Medieval Book Repair


Photo: Uppsala University Library

I am always inspired by the artistic work of the medieval monks.  The patience and dedication that they practiced in hand writing manuscripts was an act of worship and it shows. Their penmanship is an art form all on it’s own, and the illuminations are incredible. I am inspired by the devotion of the monks who faithfully sought to honor God by hand writing the bible in hopes that others would be able to read God’s words.

They used parchment when making these ancient books.

Parchment  is a thin material made from hide; often calfskin, sheepskin or goatskin, and often split. Its most common use was as a material for writing on, for documents, notes, or the pages of a book, codex or manuscript. It is distinct from leather in that parchment is limed but not tanned; therefore, it is very reactive to changes in relative humidity and is not waterproof. Finer-quality parchment is called vellum. – Wikipedia.


Photo: Uppsala University Library

Often there were small holes in the parchment that was made.  After a book had been written, the monks would then go back and “repair” these holes by embroidering around the edges with silk thread.  The result is beautiful!

You can read about this method in more detail at  Uppsala University Library.


Indian Beads & Petosky Stones


“Indian beads” can be found along the shore line of the Great Lakes. This pass time has been one of my favorite thing to do while at the beach.   I have been collecting these fossils since I was a kid, but  I have never known what exactly they are or where they come from.  So, I did a little research.

450px-Colorful_crinoids_at_shallow_waters_of_Gili_Lawa_LautThese treasures come from the marine animal called Crinoids.  There are two types of the plant-like animals. One type has a stalk that is used to hold on to the ocean floor.  This type of crinoid can be found deep under the sea below the lighted zone where the darkness hides the animal from predictors. The second type does not have a stalk and is found in shallow water coral reefs of the Caribbean Sea, the South Pacific Ocean and the cold waters of the Antarctic.  Since the Great Lakes are no where near any of these bodies of water, the fossils that I find come from ancient animals that lived here throughout the Devonian Age. Durring this time, Northern Michigan was covered with a sea of warm water.

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3926823992_7a896b0f35_zAnother product of the Devonian Age, and one of my favorite pieces of nature to collect are Petosky Stones.  These stones are fossilized coral and can be found along the northern shores of Lake Michigan.  They were the inspiration behind this beautiful blanket made by Amy Tylor.

petoskey afghanI really love this blanket. It might may find it’s way onto my knitting bucket list.

Saffron Orange & Maroon Red

When that first spark ignited in my heart for the people of Tibet, I found that, to me, their culture was synonymous with saffron orange and maroon red. For the most part, this is because these are the colors that the monks wear.

The traditional robes worn by today’s Tibetan monks originated 2,500 years ago.  Monks of that time, would scavenge cloth that had been discarded for reasons such as, being chewed by mice or oxen, being soiled by childbirth or menstruation, or being used to shroud a dead body. This cloth would be cleaned and any salvageable areas would be cut out and sewn together.

iStock_saffronA dye would be made by boiling the bark of trees, plant juices, leaves, fruit and flower juices along with the roots and tubers of plants over a long period of time. The maroon color of the outer robes that we see used today became the traditional color of Tibetan monks because at the time it was the cheapest dye to produce.  The inner robes are usually a bright saffron orange. Often, spices and heartwood from a jackfruit tree would be used  to achieve this color.

saffron yarn & fabric
Do you have certain colors that you automatically relate to a certain place?

Color Theory 101

This is the first in a series of 3 posts that I have put together on color theory. These posts will be coming out on Fridays. I am calling the series School of Color.


The best way to look at colors in relation to each other is with a color wheel.   Sir Isaac Newton was the first to arrange the colors in this manner in 1666.color wheel

There are 12 basic colors on the RYB (or artists) color wheel. These can be broken down into 3 groups.

There are 3 Primary colors, red, yellow, & blue.  In art, these pigment colors  can not be mixed or formed by any combination of other colors.  They are the building blocks that create all other colors.

There are also 3 Secondary colors.  These are orange, green, & violet. The secondary colors are created when two of the  primary colors mixed together.

The Tertiary colors are created when one primary color is mixed with one secondary color.  There are 6 tertiary colors.  They include red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, & red-violet.

The color wheel can be divided into warm & cool colors.

warm colorsThe warm colors include red, orange, yellow, & brown with all of their various hues included.

These colors seem to envelope you, causing spaces to feel small & cozy. They create an active response in the brain which creates feelings of excitement, & passion. When temperatures begin to drop outdoors, I find myself being drawn to the warm colors of Autumn.

Cool Colors

The cool colors include green, blue, & violet with all of their various hues included.

These colors are calming, & soothing.  They can make a space feel large, & open.  They create a passive response in the brain that causes a person to feel calm & relaxed.

I find myself being drawn to the cool colors when it is hot outside & I want to feel cooler.  I think of the greens of summer, when plant life is thriving, & blue in the winter when every thing is calm, quiet, & cold.

Black, white & gray are considered neutral colors.

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“Twining” is a verb meaning to wind or spiral around something.  It is a term to describe an old method used in creating baskets & bags.  In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to share a historic handcraft that was used by the Native Americans & probably the Pilgrims as well.

made by the Nez Perce

Many artifacts have been found all over the world showing us beautiful examples of how this technique has been used in many different cultures.  It is a simple technique that both children & adults will enjoy using.  It can be used in making very basic items or elaborate artful pieces.

I was introduced to the skill of twining this fall at a historical reenactment. A woman was making a bag & was kind enough to show me how she was making it.

To start with, she had looped a piece of twine the size she wanted the bag to be & secured it. This was to be the base of the bag.

Then she cut pieces of twine to a length that was twice the size she wanted the finished bag to be.  She draped these pieces over the initial loop to create her warp.
She cut enough pieces to go all the way around the loop laying the pieces side by side.

To make the warp stay in place, she simply started to twine the weft around each pair of warp strands, twisting the weft after each pair.

She continued to work the weft in this way until she had gone around the bag several times.  Then, she would create a gap & start again an inch or so farther down. I really like the look of these bags that she was making & think they would be great market bags. They look to be very strong & durable.

I had hoped to make a twined bag myself & post a tutorial for you.  However, with this being my first twining project, it is looking a bit rough. A tutorial will come later.