TRC Blog: Textile Moments

Encyclopedia of Embroidery Series update

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Preparations for Vol. 8 of the Encyclopedia of Embroidery series, covering the Antarctic, are already well advanced. Martin Hense, the draughtsman for the full series, just completed the first illustration.

Preparations for Vol. 8 of the Encyclopedia of Embroidery series, covering the Antarctic, are already well advanced. Martin Hense, the draughtsman for the full series, just completed the first illustration.

During the last few months the Encyclopedia of World Embroidery series (Bloomsbury Publishing, London), has been gaining momentum. The first volume on embroidery from the Arab World came out in 2016 (see here) and to everyone’s pleasure won the prestigious international award, the Dartmouth Medal.

Since then we have been working hard on volume 2, which is about embroidery from Central Asia, the Iranian Plateau and the Indian subcontinent (see here). The manuscript for this volume has gone to Bloomsbury and the book should appear by the end of 2019. For the Bloomsbury announcement, click here. Once again many people have been helping with advice, suggestions and with providing actual examples of embroidery.

For the next few years, we are planning the following volumes: 3 – Scandinavia and Western Europe; 4 – East and Southeast Asia; 5 – Eastern Europe and Russia; 6- Sub-Saharan Africa; 7- The Americas. 

 

Lees meer: Encyclopedia of Embroidery Series update

   

TRC receives grant to update its website and improve the online catalogue

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Thanks to the generosity of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and the Themafonds Digitalizering Erfgoedcollecties Zuid-Holland, the TRC Leiden has received a substantial grant to update the online catalogue of the TRC collection, improve and extend the digital database and to revamp the internet presence of the TRC in general. The work will start very shortly in re-styling the database, updating programmes, and getting even more photographs and information online!

Lees meer: TRC receives grant to update its website and improve the online catalogue

   

Opening a box full of American quilts

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I have had several emails from TRC Followers about the box from America, which I wrote about last week. Did we open it ? Can people see what is inside? What type of quilts are they?

Lees meer: Opening a box full of American quilts

   

Kisses and kangas

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Kangas at the exhibition “Our Kisses are Petals’, at Newcastle’s BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. Photograph: Shelley Anderson.

Kangas at the exhibition “Our Kisses are Petals’, at Newcastle’s BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. Photograph: Shelley Anderson.

Shelley Anderson, volunteer at the TRC, writes about a recent visit to England:

The words ‘textile’ and ‘art’ caught my eye, of course, on a recent visit to the city of Newcastle in northern England. The exhibition “Our Kisses are Petals’ was on at Newcastle’s BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

The artist was Lubaina Himid (born 1954, in Zanzibar), who won last year’s prestigious Turner Prize for modern art. The exhibition consisted of over a dozen large, banner-like canvases, attached to a system of pulleys. Each canvas depicted a part of the body, for example, the eyes, tongue, or heart, and a line of poetry by a black British or American poet.

Himid herself is the first black woman to win the Turner Prize. She is also the oldest, at 63, winner in history. Visitors were encouraged to rearrange the order of the quotes on the canvases by pulling on the pulleys. The paintings were based on the East African textile known as kanga. Also worn in Oman, the kanga is a versatile garment used by women as a dress, a head wrap, and sometimes a baby carrier.

Lees meer: Kisses and kangas

   

Sherry Cook, quilts, and the TRC Leiden

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Late 19th century American 'crazy quilt', 159 x 135 cm, donated by Sherry Cook (TRC 2018.2407).

Late 19th century American 'crazy quilt', 159 x 135 cm, donated by Sherry Cook (TRC 2018.2407).

Sherry Cook writes from America: My husband, Darwin, and I downsized from a large home in the fall of 2014 and have had a lot of boxes in storage since that time. We are now building a barn that will have small living quarters and storage space so I can get myself and the boxes organized. We also have our 60th wedding anniversary in September, so the decision has been made to downsize even more, to get everything organized, and at a faster pace.

We have been donating textiles to the Center for American History (CAH) in Austin, Texas since 2008. You can google the “CAH” or “Sherry A Cook, Quilter” to see some of the items we have donated. But we have now decided to support and encourage the TRC Leiden. We are very impressed with TRC’s leadership team, volunteers and all their efforts to work with world textiles.

