September 14, 2013

Portrait of Anna Codde

I happened to pick up a book of a hundred paintings held by the Rijksmuseum and saw a portrait of Anna Codde by Maerten van Heemskerck.  It was done in 1529 and shows a woman spinning a fine light-coloured thread from a distaff on a double-drive wheel which she turns by hand.  She is not looking at her hands as she works, and she wears fine clothing.

September 12, 2013

Open Sesame

Some time ago now, I looked at Dagmar Drinkler's pdf "Die Rekonstruktion eng anliegender Bekleidung aus Antike und Renaissance,' online at

This summer I went looking for more primary evidence that would bear out her findings on form-fitting sprang pants and sleeves in the ancient world and medieval Europe.  It was like knowing that someone before me had said "open sesame" and seen a treasure trove, as it were, full of exciting information.  All I needed was to find the right place and the right keywords to search with.  I found some form-fitting pants shown in tapestries from around the 1500s.  I did a broad search of Attic pottery on the British museum website and saw hundreds of images of pots, mostly showing fillets that might have been made with the språng technique.

I saved my place and didn't get back to it for a while.  Then one day I picked up the search again and came across a reference to an Oriental, a rather dated way of saying someone from Asia.  The figure, on British museum number 1912,0709.1, wears pants and sleeves that correspond with Drinkler's research.

From there I searched with the that keyword and found more examples, then I searched for Persians and Amazons and found many more.  A couple were wearing form-fitting garments on their upper bodies that looked integral to the sleeves, for example numbers 1867,0508.941 and 1837,0609.59.  The patterns are a lot of fun to look at.  I've pinned as many as I could on Pinterest, hereång-leggings-and-garters/.

September 07, 2013

Paddington Knits

Was reading a old English children's book full of dry humour, Michael Bond's More about Paddington:
Paddington's convalescence had been a difficult time for the Browns.  While he had remained in bed it had been bad enough, because he kept getting grape-pips all over the sheets.  But if anything, matters had got worse once he was up and about.  He wasn't very good at "doing nothing" and it had become a full time occupation keeping him amused and out of trouble.  He had even had several goes at knitting something–no one ever quite knew what–but he'd got in such a tangle with the wool, and it had become so sticky with marmalade, that in the end they had to throw it away.   

September 03, 2013

Emulsion Woad Paint

I bought some Bleu de Lectoure woad powder from Maiwa.

Bleu de Lectoure also produces ready-made paint tinted with woad, beautifully-looking in the advertising photos.  Maiwa just carried the dyestuffs.

Knowing woad paint was possible made me want to try to make some for myself.  The powder didn't incorporate into the paint that well, though.  The dark blue smudge on the top of the wedge of wood is woad plus boiled linseed oil.  The greyish-blue sides are painted with woad in linseed oil with egg and water.

I wonder if it would mix in better and give a better result if added to regular, ready-made white paint.

September 02, 2013

one hundred, eighty-sixth and eighty-seventh skeins

I spun up the Gale's Art Blue Face Leicester wool in the colourway velvet Elvis.  That is, I spun up all that I could.  The bag got subjected to friction, the wool felted, and I had to leave an ounce or so undone.

That, I believe is that.  All that remains in my fibre stash is naturally-coloured and naturally-dyed, apart from an ounce or two of mohair.