North Country spider article

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wsbailey
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Re: North Country spider article

Post by wsbailey » Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:43 am

Black in the Middle Ages was an expensive color. Of course a cheap black could be made of tannin and iron but the amount of iron needed to get black would eventually rot it. Black silk thread was once known for breaking easily, probably for the same reason. In some countries these iron tannate blacks were actually illegal. I once dyed some yarn black the way the best blacks were dyed in the Medieval era. It took three whole days and three different dyes; woad, weld and madder. No serf could afford this color and, more than likely, wasn’t allowed to.
Anherd
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Re: North Country spider article

Post by Anherd » Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:52 am

wsbailey wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:43 am
Black in the Middle Ages was an expensive color. Of course a cheap black could be made of tannin and iron but the amount of iron needed to get black would eventually rot it. Black silk thread was once known for breaking easily, probably for the same reason. In some countries these iron tannate blacks were actually illegal. I once dyed some yarn black the way the best blacks were dyed in the Medieval era. It took three whole days and three different dyes; woad, weld and madder. No serf could afford this color and, more than likely, wasn’t allowed to.
I've never come across any restrictions on what colours could be dyed in that era in Britain, although there were restrictions on what sort of clothes could be worn, which may well have amounted to the same thing. As far as I know logwood wasn't available, which would have made the whole thing a stage easier, so bearing in mind the difficulties you have had, I can see why burying fleeces in bogs had its attractions! The easiest source of black would have been 'black' sheep, which are dark brown, and we used that for the Treayse flies. I will confess that I picked the wool off a distinctly non-medieval barbed wire fence.
wsbailey
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Re: North Country spider article

Post by wsbailey » Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:13 pm

The Treatyse was supposedly written by a nun. In those days priest’s vestments were made by nuns so they would have access to silk thread and dyed wool for embroidery. Guilds were very powerful and for someone to be dyeing wool then would similar to a non-union actor working on a movie set today. Wool was a major industry in those days and natural color sheep would be more likely found in the hinterlands. Just a few dark hairs would contaminate all of white wool where found. Even today we have black sheep in the family and the word coloured still has negative connotations. The reason the black yarn took so much time to dye is not due lack of experience on my part (25 years) but to the repeated dips it takes to get dark blue. Even in an 1860 dye book; this black is considered too time consuming to be profitable.
Anherd
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Re: North Country spider article

Post by Anherd » Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:19 pm

wsbailey wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:33 am
I don’t want to be like Johnson in his definition of oatmeal, but dyeing wasn’t much of a thing in Ireland. While dyeing in Scotland is well documented; the same can’t be said of Ireland. I think Donegal tweed would well represent the Irish tradition. Wool that was dyed would be boiled until it felted. It would be snipped into bits and blended with the wool from sheep of natural colors. I have a chart of some these blends and they were extensive. The Irish excelled at getting the most from what they had.
I had better put myself more clearly.

The reason we used Mary was not because we wanted the flies dyed using a traditional Irish method, it was because we wanted to use a traditional method full stop.

Mary just happened to be in Ireland. If she had been in England it would have made the project a whole lot more convenient, that's for sure.

In those days, the other problem was colour control—no digital remember. Mary really had a feel for dyeing (I am not certain if she is still around, if so, she was wonderful) and I recall saying to her that near enough was going to be good enough, because once we got on press 20% of the black was coming straight out and nothing she did was going to look quite the same on the page.

That being said, not much is documented about many things until relatively recent times in Ireland, because folk like you and I went to such lengths to ensure that the population stayed illiterate—and controlling access to printing presses for the people who could read. So I have always been wary of deprecating the Irish culture--because they weren't able or allowed to record very much of it. Fortunately we didn't have to come up with a 15th century Irish source for dyeing, or we would never have got the project finished.
Anherd
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Re: North Country spider article

