The Textiles of the Nile Valley Conference is held every two years in Antwerp, organized by Antoine De Moor, Petra Linscheid, and Cäcilia Flück. I arrived in Antwerp at the central train station ... a truly beautiful building.
The conference is held at the headquarters of KatoeNatie. This is also the location of an amazing collection of Coptic garments. I presented a paper along with Ines Bogenspurger and Julia Galliker on the subject of textiles found in the ancient town of Karanis. My part of the research had to do with examining and reconstructing bonnets from the collection at the Kelsey Museum.
I set up a display of reconstructed bonnets from the Kelsey and Krefeld collections. I invited participants to touch, and to try them on.
Curators and scholars were very happy to be able to touch and e explored a variety of ways to wear these bonnets.
Proceedings from these conferences get published in a lovely, full-color book. My paper from 2015, presented with Fabienne Medard, appears in the volume we received at this year's conference. Yes, this year's papers will be published in a volume that will be released in 2019.
In the Fall of 2013, I visited the Krefeld Textile Museum, at the invitation of the director, Dr Annette Schieck. I viewed their collection of sprang bonnets, and then went home to try to write up the patterns and make replicas. I now return to verify details that I failed to note on my last visit.
At the CIETA conference last month in St Petersburg, I met Aachen textile conservator Monica Vroon. She had a question about a certain set of 'dresses' for a statue at the Aachen cathedral. She met me in Krefeld, bringing the garments in question.
It is a set of two garments. They are for a statue of the Virgin holding the Child Jesus ... so two 'dresses', one for mother, and one for the child. Looking closely at the pieces, yes, this certainly could be sprang.
The next day I travelled to Herne, to visit with Torsten Verhülsdonk of VS-Books. We are talking about a German edition of Sprang Unsprung.
Mr Verhülsdonk treated me to a tour of a very lovely archaeology museum in Herne.
I then went on to Munich, where I taught a one-day sprang class, organized by Gitti ... it was a pleasure to meet you and your friends. (Sorry that I did not think to take photos.) Looking forward to seeing all the lovely sprang things you will make in the future.
After visiting Picardie, just north of Paris, I went to Prague. There I visited with my friend and sprang expert Sylva Antony Cekalova (check out her website www.krosienky-sprang.cz ... if you need the English version, look for the British flag in the banner, and click there). Sylva is always full of amazing ideas for sprang.
It was a delight, spending time with these amazing people in Prague, talking sprang, walking along the river, a ferry ride across the river, collecting sprang frames (branches) with Sylva.
I taught a class in sprang at the invitation of Odile Boone, of La Boone Ferme. Odile raises angora rabbits. She sells the fibers, and also sells finished products such as sweaters and gloves. Always looking for something new, she thought she'd try sprang.
Odile gathered some friends, and we held a class.
We made cellphone bags, to explore the basic stitch, then dabbled in making holes on purpose (lace patterns) cables and more.
A while back I met a curator from the British Museum, who invited me to have a look at the sprang textiles in their collection. I took her up on the offer.
So, here I am in London, at the British Museum. They've reserved a spot for me in a 'study room' and bring my sprang bonnets to examine.
I've been writing out the patterns ... and I've informed the curator of my plans to publish these lace patterns. Hoping to add them to my book of sprang lace. The historic record is so incredibly rich.
En route to the British Museum, I stopped off to visit a friend who lives near Sheffield. I met Andy and Elaine a few years back. Elaine really wanted to know more about sprang. They were, at that time preparing to participate in an event, re-doing the battle of Marathon in Greece ... he was going to be one of the bad guys. I made him a pair of leggings, appropriate to the time period, and based on research by Dagmar Drinkler.
It seems that Andy has worn these leggings to several events. Imagine my surprise when I read on the internet that sprang is not at all suitable for leggings! Andy showed me a post indicating that, with one broken thread, the pants will fall apart. This, I thought, is the perfect moment for a bit of testing, some experimental archaeological if you will.
Andy allowed me to cut a thread in his leggings. To make it a fair test, I cut a thread at the knee, a place that would be affected by movement of the leg.
Andy took a picture of me cutting the thread just in front of his left knee.
Here you see the broken thread at the left knee.
Andy then went outside to do some work in the yard.
He cleared his deck of the leaves, and tended to his leaf-blowing machine.
His leggings stayed on the entire time ... no falling apart ... no falling off. Indeed no increase in the size of the hole. The wool threads stayed put.
Wool has a certain 'grabbiness' to it's surface, and the wool sock-yarn that I had used to make the leggings is no exception.
Yes, I've seen silk sashes in museum collections with long vertical slits, where a thread broke. The slipperiness of silk as well as the simple interlinking structure would allow a slit to develop ... but the slit will only open up so far. At some point the length of the cut threads will, itself, prevent further un-doing. The structure of the zig-zag pattern in these leggings also helps prevent un-doing.
I repaired the damage I had caused, tied a knot to mend the cut ends, and tucked the knot to the inside of the leggings.
The damage is now repaired, the knot almost imperceptible.
A big Thank You to Andy Cropper for permitting me to carry out this test.