The stockings of Texel

On Saturday the 7th of July in my blog entry from the recent summer school on textiles, I mentioned the third presentation of the day was a blueprint for citizen science and experimental textile archaeology.  Now, that I have more time I want to write up that presentation entitled:

Reconstructing the 17th-century silk stockings from the Texel shipwreck.  The advantages and challenges of a citizen science project-Chrystel Brandenburgh.

The star of the Texel shipwreck excavation was this dress.

Texel stockings

However, the focus of the reconstruction project was this pair of unworn silk stockings.

More informal details on the dress may be read at a blog post from TRC Leiden (Textile Research Centre):

So, why were the stockings the focus of a reconstruction project?

The main objectives was to gain knowledge into the production and usage of the silk stocking in the 17th century using history and experimental archaeology.

The research questions for the project:

  1. How were the stockings made?
  2. How were the stockings used?
  3. Were the stockings custom made?
  4. Were the stockings made to a one size fits all pattern?

The project was designed, of course, to answer the research questions but it was also designed to create knowledge, to share knowledge and to learn by doing through citizen science/citizen experimental archaeology.

The Project Design

  • Research and documentation (questionnaires and workshops)
  • Test swatches production through workshops
  • Testing techniques
  • Knitting full reconstructions through workshops
  • Experimental research-How did the reconstructed stockings fit, how did the stockings perform in shoes over time?


Funding and participants

In order to address the two issues above, the project co-ordinators took to social media and its global connectivity in virtual time. The call was put out for twenty knitters and over a hundred responded but these volunteers needed to be organised in real time and as we know real time takes time. It was a challenge to organise the project from time frames, requirements,  collecting data, to monetary challenges.  For example, the scientific analysis was required to understand the silk structure of the stockings, was it reeled or spun silk?  and the degumming of the silk was required in order to dye, and what of the knitting direction aka pattern that also needed analysis so the 100 knitters could learn how to knit like it was 1699!!!

Crowd funding through social media was utilised alongside sponsorship was also used to fund the cost of materials and for the organisation of workshops.

Workshop One

This workshop gathered about 25 global knitters together where instructions were given on how to knit 5 x 5 cm swatches using three types of silk with needles (1 mm and 0.7 mm). The estimation was that each knitter would produce three swatches and this amount of swatches acted as a template for future costing of complete pairs of stockings (ten pairs required), The end result was a production output of 160 swatches with each swatch taking five hours with various knitting techniques, directions and questionnaires to fill out for any issues that may arise. The platform of Ravelry was used to track the participants progress outside of the workshop.

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Dr Brandenberg presenting the Texel experimental archaeology project

Workshop Two

This workshop of knitters involved further lectures, demonstrations of various knitting techniques, problem solving and knitting. Assignments were allocated for the stocking knitting, ten pairs and, again, with questionnaires that would act as the citizen science record. This project is still ongoing and currently, TRC at Leiden are writing a detailed publication and planning a conference.

A visual round-up of the Texel silk stocking presentation







Thank you


Day Eleven-The last day at KU Summer School, Textiles and Fashion in Theory and Practice through 3,000 years.

Last night, we visited the Designmuseum ( and the task there was to decode the representation of fashion through two displays “Fashion and fabric” and “Danish Design Now”. Then, this morning we discussed what was the general narrative, identify the target audience, what was, both, the strengths and weaknesses of the exhibits and “what seems to happen to fashion when it is “musealised” and becomes part of our public heritage management? This term, generally, means placing lives (from the recent and distant past), the activities of those lives and associated material culture into a freeze frame (museum).

One example, the late Alexander Mc Queen and Savage Beauty exhibition (Costume Institue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, US) 2011 and at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2015

McQueen designed as a craftsman, he knew the lines of his craft so well and to quote him…

rules and MC Q

He had learnt the tradition of making clothes, he used it to underpin his own talented craftsmanship and he experimented by cutting cloth beyond the measure in order to present material in a myriad of curated McQueen themes.  The retrospective Savage Minds exhibition presented a freeze frame of his creative life, its activities and its material culture.

A mc Q


Continuing with the theme of fashion and museums, the class listened to the history of fashion in museums.  We, as a group, listened and observed and grasp what a difficult concept for museums to curate…………fashion, a work always in progress not linear but cyclical

Linear Hangars Circular hangars

Our final session took us into the land of Google with Louise Rytter (Content editor for Google Arts and Culture’s We Wear Culture Project) (

An interesting platform and tool with many opportunities to observe and learn but it is a tool and that is all it is.

Why do I say this?