Post by Anherd » Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:27 pm

wsbailey wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:13 pm
The Treatyse was supposedly written by a nun. In those days priest’s vestments were made by nuns so they would have access to silk thread and dyed wool for embroidery. Guilds were very powerful and for someone to be dyeing wool then would similar to a non-union actor working on a movie set today. Wool was a major industry in those days and natural color sheep would be more likely found in the hinterlands. Just a few dark hairs would contaminate all of white wool where found. Even today we have black sheep in the family and the word coloured still has negative connotations. The reason the black yarn took so much time to dye is not due lack of experience on my part (25 years) but to the repeated dips it takes to get dark blue. Even in an 1860 dye book; this black is considered too time consuming to be profitable.
I am absolutely sure it would have taken you forever to dye black, WS. That's why we decided that they wouldn't have bothered using it—they would have gone for the next best alternative, which was a black sheep... but even they aren't truly black. However, very fortunately, fish aren't as fussy as folk.
Anherd
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Re: North Country spider article

Post by Anherd » Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:40 pm

Anyone prepared to speculate about why popular belief has it that the Treatyse was written by a nun?
wsbailey
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Re: North Country spider article

Post by wsbailey » Wed Feb 12, 2020 1:00 pm

No clue but the person was obviously literate. It would had to have been someone with the means to acquire an education. Royalty seemed to more concerned with hunting if the tapestries of the era are any indication. Monasteries were probably often located near rivers since they would have to be self sufficient and rivers provided a food source. Royal outings would involve retinues and retinues are anathema to successful fishing. Also, in the Treatyse, fishing is prescribed as a contemplative sport; a concept well known in a monastery.
wsbailey
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Re: North Country spider article

Post by wsbailey » Wed Feb 12, 2020 1:49 pm

While black might have been a challenging color for a Medieval dyer; scraps of professionally dyed black yarn were probably readily available. Perhaps more so than black sheep. Much of English wool was sent abroad to be manufactured into cloth. A load contaminated with a few dark hairs could be rejected; a serious financial loss. Ireland obviously had lots of sheep of different natural colors as revealed by all of the beautiful wool blends in their tweeds. Some of the Irish colors, that have so befuddled tyers, may have been a result of dyeing over natural color wool. I’m thinking of some of the clarets and olives.
RobSmith1964
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Re: North Country spider article

Post by RobSmith1964 » Thu Feb 13, 2020 4:14 am

The notion that the Treatyse was written by a nun, is a troubling one.
Whilst women’s patronage of the various religious centres in England has a strong tradition, particularly in the 12th century. With women active as patrons of prayers and religious books, which required comparatively small amounts of money, many were also active as in the construction of monastic centres as well as donators of land. This is important because religious foundations were the most expensive and prestigious form of patronage. And so large amounts of time, money and planning were needed. Monastic houses also needed a site for facilities and grants of land to provide a perpetual income, a donation of this kind usually required the removal of property from the family estate, with such benefactions only occurring in limited numbers. An example of the is Bolton Abbey which is a 12th-century Augustinian priory founded around 1154 by monks from Embsay, who were granted land here by Lady Alice de Romille of Skipton Castle
Women played an important role within the monastic life of the medieval period and were often in overall charge of the religious centres. They were however obviously barred from giving Holy Communion as this could only be performed by a man.
With regard to Nunneries, many of these were founded by noblewomen as a place for their retirement, with the dual position of founder and abbess being not uncommon.
All well and good you may say, but what has this got to do with The Treatyse and Dame Juliana?
Well, the stark fact is that due to the society and tradition of the time, Dame Juliana of this period was very unlikely to have written the book. And if she did, she would probably have written it under a male pseudonym. An example being Juliana using the pseudonym Julian of Norwich, in writing the Revelations of Divine Love, to date the earliest surviving book in the English language to be written by a woman.

https://www.bl.uk/medieval-literature/a ... val-period

Given the period and constraints placed upon women of this period, the subject matter of The Treatyse also doesn’t seem to fit.
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Roadkill
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Re: North Country spider article

Post by Roadkill » Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:23 am

Anherd wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:40 pm
Anyone prepared to speculate about why popular belief has it that the Treatyse was written by a nun?
I subscribe to the idea of the "Legend of Dame Juliana" as described in John McDonald's The Origins Of Angling.

Considering the original incomplete Manuscript (about 1450) and the first printed Treatise 1496 did not contain an author, I find compelling the idea that William Burton's hand written notes on blank pages of the first Book Of Saint Albans in the Cambridge University Library might have been the source of this holy inspiration of a nun's work. ;)

P.S, Andrew I love The History of Fly Fishing Volume Two that arrived 2 days ago. Any chance you have a list of modern feather substitutes for wings and hackles used in 1496-1916 we don't have available? :)
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