I’ve been tablet weaving again, a bit, trying to wrap my brain around… stuff. I’ve used the next Textile Forum as an excuse for this, as I want to take a look at tablet weaving, or, more concisely, on how patterning was done.

This is one of the things that keep fascinating me, and that I’ve wondered about for ages. We have incredibly complex weave patterns (not only in tablet weaves, but that technique is more accessible to me than loom weaving), and when we do these patterns today, trying to recreate the historical textiles, it usually results in a huge chart for the weaving pattern. Heidi Stolte once took the pattern from the maniple of St. Ulrich, and the pattern drawing on graph paper is about 7 m long and a good 70 cm wide. That is huge.

For the tenth century, we can quite safely assume that there was no similar roll of graph paper with the pattern on it. Which means that the weaver was either just all making it up as he or she went along, or had something else to work with. What, though – something like a sampler band, a sketch, or a different kind of pattern, or just a memory aid such as a rhyme – we don’t know.

Now, whatever the aid for the patterning, it will most probably require you to be able to look at the band and see what has to come next. There might also be a kind of flow to the pattern at some point… so since the Ulrich maniple has also been fascinating me for ages, I took a part of the pattern and a silk band with 42 tablets, sat down and tried my hand.

band_2

From my previous tablet weaving experience, I found that having strict rules on how things are done and in what sequence they are done does help a lot. The tablets are separated into packs that turn in different directions, and I know which direction of turn always results in which slant in the band. In this band with its 42 tablets, I have split them into two sections that I can still turn with good control; a necessity that, unfortunately, also complicates matters a little.

band_1

I have a few ideas on how this could work, and I’ve had a bit of success before in getting an inkling on how and where to look, but today, unfortunately, my brain was not up to it – partly because there was a mistake to fix, and then I wanted to get a few picks correctly, and so I sort of fell into the trap of going after the charted pattern, counting tablets and marking off picks that were done instead of looking at lines and structures… which, yes, is a brainbender, but much more helpful than counting 5-3-1-change next 2- and so on. I’ve not given up hope, though – there will be more time spent at the band.

Probably with more coffee. And some chocolate.

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There’s been quite an uproar about the new Doctor, and a variety of reactions – including some things that made me flinch.

First of all – the Doctor is an alien that totally changes appearance when regenerating, and while keeping knowledge and experience, also changes character quite a bit. So I’m firmly in the “there’s no reason this could not include a gender change” camp.

That also seems to have been the idea of the original creator Sydney Newman, as several articles have stated over the years, like this one. Or this one. That was back in 1986, by the way – so the idea of having the Doctor regenerate as a woman is not new at all.

But what really stuck in my head was a tweet (which I have unfortunately not saved, or bookmarked, or whatever) that more or less said “if you are starting to watch Dr Who because of a woman lead now, you’re just as pathetic as those who stop watching it because of it”.

And oh, I’ve mulled that over and over again, coming to the conclusion that this is so wrong. On so many levels.

There is no law that makes someone keep liking something that has changed – and a regeneration in Dr Who always means a change. Just like a new showrunner. Or a new companion. There’s also no law that makes someone keep liking something for years and years – people change, too. I remember being totally in love with Monty Python’s Flying Circus when I was younger, and utterly amused by The Young Ones. I actually fell off the couch laughing once when I was introduced to them at my guest-parent’s home in lovely Broadstairs in Britain. Many years later, we got the DVD, and it was mostly just too absurd for me. I still enjoy the weird and absurd humour of both MPFC and The Young Ones, but only when I’m in the right mood, and only in rather small doses. Those series, obviously, have not changed – but I did. And that is fine; just like some friendships or relationships are fading from our lives, some books lose their personal importance over the years, our taste in clothing changes, old hobbies are given up and new ones are taken up, these things come and fade and new things replace them.

So if somebody is not feeling like a female Doctor will be their thing – it’s a perfectly valid personal decision, and nobody should be saying anything against it. Personally, I’d say it would be nice to give the new thing a chance, but if it doesn’t work – fine. Stopping to watch something one has fallen out of love with is not pathetic at all; on the contrary, I’d say that going on to watch a series that you have stopped enjoying, just because it was The Thing years earlier, is pathetic. So it irks me, this “if you are stopping because of a female Doctor”.

The other half of that tweet, though, irks me even more. I’d assume that the creator of the tweet likes the show. Now… if you like something, shouldn’t you be delighted about people discovering it? About new potential fans? More folks giving it a look and deciding that they might like it?

I have stopped watching because I wasn’t happy with what Moffat did as a showrunner. Does that mean, following that logic, that I’m not allowed to watch the new season with a different lead writer?

It’s not that there is a finite amount of Dr Who available, and having more people discover and watch it would take away from those who already love it. Calling those who consider a first look at the series, or a second one because a female lead sounds intriguing to them, pathetic (or any other names), does a disservice to the makers of the show (because people might just reconsider). It also casts a very, very bad light on the fans of the series. I would not want to belong to a fanbase that is so… weird… about who is allowed to start or stop watching something, and why.

So… if someone is getting interested into Dr Who because of the new Doctor – lovely. If someone is getting interested because of the new writer – lovely. If someone is getting interested because a black cat crossed the street and then caught a mouse? In my view, there’s no reason not to welcome anybody to something new that I love. After all, the worst that can happen is that they find out they don’t like it after all (and maybe think me a bit weird for liking it). Best case I have someone new to share my interest with, talk about related stuff, and enjoy the thing we now both like. And that’s a nice thing for everybody.

