Ancient Egyptian linen. I got to look at some, up close.
Having recently read Barber's description of linen splicing in Prehistoric Textiles, I knew that the places that looked plied were most likely spliced, and these spots were visible here and there in the woven cloth. There's one going across in the photo below, just below the center of the image. If it works to click on these photos and see them bigger, you may be able to find more splices in other images.
I found a blue striped border, which recurred in several fragments. As you can see, the weave is warp-dominant - probably because the weaving was done on ground looms (as per Barber.)
Similar designs were displayed in the British Museum:
I found some fringe, and a seam, both of which may be part of the "additional tunics" mentioned in the conservation article from 1979.
That's the view of the seam that was on the inside, as the fabric lay in storage. On the other side, there is some lint along the fold, which I found very interesting - what would the lint be made of? It looks fluffy, like wool. And how old would the lint be? Ancient Egyptian lint? Or storage lint?
And here's an absolutely perfect selvedge, top of the photo below. It's not folded or anything - it's that straight.
The bulk of the perfect-selvedge cloth looked like this, with some uneven spaces between warps.
I could not decide if this was a result of deterioration or distortion from long years crumpled in storage, or if it appeared this way when it was originally woven. (The dark spot up top is a hole.) Anyway, I let the unevenness encourage me, since my current backstrap weaving has a lot of variation in the space between warps.
There was a wide range of density-to-lightness in the fabrics, with the linen threads also thicker in some cloth and finer in others. Here are two quite different piece, the upper one much lighter and finer.
Did I wish I could open each of these out and see the full size and shape and speculate more about their purpose? Of course I did! However, I was asked to disrupt them as little as possible, and truly any amount of unfolding risked further disintegration, so this was not the time to sort them all thoroughly. I was hoping that someday someone will, though.
Here is a knot. Just because it's there.
And finally, the Gurob sleeves (listed with other things on this helpful website), which I looked at (in a case, with the aid of a museum-provided flashlight/torch) after having examined the other linens. I was happy to see that I could make out the spliced sections on this fabric, which is much more finely and densely woven, and well-preserved. Beautiful seams, too.
These child-sized sleeves were made separately, to be attached to a sleeveless tunic as needed. This was apparently the custom, since Egypt is usually hot and most clothes were made sleeveless. I'm thinking the sleeves are densely woven because they are a warm layer for the cold season.
My appreciation for ancient linen production grew immensely that day.
It feels so nice to putter again. I’ve just had a good hour
or so of puttering about the apartment. When school is on, I don’t have time,
and as soon as the winter break began, I got completely ill with a bad cold.
Then I left town for two weeks, so had not had a good putter in ages.
After being away, it’s like a little ritual of attention,
re-establishing the familiar order of things, adjusting the arrangement of the
space in small ways (or bigger ways when, as now, my husband has been dealing
with electrical problems and a daily parade of workmen in my absence.)
It’s very gratifying to get a bunch of normal, necessary
things done, like wiping down the kitchen, putting away dishes, starting
laundry, unpacking, making a grocery list. Nothing the least bit remarkable,
but in the week before I left I was too sick to do any of it, which made me a
little crazy, and so just being able to productively putter is so nice.
And the sooner I’ve done the right amount of puttering, the
sooner I can dive back into spinning and weaving, which projects are calling
out to me enticingly.
Then I can also talk about all the things I saw in London,
like 5000-year-old linen,
and a spontaneous demonstration of North Ronaldsay fleece de-hairing in the British Museum atrium, courtesy of Sarah Wroot.