28 November 2018

Herjolfsnes Errors: Introductory chapters

Following discussion on the Herjolfsnes Challenge, it was agreed that it would be useful to have a repository of the errors, inconsistencies and unclear statements in Woven Into the Earth and Medieval Garments Reconstructed, the two reference books about garments from Herjolfsnes, Greenland. These have been collated by members of the Herjolfsnes Challenge.

This blog post deals with errors in the introductory chapters - i.e. all of Woven Into the Earth except the catalogue of finds and Chapters 1-3 of Medieval Garments Reconstructed. As more errors are found, they will be added to this repository. If you have noticed any, please let us know and we will add them.

All page numbers refer to the English-language versions of either Woven Into the Earth (WitE-E) or Medieval Garments Reconstructed (MGR-E). When the Danish-language versions are referred to, they will be denoted as WitE-D (i.e. Som syet til jorden) and MGR-D (i.e. Nordbomønstre).

For the full repository of Herjolfsnes errors, see this page.

Page 98, WiTE-E - inconsistencies in descriptions of seams.
Found by Miriam Griffiths, with thanks to Viktoria Holmqvist.

"Among 'invisible' seams belongs all sewing of main garment parts, of sleeves,
pieces of hoods, and gussets inserted into garments and hoods. Many of the seams
may have been done from the front, where one piece with a fold along the
cut-off edge has been laid over the adjacent piece. In these seams a hem stitch
has been used. The seam allowance on the back is fastened in one piece
to one side with tight overcast stitching down to the cloth." p. 98, WiTE-E.

It is unclear how exactly these seams were sewn. The diagram on the same page (Fig. 64a) appears to show a form of running stitch. The corresponding diagram in MGR (p. 28, Fig. 16) is different to that in WitE and more clearly indicates a running stitch. However, the text says a whip stitch. The Danish version says:

"Long seams were probably sewn from the right side and, as a rule,
with small invisible stitches, and the seam allowance was sewn down
onto the fabric with closely spaced whip stitches."
WiTE-D, translation by Viktoria Holmqvist.

Thus, in the original Danish there is no mention of the seam being hem stitched or whip stitched, only that the seam allowances were whip stitched. This, in combination with the diagrams, suggests that the running stitch variant interpretation may be the correct one.

As an aside, the text in MGR does not offer any clarity:

"Many of the seams show evidence of being sewn from the right side.
The stitches are sewn into the fold and are therefore invisible, which might be
difficult to see on the illustration, since it has been enlarged to make it more
comprehensible. On the reverse side it is most common that both seam
allowances are turned the same way except for the shoulder seams.  To
prevent unravelling, there are tight overcast stitches over the outer edges
of the fabric, which are sewn down into the garment but are invisible
on the right side of the garment." p. 30, MGR-E.

Page 36-37, MGR - incomprehensible table headings.
Found by Miriam Griffiths, with thanks to Viktoria Holmqvist.

In MGR on pages 36-37 there is a table titled 'Seams and Stitching'. However, some of its headings are incomprehensible meaninglessness. Specifically, the third column is headed "Abolished long seam" and the fourth column is headed "Upright long seam", neither of which actually mean anything in English.

In MGR-D, these columns are titled "Nedlagt længdesøm" and "Opret længdesøm". This means (approximately) "Long seam that is felled" and "Long seam where the seam allowances are just whipped together but are not sewn down on to the fabric, i.e. are 'standing up'" (translations by Viktoria Holmqvist). The error has come about because 'neglagt' in Danish means 'laid down' (as in a felled seam) but also means 'cancelled' or 'abolished'.

Page 36, MGR - error in table affecting D10581.
Found by Viktoria Holmqvist.

In MGR on pages 36-37 there is a table titled 'Seams and Stitching'. In the 'Tablet weaving' column, D10581 is stated to have "Pocket slits with one braid".

However, in the pattern diagram of D10581 on p. 60-65 of MGR there are no pocket slits drawn. No pocket slits are apparent in the photographs of either the original (p. 58, MGR) or the reproduction (p. 59, MGR). Likewise, there is no mention of pocket slits or tablet weaving on D10581 in WitE (p. 163-165). The photographs of the original in WitE also do not show pocket slits (p. 163).

Page 37, MGR - error in table affecting D10608.
Found by Miriam Griffiths.

In MGR on pages 36-37 there is a table titled 'Seams and Stitching'. In this table, there are two rows referring to D10608. Both rows are listed as being a hood. However, D10608 actually refers to a hood and cap (formerly referred to by two reference numbers - Norlund 80 and 86), as seen on p. 126-128 of MGR plus p. 217-218 and p. 220 of WiTE.

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