Wednesday, August 23

Work in progress...

I haven't been working very much on medieval handwork last days... So in the mean time, I will show you some work in progress... Above you can see an unfinished purse in burgundy silk with a linen lining. Instead of tassels it's got three tiny bells. You can see a 14th century purse with bells here and here and here and here. (They are really cute, don't you think?)

This weekend I will be on a medieval event in Nijmegen. I hope to be doing some embroidery there, and show some pics of it next week!

Sleep tight!

Friday, August 18


What a day! Alas it was less colourfull as the yarn on the picture beneath. I really have got the feeling I have done nothing. Well I did five things that were on my to-do-list, studied for an hour or so, went to the butcher and the backery, ate something, did the dishes, studied for one more hour, made one corsage, did a fingerloop braid for a purse, and then I guess I did nothing for a while because the first next thing I can remember is cooking dinner and eating it. The past hour I've been re-organising my computer a bit.
So ok, I did something, but it doesn't feel like it. It doesn't feel like a good productive day.

Thursday, August 17

What a mess!

I can't believe I can still work and live here. My table is full with unfinished and finished purses, balls of wool and other threads, finished corsages, bags with buttons, books, a piece of frilled veil, pencils, scissors, AND a computer.
It's a mess, that I really need to clean up.

But first someting on recent work I have been doing. Here is a picture of a purse I have been writing about some days ago.
It's a comission from a member of the Liebaart. I used his heraldic colours and coat of arms. The original (In the Sint Servatius Kerk in Maastricht) hasn't got a coat of arms on it and has got gold thread instead of yellow.
I have already made the tassels, but still need to do the gimp to cover the heads with.
And then I only need to put all the pieces together and do some fingerloopbraids.

I always keep forgetting about the silk I need to order for the gimp-cord. As I forget about lots of other things I need to do. I have just made up a things-to-do list. I hope that helps.

Wednesday, August 16

Study hard?

Yesterday I have been studying Introduction to Archaeology (I should do the same today). I'm happy it's rainy weather, because then studying does not feel like such a waste.

Apart from studying I have been doing some other things. I (chemically) dyed some pieces of old yellow-ochre silk into apricot-orange and wine-red. The silk used to be curtains in the building of the National Bank in Antwerp, where my grandfather used to work before he retired almost 20 years ago. My aunt has been using them for the same purpose until she got tired of them and wanted something new. And that's when a curtain of ca. 2 by 3 m came into my hands.

Just to keep myself busy during my breaks in between studying, I thought I'd make a tiny purse out of a scrap of the apricot-silk I just dyed.
It is what I want to be the start of a small series of purses, to sell on the Limbourg Borthers event in Nijmegen.

After finishing it I realised that apart from being a cute late medieval purse it's also great for keeping modern jewellry in!

Monday, August 14


I have been raised by a mother who is addicted to and collects all different kinds of tassels. I kind of inherited this love for tassels of hers, and so it isn't very strange that not so long ago the moment came that I wanted to start making them myself. (Another reason to make them is that I need them to finish my embroidered purses).

First I tried some easy ones, of the type you can see on the two purses in my previous post and on the picture above.

My father, after seeying my little tassels, then commissioned some larger ones (see below). I thought they would need more decoration, because otherwise they would get kind of boring.

So I started to practice on making Turk's Head knots. For the ones I made for the tassels I used a fine fingerloop braided lace.

The loops for fixing the tassels to a key (that's what the tassels were meant for, for decorating the keys of a cupboard) are also done by fingerloopbraiding. For this braid I used a lace chain broad from the book Tak v Bowes Departed.

For the skirts I used two slightly different shades of red which produces a more lively effect.

I have been making several other tassels of this kind as a gift for my sisters birthday (I haven't got pictures at the moment, but I plan on making some soon).

After doing these little tassle experiments, I thought it was getting about time to try the 'real thing'. For a purse I am making, based on an original dated to ca. 1300 in the Sint Servatius Church in Maastricht, the Netherlands, I want to make tassels with a head covered by a Turk's Head Knot. For that I need to make gimp cord. I have just ordered the silk I need for that, so I hope to be able to start on this soon.

After just watching the three hour Leelee Sobieski version of Joan of Arc again I noticed the movie was full of tassels everywhere. Pitty the costume designer didn't pay as much attention to the authenticity of the costumes as he did to the tassels...

To start with...

As I have to start somehow, I'll just start here...

About ten years ago, when I first started reading 'historical' children's books from writers such as Thea Beckman, Simone van der Vlugt and Paul Kustermans, I started to devolop my passion for late Medieval history. Five years later I first heard of Reenactment and Living History, and started looking anxiously for such a thing in Belgium. I found the living history group the Liebaart. Later I also joined another group: Die landen van Herwaerts Over. Now I am a first year archaeology student at Ghent University, Belgium.

I am completely fascinated by late medieval textile crafts (especially 14th cenury), such as dyeing, weaving, embroidering, tailoring, and so on. Apart from doing the required research, I especcially love to use my hands, and make reconstrcutions and interpretations.

On the picture above you can see the first embroidered purse I have made. It's loosely based on an original in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

I have also made much more simple purses like the one beneath. It was a gift for a friend's birthday.

At the moment I am working on some other embroidered purses based on patterns I found on originals in the Netherlands and Germany.

A few months ago I joined a research group looking into the history and reconstruction of women's frilled headwear. I am looking into late 14th century honeycomb headwear. I have done some experiments by now and am planning to make a full size honeycomb veil for myself as soon as I can.

On this blog I want to share some of my experiences with other textile -or other- freaks such as me.