I'm teaching Early Period Music Theory again, first time in a while, and boy howdy those class notes from 2008 need updated...
I camped by myself this year, as an experiment.
This took longer than I think it should have, partly because I'm still learning to set up the tent, but mostly because of the ridiculous heat and humidity. I had to take a lot of breaks. 5-6 hours to set everything up, 3-4 to tear it down.
Tent was awesome, with plenty of room to store all my gear - even the folded-up EZ-Up I ended up not using. And really, almost ALL - the first time it rained, I dragged everything inside except the table and the 0g chair. We had reasonable rain - no crazy storms, but not just drizzle, either - and everything was dry. I did cut a tarp to fit as a ground cloth - so the brown one is the one to use from here on out.
Stake tent corners, then up center pole, THEN stake sides.
Oriental rug (4x6?) + double IKEA run (3x4) covered most of the floor. An old bathmat at the foot of the cot gave me a place to put the cast iron where I wouldn't have to worry about rust stains on the canvas.
The 9x12 painter's tarp worked nicely for a day shade. (Note to self: Do not face front of tent towards the south.) I tied it to the tent and to some old poles, staked them down, and boom. A few days in, it seemed saggy, so I took a fourth pole, put a mess kit pot on it to soften the point, and used it to push up the roof a little. It would have helped if I could have run my guy lines out at wider angles, but that would've been in someone else's space. It seemed to keep things 'dry enough.' I wouldn't do calligraphy under it, or leave an important book out, but I could step out of my tent and make coffee without getting soaked, which was the goal.
I used a large linen tablecloth at one point, clothespinned on, to help block out more sun.
Digging through the matted roots in Pennsylvania clay with a hand trowel was hard. I got a blister (wear gloves!). But once through that, the clay was just powder I scraped and scraped until it was big enough. I didn't measure the hole, but I'd say 6" x 6" x 6-8" deep, maybe? It seemed to hold around a quart and met my wastewater needs.
Food and Drink
I have to sort of throw my hands in the air. I ate some of what I brought, but didn't touch a lot of it. I planned a lot of chicken stew - which it was too hot for me to want to eat. I ate a lot of cold salami and cheese, though. Bob's Red Mill mueseli with milk and fruit and hazelnuts made good breakfasts - and on the one morning that it was cold, I could heat it up on the stove.
One gallon/day for washing seemed about right, but +1 gallon for every load of laundry. 4-6 bottles of water/day, I'd say. The trick is that when I'm out of camp, I'll drink what I bring with me (usually two bottles) but then I'll have to buy or cadge water until I'm back in camp. I had to buy Gatorade powder at the Cooper Store - I was really feeling the need for it, but hadn't brought any of my own.
Making a fire with just me never quite seemed worth it, especially in the mornings. Last year's bread-making worked because I had committed to doing nothing all War. This year, I had morning commitments at 11am or earlier all week, and I didn't want to stress/rush through bread-making, fire putting-outing, clean up, and get to commitment.
New favorite thing: Make coffee, drink coffee. Make coffee again, pour coffee into Goat Story horn. Let coffee cool on ground while finish getting ready for the day. Put coffee in cooler. When I get back to camp in the afternoon - iced coffee, ready to drink!
The bigger cooler was not as labor-saving as I'd hoped. I started off with a 10-lb block, and I needed more the next day - got a 7lb bag of cubes because it was easy to carry. The next day, I got 2 10-lb blocks, and those lasted that day and the next - but it took a few days to get the cooler full enough of melt water to have the thermal mass to fend off the heat. With as much as I was out of camp anyway, I probably could have just used the small cooler and gotten ice daily. Would have saved space in the car.
Pitcher + bowl worked great, actually. I washed down with soap and water on Day 1, but ended up with a sticky soap residue all over on Day 2, even after 'rinsing' repeatedly with my 'rinse' washcloth. (I used one with soap to wash, and one with water to rinse.) After that, I washed my hands with soap, but the rest of me just got scrubbed with a wet washcloth. I felt clean (and the one day I skipped this - Wednesday night, before I left - I was itchy the next day, which I attribute to not having washed). My hair didn't look nearly as bad as I'd feared. I wet it down every day, too, and it ended up looking like I hadn't washed it for a day. Considering that I hadn't washed it for five days, that's not bad! And it was usually under a coif, veil or hat.