Lees meer: Sherry Cook, quilts, and the TRC Leiden

   

Box full of quilts

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It is not often that I am hesitant to open a box of textiles, but this one has got me thinking very hard and long! By opening it we commit ourselves to increasing the USA textile and dress collection (a good thing) and to setting up the TRC Quilting Centre (also a good thing, but with lots of implications!).

The parcel comes from Sherry Cook in the USA and has eight quilts and quilt tops, plus feedsacks and other items. This is the first of several parcels, with the idea of Sherry donating many of her American quilts to the TRC in order to make a European based quilting centre that will look at quilting through the centuries from Roman times onwards, and throughout the world.

I have been discussing this idea with various colleagues, friends and quilters, and everyone things it’s the right thing to do, but it does have implications with respect to space, storage, exhibitions, workshops, etc. Within the last few days we have already been offered another collection of quilts from various countries, including Switzerland and New Zealand.

So I am taking a deep breath, drinking a cup of tea (I am British after all…..), and thinking about where further financial and logistical help can come from! But I know the TRC, we will do it and the TRC Quilting Centre will be a major addition to the study of textiles in the Netherlands (and elsewhere!). But it is going to be a very large pot of tea!

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 28th June 2018

 

   

Karen Finch (1921-2018)

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Karen Finch (1921-2018) at the Textile Conservation Centre, Hampton Court (copyright The Guardian)

Karen Finch (1921-2018) at the Textile Conservation Centre, Hampton Court (copyright The Guardian)

We have just heard the sad news that Karen Finch has died. A Grande Dame in the best sense of these words. She was responsible for creating the Hampton Court Textile Conservation Centre and for bringing textile conservation into the professional world in Britain. She hammered home the message that textiles have a story to tell and should be treated with respect (and not simply as an ‘old rag’). A message that the TRC will continue to push, shout and battle for!

Karen also had an influence on me as a young student, she was always willing to answer questions, make suggestions and tell stories. When I first started as a textile archaeologist in the early 1980’s she gave me a one week ‘conservation’ course at Hampton Court – basically first-aid for textiles – free of charge and with the willing help of all her staff. A week that gave me confidence and helped me to the present day. We have kept in contact, as have many of her former students, even if it was only a Christmas card, or a quick chat at this meeting or that conference. I am proud to say I am one of her ‘girls’. Thank you Karen.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, Director, TRC Leiden.

For a full obituary of Karen Finch, click here.

   

The Dutch 'Feestrok'' celebrating liberation from Nazi-Germany

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A 'Feestrok' from The Netherlands, celebrating liberation from Nazi-Germany, late 1940's (TRC 2011.0001a).

A 'Feestrok' from The Netherlands, celebrating liberation from Nazi-Germany, late 1940's (TRC 2011.0001a).

The June 2018 issue of the British magazine 'Selvedge' contains an article by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, director TRC, about the so-called 'feestrok'. These were patchwork skirts made in The Netherlands after World War II to celebrate the liberation of the country.

 
The collection of the TRC contains an example of the Feestrok (TRC 2011.0001a), together with its official certificate (TRC 2011.0001b). For a preview of the Selvedge article, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

An intriguing parliamentary uniform from Holland

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Embroidered coat of the parliamentary uniform of Laurens de Groot (TRC 2018.2133a).

Embroidered coat of the parliamentary uniform of Laurens de Groot (TRC 2018.2133a).

A few weeks ago the TRC received a donation of a group of items belonging to Mariet Portheine-ter Kuile. This donation included fifty Berlin wool work charts that formed the basis for a digital exhibition on this subject [click here]. Since then various other items belonging to the Portheine-ter Kuile family have been given to the TRC, including a gala uniform associated with the Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal (commonly known as the Tweede Kamer), the Dutch equivalent of the British House of Commons.

