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Each month, Aarhus University Press in Denmark offers a free e-book, downloadable in pdf format. In December, that book is Woven into the Earth by Else Østergård. Mistress Hilderun offers a review:

Book Cover by Jørgen Sparre

Book Cover by Jørgen Sparre

Else Østergård’s Woven into the Earth is a comprehensive analysis of medieval textiles excavated from Norse Greenland, including Poul Norland’s finds in Herjolfsnæs.

Østergård presents an absolutely complete picture of these Norse garments, detailing not only the textiles themselves, but delving into the raw materials (sheep and goats), the processing, spinning, and weaving of the wool, and the cut and construction of the garments. She further describes tools and implements used, and accessories as well. Beyond the comprehensiveness of the data, she writes in an extremely readable, accessible style, and you leave each section feeling like you truly comprehend the material (pun intended!). Her book is rich not only in information and analysis, but also photographs, maps, charts, diagrams, and drawings…and even measurements and patterns of some of the finds!

Woven into the Earth is an essential book in the library of anyone interested in period hand sewing, weaving, spinning, dying, patterns or garb construction. Its robust scope will also delight anyone interested in Norse, 14th century, or medieval European culture.

Aarhus University Press has provided a fantastic opportunity for us to add this indispensable book to our collections, and I recommend downloading the free e-book version this month (link).

For those interested in a companion volume that’s a practical guide to making tunics, hoods and hose based on the Greenland finds (includes patterns and instructions), I also recommend Medieval Garments Reconstructed: Norse Clothing Patterns by Lilli Fransen, Shelly Nordtorp-Madson, Anna Norgard, and Else Ostergard (ISBN-10: 8779342981)