My sister clued me in to the absorbing bags they sell for Luggable Loo. Somewhat more private than dragging the thing to the privy to empty it, but they do have a kinda weird smell. (The lid keeps the smell in, so it doesn't fill the tent, but it hits you when you use it.) You can also buy those blue deodorizing pellets to help with that, but... trying to buy less gear, here. I'm waffling on which approach I prefer.
The 'kitchen sink' we bought a few years ago finally got used. It's two folding plastic cubes, one for hot water (wash) and one for cold (rinse). I'd put hot water and a few drops of dish soap into one, wash the dishes, put them in the other, and pour water from the pitcher on them individually to rinse. Given that it was just me and not an entire Scout troop, this seemed to make sense.
True to the hype, my linen gowns could absolutely be reworn after an airing, even after pretty hot and sweaty days. I did a load of laundry part-way through, just socks and bras (which I was short on). I had enough underwear and bike shorts to get through without laundry. I had four linen gowns and wore them all, generally on their own. At night, I wore both my red Frankish gown and a wool cloak at different times. I wore my leather hood one cool night. Two days, I schlepped around in linen pants and cotton shirts.
Even with bike shorts all the time, I still ended up with some heat rash. Not too bad though - I kept it powdered and it didn't hurt so much I couldn't walk.
Toe scrape on an iron tent stake - kept it washed (with soap) and bandaged (Band Aid with antibiotic ointment already in the pad) and it didn't infect.
CPAP battery got charged to full each day, even when it started to get cloudy. The solar panel and battery (in its nylon case) even got rained on one day, and they were fine.
Cot + camp mat = perfect. Maybe I could do without the camp mat, but it's just awesome with it. Being higher makes the tent seem smaller (have to move in from the edge to cope with slanted wall) but then I get storage space underneath, which I totally used.
Folding side table = adequate. Even with the elastics at the corners, the top surface doesn't stay flat. But it can hold jewelry, books, etc. Just not anything that has to stay level.
Folding stool = useful. Sometimes seating, sometimes a stand for the CPAP.
0g chair = not used enough to justify. Last year, when my highest goal was to see how long I could do nothing, this chair was the bomb. This year, I didn't kick back and chill in it hardly at all. A regular folding camp chair would have been good enough, and would have packed way smaller.
Table = somewhat small. I could generally to any two out of three: cook, food prep, clean up. Not sure the additional convenience of not having to juggle would be worth the additional gear. Also, the day shade probably would not have fit another table.
Food trunk = too heavy. Picturesque, but oy. Tough to shift around.
Accessories chest = just right.
Clothes Rubbermaid = ugly but useful. Garb guaranteed dry (I Kondo'ed my gowns, rolling them and standing them up, and I could see my wardrobe at a glance) and I put the pitcher and bowl on top when I did my evening wash-up. Maybe I could paint it or, at a minimum, throw a cloth over it.
It was a good War for bardic for me. I want to remember what happened, when, and what I learned, so I am writing it down. I'm not going to brag, but I am going to note what I accomplished.
Saturday: I taught my 'Developing Historically-Informed Performance' class. It was reasonably well-attended (10-12 people?) and the students were engaged. Two people (including Master Efenwealt) told me they'll be stealing the class notes to teach students of their own. Sweet!
Saturday night may have been the night Lord Richard Wyn requested 'To Put the Devil Into Hell.' That would be the first time someone has asked me to do one of my period pieces, I think. Yay!
I stopped in to visit Mistress Dervila, who unfortunately and unfairly broke her ankle at War. Her husband Thomas Drum-Maker and Baron Talorgen were there as well, and we had a bit of a mini-bardic for a while. Along the way, I mentioned the Irish saint and the otter story I wanted to put together, but was having a hard time getting to gel. She asked when the last time I read the source material was; I guessed a few months. She said that was about the right amount of time to get some distance from it, so I could re-imagine it as the story I wanted to tell. What was the point? I protested that figuring out the point was my problem, but after a few days of ruminating on it (with 'permission,' as it were, to deviate from the source), I feel like I'm making progress. So it was really very good and helpful advice.
