Author Archives: m d b

Surprise- not a surprise

I suspect it’s probably obvious from how little I’m writing or doing that I am really struggling. I’m not recovering like I am used to and it’s severely impacting my ability to do anything. I’m sorting my research, but not much more. Writing is not happening. A little hand sewing on average once a week.

There are some bright spots though.

I’ve finally got a leather needle to respond to sharpening and it’s making it possible to actually work on my pearled hat! It’s been really tough to be limited to one applique a week because the difficulty passing a needle through the material puts more pressure on my hands.

So sorry aphorisms, you absolutely can blame your tools. There is a reason there is an incremental cost associated with better quality tools.

And further to being able to blame tools, I’m finally able to consolidate files over two external hard drives. The smaller of the two needed a new case because it had failed- loose connections and the little circuit board had failed. Transferring is going well as I type meaning the new case and cable are working well, nothing loose. It means I’ll be able to divide the drives by use.

I have two more externals that used to be internals complete with OS but I’ll work with them once I remind myself of how to sort the partition but keep the files.

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Anne of Cleves catch up

I recently bought a little of the Margaret Cloth of Gold from Sartor thinking I could make some larger sleeves to swap out my adorable half length Bishop sleeves of my Maria of Cleves gown. The repeat has been shrunk which is bad new for my Maria of Cleves alteration plans but fantastic for my Anne of Cleves gown by Bruyn! It’s the scale I need for the very narrow panes of her sleeves.

And there is enough no matter how I work out how to do the sleeves. I’m still so very pulled by what I know is how they would genuinely have been done. But also I know that multiple artists captured the same sleeve type the same way. If I’m right about how they looked in reality, then each artist had to have been in some form of contact to agree on what they should look like.

We have a huge amount of evidence to support consented copying and unconsented copying of each other’s work. We also know artists travelled. So I can’t say it’s a coincidence for the same depiction of the sleeve. The good news is that all of this work is helping to simplify my own pattern book.

It’s also really exciting because it’s not just my book that gets simpler, it gets simpler to explain how to use the manuals, and when to reject them.

But this is taking time. So I plan to get my patterns of my own garments into my pages. I’m still so behind, trying to repair what the hackers destroyed in 2016 has been so hamstrung by WordPress updates. Now that it looks like Blocks have stabilised it’s probably easier.

There is another issue which is the size of files means I have to edit decades of photos.

But I need to as my work has been pinned into the tens of thousands but from a hosted site not mine. Oh it’s easy to find me from there, it’s just that people don’t.

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Research break

My book on the last art form I desperately needed arrived yesterday and as per usual I have a much richer curation because of my focus. But I also am itching to actually work on my Anne of Cleves gown. I mean all of my research is to put her frocks in context so it’s really obvious that would happen.

I’m still feeling pulled between the extremely tidied art and the evidence in extant garments and the manuals.

The manuals and the extant items match so very well though so I have to work from there. The artwork though match across different artists and countries. So I also have to take that on.

I might have to let everything that is percolating in my brain from the month long dedicated efforts to organise my written evidence. That too matches incredibly well across countries.

My next step is to figure out how the heck to sync my files across my devices and storage. And then eventually to allow me to batch edit/add to my websites. I know what I need to do because I’ve done it before. I’m just so tired doing all the “back office” stuff to create content. There are so many options now that didn’t exist for the first mumble-ty years of self hosting. I can’t port my older work over though due to the code just being so incompatible.

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So exciting

I managed to fix the OCR issues of my scanning program and just managed to brute transcribe and translate the most important pages and yes! Some new and really exciting information but also support for what I have found in terms of gaps and assumptions.

It’s so important when you are working in a niche field to be able to include the work of scholars who came before you because it gives weight to your interpretations and means those scholars are credited.

In this case the book is out of print and only available in a few libraries and of course is in German. So it makes it even more important to be able to link to this work, as the author used the same older sources as me, and a few more and cautions the interpretations of some of them. And some of the questions I had were directly linked to those interpretations. They also tended to gloss over the role of women.

So now I have a bit of confirmation as to a couple of reasons I’m just not finding the work I need.

By coincidence someone shared an extant item and an interpretation of it and while it’s too early for direct evidence, it’s also evidence of a craft that I can find visual evidence of. Oh, and I just realised I might also have spotted some evidence of the kind of decoration used. Okay I need to write this down in my notebook to make sure I don’t forget.

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So much progress in short bursts, fly by post as I’d like to get one of my pearled appliques stitched down as it’s incredibly difficult getting a needle through the layers. But yes that is still progress.

I just made my way through the book and wow. I need to create a table but I think there is easily 1000 women named. Which is extraordinary. I needed to erase the pencil marks of the previous owner, who probably was the first owner, and now I’m wondering what they were working on and if I might be able to find their work by searching for the sentences they must have quoted from.

I still need to get through my timeline of images, I really disagree with some of the dates given but I might also need to organise by decade as I think some of that is down to some dates being specific to a year, some as before a date some as after a date but when you organise files alphabetically that pushes say 1500s after 1509.

There is so much to do. I wish I could just keep my timeline as it is but I’m trying to include all the important information too, and that means probably having to create a CVS file to be able to mass import the probably 200 posts I need to write up to include each figure.

So time to make a pot of tea, and also rest. I’ve only been up 3 hours but I had a shower which in this heat dings all the fun dysautonomia symptoms that have creeped up on me the last few years.

Fun fact I didn’t know Rheumatoid Arthritis can be a cause, but now that I know I feel a bit better. Well, it’s not great, but at least I can point to that seeing as there is a tendency to think if you have fibro you bring these things on yourself. Nope.

