Friday, April 16, 2021

dry bones - day 35 (year 2)

in which our plucky heroine restarts a project...

in the before times, one of my SCA goals was to create plausible contents of a Viking Age sewing kit*. Since deciding to participate in Athenaeum later this year, I want to make some new artifacts, and get back to doing a bit more research
These are Viking Age style threadwinders, based on finds from Birka (8 - 10th c). The two originals are made from antler slabs; as I do not have antler slabs on hand to work with, these are made of cow bone, but actual dimensions. Bone is easy to work with hand tools, as long as you take careful precautions to not inhale the fine dust created when sawing/filing/drilling etc. Once I did the rough cutting to shape, I switched to using my alundum hand grinding stones used under running water, for my lungs safety sake. While alundum is a modern compostite of aluminum oxide, in the Viking Age, sandstone and other abrasive rocks were available (whetstone pendants have been found) though I do not know if they were used in shaping bone and antler.

Here is an image of the larger of the two threadwinders from Birka:

Links to the museum website pages with the originals: small thread winder and large thread winder

April SMART goals (x=extra)
1 wire planter cage
cover smaller sleeve board
yard waste bin
2 prototype mesh wash bag
cover larger sleeve board
recycle bin
3 5 jars blood orange marmalade
baby plants repotted
bag of fabric
4 3 jars Awesome sauce
skirret cage adapted
bag of fabric
5 4 jars strawberry rhubarb sauce
temporary biffy
bag of fabric
6 two large blue planters
remove thumbhole cuffs bag of fabric
7 two bone Viking threadwinders
x bag of old fur
8 x x yard waste bin
9 x x recycle bin
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

today's gratitude - Back in 2017, in the Before Times, my friend Drusa made me this exquisite Scandinavian style workbox, which while it isn't exactly the type made in Viking times, is too precious to me to leave sitting on a shelf. Objects of beauty are made to be used...

To be of use - by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.


  1. That workbox is indeed exquisite! What a good friend you must be to inspire such gifts. Your friend is very talented.

    1. thank you Laura... I feel very fortunate in having such great friends. My pal Drusa is a skillful professional woodworker, and I never imagined she would gift me one of her lovely boxes