Sunday: I did 'Beowulf challenged by the coast guard' for the Atlantian Royal Bardic circle. I used my lyre (not the harp, which I've practiced with more), and the sleeve of my red cote kept buzzing against one of the strings (which at least two people noticed). Anyhoo. Master Rhuaidhri suggested that, although many people at this circle got the reference and where this was from, and that it was really cool, I might want to go with a more visceral battle scene to grab the attention of the non-English majors in the crowd. We spoke more on Tuesday, and he had very good advice on appealing to the kinesthetic learners in the crowd. I respond well to images (I am hugely visually oriented) and also sounds, so that's where I tend to go. But there are people for whom images are just a big pile of 'meh,' and they need to hear how things feel in the body. "Show, don't tell," in other words, but a much more targeted take on it.
A lady performed a song she later told me was for the Gulf Wars War Bard competition. Not being a fighter but rather a waterbearer, she wrote a piece from the point of view of a female camp follower, a medic. She sang it as a fight song - fighting to save soldiers' lives - with as much passion and determination as any war song might have. I got shivers. We get some songs about service and kind deeds, but not generally ones that make it so outright heroic. I hurried over afterwards to let her know how much I liked the song, and gave her the pin suite I was wearing. Alas, kinda useless if you're not wearing 7th century Kentish, but I was out of other tokens in my bag.
I also took Magistra Fiona of Clare's class 'Introduction to Old English.' Excellent class - not only did she hit the expected notes of how to pronounce which letters and such, but she explained some of the tricks you need to navigate the glossaries. That's gold, right there. I did not get to attend her poetry class, but I mean to email her to ask for the handout.
Monday: Southwind bardic was this night.I read "The Saga of Fishflinger" early, cold out of my book, for the heck of it. It got some laughs, but I got reminded why I shouldn't perform things I haven't practiced. I'm good, but I'm not that good. The performance was adequate but not really skilled. As the evening went on, the atmosphere got a little downbeat. There were many quite excellent performances of new material people had composed, but there was nothing for the audience to do. So, after checking that this would please my host and Pelican, I did 'The Rattlin' Bog.' On Tuesday, I learned that this effort had garnered me a nomination for sainthood. XD The past two nights of bardic brought me to a new theory of Pennsic bardic:
The Internet and associated technologies have made it easier than ever for bards to write and share new material. Bards who have written their own material, or learned interesting new material, are generally justifiably proud of this work, and they want to display/perform it. Add to this a large bardic circle, where you may only get one or two chances to perform, at the largest event in the Known World, with many Notable People in attendance. You will, naturally, reach for these pieces you've worked so hard on that you want to share. And there is nothing wrong with that.
However, if you're one of the audience members who wants nothing more than to shout "MacIntyre!" at odd intervals, this is not going to be very entertaining. More on this under Wednesday.
Monday was also Poetry Day in Artisan's Row. I stopped by and chatted for a bit with Lady Katarzyna Witkowska (who was organizing it), Master Cerian Cantwr, and Master Olivier de Bayonne. It was good to finally put a face to Master Olivier's name. The Known World Poetry Competition was canceled on account of mine being the only entry, but we sat and chatted for a while. Lady Katarzyna requested a poem from those departing; Master Cerian warned us of the dangerous Polar Cow. I recited 'I Drank of Mnemosyne,' which I had printed out from the replacement for Mystic Mail, so that I could perform it at the Depressing Song Competition. Master Olivier gifted me a token, which greatly lifted my spirit. The pieces I write for competitions frequently don't turn out so well (because they're written to spec rather than from the heart) so it was heartening that this one was well-received.
Tuesday: I ran through 'Mnemosyne' in my camp a few times, trying to see if I could get the music out well enough. It didn't settle down to a single tune, but it seemed to have a pretty solid musical idea that I was improvising on fairly well. I waffled on whether or not to go ahead with it, but - I'm the one who wants to go toward improvisational music and even poetry composed on the instant. Let's see how it goes!