Just reading about this now and I really need to talk to my GP because if you add in all the ways the nervous system (CNS and ANS) is altered by RA it really is the simplest answer to supposedly complicated symptoms. I even tested an AI chatbot with my complex symptoms and it failed. It shouldn’t have because even in 1999 these alterations were known.

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Once upon a time I decided to head into the relatively uncharted territory of North Rhine dress of the 16thC. Relatively because there are less than a handful of quality resources but all of them predate digitisation. I thought I might find some better quality images from two of these but would be better able to find the archives in the more text based works.

It’s a bit of a reversal of fortunes. There are vastly more images than I can handle because digitisation of microfilm has wound up very cheap and relatively easy whereas manuscripts in archives have been harder to get hold of.

I’ve just managed to sort of organise a couple of hundred images of either better quality than I have or of entirely new to the digitised sphere portraits. They all support my thesis about whether some are more or less likely to be by Bruyn and his workshop, but each one is so exciting. One group includes gold on the main gown which is just so very rare and a detail that is guaranteed to expose sumptuary laws and thus help identify sitters.

My book about trades is on par for excitement except I have to figure out how to scan the most important pages for me. OCR is great unless you have it in operation on pages with columns, over two pages, or upside down pages. I’m almost at the point of allowing pages to fall out of my books so I can put them all through the automated scanner. Almost. For books that have fallen apart there is the concern that the paper won’t go through in one piece. The paper is a bit fragile due to age.

One of them has already been digitised but not available as a digital file. You can search the contents.

My Achilles injuries have been so awful though. It’s not just pain, pain is my default, it’s the danger of causing damage. And not just once but with every step. This entire post is a reflection of how I set difficult challenges for myself. Would I really be scared if this was just difficult? No. That’s not who I am. I’m not sure who could possibly look at any one research topic or costume and think I’m just lazy and unwilling. No. I have to avoid actual limits not because of the amount of work involved but by the harms I face at those limits.

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when you can’t speak

How do people around you treat you when normal communication isn’t possible? I’ve been lucky. At my last physio appointment I felt myself wind down, I was half way through a sentence and fibro just slammed down the gates to speaking.

That really is what it feels like. A shuttering of voice, a shuttering or words. My hands are mulch so I didn’t even have the opportunity to write what I needed down. I don’t know if I could.

And I’m still not even able to express what kind of pain I was in. Which probably means it was deep in my muscles though still probably the myofascia.

I wanted to cry, but there was nothing unusual in input vs pain.

I just shut down.

It scares me because this is going to happen more frequently as pain care is eroded ever more.

But I’m me. I’m here. If I shut down precisely because therapeutic treatments trigger a deep pain response that bypasses acute pain messaging? I’ll make some physical and digital cards going forward.

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Corr or caw as my inner raven is distracted by shiny new information

A book (another dissertation actually) arrived today and it’s exactly what I need. It’s all working towards what the heck we should call what Anne of Cleves wears; Kopfbedeckung¬†actually I think is the safest bet in general because there are about five layers of distinct pieces.

I got myself extremely lost in the weeds following the etymology within and outside the North Rhine, past and present, hoping for a revelation in word form, variation, and use to hopefully explain the properties captured in art.

So a quick thought experiment for how hard this is. If I was to say I want to draw a bonnet, what do you imagine I mean? Over time, just in English, there are many forms, many materials, many functions.

So that’s the first issue.

Add to that I’m using 19thC historians who have an idea of what a bonnet is to them, writing about bonnets as they appear in documents of a previous century.

Did they even know that form didn’t just change with fashion, the entire meaning can be lost between generations.

Anyway, at least one dictionary was up front about this, which makes me happier, especially as they included other terms also used at the same time with a degree of overlap. And I suspect part of what’s going on is the exceptionalism you find in Cologne of the 16thC. A degree of self determination.

The records I have for after 1550 in JKB rely on French terms, some by way of Dutch. And as the fashion of the court changed with the influence of Maria Hapsburg, it’s not terribly useful for the earlier fashions. Finally as there are few digitised and transcribed documents I have to rely on modern or more widely known terms if I’m lucky and there is a summary, somewhere.

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oh wow

I’m on day five of the total B cell depletion and I didn’t realise just how bad my pain was. I’m still careful but this is also going to, hopefully, allow my Achilles tendons to repair. Which will allow me to rehabilitate from this prolonged inability to walk safely. In tandem with my solution to my in ability to access files due to OS issues, and the conflict with my CMS and “vital” plugins, and I can finally make some real progress.

It meant I was able to find the particular folk dress headgear I lost. It’s not the solution to the (Not A) Sticklechen issue but it’s another engineering issue solved in the embroidery pattern.

So today I managed to access some articles in Gale that mention Anne of Cleves. I’m flagging a bit now, but this is progress. I can now rest and not spend my time stressing about the time I’m wasting. That time is really health that I’m wasting, then trying to recover that health. But what a breakthrough in a matter of days. I wish we could move to a more frequent cycle, but I also have to have some extra tests this time because my immunoglobulins have been steadily decreasing.

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And now an actual update

I brought my work with me to hospital, but I forgot just how much it takes out of me, add in I was feeling pretty sad, and I managed a whopping 5 pages of double spaced A5 paper. About sleeves. But it was still useful, I’ve got a good handle on those sleeves. Skirts have been given a great boost, they also support my own advice I’ve shared regarding circle skirts for years- “forget Pi, this isn’t paper.” So that’s cool.

My North Rhine research pops in here too. It’s quite hard to find the records I need but it’s the same issue as always, but I have some timeframes for apprentices. Some of these need a much more careful translation than I did because some writers just use apprentice, some journeyman. Different crafts required different lengths of training and it might not be as expected.

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