious backupper.

Please go be one too. You will never regret it.

(This, by the way, was written on the most patient husband’s computer… since mine still refuses to grant me access to the net. Hooray for redundancy. Oh, and the whole thing obviously happened when I was happy to again be sort of on top of things, and threw me right back into the oh-no-I-am-way-behind ditch. Sigh.)

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