It’s time again for some Calls for Papers! First a non-textile, but interesting-sounding one:

Trial By Fire Conference | 17-18 May 2019 | Institute of Archaeology UCL

A free interdisciplinary conference about the transformative power of fire

Whether your interest lies in archaeomaterials, burned bone, pyrotechnology, or accidental burning, fire always leaves its mark and a wealth of information behind.

This conference aims to explore these events by bringing together ideas from across archaeological and anthropological sub-disciplines. Abstracts will cover a range of topics and case studies, however the conference aims to answer the following questions:

Can fire be considered an artefact?
How have people engaged with fire over the course of history?
What can the aesthetics of a thermally altered object tell us about the burning event?
How has the study of fire evolved within the literature? How can fire be harnessed as an experimental tool moving forward?

You are invited to contribute your work towards the development of this interdisciplinary understanding of fire.

Abstracts are due by 31 January 2019. To submit, register, or for more information, visit

Fire is a fascinating thing, and I’m happy to see that a conference is dedicated to this topic. I hope it will be a flaming success!

The second CfP is for the Fibres in Early Textiles Conference:

There you go – maybe one of these is something for you?

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Sometimes, things just line up, and then exciting things happen. Such as a weekend workshop on tablet weaving that I will give, on January 18-20 2019 – in a stunningly beautiful house in Méry, Belgium. I am utterly, utterly thrilled by this – and maybe you are too?

The house is the Merveille de Méry, a 19th century country house, lovingly restored and beautifully situated in woody grounds. It’s near Liège, which means it is easy to reach by train (and there will be a shuttle service to the house).

My workshop will run from Friday late afternoon to Sunday afternoon, and we will explore in depth the structures of tablet weaving. The aim is to give you a deep understanding of how patterning in tablet weaving works:

– the differences in s- or z-warping
– their relation to patterns and turn directions
– how to tell where you are in a pattern
– how to see which thread colours will appear next in your band
– how to fix mistakes
– how to transition from threaded-in patterns with two colours to doublefaced weaves

These things are taught as part of a system, starting with making a continuous warp. The deep understanding of how tablet weaving works, together with this system, will enable you to:

– analyse, understand, and copy bands that you see
– draft your own patterns with two or more colours
– weave patterned bands without any pattern draft, similar to how bands have been woven in the past.

This workshop may even take you to the basics of weaving 3/1 broken twill – the type of patterning used in the most complex of medieval tablet woven bands.

Workshop start is Friday, January 18, 6 pm; you can arrive at the house from 2 pm. The workshop ends on Sunday, January 20, at 4 pm. If you are travelling by train, a shuttle service from Liège to Méry on Friday and back on Sunday is possible.

I’m so delighted to be able to offer this – I’ve been wanting to do a larger tablet weaving workshop for a while now, and to have the opportunity to do it in such a stunning house, where we will have one room dedicated to our weaving and the rest of the house to relax between sessions, this is just awesome.

If you are interested, you can book your spot – including food and drink! – via my shop. If you book before December 10, you get the Early Bird Special Price of 395 €; after this, the regular fee is 425 €.

I’m already looking forward to this so much!

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I think anybody who is more than slightly interested in late medieval dresses will know the Arnolfini dress – this voluminous green monster of a gown, fur-lined, worn with a headdress and looking, well, stunning.

The BBC series “A Stitch in Time” has also taken a closer look at this dress, re-creating it to see how it looks and moves:

The show does a nice exploration of different historical and modern techniques – including modern fabric production and dyeing with woad and weld.

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Textile Forum, for me, is like a party and a family reunion and a conference and a fair and a week of crazy textile stuff all rolled up into one. It’s the one week in my year that’s making me run in circles a huge lot beforehand, packing up loads of stuff, losing lots and lots of sleep over fretting if all will go well (and the occasional late-night doing of stuff), and writing more lists than for anything else in my year.