The uniform consists of a gold embroidered coat, matching trousers, a bicorn hat with orange cockade, gloves and, of course, a sword. The uniform belonged to the politician, Frederick (Frits) Portheine (1923-1990), who had been a member of the Tweede Kamer between 1963 and 1981. This type of uniform was worn by members of the Tweede Kamer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries on all formal occasions. There were various rules concerning how such garments were worn, as well as colour coding. Ministers, for example, had white trousers with a dark blue coat, while members of the Kamer had dark blue trousers and coat. So what is the history of this particular uniform?

 

Lees meer: An intriguing parliamentary uniform from Holland

   

Exhibition about velvet

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A late 15th century Italian voided velvet in silk and linen (TRC 2011.0362).

A late 15th century Italian voided velvet in silk and linen (TRC 2011.0362).

Plans are being developed for a TRC exhibition about the history, production, types and forms of that most luxurious of fabrics, namely velvet. This subject was chosen because the TRC Collection includes thirty Renaissance-period examples that date from the 15th-17th centuries. They mostly come from Italy, but there are some French and Spanish pieces as well. In order for visitors to really understand these luxury, court-level items and to see how they originally looked, the planned exhibition will include modern examples of the same quality, with comparative designs.

I have have been talking with the Lunsingh firm in Leiden, who are furniture restorers with many connections in the luxury textile world. They have shown me some hand woven velvets that can cost up to €2000 per metre. Some forms are made of pure silk with gold thread. Not surprisingly this type of velvet has to be specially ordered and is not widely available! Some of the other examples they showed me were used for Parliament in The Hague, another for the Royal Palace in Amsterdam and yet another form was used for the Spanish court. They also have examples of so-called Utrecht velvet, which is  made out of mohair (only €650 per metre). What amazing, gorgeous pieces.

A 16th century Spanish silk velvet with stamped design (TRC 2011.0367)

A 16th century Spanish silk velvet with stamped design (TRC 2011.0367)

We have estimated that to get some stunning samples of the main types of velvet currently available will cost about €15000. But it would make a fantastic exhibition and show items that most people will have never seen before. The temptation to touch will be enormous!

The TRC is currently looking for an individual, family or company that would be willing to help with this exhibition (they will, of course, be properly acknowledged). We need to find €15000 for the velvets and if a fully illustrated publication about the history of velvet and the many different types is also produced, then this will require a further €7500 euros. Basically we are looking for a total of €22500 (US$ 26500, GB£19500).

Please let me know if you can help with the realisation of this exhibition as soon as possible, as it is going to take at least a year to organise, but it will be well worth it!

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, Sunday 10th June 2018

   

Embroidery and Hangzhou

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Embroidered rank badge from 19th century China (TRC 2010.0139b).

Embroidered rank badge from 19th century China (TRC 2010.0139b).

As some of you will know I am working on a history of embroidery from around the world for a Bloomsbury (London-based publishers) series of encyclopaedia. The first volume came out in 2016 and at least five more are coming. Throughout the recent conference in Hangzhou (click here) about handlooms and textiles I have been talking with a lot of people about - embroidery.

On various occasions I was able talk about the TRC’s series of encyclopaedias. I had a wonderful opportunity to talk to curators, historians, collectors and dealers about embroidery and the role of this important textile technique. During the conference, I was also able to spend time with one of the conference speakers and his wife. She is a specialist in Chinese minority embroidery. It is thanks to them I am gaining a knowledge of minority forms by being able to handle recently acquired examples, especially from among the Deng, Miao and Yunnan. More on this subject to come!

I have been able to discuss with Eve Anderson, Director of the Centre for Textile Research, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, for example, about the Encylopedia of Embroidery and she has offered help with the research for the archaeological evidence for embroidery in Scandinavia and in preparing the table of contents for the volume on Scandinavian and West European embroidery (vol. 3 in the series).

I also have had the chance to talk with people living in Laos, Indonesia, as well as China, about the 4th volume in the series and everyone has offered help in some manner. It’s been a fascinating time and it was made very clear just how many different types there are, the range of techniques and designs, and the versatility of the subject with respect to East Asia.

I spent a very enjoyable last day in China looking at archaeological examples of Chinese embroidery that are on display in the National Silk Museum. Basically it is going to be an amazing few years putting the East Asian volume of the Bloomsbury Encyclopeadia together.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, Thursday 7th June 2018.

