Thursday, December 04, 2008

Paper on 14th c. embroidered pillow from Gotland

This paper really made my day:

It's about a Swedish embroidered pillow from the first half of the 14th century. The close-ups are amazing. The text is in Swedish (too bad!), but luckily, there is an English summary at the end

A paper on medieval Scandinavian embroidery

I found this nice paper on medieval Scandinavian embroidery via google:

Things that were interesting to me:

- fig 1: overview of lacing stitches. The one on the second row to the right looks really nice, and I think the one in the left corner below was also frequently used in 14th/15th century whitework

-fig 3: pictures of the original St. Brigitta coif

-fig 4: a pillow done in needle weaving

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Progress on a purse

A couple of months ago I posted about my new embroidery frame. In that post you could see a piece of embroidery that is now finally finished! I think I have started it back in January 2007 or so.

The piece is 9 by 18 cm. The ground is linen and the embroidery is done with spun silk. This piece is now ready to be lined and finished with tassels with turk's head knots (see photo below).
I'm still waiting for the lining silk to arrive and I need to make up my mind about the tassels and laces colours. The turk's head knots will be burgundy red. Should I go for purple or ochre tassels?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

New project: Swedish frilled veil

Maria, Älgå, 2nd half of the 14th century
Soon I'll be starting on a new project: a custom order for a Swedish frilled veil for Maria from Albrechts Bösser.
The statue above will serve as example for the reconstrcution. The veil looks like it has a fretworked honeycomb frill consisting of only two layers. Mostly this type has at least three layers (however I'm nearly sure I've seen a two-layered version before, but I don't remember where).
First thing to do is order the right type of linnen.
In the mean time I'm translating my Ba-paper on frilled veils into English in order to get it published.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Finally, the right type of linen :-)

I'm so happy! I've been searching for the right type of linen for the whitework tablecloth for almost a year, and finally I got it today :-)

I ordered it from , and it's this type. As a basis for a whitework tablecloth, it's important that the linen has a thread count of about 18-20 threads per cm, so it's possible to do both counted stitches and "free" stitches. The cloth I ordered has about 19 threads per cm. For those of you who live in the Netherlands: this shop is incredibly cheap compared to Dutch shops. In the Netherlands, people will usually ask about 35 euro per meter for high quality linen, and only this costed 11 euro per meter. Do take a look at their wool too, they sent me some samples of it and it looks beautiful. I will use linen embroidery thread from the Mulberry Dyer.

It's strange that you can't find these materials in the Netherlands....

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The cap of St. Birgitta: reconstructions

I have written before about the article on St. Birgitta's cap Camilla Luise Dahl and I wrote for Medieval Clothing and Textiles v. 4 (Ed. Robin Netherton & Gale R. Owen-Crocker).

It is so lovely to see people are using it to make their own versions of the coif:

Above: reconstruction done by Joanna L. from Finland. Read all about it here.
I love this reconstruction because she did all the embroidery in whitework and interlaced herringbone stitch as it was found on the original.
Viktoria Holmqvist also dit a wonderfull job on her reconstruction of the cap. She used a simpler version of the herringbone stitch on her cap. You can read her blogpost about it here.
Here you can find another reconstruction of the cap (text in Finnish), and yet another one here.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A paper on frilled head- and neckwear

This is a very interesting paper on the frilled head- and neckwear from the Monasterio Real de las Huelgas, Burgos, Spain, 12-14th century. It's got very clear color pictures and detailed descriptions of the textile analyses. The paper is in English

Friday, July 25, 2008

Embroidery frame

Some embroidery in progress... The pattern is based on the Halberstatt wall-hangings (you can look up this wall-haning on

I made a new embroidery frame yesterday to use instead of the modern round embroidery frames. The frame is based on diverse medieval iconographic sources.

I'll be off to an event in Azincourt (northern France) for the weekend in a couple of hours, so I need to log off and continue packing.

Have a nice weekend all!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

A lazy day in the garden

I love this type of embroidery, it's so relaxing. Perfect for stressful times.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Frilled veil *in action*

Here are the photo's I promised you.
The combination of the veil and the braids pointing forwards is a typically late 1360's-1370's Flemish arrangement.

Friday, February 08, 2008


My latest project: a honeycomb veil. I started work on this one last weekend and finished it tonight.I'll be wearing it tomorrow for an event in the Netherlands.

It is based on several Flemish and German examples of frilled headwear from the second half of the 14th century. It consists of four layers of linen fabric that are worked into a honeycomb pattern and sewn to a semi-circular linen veil. Afterwards the veil has been starched into shape.

It was my first try at a complete fretworked veil. I have been doing some samples before though (for the Kruseler Research Group). If I were to make it again there are a lot of things that I would have done differently, but none the less I'm quite happy with how this turned out!

Maybe after the weekend I'll have some photo's so show you of me wearing the veil!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Interesting website: 14th century knitted silk pouches

Sophia/Susan made one of those knitted 14th century pouches. She describes how to draw a pattern and she also uploaded some great black and white pictures of the original knitted pouches (the ones with the flowers that I like so much!):

ps: this is the 100th post of medieval silkwork :-)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Braided drawstrings of 14th century knitted purses from Sion

Here's a paper on the braided drawstrings of the 14th century knitted purses from Sion, Switzerland:

The paper mentions that these purses are on display in drawers. If so, does any one know more about this? Isis and I visited Sion just to see these purses, among other things, but we couldn't find them and the museum people didn't seem to know about them either...

And in the same issue of this newsletter, there is cute picture of a fresco of the Virgin and Jesus working on fingerloop braiding together:

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What's this?

Because I've got a new job at another university, I had to return some books that were on my desk for ages... One of those books was an absolutely fascinating book about 13th century textiles found in tombs of the Spanish monastery “ El panteon real de las Huelgas”, in Burgos:

Gomez-Moreno, M (1946), El panteon real de las Huelgas de Burgos, Madrid: Consejo superior de investigaciones cientificas, Instituto Diego Velazquez

I really like some of the pillows that were found.

In the book, these pillows were included in the chapter on embroidery, but they were described as follows: “Una segunda categoria, dificil de rastrear en sus origenes, es el punto de media, hecho con agujas, sin base alguna que recuerde el tejido” (p. 84). According to this description, they were made with the technique “punto de media, hecho con agujas”, which is some kind of crochet or knitting, made with needles. Hmm.. what would that mean... I don't really understand this part either: “sin base alguna que recuerde el tejido”. Does it mean that the pillows do not have a base that ressembles woven textiles? If it is somehow crocheted or knitted, that is quite logical. In addition, the author says that is is difficult to trace the origin of this technique, and the pillows were probably made in Andalucia.

This pillow, for example, is 28 cm, made in red, cream and grey wool. The heraldic figures are probably fantasy figures. The buttons on top of the pillow cover are interesting too (but they're not included in the catalogue description):

These pillows remind me of something completely different: a series of Swiss 14th century purses described in this book:

Schmedding, B. (1978), Mittelalterliche Textilien in Kirchen und Klöstern der Schweiz, Bern: Abegg-Stiftung

As fas as I can see from the pictures, the surface texture of both pillows and purses looks similar (but maybe that's just wishful thinking :-). Here is an example of one of those Swiss purses. Schmedding suggests that this purse might be made using a knitting frame:

These purses are so beautiful! There are also some with horiontal rows of flowers in red, blue and yellow (on top of my wishlist of “Things I'd love to try to make one day”).

Maybe it's not possible to compare objects from such different times and places, but I do wonder whether similar techniques were used to make the pillows and the purses.

If you know more about this technique, please let me know!

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