Well,  a scenario was recounted to us that two reality garments were laid out in a room surrounded by tools of virtual reality technology and no-one touch the real garments, sad!!!! I utilise technology constantly, I want to and I choose to, however, I do not want the V&A, the Victoria and Albert Museum to become the G&A Museum, the Google Arts Museum.  I want to use both reality and virtual reality and what I object to is the subtle manipulation of choice that is already in our daily lives. Are we in danger of being musealised as we live or as it happened already…………….think, Instragram ready!!!!

I want to finish tonight by thanking my fellow students for the great support and advice and the super laughter. To the staff at the Centre for Textile Research, Saxo Insitute, Copenhagen thank you all for invaluable words of guidance, encouragement, informative lectures, and readings, I learnt so much.

I want to extend an invitation to you all to visit the Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture, University College Dublin.

The very best of luck with all presentations and the exam in August.




Fashioning culture and identity

Day Ten-Lecture morning with Marie Riegels Melchior on “Danish Fashion: History, Design. Identity”

A lecture with the theme of translating fashion into Danish. A practice-based study of fashion that has levels of analysis wrapped around a cultural process that fostered a belonging to a nation with a vocabulary of fashion. Using that prism, Danish fashion in the 1950s commenced a move away from a monocentric towards a polycentric model. The 1960s saw the rise of the ‘Teenager’ with their own money and the desire to express a new, different representation of themselves and from that phenomena, the boutiques and lifestyle brands developed. One, in particular, was the ‘B-age’ a design concept from a dynamic couple, the Brandts with the underlying influences from London, think, Mary Quant and the Biba store.


The 1970s as a decade in Danish fashion history seen state acknowledgement and support in the development of the Danish fashion export trade. At this time, economic and competitive challenges threaten the Danish fashion and it was not until the 80s that new strategies were implemented to re-negotiate the position of the fashion industry at home and abroad. From the 1990s onwards, the dualism of fashion in Denmark dressed changes such as the branding of the industry in the wider fashion world.

Within the wider world yet on a different fashion stage, our afternoon lecture examined the motives for the wearing of historical military jackets in the rock world.  According to Jennifer Craik (2005), this action is one that is ‘radically transgressive’.  A comment which refers to the action of taking the military jacket which was specifically designed to function in a particular manner and subverting its original function and demeaning the respect, pride and dignity that exists in the jacket. Is this a fair comment? In order to offer an explanation, we need to think, firstly, of the rock military jackets, faux or original.

The original military

Let us look to the tailored, braid fronted, original, dress jacket, it was cut in an extremely flattering style to the male form and remained in use long after wartime had ended but in its intended dress circle, that of the military.  However, in 1960s London, a boutique called, I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet, opened with a stock of antique military uniforms and thus began this fashion among rock musicians like Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger for wearing military jackets for their performance but did they demean the jackets and steal from the fabric that pride and dignity of military life. I would argue that they did not instead, they added to the biography of the military jacket by adding a layer with less bloody consequences.


The faux military jackets

The second type of military jackets, the faux, worn by The Beatles on the cover of their Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album appeared more as a 1960s shiny colourful nod to the Victorian fashion of bandstand concerts. The Beatles used the faux jackets as visual hooks both in the style form, colours and fabric,  They were a group did not do the looking rather, they were looked at and the same applies to the usage of the original military jackets on stage.

Who is Karl Lagerfeld? A hard-working designer of fashion or a fashionable, talented actor that has continued to lead the iconic House of Chanel over the years with success. It is a known fact that Lagerfeld embroiders the truth and on other days, he is economical with the truth. After today’s lively lecture and discussion, Lagerfeld appears in my eyes as a human palimpsest, one image today, another image on the next day but still with traces of the original on his persona.

KLTKarl 4Karl 7Karl last The Ages of Karl Lagerfeld




Strike a pose…………fashion!!!

Day Nine-Fashion, culture and identity.

What is fashion?  What is design? How is individual and collective identities shaped by fashion, past, present and into the future?

Throughout this morning, these questions appeared and I felt like I was sitting on a carousel of fashionable theories looking at fashion from a totally new angle. Asking myself, “How do I know what I know about fashion?”

I see it across a myriad of platforms, in images and words, through the window of shops and across the World Wide Web.  I know its form and function and I use it every single day but do I know it?  Not really as I sat on the aforementioned fashion carousel and listened to the history of fashion studies with its several approaches but I also thought about my own early engagement with fashion, when I attended the school of the Early Madonna Period.

Madonna 3   madonna 1  madonna 2

Yes, I wanted her style, I copied her style, anything and everything in cloth was worn with imagination, lace as bracelets, underwear as outerwear, leggings under skirts, and fashion was an arena of creativity and imagination for me. Was I fashionable? In the early 80s, yes, I was but how about my identity, because I copied Madonna, as did countless other young women of my age, did that mean, I had Madonna’s identity? No, instead what I had was a dialogue with Madonna’s style, I copied in my own way.  I made clothing choices based on what I had to hand and a framework provided by Madonna. I am going to call this a practice-based approach in cataloguing the history of my fashion and we, the early period Madonna girls, performed with her in the song and dance known as the dual action of individualism and conformity. The threads of fashion drew us together and held us there in the early years of the 1980s.