 

   

National Silk Museum, Hangzhou, China

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Zilu loom for taqueté floor coverings, Iran. National Silk Museum, Hangzhou, China. Photograph: Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood.

Zilu loom for taqueté floor coverings, Iran. National Silk Museum, Hangzhou, China. Photograph: Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood.

I am just home from a conference about handlooms held at the National Silk Museum in Hangzhou, China, and what a conference it has been! I am so glad that I went. I was there to give a paper on the history of zilu weaving in Iran (and added a piece about taqueté in Egypt for good measure) and to work with the zilu weaver who came especialy from Iran for the conference. In addition, the TRC had donated a large zilu floor covering from Meybod, Iran, which was put on display in the exhibition. It let the visitors see and understand just how large a zilu loom could actually be.

The conference accompanied an exhibition about handlooms from around the world and for the next two months it is possible to see and come very close to a wide variety of forms. I would make a plea at this moment to larger museums interested in textiles to see if they could borrow this exhibition and the looms. It would be well worth it.

What made the whole conference and exhibition so interesting is that the Museum brought over to China a number of professional handloom weavers – to talk about and demonstrate their looms. Suddenly things that I had read about in books and articles or seen in films and photographs made sense. I had several ‘Oh so that is how it works’ moments. And I was not the only one.

 

 

Lees meer: National Silk Museum, Hangzhou, China

   

Dammur cloth from Sudan: Continued

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Last week we put a blog online about the visit of Magdalena Woźniak to work on the TRC’s Crowfoot Collection and in particular the Sudanese items (click here). To Magdalena’s great pleasure she found a piece of dammur cloth. Magdalena also wrote a blog about this piece of cloth and its social and economic significance (click here).

Lees meer: Dammur cloth from Sudan: Continued

   

Sudan, Poland, and the TRC

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Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, director of the TRC, writes about special attention being paid to the Sudanese /Nubian collection at the TRC:

This week we have been very busy with a special section of the TRC Collection. It all started with a visit for four days by Magdalena Woźniak, a Marie Curie Fellow from the Polish Academy of Sciences. She is an archaeologist working on Nubian textiles and dress, from the north of Sudan, Africa (and also someone who came on the TRC 5-day textile course in 2015).

Lees meer: Sudan, Poland, and the TRC

   

Grace Crowfoot and the Aleppo tarbit (ikat) industry

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Woman's coat from Jordan, 1920's, made of ikat cloth (TRC 2005.0076).

Woman's coat from Jordan, 1920's, made of ikat cloth (TRC 2005.0076).

Among the many items belonging to the English textile archaeologist Grace Crowfoot (1879-1957) now in the TRC Collection Leiden, are a few objects relating to the production of tarbit (ikat) in Aleppo, Syria. In particular there is a letter that describes some of the relevant processes in Aleppo in 1939.

Ikat is a general term for a form of resist dyeing technique, in which the warp and/weft threads are coloured prior to the weaving of the cloth. In Syria it is known as tarbit. There has been a trade in the production of tarbit in Aleppo and surrounding regions for hundreds of years.

In order to produce ikat, groups of threads are being tightly bound together in a specific order to create the desired design. By repeatedly binding, dyeing, rebinding, dyeing, and so forth, it is possible to create a range of patterns. Tarbit from Syria often take the form of silk striped cloth and checked cotton forms. Where a silk or artificial silk warp is used together with cotton wefts, then this type of cloth is known as qutni (‘the cotton ones’).

Lees meer: Grace Crowfoot and the Aleppo tarbit (ikat) industry

   

Dammur cloth from Sudan

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Piece of Dammur cloth from Sudan, 1920s, collected by Grace Crowfoot (TRC 2016.0034).

Piece of Dammur cloth from Sudan, 1920s, collected by Grace Crowfoot (TRC 2016.0034).

Magdalena Woźniak from Poland is studying Nubian textiles. She was recently at the TRC to look at relevant objects that were collected in the 1920s in Sudan by the British textile historian, Grace Crowfoot. Magdalena has written a brief report:

The TRC Collection is very much like Ali Baba’s cave – each box contains hidden treasures! While working for the last few days on Grace Crowfoot’s ethnographic collection from Sudan, I had the immense pleasure of discovering a cotton cloth (TRC 2016.0034) labelled “ ‘Dammur’ woven from ‘Tree’ cotton at Hillet Mahmud, Sennar.”

