Terminology Tuesday: Fibre 1

Fibre is a huge area with lots of processes and techniques. I’m having a hell of a time keeping the various terms straight.

A couple of weaving terms I do know now, but confused in the past are warp and weft.

Warp is the lengthwise yarn or thread that’s put in place before you start actually weaving.

The warp stretches away from the weaver. In tablet weaving (card weaving), it’s the yarn that goes through the tablets. It needs to be strong, as it’s under tension when weaving.


Weft, sometimes known as woof, is the yarn that’s woven into the warp.

The weft goes from side to side. Depending on the purpose of the finished fibre, the weft can be a lot weaker than the warp. Contemporary art weaving sometimes even uses non-fibre items like leaves.

The thick white yarn and the tripled coloured yarn are the weft

Etymology, cognates and translations

Leviticus 13:47-48, mentioning “þe warp eiþer oof” in a 14th century Wycliffe Bible in Trinity College, Cambridge. B.2.8, f053v. Image is derived from original scan © the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge. Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Warp comes from the Old English wearp, via Middle English warp/werp.

The Swedish varp (en) comes from the same proto-Germanic as English, *warpo-, via Old Norse, where it was also varp.

Old High German had Warf from the proto-Germanic, but modern German uses Kette (die), from the Latin catēna, meaning chain.

The modern Irish is dlúth (masc1). Dlúth was also used in medieval times, and perhaps inne.

The Spanish is urdimbre, from the Latin ōrdior, begin to weave/lay the warp.

Warp in Latin is stamen. It also means a thread more generally, which is presumably the meaning that prompted the botanical meaning in English (the sticky out bits that produce pollen in a flower). Though looms were upright, so maybe it is from the original warp thread meaning.

The Man of Drimnagh who Became a Woman

A detail of p. 113 of the Book of Fermoy. The beginning of the story of the abbot of Drimnagh.

Long, long ago, an attractive young man in Drimnagh decided to host a great feast.

After all the preparations were done, he went to a nearby hill to sit in his finery. He was wearing a fancy linen hat, a silk undershirt, a lovely tunic and a dark red cloak. He brought his gold-hilted sword with him―you never know when you’ll need one.

When he had a good view of the settlement, he put down his sword, rested his head on his arm, and fell asleep.

When he woke, he reached for his sword, only to find a distaff. A distaff was a woman’s tool, used to hold fibre for spinning.

The sword was not the only change. His tunic had become a full-length gown, and his hair had grown long and beautiful. He touched his face to find smooth skin; his beard gone. Then he checked between his legs, finding changes there too. He’d become a woman!

She was astonished, and worried, and sad. How could she go home like this? But she couldn’t stay on the hill with no sword.

So she took herself to nearby Crumlin.


In Crumlin, she met a handsome lad, recently widowed. They fell for each other, and the young woman went home with the young man.

There they lived happily for seven years, producing seven children.

But then came a day when the couple were invited to a feast at Drimnagh. The woman grew tired as they neared the settlement, and stopped on the hill for a rest while her husband continued on. She fell asleep, not thinking what might happen. When she awoke, she reached out and found her sword. She checked her clothes, her hair, her face, between her legs. She was a man again!


Again, he found himself worried and upset. What of his seven children?

He went back to his original home in Drimnagh and told his tale. At first, no one believed him, but eventually there was a ruling that his children with the Crumlin man be divided between them. Three children to live permanently with each, and the seventh child to be fostered in Crumlin.


Dun in Mara sometimes have feasts in Drimnagh Castle. We can promise you good food, but we make no commitments regarding transformations!

The Abbot of Drimnagh is probably originally from the 12th or 13th century, but the existing copies are all 15th and 16th century. There is one in the Book of Fermoy in the Royal Irish Academy (MS 23 E 29, pictured above), two in the British Library (MS Additional 30512, MS Egerton 1781), and one in the Bodleian in Oxford (MS Rawlinson B 512).