Fashion was not enough for Madonna as the decade of the 80s played out, she struck a pose, a vogue in the same attitude as the French court of the Sun King, Louis XIV and in her 1990 video for MTV, and she did pay homage to that courtly fashion underpinned by absolutism. The court of Louis played itself out as a way of life from dress to gesture but while the court appeared centralised and appeared to be the market leaders in fashion (to borrow a modern expression), the reality was that non-western societies progressed in clothing changes at the same time too ( More details at this link.

As I wrote yesterday with regard to colour, society needs to open its eyes and minds to that colour on the marble and to the fact that nobody holds the monopoly on global fashion history.

Tomorrow, we examine Danish fashion, its history, design, Identity with Karl Lagerfeld wearing rock military style and Madonna might drop in!!!!


Colour matters…….

Day Eight-The second section of textiles in Greek and Roman times. This morning started with lectures from Professor Marie Louise Bech Nosch on the recorded textile knowledge of the Linear B inscriptions. See this link for a searchable database:

Linear B

These inscriptions on textiles and, in particular, linen provide us with a snapshot of how well organised the early Greek tax revenue system was but the inscriptions also demonstrate how textiles and their organised production played a vital economic role in the Aegean trade landscape.

I wrote yesterday of polychrome and our second lecture today with Dr Amalie Skovmoller was a continuation of that form ‘Tracking Colour: Exploring Ancient Polychrome’. She raised many interesting questions on

  • Why colour matters?
  • Why we need to balance modern myths and ancient realities?
  • How do we perceive colour now and how did we perceive it in the past?

Cultural conditional, in the case of polychrome, cold, white marble is seen as an aesthetic that needed no additions, it is perceived as classical, an admired pinnacle of taste, but is this a modern myth?   The periodisation label of classic or classical is just that, a label, and in the case of colour vs marble, what was the ancient reality? Colour does matters now, and it did in the past. We need to examine how we study colour, we should approach it from a study of materiality from the pigmentations used, the processes that were required to produce paint, and we need to examine, how does materiality assist creativity?

I do not know the answer to that question but after today’s lecture, I do know that testing carried out on several sculptures in the Copenhagen Glyptotek have revealed evidence of yellow, red, blue and lead white scattered across the classical drapery of those white marble Roman statues. Time has washed the colour from these objects and left us to read just one side of the story with iconography.  We need to use the aforementioned materiality to assist in the rounding out of the colour coded past. This attached link to a Sarah Bond will express more succinctly ‘why colour matters?’

Still colour related, the practical work for today involved dyeing swatches of silk and small wool hanks more tomorrow on the…………..


The day ended with a lovely Italian meal in the great company of Dr Aoife Daly, formerly of the UCD parish and now at Copenhagen University. See Aoife’s educational Facebook page:






Copenhagen, Greece, and Rome all on a sunny Sunday.

Day Seven-Sunny Sunday here in the city of Copenhagen and where better to sip coffee then, outside the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek before the first of today’s two learning sessions. See this link for the history of this colourful gallery:


The morning programme involved the study of dress and colour on ancient sculpture. Dr Amalie Skovmoller presented her research on polychromy which is the practice of decorating sculpture with colour. Her lecture drew our attention to tiny rust-like pigments that dotted across some of the dress, hands, feet and heads of the Roman imitations of lost Greek sculptures.

For example, polychromy analysis on the Wounded Amazon (Rome c.150 AD) has detected that blood was originally painted trickling from a wound on her right arm along with other painted colour shades, tints and hues on her body. Colour is a very powerful tool of expression that has the ability to commence a dialogue.  In the case of these sculptures, is it something to consider as a restoration project or is it better to leave the cool silent beauty of the marble?


Restoration of any art form is a delicate balancing operation of excellent research, expert knowledge, skill and talent with both pigmentation and brush-work. Less is always the rule of thumb with restoration, either be it in adding colour or re-attaching a broken limb, this is a surface and depth manipulation, one that is ancient art surgery.

Our second session at the Glyptotek placed us as student curators, our research is on the theme of discovering ancient dress at the museum. I worked with a fellow student and together, we examined Fundilia, a matrona from the sanctuary of Diana at Nemi, Italy (1st century BC). We will detail our work tomorrow at the university.