Why is this so exciting? Because ‘dammur’ was mentioned by European travellers from the 19th century as a substitute for currency. Here is an extract from an account by the Swiss geographer and Orientalist, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt (1784-1817), who visited Sudan in 1813: “The common currency of the country at Berber, and all the way from thence to Sennaar, is Dhourra, and Spanish Dollars; […] Besides the Dhourra, another substitute for currency is the Dammour, a coarse cotton cloth, which is fabricated in the neighbourhood of Sennaar, and principally used by the people of this country for their shirts: one piece of Dammour is exactly sufficient to make one shirt for a full grown man; this is called Tob, or Thob Dammour.” (J. L. Burckhardt, Travels in Nubia, London, 1819:234).

Lees meer: Dammur cloth from Sudan

   

Buttons galore

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Three pairs of buttons, The Netherlands, 1930s (TRC 2018.1497a-f).

Three pairs of buttons, The Netherlands, 1930s (TRC 2018.1497a-f).

As noted in an earlier blog, the last few months at the TRC have been used to sort, photograph and catalogue a collection of 1920’s-1940’s textiles and garments from a family in Wassenaar, which is close to Leiden. The donation also included what appeared to be a small box of buttons, buckles and clasps, which fitted into our work on textiles and fashion.

The buckles and clasps were quickly catalogued and put online, but the buttons presented a totally different challenge. There were hundreds of them! What should we do with them! Keep them all? Make a general collection or something more complicated, namely a reference collection? The latter could then be used by the TRC and others for identifying and describing buttons from all ovet the place and from all periods. Buttons seem so ordinary they are often forgotten or regarded as unimportant. Such a reference collection would take them out of obscurity.

With typical TRC bravado we have decided to make such a reference collection. The button descriptions have been divided into the following: a. Materials used to make the buttons (from bone to plastics); b. General appearance (bell, convex, concave, flat, round, square, etc); c. Parts of a button (and there are an intriguing range of elements for something so small); d. Different types of fastening systems (through, shank, stud, etc); e. Function (buttons, inside buttons, shoe, glove, dress, waistcoat, uniform, etc).

It will be a while before the whole Button Reference System is working in a satisfactory manner, but we feel that this and similar reference collections will make a big difference in creating a more accurate description of what we actually have in the ever growing and quite frankly, quite amazing TRC Collection.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, Sunday 13th May 2018

 

   

Lace and the TRC

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Detail of a Christening veil from Brussels, Belgium, c.1820 (TRC 2014.0831).

Detail of a Christening veil from Brussels, Belgium, c.1820 (TRC 2014.0831).

TRC volunteer Olga Ieromina and director Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood are busy at the moment sorting out and cataloguing the TRC’s extensive lace collection. The main theme of the collection is 'technique' and it includes needle laces, bobbin laces, net, knotted (tatting, macramé), looped (knitted and crochet), and embroidered forms, as well as a range of machine made laces (levers, chemical, etc).

During the next few weeks more and more items relating to the production of lace will be made available to view in the TRC Collection online. These include tatting shuttles, hairpin lace frames, a wide selection of crochet hooks from the early twentieth century, as well as various types of lace bobbins and related equipment.

Most of the TRC lace dates to the 19th and 20th centuries, but we hope to increase the range of examples over the next few years to make it into a comprehensive reference collection for the identification of lace.

The weekend of the 8th-9th September 2018 will be dedicated to a two-day course given by Olga on the identification of different types of lace and an explanation of how these are made (click here for more information and registration). This course is designed for people with little knowledge of the various types of lace, but will also be of interest to the experienced.

If you have any examples of old lace that you would like to donate to the TRC, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us at Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. .

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, Thursday 10th May 2018

   

The TRC online exhibitions

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Pair of daily lotus shoes, early 20th century (TRC 2013.0063a-b).

Pair of daily lotus shoes, early 20th century (TRC 2013.0063a-b).