So I took the Pennsic Main Stage for the second time (I thought it was the first time, but no - I did my 'Beowulf' for the KW Harp Celebration last year) and improvised away. I had the lyrics in my hand, but only needed to consult them occasionally. There were one, maybe two phrases where the music didn't land as solidly as I would have liked, but overall - I felt like it went very well. I think I emoted and gestured without overdoing - easier on such a downer piece than the peppy ones, where I can get spastic pretty quickly. I thought I saw at least one person wiping away tears. A friend was in the audience, and afterwards, he asked if that was "Alzheimer's, but for the SCA." So that aspect of it is getting through. I made 4th place (in a field of eight or nine entrants)! But even more squee-inducing - the 3rd place winner was a lady from far Lochac with a stupendous voice and fantastic presence. She accepted the accolade, but couldn't take her actual physical prize on her return journey - so she turned and gave it to me. So very sweet of her.
I also learned an important lesson in discernment at the Windmaster's Bardic and Peep Sacrifice.
Wednesday: Children's Fete. Two and a half hours of performing in a huge noisy barn. Master Rhuaidhri and Mistress Fevronia undoubtedly carried the afternoon with their amazing projection skills. I think I managed some volume and managed to not destroy my voice. I really need to get some classes for improving projection and volume.
Wednesday was also the Bardic Symposium session where I was a panelist: Authenticity. The two-hour discussion seemed to come down to Don't Be A Jerk, Stop Jerks from Jerking, and Lead By Example. 'Don't Be a Jerk' covers any and all performers who poop all over other people's performances - for being too period or too not-period - to make themselves feel better. 'Stop Jerks' encouraged bystanders who might be witnessing the Jerk in the process of pooping to step up and intervene. And 'Lead By Example' meant that, whatever your feelings on performance and authenticity, you should do the thing you want to see done and do it so well it looks cool.
There was a second strain that ran through the conversation. At first blush, it was the old 'fun vs. authenticity' problem, but Lady Lorelei of Skye clarified it. In addition to bardic being an art that we can re-create in a historical fashion, it is also a social function. Like at the Southwind bardic, the general non-performing public wants certain things from bardic circles. If we stop providing them, we risk marginalizing the bardic community. On the other hand, we are an educational organization, and as artists with an interest in historical performance, we want to do those things, too. There was much talk of 'proper performances in their proper places,' implying that 'fun' and 'authenticity' have to stay in their separate boxes.
Nothing wrong with focused bardics. But I think I'd like to see general bardics with better balance. Old standards plus new art. The thing there is, this isn't like putting together an album or even a playlist for a singalong, where one person engineers the tempo of fast/slow, fun/serious performances. You've got a mixed group of performers. If the circle is big and the performances are long, you get everyone pulling out their Most Impressive Piece, which will generally tilt the thing toward the serious and slow, and away from the Old Chestnut Standards. Keeping it smaller and faster-moving, and you'll have more room for variety.
Thursday: The humidity was making the heat just unbearable, and I left War early. I had to cancel the Lyre Roundtable, which I regretted, but I was feeling pretty miserable. In the car, I thought some more about St. Kevin and the Otter (currently entertaining a version of Goose that Laid the Golden Egg, or else a parable on the hazards of self-denial). I was also struck with the thought to write a song about the frankly amazing ability the fighters (of all kinds) have to tolerate said evil heat and humidity. I got a draft refrain figured out somewhere on I-79.
I'm icky and I'm sticky, I'm sweaty and I'm hot
The dew point's up to eighty and my energy is shot
Wearing armor in this weather is really no mean feat
Fighters, can you tell me, how have you beat this heat?
We just got back from a trip to Williamsburg, VA, where they hold drop spindle classes some evenings. I plopped down my $25 for a spindle and some roving, interested to see their take on it.
Spindle: Bottom weighted, no hook, but a sort of ring had been cut out of the spindle to help hold a half-hitch.
Leader: First time using string for leader, rather than trying to finger-spin some of the roving. It's certainly faster and easier.