It’s also the week making me absurdly happy because it’s bringing textile folks together, and there is so much networking and learning and sharing taking place. I’m part of this, and that is a wonderful feeling for which I gladly pay the price in sleep and coffee over-consumption.

Finally, it’s the week that is making me really, really tired – so there will be no blogging from tomorrow on until I’ve recovered from the Textile Forum, which, according to experience, takes me about a week as well… which means I’ll be back on the blog on Monday, November 19.

See you then – and happy textile and non-textile shenanigans until then!

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In 2017, Anja got together with me to organise a weekend meet-up for sewing, chatting, and having some workshops with me, called “Historisches Nähtreffen”, and that was such a success that we decided to do it again.

So we asked people if they would like a second one (they did!) and what kind of workshops they would like, and in the end, we decided on the basics of sewing and on how to spin with distaff and spindle, just like last year, and two new kids on the block: medieval embroidery and an introduction to sprang.

Which means I’ve been sitting down doing some sprang in the last weeks, too – to find out about possible frame solutions for the workshop, to test materials and, of course, to make a plan for the actual workshop. As in “what to teach and in what sequence”.

The result? This:

That’s the preliminary test run, and there will be more tests – but I really like how this came out, and that it is actually large enough to fit a phone (or a powerbank, in this case). I’m also amazed, as usual, how stretchy this is. When it came off the frame, it was really long and really narrow, and I had my doubts that it would actually fit. It still gets longer and narrower when taken off:

Sprang. Fascinating.

Posted in textile techniques and tools, work-related, workshops | 2 Comments

My trusty little computer and my little phone have conspired to make my life a little more interesting, resulting in about one and a half days lost with trying to get Windows running again and transferring data from the old phone to the new one.

Just in case you are running Windows on your machine, and just in case you have not done so – go and make yourself a system recovery CD or USB-stick or whatever works for your machine. It can make things much, much easier (since the stuff the companies give out as “recovery CD” only give you the option to wipe drive C: completely or to wipe everything completely, no repair options given). I thoroughly recommend it. It also takes next to no time to do. As Mighty Microsoft themselves instruct us: Click the start button, open the Control Panel, click System and Maintenance, and then Backup and Restore. In the left pane, click Create a system repair disc, and then follow the steps.

I also recommend getting a bit more info on whether your system is compatible with a new-fangled spiffy drive or not… before you kill a few drivers in your running system trying to get the new drive running, and consequently have troubles getting to work again. It was sheer bad luck that this mishap killed both the touchpad and the keyboard drivers simultaneously, together with freezing the system at some point where everything looked fully loaded but obviously was not.

I could possibly have saved a bit of nerves and a bit of time, by the way, if I had thought of stealing a cable-bound USB mouse from the Most Patient Husband’s desk earlier…


In the end, I did manage the transfer – I installed Windows7 on the empty new SHDD (to find out that it did not work really well either, by the way), made a recovery CD from there, then repaired my old installation of Windows, bringing it to a state where the cloning tool was happy with it and actually agreed on cloning the old disk to the new one. It cost me about a day and a half, a lot of nerves and a few tears, but it did get done in the end and now I’m happy to have a stable system and enough space for photos and documentation for the Forum. Whew.

Next time, I’ll try to have better timing!

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I’ve started packing in earnest, and preparing all the things to take along to the Forum, so there’s a nice heap of stuff accumulating. Including some books, of course, and lots and lots of materials, and mails are getting written to coordinate stuff.

Plus I have found out that switching from one phone to a new one, even if it’s the same make and model, is not as easy as cloning the data drives for a computer… sigh. (My old phone is not reliable anymore – one of its antenna modules has died a while ago, and the other one seems to have hiccups, which means that I might not receive messages… which is not optimal for a work phone.)

So I’m bouncing from one end of the living space to the other, gathering stuff and dropping it off and trying to think of absolutely everything. I also have a little bit of a cold that needs to be banished before the madness that is the Textile Forum starts…

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