Dun in Mara is marching in Dublin Pride tomorrow, Saturday 29th, and holding a free revel afterwards: https://duninmara.org/posts/2019/05/30/pride-revel/


household weekend just gone

a close up of an in-progress tunic

Unfortunately, I didn’t do scribal after all, due to a headache. But I did do sewing, finishing the French seaming in an underarm gusset. I did some mundane knitting too, on a project I haven’t picked up for a while, so that was good.

There was armouring. Mícheál now has a nearly complete set of armour. There’s some bit need more work, eg shortening, smoothing, and getting a belt/harness to attach his legs to.

There was cooking and eating and drinking. A trial run of an early period lamb dish, which was very tender; roast beef; frumenty; lots of breakfast food; many, many cheeses; roast lamb—delicious on soft brown bread; divine iced biscuits in lieu of Cassandra; and a bean dish, which was tasty and nicely textured, but I’ve no idea what it’s called, or where or when it’s from. There was port tasting and whiskey tasting and homebrewed melomel testing (conclusion: needs more time).

Alays finished a very nice mundane embroidery/sewing project, and then moved onto period brick stitch embroidery. Something I’d like to try at some point.

And lots of chat and teasing and discussion.

Over too soon, as always!

Household weekend

"Scribal" written in a gothic hand, with bits of other words.

Most of our household is meeting up this weekend. Mícheál will be armouring with Nessa, and probably cooking with Aodh, and I plan to be getting up the nerve to do some illumination with Orlaith and maybe Sela. I’m sure there’ll also be sewing, archery, drinking and eating.


moved to wordpress.com

Section of a helmet plate patrix, featuring a weapons dancer (possibly Odin) and a beserker.

By Knut Stjerna (1874-1909) (Knut Stjerna, "Hjälmar och svärd i Beovulf" (1903)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Knut Stjerna (1874-1909) (Knut Stjerna, “Hjälmar och svärd i Beovulf” (1903)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I’ve have to move my blog from its old home at uanne.org, due to continual hacking attempts.  Welcome to its new home!

Bookmarks should continue to work, as redirection has been set up. But there’s still some builders’ rubble lying around from the move, so please forgive the missing and weird bits.

My DreamWidth journal continues as before.

6th January: anniversary of the coronation of…

Today is a day to be crowned! It’s the anniversary of at least five coronations.

detail of miniature of Charles V of France being crowned

From Wikipedia:

  • 1066 – Harold Godwinson (or Harold II) is crowned King of England.
  • 1205 – Philip of Swabia becomes King of the Romans.
  • 1322 – Stephen Uroš III is crowned King of Serbia.
  • 1355 – Charles I of Bohemia is crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy as King of Italy in Milan.
  • 1449 – Constantine XI is crowned Byzantine Emperor at Mystras.

It says Philip of Swabia becomes King of the Romans (as the King of Germany was called), but according to other wikipedia pages, that happened in 1198. Today in 1205 was his second crowning for the same kingdom. Another king, Otto, was also elected in 1198, a few months after Philip. In 1204, Philip did quite well in the civil war, and some of Otto’s supporters switched sides. So they crowned Philip again. Otto continued to be a competing king, and became sole king in 1208 when Philip was assassinated. It didn’t end well for Otto though. Just a few years later, in 1212, Frederick II was also crowned. He had been elected before both Philip and Otto, but was only a babby. Otto was disposed in 1215, and Frederick became sole ruler.

The image above is none of these rulers. I just liked it. It’s Charles V of France being crowned by the Archbishop of Reims, a detail from folio 59r of the Coronation Book of Charles V, also known as Cotton MS Tiberius B VIII. I cropped the image from http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=cotton_ms_tiberius_b_viii_f059r

Charles V’s own coronation was the 19th of May 1364. He commissioned this book in 1365 to be a record of it. You can find more information in this British Library medieval manuscripts blog post.