Dressing the spindle: First time I've seen or done this. Take the leader (or yarn, later) from the spindle, loop down around the end under the weight, then bring back up and secure at the top of the spindle with a half-hitch.
Spin: Gah, my spindle wanted to wobble all over the place. Not sure if it was me or it. We spun clockwise and were supposed to wind on clockwise. I thought I was winding on clockwise but was really doing it counter-clockwise. It still mostly worked, although maybe that was why I was having some issues with getting enough twist.
Technique: The instructor taught the usual technique for drop spinning these days. We started with spin, stop, let twist up; spin, stop, let twist up. Then she taught drafting. A few folks started to experiment with letting the spindle hang, but mostly we were doing 'park and draft.'
She mentioned a couple of colonial American depictions of drop spindles, and I tried to ask about their posture - did it look like what she was teaching us, or did it look like the 'hands apart' pose? "That's linen," she said, which seems to be the go-to answer.
I tried my "spin and pull" method, which still kinda worked. I think the twist can climb up too high into the roving, which makes it harder to draft, and then I pull too hard and snap the string. But when it works, it works really well.
Overtwist: Baroness Emma said that if the yarn tried to make string out of itself when tension eased up (self-plying), that was too twisted. The Williamsburg instructor said that was the right amount of twist, and you were only over-twisted if the self-plyed yarn was twisty, too. I bet they are both right, depending on what qualities you want the finished yarn to have.
Edit: Janel Laidman at the Beebonnet Report has a great graphic that shows how to tell if you're over- or under-twisted. The engineer in me really likes that sort of material properties-based evaluation. It's clear and seems pretty dang reasonable.
Finishing: For singles, skein up the yarn on a niddy-noddy. Place skein into hot (? maybe warm?) water to which a squirt of dishwashing detergent has been added. Rinse in cold water. Hang to dry with about a gallon of water as a weight to pull it taut to set the twist. If plying, create two balls of yarn (using toilet paper tubes or something as a base) then spin the yarns together with a counter-clockwise spin, if they were spun clockwise originally. Then skein up the finished two-ply yarn and finish. Weighting it to dry didn't seem necessary.
I found my justification - I was already looking toward a canvas dining fly as my next camp upgrade. A large tarp that could serve as a fly could also be set up as a tarp tent.
Now I'm focusing down on what weight canvas do I need, and how am I going to treat it for water and fire resistance. Some people apparently use painter's tarps for tentage - that's only 6-10oz canvas. Painter's tarps are actually fairly inexpensive for a 9x12 ($15-$25) - I could just get one and try it out, and if it's not good enough, it's not a great loss.
Net (Macrame) Bag
Last year, I wanted a mesh bag for Pennsic - seems like it could be useful for holding produce, or wet soap, or something. This year, I made one. I strung a piece of hemp cord about 2' long and tied thin cotton cord in two half-hitches at ~1" intervals, so that there were two 'tails' of cord per knot. Then, used a series of square knots to make the mesh. I made it into a bag by fastening the sides together, then gathering the 'bottom' - the hemp cord got tied into a circle to make the opening of the bag.
It's kind of ugly (I tried to use a wooden gauge for consistent mesh, but couldn't figure out how to hold it and tie knots) but it works! I think using the square knots makes this macrame rather than true netting, which (from a very brief look) seems like you're supposed to be able to make it using just one thread carried on a netting 'needle.' (It winds up like on a weaving shuttle.) Anyhow - I have my bag.
I made a spindle out of a bamboo skewer, a piece of paper, glue, and a glass bead. The paper was glued on and wrapped around the skewer to pump up the diameter, so the bead would stay in place. I used it for supported spinning, using a small bowl. There was no hook on the end, so I'd just spin in the same direction as the thread was winding around the spindle. That created a tendency for the yarn to try and wind itself up towards the top of the spindle, which I tried to counter when I wound the thread on intentionally after drafting.