In order to put the TRC Collection in context AND online, we are busy making a series of online exhibitions that reflect the diversity and depth of the 20000 items in the catalogue. So far there are eight exhibitions already completed. They range from Afghan dress, postcards from the First World War, clothing from the ‘Stans’’, feed sack dresses and quilts, to Berlin wool charts and appliqués made by the men and women of the Street of the Tentmakers in Cairo.

Three exhibtions have just recently been finished. The first is an exhibition of Berlin wool charts, recently donated to the TRC collection.

The second is about ancient Greek loom weights in the TRC collection associated with the warp weighted loom. This exhibition is by Shelley Anderson and helps place the archaeological weights in their historical and technological context.

The third online exhibition is about Chinese lotus shoes worn by girls and women at the beginning of the 20th century. The TRC collection includes a variety of different types and sizes of these tiny shoes, as well as items relating to the making of this form of footwear, including patterns, thread, embroidered panels, irons, awls and small wooden lasts. There are regional variations as well as different domestic items, such as leggings, silk bandages, bridal shoes, daily shoes, mourning and funeral shoes, even a pair of overshoes with iron cleets for wearing in rainy and muddy conditions. This exhibition is dedicated to Mrs. Mariet ter Kuile-Portheine, a long time friend and supporter of the TRC.

In addition to the above exhibitions the two Manchester students who are currently at the TRC are working hard on their own online exhibitions. The exhibition by Kate is about urban underwear from the late 19th century until the 1960’s and will included cotton, lace and knitted examples. Kazna is busy with one about Yemeni dress for men and women. She is also thinking about making an exhibition about the different types of face veils.

We are also thinking about a digital exhibition on the decoration of women’s hats in the 1920’s and 1930’s based on a collection of over 700 items given to the TRC by the family of Mrs van Rijckevorsel van Kessel (Wassenaar). She was a textile buyer for the Dutch fashion house of Doorn. The items in this collection were either worn by her or collected during her working life. Mrs van Rijckevorsel van Kessel was a dedicated decorator of hats and the collection include hat bases, a wide range of bands and ribbons, to feathers, beaded panels and buckles.

Sunday, 15th April 2018. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood

   

In de ban van de kous

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10 maart 2018: Reconstructie van 17de-eeuwse kousen uit een scheepswrak gevonden voor de kust van Texel. Foto: Museum Huis van Hilde, Castricum.

10 maart 2018: Reconstructie van 17de-eeuwse kousen uit een scheepswrak gevonden voor de kust van Texel. Foto: Museum Huis van Hilde, Castricum.

Het is zaterdag 10 maart: Vandaag heb ik iets bijzonders op het programma staan. Ik mag dit weekeinde, samen met een stuk of honderd anderen, naar een reconstructie van 17e-eeuwse zijden kousen. Er wordt door het Textile Research Centre in Leiden een experiment gedaan met het reproduceren, onderzoeken en het gebruik van deze kousen en ik mag daaraan meedoen.

Met de trein van Groningen naar Castricum, drie keer overstappen, ik verheug me op wat komen gaat. In de laatste trein, Amsterdam Centraal naar Castricum, hoor ik opeens, door het geroezemoes in de coupé heen, iemand "0,7" zeggen. Het is als een afgesproken code-woord. Ik weet dat deze mensen hetzelfde reisdoel hebben als ik en ik sluit me bij hen aan. In Castricum, bij  het archeologisch museum Huis van Hilde, ziet het er al gezellig druk uit. Als we naar binnen mogen staat er een ontvangstcomité op ons te wachten. Bij hen leveren we de kleine, gebreide stukjes zijde in die we bij de vorige bijeenkomst mee hebben gekregen als onderzoeksmateriaal, gebreid op pen 0,7 en pen 1, met verschillende soorten zijde. We krijgen een beschrijving van een deel van de kous waar we dit weekeinde op zullen oefenen. Een zaal met zo’n honderdvrouwen en één man, voornamelijk Nederlands maar de bijeenkomst wordt ook bijgewoond door mensen uit Hongarije, Portugal en Duitsland.

Lees meer: In de ban van de kous

   

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