Meme from Facebook

Three “SCA things you might not know about me” (number from Sela de la Rosa)

1. When I originally considered personas, I was thinking about a late period Italian alchemist. I switched to norse for a number of reasons, including easier garb, childhood interest in vikings, and an existing desire to try things like tablet weaving and “viking wire knitting”.

2. SCA has both narrowed and broadened my crafting. I now mostly want to do medieval or renaissance things, but I’m also discovering so many more crafts I want to do. Eg, I had previously convinced myself not to take up spinning. I’ve lost interest in paper quilling, but I want to do wood carving. Etc.

3. When looking at extant pottery, I keep finding myself drawn to Byzantine stuff. Possible future persona? Or am I only interested in the pottery?

Ask me for a number.


baby dish with sgrafitto dancer
my tiny unfinished version of a 13th century bowl from Cyprus

Or maybe it’s Cypriot pottery I’m drawn to, not Byzantine. Here’s my baby (unglazed) version of a 13th century bowl. The page with the original is about Byzantine pottery, but says this is from 13th century Cyprus, and it doesn’t look like Cyprus was part of the Byzantine Empire then.

To the googlecopter!

See the original on Pinterest.

Viking Knits and Ancient Ornaments: Interlace Patterns from Around the World in Modern Knitwear

Viking Knits and Ancient Ornaments: Interlace Patterns from Around the World in Modern Knitwear, cover

I bought this book at the Knitting and Stitching show in the RDS. Obviously it doesn’t have real Viking knits, as they didn’t knit, but the patterns seem to based on real archaeological finds. From around the world, not just Northern Europe. Rome, Peru, Ethiopia, and many more.

I’ve only had a quick flick through it so far, but the author appears to break down interlaced patterns into subpatterns and types, which will probably be useful for looking at interlaced patterns in future. It’s so easy just to think “knotwork”, and not pay much more attention to it than notice if there’s zoomorphic or spiral elements to it.

Knitting-wise, it’s primarily about cables, though she does use i-cords to great effect to get out of a tricky corner in one pattern, where cables were converging from four directions. Admittedly, I hadn’t studied the photo before reading that the centre used i-cords, but I certainly hadn’t noticed the change in technique till then.

I don’t know if I’ll knit anything in the book. I’m a slow knitter, and haven’t attempted jumpers yet. I primarily bought it for the photos and drawings of knotwork finds, and secondarily for the simpler cablework designs.

Five things make a post

From Archaeology of Food: An Encyclopedia
Edited by Karen Bescherer Metheny, Mary C. Beaudry

“In the Roman world, vegetables were part of the everyday meal, served as side dishes with meat and cheese, or included in single-course dishes, but also as appetizers in banquets. In contrast, medieval Islamic recipes rarely employ vegetables on their own. Here a great variety of vegetables were used, but these were usually incorporated in stews.”


“Vegetables tend not to preserve well in the archaeological record. Most plants found on excavations are preserved through charring (carbonization), but vegetables have a lower chance of contact with fire than, for example, grain crops. Moreover, their leafy plant parts rarely survive such contact, in contrast to grains, seeds, and nutshells.” (Ibid)


Merino sheep are a breed from the middle ages, developed in Spain or Portugal, possibly from sheep introduced by Berbers. I’m delighted to learn that, as it’s my favourite wool. For a start, I’m not allergic to it, and can even felt it without getting itchy eyes.


In general, masculine nouns in Latin became masculine nouns in Spanish, and likewise for feminine. Neuter nouns mostly became masculine, unless they looked feminine, eg ending in the letter a.

But some, like mar (sea), never completely settled on one. Today, it is generally masculine, but feminine in certain situations, and according to A Brief History of the Spanish Language by David A. Pharies, has always vacillated between genders.


“To kill two birds with one stone” has a predecessor: “to stop two gaps with one bushe” is a proverb from the 16th century, with the first known mention in a collection of proverbs by John Heywood.

“To stop a gap” was itself used figuratively before 1600, eg Shakespeare used it in King John (1597)