Sunday, May 27

Medieval graffiti

This is a link to an exposition about medieval graffit (14th-15th century) in the caves of Maastricht, in the Netherlands. If you don't read Dutch, just take look at the pictures, because they are quite funny. For those of you who read Dutch newspapers, there are more pictures in the NRC (science part) of 26 may.

Monday, May 14

Another book

This book was in my amazon recommendations list. I don't know it, but it might be interesting:

Gold and Gilt, Pots and Pins: Possessions and People in Medieval Britain (Medieval History & Archaeology) (Paperback) , 2006
David A. Hinton (Author)

Saturday, May 12

Leather Turk's head knot

Just a little thing I want to show. In Aalst, a small town, close to where I live, a few years back they found this 14th century leather Turk's head knot on an excavation.
I fogot about it, but was just looking at the website again. Sadly the website doesn't give any info on the size of this thing.

Books and link

I'm writing this post to share some interesting sources with you!

I just found a nice book in the Utrecht University library called " A book of old embroidery" (love that title :-)! There are also some copies available at

It's a book about the embroidery from the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, written in 1921. The embroidery is grouped by country and it's got some very nice pictures that are not included in other "classic" embroidery books, such as Das Stickereiwerk or "Embroidery in Brittain from the V&A". Some of my favourites:

  • a lot of pictures from borders of 15th-17th century napkins and tablecloths from different countries. I really like this type of "every day life" embroidery, but unfortunately musea ususally think it's not fancy enough to put it on display :-(
  • a 14th century German white linen embroidered wall hanging. I like this so much, because most pictures of German whitework wallhangings have religious themes. This one depicts a very secular "Chase of the unicorn" love scene, (good!). Somehow, I'm not really into church embroidery, and I'm always happy to find embroidery that was used in everyday life, houses, soft furnishing etc. Another thing that struck me is that the borders of this wallhanging are the same as those of the Feldbach tablecloth.
Books like these always make me wonder about how enormous the V&A Collection must be, and about all the beautiful and interesting work that is not on display...

I also found an online paper on Swiss linen embroidery ( in English). I like it because I love whitework, and because it compares the design of the Feldbach tablecloth with designs of contemporary book illuminations:

Linen Embroideries from the Region of Lake Constance
published in: CIETA-Bulletin No 68, 1990, p. 107 - 110, by Anne Wanner-JeanRichard

And last but not least, a book that is very "off topic" but also very interesting. I love Jane Austen, and I found a very nice book about (upper class?) life in her time: history, fashion, society and manners, furniture, houses, food etcera. This would be the ideal book for those who want to reenact her time. I found it in a second hand bookshop, but you can also buy it at amazon:

Jane Austen: In Style

Recommended reading :-) !

Monday, May 7

Interesting blog: Arachne's Blog

Viktoria Holmqvist is an archaeologist specialising in crafts and textiles, currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in handweaving. At the moment she is working on a paper about "Eric of Pomerania's Belt". The girdle is dated to the 13th - 14th century. Viktoria has published a few of her experiments with the reconstruction of the belt on her blog already.

Wednesday, May 2

How to make gimp, Part I

The only things you will need are: a pair of scissors, a reel of fine 120 denier floss (available at DevereYarns, see sidebar for a link to their website), regular silk ebmroidery yarn or linnen yarn to use as core threads, preferably in the same colour* as the 120 denier floss. AND: A LOT OF PATIENCE!

*I don't know wether they used coloured or white cores in medieval times, but the advantage of using the same coolour is that it doesn't really show if you forget to cover a little piece of the core with silk and also when you tie a Turk's Head Knot with it, often a bit of the core might become visible. this effect is reduced by using a core of a similar colour.

Cut several pieces of yarn of the same length. In this example I used a length of ca. 50 cm and cut five pieces of yarn.

When you twist the yarns you will get an idea of the final thickness of your gimp, though the gimps tends to be a even a tiny bit finer because the threads will be compressed by wrapping the silk around.

Tie the (five) yarns together with the silk thread in a small knot.

Take the two ends of the linnen yarn in your two hands, and put the reel of thread between your upper legs, or find another creative way to make sure the reel can't unroll.

The yarns should form a nice T-shape. Make sure to keep the tension right.
Now you can start winding. I did the winding in my direction, but you can also wind away from your body, whatever suits you best. The advantage of this method is that you have both your hands available to control the winding, and to make sure you don't leave any spots of the core thread visible.

After about an hour of winding and winding this should be your result. My gimp is about 1 mm in diameter.

Attaching tassels to a drawstring

Isis, how do you attach the tassels to the drawstring? I tied a knot in the drawstring and pulled all the threads of the drawstring through the tasselhead with a sharp needle. It looks like this, but I'm not sure whether I'm happy with it. I might change it if there is a better way :-)

Tuesday, May 1

And more work in progress...

This is where I stopped last oktober:

This is where I took it today:

Tassels with Turk's Head Knots

To make one Turk's Head Knot for a small sized tassel (ca. 5-7 cm long), you will need about 50 cm of gimp thread.

The gimp in the picture is made by myself. It took me about 2 hours to create one metre of gimp. I hope to post a seperate tutorial for making gimp sometime soon.

You will need just a regular tassel.

Make a Turk's Head Knot. I always find this tutorial very easy to work with.

I just make the knot on my fingers like in the tutorial and adjust the size later when I put it on the tassel. When the knot fits tighlty around the head of the tassel cut off the ends of the gimp, and pull inside.

The finished tassel!