I wonder if I got the medieval technique? Immediately after spinning, I did have to use the 'draft and pinch' method Baroness Emma showed me. But after the really aggressive initial twist petered out, I could just slowly puuuuull the spindle away from the roving, and fibers flowed out and twisted up. The yarn tended to thin out as I went, so sometimes I had to manually encourage more fibers into the flow. But it felt like those pictures of the ladies with their arms apart and a slightly bowed thread between them.
I'm signed up for a drop spinning class at Colonial Williamsburg next week, just for fun. :)
This is an old (1911) magazine article, apparently later incorporated into Boy Scout handbooks. It's got plans for making various kinds of tents out of one piece of canvas twice as long as it is wide. My miner's tent (square pyramid) is #6.
Now, I think I am not displeased to have bought my fine Panther Pavilion. It has features like "door flaps that overlap" and "a floor" and "no gap at the roof for leaks." But looking at these sketches, if I had to bet money on how those square pyramids in the Utrecht Psalter were made, I'd probably vote for this. It's hella fabric efficient and dead simple. Also, very simple to pack.
I sort of want to try to "make" one, but whether I buy 60" duck or a pre-made 10' x 20' canvas tarp, the cost would be around $100. That's a lot for a quick experiment.
...you know, on my way to Pennsic, there's a weird little overstock shop near Altoona, PA. Okay, "on my way" is overstating it - it's probably an hour from the PA Turnpike. But they often have enormous bolts of 60" wide fabric for cheap. If I wanted to make it as a day shade/family shelter instead of a real weatherproof tent, it could be made out of anything thick enough to block the sun. (Muslin would not be useful, for example.)
I could also get a hideous plastic tarp for maybe $20 bucks and try it with that, but... then I'd have a huge hideous plastic tarp. But it would satisfy my curiosity.
And then I thought to myself, "Maybe Tyvek?" and lo, the backpacking community is way ahead of me. I could get 18' of 9'-wide Tyvek here for $40. Still kinda pricey for a lark, and I'm unlikely to do better than around $2/yard for material. Well, the overstock place does have $1/yard stuff. But it's a time cost of 2 hrs of driving, unless I wait until the next time I visit my family in the area (which is how I even know it exists).
If I can find someone who could use a huge plastic tarp after I'm done with it, I might go that route. I just hate to buy something like that, do one thing with it, and turn around and throw it out. It's wasteful.
Huzzah for Lady Sophia the Orange, who arranged to videotape the entire KASF Performing Arts exhibition!
This here's my bit of Beowulf. I got up my courage to watch it, and hey - I'm pretty good! (Need to learn not to watch the harp so much.) The entire thing is worth watching, but if you click the video below, it'll start right at Beowulf.
I do bardic and I'm starting to do textiles, so Lena Norrman's dissertation/book titled "Viking Women: The Narrative Voice in Woven Tapestries" certainly caught my eye. It was an interesting, if sometimes opaque, read. Amazon has it for $100, and I would say don't buy it at that price unless this is exactly the sort of thing you are interested in.
What is in it:
This was sort of a discussion on weaving metaphors used to describe poetry, and weaving itself, and famous stories about weaving, and a lot of women's studies terms that were tossed around without any explanation. She makes a case for weaving being a form of communication, even if all it is saying is, "I am a rich person wearing diamond twill."
This and Chapter 3 are the real heart of the thing. The basic hypothesis is that, since most women did not have a voice in the public sphere, they preserved their stories not in poems but in tapestries or embroideries. The single biggest 'a-ha!' in the book is the idea that the women who wove the tapestries should be considered as much authors as the men who wrote down versions of the ancient oral poems. These aren't just decorations - they are sequential art, like comic strips, and the artists have chosen which 'panels' to 'draw' to tell a particular version of a story. Naturally the tapestry is preceded by the oral poem or tale, just as the written version is - but those oral poems exist in a (documentable) profusion of variants, leaving an artist plenty of latitude in choosing which elements to present.
This is the author's interpretation of the Overhogdal tapestry as showing scenes from the Volsung saga and the Nibelungenlied. I agree with some of her takes on the scenes - I thought it was Gunnar in the snake pit, too - but I'm less convinced on others. A figure she supposes is Sigurd with his sword, Gram, is pretty clearly holding an axe, for instance.
