The Textile Museum in Washington D.C.

The Textile Museum is working to put images of its collection online. Luckily that now includes multiple Islamic Era Egyptian socks. Beautiful photos of the blue and white cotton knitted socks and several compound nalbound socks.

The pilot site does not yet have their complete textile collection, but it does have several stunning examples of blue and white stranded knitting (interlooping) and four nalbound (interconnected looping) socks to add to the list of the Egyptian corpus. There is also one slip-stitch crochet sock that is going to require additional investigation into its provenance.* The catalog data is not necessarily up to date, which is not surprising given the volume and speed with which they are entering the records. They also have several Andean artifacts of interest as well.

Note: The pilot site doesn’t seem to react well to Facebook. So if you are viewing it there, you may get the same sock repeated. Try viewing it via WordPress or a different browser.

Knitted socks: Open loop stranded stockinette

Tube: two blues and white Arabic writing
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=1259

Sock: alternating leaves zigzag. Heel missing and some damage https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=1443

Sock: solidly patterned in a large gauge
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=3360

Sock: zigzag and writing stripes
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=6216

Sock: two blues & white entirely patterned sock, diamonds, triangles, writing, eight pointed star
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=8239

Tube: vertical stranded stripes with bands of horizontal S and writing
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=9443

Fragment: white with writing on bands
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=10840

Fragment: white with bands of alternating horizontal hearts and scrolls
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=10885

Child’s sock with deer
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=10958

Sock: bands of multiple diamonds. Missing most of the foot
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=13430

Sock: bands of writing
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=13698

Sock toe: two color bands, both dark blue and white and dark and light blue
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=15064

Tube: Bands of opposing hearts vertical
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=15399

Tube: bands of overlapping circles
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=17230

Nalbound socks: Compound nalbinding

Fragment: Toe and Instep cream colored: https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=21310

Sock: Cream with two stripes of blue near heel, potentially repair? https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=11119

Sock: Cream with brown toe and stripes near heel. Reddish and green? remnants at the cuff. Clear repair with blue fabric at heel partially remaining. https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=7021

Sock: Two toes, cream with pink & blue toes and a pink and blue roped edge https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=4595

Crochet sock: Front Loop Only Slip Stitch Crochet

The technique and shaping both belie the listed dating. https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=19973
*This would not be the only time that a slip-stitch crochet sock was slipped into a lot as a nalbound object. Such miss-identifications and resultant dating assumptions based on said miss-identification severely complicate research into the history and transmission of both crochet and nalbinding. Further discussions at https://nalbound.com/2019/05/03/nalbindings-myriad-of-variant-possibilities-and-the-dangers-of-insufficient-understanding-of-other-looped-textile-techniques/ and https://loopholes.blog/2019/04/crochetedness-nalboundness/ and https://www.mkb.ch/de/blog/2019/q1/sockenforscher.html

Andean Cross-Knit Looping variant

Nazca fringe band: https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=50046

Nazca Faces:
1. https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=49784
2. https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=49696
3. https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=49611
4. https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=49546

Nazca Bird & Flowers:
In the Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=47959

Nazca Birds & Beans:
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=48993

Nazca Beans:
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=14862

People with Fans:
1. https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=47772
2. https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=48676

Nazca, a really nice small fragment so the photo blows it up really nicely:
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=50471

Sihuas simple looping bag:
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=49780

One of several lovely forgeries: (Clearly crochet)
https://de1.zetcom-group.de/MpWeb-mpWashingtonGeoWashUniv/v?mode=online&objectId=59128

And of course a large number of other fascinating textiles.

More Camel Muzzles

Sometimes one just needs to share one’s notes. After January’s post on Nalbound Camel Muzzles, people were asking to see more of the brightly colored nose caps. I had gathered many more images of camels in muzzles while doing the research than I could possibly use in the post. And truthfully more since, as I too enjoy seeing them and am still curious as to the breadth of their usage. However, the aggregated volume of all those camel muzzles is just too large for another blog post.

Thus, this post is to direct you to my new site page, More Camel Muzzles, where you will find images and video clips, both embedded and linked depending permissions. Each link includes a brief description, including colors and location if known. So far, the images predominantly come from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Oman, but some appear in images from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria. Unfortunately, many of the stock photos do not contain information as to where they were taken. Additionally, we have relatively few photos in general from certain regions, so their lack of inclusion may be due to a lack of access versus a lack of use.

The photos are broken out by category depending on how closely they could be identified. Starting with the nalbound muzzles where the images are close enough and clear enough to identify as worked in Mammen stitch (UOO/UUOO F2), both on and off a camel. Then those that can be identified as a Loop & Twist stitch (more often found across North Africa than Arabia), those identifiable as some form of Simple Looping follow. This section ends with a large collection of muzzles of the same style and appearance as the Mammen stitch muzzles (predominately), but the images are either too far away or insufficiently clear (or I was too tired at the time I added them) to be certain of the stitch determination.

