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Overwhelmed

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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Research is mostly long days of not much then

Suddenly you find ALL THE THINGS! Finally finding people interested in the 16thC even if it’s only the first decade. A portrait that’s disappeared (sold at auction but I can’t find the catalogue) but includes completely new clothing information for children, a book on all the pieces at a Cathedral, a dissertation about the Cleves-England marriage that builds in a totally different direction that other authors that rely on the same resources he used but matches the day by day details in L&P, stained glass window book.

Seriously, just so very cool. I need to add some of the images to my timeline ASAP as the painting with new clothing information? Includes multiple depictions of the same pattern of goldwork on the kopfbedeckung in two, maybe three, other paintings. I think that might mean they are a specific pattern to a specific group of workers because I haven’t seen this kind of decoration elsewhere.

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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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Finally a break!

For months now, possibly a year, I’ve been blocked from real research and writing progress due to an issue with the thumbnails of my folders of research failing to be created. I was able to only get around this by force quitting the process involved. But then only getting a few files to load and then nothing. Turns out a lot of us have had this problem but no solution actually seemed to work. Some people had malware, some corrupted media files. Then I found someone who solved their own issue.

They had a system file try to tell the OS there was a file on the desktop that wasn’t there. They were told to not delete the system file, but also that it would be recreated on start up if they did. The file is apparently used by the OS what folder options to use- icons, thumbnails, columns etc.

So I turned on “view hidden files” found the same system file , I opened it in notepad and yep. I saw a file name for something that hadn’t been in that folder ever as far as I know. Probably once in a transfer from one drive to another.

So I quickly did a search for the files on my research drive and my “user” folders, deleted every single instance in dozens, but not all, folders then reset folder options, and restarted and wow.

Not only do thumbnails load instantaneously in folders but in searches.

It’s so exciting.

And a massive relief.

But that a crappy little unneeded file caused so much delay and extra work and set back my health hugely. It’s taken time away from everything good in my life because it really needed fixing but no one is willing to say that this is a known issue.

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Sad day

We have a new Dx for Mr Carlo. A blood clot in his femoral artery that has lead to a loss of blood to his hind limbs. But it explains his sudden onset of paralysis and his haematoma and really fits in with what mum and I thought. We thought he might have injured himself because as a climber he can land heavily on his legs.

We did get his haematoma drained again, about 22ml which is a lot for a little dude and I didn’t want to ask but it looked more purple than red so it’s from a vein?

But he’s getting lots of love, he’s got his favourite cushions and fur throws and he feels safe.

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Ambi-whelmed

This is not a real word but it needs to be. To be both over and underwhelmed at once. This is me today in finding some incredible and extremely important work on trades and guilds. But. And it’s a big but and I cannot lie it’s the same but as always. It’s a near black hole of information between 1500 and 1560 for women’s clothing. There is a mix of issues. All of which are incredibly difficult to tackle at this temporal and physical distance.

So I have yet another dissertation on its way.

I’m now fatigued, again, so back to being just whelmed. I’m protecting my excitement though. It’s precious.

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Research breakthrough

I decided to do a bit of a blunt search for the term for a specific craft in the hope I might, might, break through the big gaps in OCR of so many of the digitised books online have. I didn’t realise entire pages were missing in the I think 1600 pages I have on trades, let alone all the dictionaries (cries). It may not seem like I need to search the documents about, say, fishmongers but sometimes the documents are wills or letters, in which clothing items can be found. But also it’s fascinating to read the quantities and types of fish sold.

My hope is to find documents about where their product went, and how many crafts it took to reach it’s final form. There are some obvious uses, but I’m trying to be able to get the specific document archival names so no one else has to fight this OCR mess.

Luckily the index of my main trades resource does reveal when a trade was mentioned in the records of another trade, also when it’s a surname. So I’m pretty sure I have everything that can be found in it.

Online options to strip the OCR layer have failed, my only option is to pull out all images (ie the top layer) then get google to transcribe and translate page by page.

Anyway, back to being excited because yes I found a couple more books about trades that didn’t show up in more general terms for trades and crafts.

In one instance I have a timeframe needed and number of journeymen needed to embroider a garment: 6 weeks and I think 8 journeymen. Apprentices not counted, I suspect due to the nature of the work which was for a Duke. It’s fantastic as it reveals just how fast these pieces were made but also how many people were involved for each piece. I’ve always suspected this, but in part because of other references like how the heck did you make all of those costumes for the parades and festivals. Maximilian used his own tailors to design and make the Freydal costumes. I think also some of the clothes of the partners of those in the dances as usually the all wear matching clothes too.

There are also massive amounts of fabric ordered in the North Rhine for festivities like this that could also be for these same kinds of clothes worn to denote loyalty.

It’s all very cool, and I’ve started to save files in named folders in my downloads now to avoid what I’ve done in the past which is to accidentally lose important documents due to naming conventions of the digitisers.

Given the leap in progress yesterday I can face at least renaming some more books.

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