Between this chapter and the previous one, an idea is developed that masculine versions of these stories focus on gold, war, monster slaying, etc., while feminine ones focus on interpersonal dramas of love and betrayal. Thus, some of the songs in the Codex Regius were, if not by women, then for them - an example of the poet tuning the performance for a particular audience. It's an interesting hypothesis, although suspiciously in-line with our modern ideas about what men's and women's entertainments are like. Men like blockbusters and explosions! Women like romance and period dramas! And maybe they do, but women also like Star Wars and men also like The Godfather. In an honor culture, betrayal is an inherently dramatic theme with resonances for men and for women.
On the other hand, if the author's reading of Overhogdal is at all right, the women in the tales (Brynhildr, Guthrun) are featured prominently. Certainly when I first read those legends, it was the role of the women (Guthrun in particular) that caught my attention and inspired my art.
A short epilogue about a 14th century holy woman, who wrote about her visions and was revered as a teacher. She is held up as an example of a woman speaking in the public sphere, but needing to claim authority direct from God to do so, and some of the negative reactions that got. Oddly, not compared to, say, Hildegard von Bingen? Julian of Norwich? Feels like someone on her committee wanted it added at the last minute.
I am unreasonably excited about the bibliography. In Chapter... 2? 3? there's a discussion of the few women in the sagas who are public poets. I have been wondering if such existed, and now I have a roadmap to finding them. There's a further wealth of primary sources (sagas and poems to read) and secondary literature covering the intersections of narrative, performance, textiles, and women's studies, which is an area I'm finding myself very interested in.
All told - I don't regret my purchase, but it's a lot of money. This is pretty much exactly the wheelhouse I find myself in these days, so it was worth it to me, but if your interest isn't quite as focused - Interlibrary Loan.
This is not a good book if you are looking for detailed information on how to make tapestries like Oseberg, Overhogdal, or Skog. It is not a detailed analysis of any of them - even on Overhogdal, she focuses on the 'micronarratives', the small scenes placed among the larger procession of animals. It's a book about storytelling, when the stories happen to be told as tapestries.
I picked up a drop spindle at the MD Sheep and Wool Festival, and have been spinning uneven beginner yarn on it. I also tried to make a small spindle, using a bamboo skewer and a flat, round bead I bought at the Swedish History Museum gift shop. It worked kind of okay - I think the spindle needs to be shorter, and after a while, the bead started falling off.
I'm still working on the mechanics of it. I've been over to 15th Century Spinning and Spin Like a Viking, but haven't really studied how they're doing it - just been muddling along with memories and my gear. Now that I've dug up those URLs for this post, I'll go back and pay closer attention. This is why research journals are good!
(I don't have a spinning tag or a general textile arts tag, so I've put this under Weaving.)
While working on our Garb Wars entry, Meisterin Johanna made a mock-up tunic that fits me beautifully. It is a, ah, vibrant shade of coral pink. She recommended I try tea dyeing it if I wanted to mute it.
I brewed a strong cup (~4 bags to 12 oz water) of tea and put a wet scrap of the fabric in, then let sit overnight and dry. It turned out a lovely dusty rose with orange undertones. So I got a 3-gal pot, put in about 2 gallons of water and boiled it. Then 11 'family sized' tea bags (each does a quart of tea) - pretty much all I had in the house. Low simmer for an hour, then in with the wet dress.
I didn't put the dress in carefully, and air got caught in the wet fabric. Poking with a spoon got out some but not all, so I put another pot on top of it to weigh it down. I lowered the heat so that the tea was steaming - later, I tried to return it to a simmer, and the air in the dress expanded and it started poking out of the tea, so I turned it back down. I think I left it on the heat for about an hour, then turned it off and let it sit practically 24 hours. (Overnight + work the next day.)
I dumped the whole pot into the washing machine, and did a cold rinse and spin, then into the dryer on low heat to try and set the dye.
Looks great! No blotches, very nice color. The trim I used is somewhat stiff, and I think I'll look for some linen twill tape to replace it, or I'll cut some bias tape. Something softer.