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Things currently going on? Lots.

Knitting is progressing, slowly but surely, so there might be a new sweater this winter. There’s stuff for the next museum project hanging out here, waiting for the next step. I also have to take stock of the things in storage for the shop and re-order a few items.

Apart from that, planning for the next European Textile Forum is going on, which includes figuring out the programme, which will most probably include a nice excursion. (If you’re interested in the Forum, or know somebody who might be – please spread the word, and if you are planning to come, register soon. We have a few places left, but not many, and having people register early makes things much easier all around.) Together with the planning, I’m trying to solve a few not-yet-issues at the website, which – as usual – takes way more time than it should.

Then, there’s article writing and conference preparation for other talks – which is, fortunately, mostly under control at the moment (which means I’m not ridiculously behind schedule, and can still sleep at night).

To balance all this, there’s cake, and tea, and coffee. Because everything is better with cake, tea, and coffee…

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A few years ago (well, quite a few by now), I got introduced to Dr Who. And I totally, utterly and completely loved it.

I slowly fell out of love with the current story, first when Matt Smith did the Doctor (I just couldn’t get to really like his version), and then more and more as Steven Moffat, as the showrunner, left his marks all over the stories. Monsters changed. Storylines became… weird. We stopped watching. (Which, in our case, also meant we stopped buying – because we have no TV, so any films or series we like, we buy to watch.)

Now, however, Steven Moffat is leaving Dr Who, handing the mighty pen over to somebody else (whose work I don’t know at all, so I’ll let myself be surprised). And furthermore, a few days ago, the 13th Doctor was revealed… who is, all by herself, a reason for me to give this wonderful series another chance to win its way back into my heart. And onto my screen.

So… 2018. Well, probably a bit later, as we’ll have to wait for the DVDs to come out… but then, it’s only time, right?

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I sometimes complain that my knitting projects all take ages and ages – though I know very well that this is not due to my knitting really slowly. My actual knitting speed is more of a medium speed, but I tend to not knit most of the time. And if you let that half-finished pair of socks languish on the needles for half a year… well, then it will take more than half a year to make a pair of socks.

Anyway, current knitting is more or less progressing, for a change – though in the case of this sweater, the wool has already sat around for a long time, so maybe the languishing is all dealt with and I can finish this (astounding thought!) without too much downtime:

moyenage_waist

It’s the Moyen Age sweater, and I really like the cable motif (though I have no clue why it has the name it has). It hits a nice balance for me between mind-numbingly plain stockinette (booooring!) and excitement and fingerwrestling with the cables (tight knitting has its downsides), so I’m happy to knit on it, and I’m already past the waist decreases and starting to increase again.

The other knitting-related thing is not progressed much – the first bobbin of grey Gotland yarn is finished, but the second still is in this sad state:

halfspun

I haven’t gotten around to sit and spin in the evenings these last days (or weeks? Time flies), but it’s on my list, and some day, it will be full, and then it will be plied, and then there’s a gauge swatch in the future, and figuring out how to combine that yarn with the half-Gotland-half-colourful yarn. And then, eventually, a garment.

Just in case the sweater is finished before the spinning is, though, there’s something else hanging out here in the stash. I was accosted by this yarn a few days ago – it sat in the “really really has to go so is really really reduced”-bin in a yarn store I happened to pass. Well, what can I say – it’s silk, it’s blue, and it was cheap. And obviously, it’s now mine.

truesilk

Also… it should be sufficient for a small jacket. For summer chill. (Next summer, obviously!)

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Here’s things in links that will hopefully amuse you:

Cat bones found by archaeologists – with traces that hint at their being used as fur suppliers (article in German).

InspiroBot is an artificial intelligence dedicated to generating unlimited amounts of unique inspirational quotes for endless enrichment of pointless human existence. Said quotes are not particularly good, but some of them are – yes, because of this – quite amusing.

The British Library is launching a project to preserve digital comics.

Costumes inspired by “The Handmaid’s Tale” are used for protests – and make a stunning visual.

Pineapple fibres are used to make sustainable fake leather, providing pineapple farmers with an extra source of income in the process.

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You have probably have it happen to you – somebody you know more or less well will suddenly turn out to be surprisingly good at something that you didn’t ever connect with them. A secret superpower, so to say.

Well. I have one, too – my secret superpower is… being able to tie off balloons really, really quickly. The reason for this is my home town’s annual fair, where my parents, among other volunteers, have been selling helium-inflated balloons for a good cause for 35 years now. When I was a child, I started helping out a bit, and when my schedule allows, I still go back there to help tying off balloons.

From being a small fundraising thing, this balloon sale has grown over the years, and letting hundreds and hundreds of them fly off at the official end of the fair has become a much beloved tradition. It is a stunning sight to see more than one thousand balloons go up and off with the wind at once, balloons in all kinds of colours (though there are quite a lot of red and blue ones, that being the town’s colours). There’s an added bit of satisfaction and happiness in it for me, knowing that I’ve had a hand, literally, in getting hundreds of these balloons ready. (I’ve calculated that I have knotted at least 700, probably more like around one thousand balloons on that one day. That, at the end of the day, meant very tired fingers, a bit of skin lost even though I’ve liberally, and very early, used tape to protect the skin, and a blister in one of the weirdest spots I’ve yet had one, right on the tip of one thumb. And the pleasant feeling of having done a good job.)

And for you, here’s a little video of ascending balloons – by far not all of them are visible, as I didn’t manage to get to the best spot for filming… but you’ll get the idea.

 

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