Traces of pigmentation and restoration work of Fundida

Across the road at the Danish National Museum, our afternoon session took the form of studying ancient inscriptions, one in particular from the Temple of Lindos, Rhodes, 390 BC, destroyed by fire and fully rebuilt in 300 BC.

This inscription was, in fact, an inventory of the gifts that were deposited at the first and second temples which detailed ‘The legendary Treasure of Athena from Lindos’ (Shaya, 2005). These gifts to the Gods of textiles, jewellery, leather and so on, changed the meaning of these material objects, the gifts became static objects in the temple and entered a hierarchy of organised value, who gave what, and was it likely that the Gods would look more favourably on one or another set of gifts (Shaya,2005).

Lindian Temple Chronicle 

Like the Irish weather, the Danish summer is proving exceptional warm and neither museum had any cooling system. Cooling drinks needed………….

IMG_1465 (1)
Tivoli  Gardens in the background

Then, we all moved to the garden to tapestry weave on small cards.  Sitting beside someone who is talented should never be intimidating as they can show you the task and you can work on at your own speed and I sat beside a very talented student whose work I have added below


Let me add, I have to do a lot of practice but I got a good start today.


Shaya, J. (2005) ‘The Greek Temple as Museum: The Case of the Legendary Treasure of Athena from Lindos’. American Journal of Archaeology, 109, (3) pp. 423-442.




Hats on to the early modern men of Europe.

Knitting in Early Modern Europe (KEME) seminar no 4 – Saturday 7 July 2018.

Day six-As part of the textile summer school, we took part in the above seminar at the Centre for Textile Research. In order to place this knitting seminar in context, we need to view the emergence of knitting as a significant progressive textile production technique and to narrow the focus on this development, Jane Malcolm-Davies at the Centre for Textile Research (CTR) began to investigate over a hundred knitted caps in museum collections from across Europe. These caps related to each other in style despite their scattered locations and they demonstrated how this developing technique of knitting created new trends in the hat wearing men of early modern Europe. I have provided links below so, you can read and listen to, in more detail, the full investigation of Malcolm-Davies and her knitting team.

For me, this seminar was a first chance to tweet with regard to what was happening as it happened. How successful that action was, is debatable as I need to understand a little more with regard to the usage of the ######## handles. I have provided here a link to the twitter account and you can head over for pictures of the seminar:

This account, I tweeted from is the UCD Experimental Textile  Archaeology Group which I lead, and we operate under the auspices of the Experimental Archaeology and Material Centre at University College Dublin with Prof. Aidan O’Sullivan, Director and Dr. Brendan O’Neill, Deputy Director. See all links here:



YouTube Channel



So, back to the today’s seminar with the following running order of papers.




The first paper was based on an investigation of the sugar loaf hats of Copenhagen.



Fashion hats with a raised stable crowns and a wide brims, knitted in two layers with 4 ply Z spun wool.  The brim was knitted first, cast off, and the crown knitted on double pointed needles. Like the set pictured below.

double needles


S L Hat

These hats, from, both the analysis of extant museum collections and their appearance in art of the 16th century, indicate that men of various standings adopted the fashion of the sugar loaf hat in what can be described as the trickle-down effect. That is when consumers at the upper end of the buying scale adopt a trend, it tends to trickle down from one set of consumer level to the next.

The second paper of the morning presented a tangled conspiracy of royal wearing knitted waistcoat personages. Tongue twister, eh. Although, the papers main theme through the examination of these waistcoats/vests indicated how fashion in the upper levels is not vertical in its adoption rather it is cyclical.

The third presentation, I will give a separate blog entry to as it was an extremely successful blueprint for citizen science and experimental textile archaeology.  I will post it up after I return home next week. Now, we did have one task before lunch and that was to reconstruct a tiny fragment of an excavated socking garter. I am no knitter, so I am still working on my garter!!!! Pictures to burn the eyes will not follow, ha, ha.

Our paper presentations and discussions continued after lunch. I presented my archaeological knitting documentation from Thursday to a museum professional in the attempt to test a new knitting documentation protocol. As I am no knitter, many of the terms used in this new system required further research and familiarisation on my part but it was an excellent learning exercise and based on the documented evidence, I provided Petra corrected my final interpretation of a silk stocking to that of a woollen stocking. Based on that, I’m not in the upper tiers of the trickle-down effect!!!!

The final papers combined 16th-century wool socks from English collections and a list of question to consider when reconstruction.


An example of a reconstructed 16th-century style woollen stocking

Hanna Backstrom and her meticulous research on the using bibliographies to research early German knitting and crochet manuals.


Finally, a presentation by Sandy Black, maths, fashion, and art unfortunately, I can’t upload video segments that I recorded as the presentation was via Skype from the UK. I have included Sandy on the screen and Olivia in the chair for the Q&A session.