Also included, because they are both interesting and to show how identifiable the nalbound muzzles are, is a selection of Not Nalbound Muzzles. Starting with the Ply-Split muzzles, a technique I first ran into with Peter Collingwood’s publications, this section also contains Crochet muzzles, which all appear to be from Turkey, and a brief selection of other styles of muzzles for comparison.

Now, on to More Camel Muzzles: https://nalbound.com/more-camel-muzzles/

Enjoy!

Nalbinding’s myriad of variant possibilities and the dangers of insufficient understanding of other looped textile techniques

The myriad of theoretically possible stitches in nalbinding can be quite exciting. Nonetheless it is very important to exhibit caution, especially when “finding” new stitches in the wild.
A solid understanding of all looped structures is necessary to avoid accidental and injudicious co-opting of the natural structures of other looping* and knotting techniques. Not all end-led structures are nalbound structures.

Over time, I will be addressing the issues surrounding properly and clearly defining nalbinding (doing so by what it is instead of what it is not). I will also show how surface structure can both assist with and obscure identification of technique. Additionally, how to spot those higher level construction structures which help differentiate the specific technique used to create a particular base structure. This means that there will be an amount of not directly nalbinding related posts as we explore other looped textiles enough to get an understanding of how exactly they differ from nalbinding. As we’ve noted throughout the study of nalbinding, it is easy for objects to be miss-classified as an entirely different technique and structure by those that are insufficiently familiar with the possibilities available within the family of non-woven looped textiles.

For example, Cary Karp has pointed out in his blog, in the post Crochetedness vs. nalboundness, how incorrectly co-opting slip stitch crochet structures into the nalbinding atlas of stitch variants has obscured and made difficult the study of that technique’s history and transmission. Given that nalbinding has long suffered under this same issue of miss-classification/identification obscuring its history, it behooves us to exhibit caution to avoid doing the same to our looping cousins.

* While all loop-led structures can technically be produced via end-led means, those means may not be at all practical or reasonable.

Charting the Nalbinding of the Nile

On January 21st, 2019, I was honored to give a presentation entitled Charting the Nalbinding of the Nile (click on title to view recording: 30 minutes) at the Textile Archaeology of Egypt and Sudan’s (TAES) seminar on “Current Research in Textile Archaeology along the Nile” at the Centre for Textile Research in Copenhagen. They recorded the presentations and posted them online. A direct link to mine is located here.

This presentation focused on the over 110 extant nalbound artifacts, primarily socks, that have been found in Romano-Coptic Egypt and surrounding areas. They are now located in museums throughout the world. I was honored to be authorized to include photographs of a good number of the extant objects, including photos of some that had not otherwise been published.

This presentation was intended to be an introduction to the breadth of information that can be gleaned from examining the corpus as a whole: the diversity of nalbinding variants, the colors and shapes of the objects, their shaping and construction, the find locations up and down the Nile, along the Eastern desert and in the Western Oases, etc.

Abstract:
Extant Romano-Coptic nalbinding from the Nile Valley and surrounding regions provides one of the most statistically significant populations of such material, consisting of over 100 specimens.
The technical variant used in approximately half the objects is misleadingly called Coptic or Tarim stitch. A preferred established term is cross-knit looping and personal examination of the Tarim basin finds has not revealed its presence there. The misnomer derives from the misinterpretation of a brief note in a broader work, compounded by unawareness of the variant’s oldest known occurrence from the Nahal Hemar cave.
The term Coptic stitch reflects a greater understanding of naming conventions for nalbinding variants. However, recent research indicates that multiple finds labeled as Coptic actually date to the Roman and Late Roman Eras. The nominal association with the Coptic Era is additionally misleading because half of the designated corpus displays a range of more complex variants.
This paper addresses the terminological imprecision, confusion about underlying fabric structures, and effects of provenance irregularities. It also presents an initial collation of available images and mapped locations of the Egyptian finds as part of a comprehensive catalog of nalbound objects prior to 1600 currently being compiled.

“An acclaimed independent researcher in her element made a marvelous presentation yesterday.” Photo by Ruth Decker

This post was specifically to collate posts regarding the presentation. However, I plan to write up a bit of my experiences leading up to the deciding to do the presentation and the preparation therefore in a future post. I also want to write up one on the trip surrounding the seminar and presentation as I was lucky enough to arrange several visits with museums to see extant items in their collections (reports on which will be forthcoming in their appropriate venues).