perjantai 21. toukokuuta 2010

In the archives of Finnish National Board of Antiquities

At the end of April I had a chance to visit Nervanderinkatu 13 – the archives of the Finnish National Board of Antiquities, that is :) . I had thought or rather dreamed earlier it would be interesting to visit the archives, and now I ended up there due to a coincidence. I was trying to find out one thing about a particular nalbinding stitch, and finally emailed to a person, who wrote back she was going to go to the archives and asked if I would like to come with her. What, to the archives?! Yeeeah, sure, me me me ME! ;) Another thing that pushed me to go there was that the archives will be closed for a year due to moving.

So, there was I, marveling the harvest of the survey made by Finnish National Board of Antiquities back in 1957, "Where are nalbound mittens still made?". Or actually only a part of that harvest. It took surprisingly long to go through a boxful of samples – and time flew amazingly fast ;) . Still lots of things to study were left in the large, grey, metal archiving drawers. Well, next time ;)

When these samples were archived back in 1950's, a helpful archive person had attached them to a sturdy card board so that finished surface was visible as much as possible. This means the most interesting part of the sample, the last stitch in which you could easiest see how the yarn goes under and over, was usually facing the card board, and was difficult or impossible to see! Some samples had labels of white woven band, with neatly hand-embroidered numbers with red yarn. And some of these lovely hand-embroidered labels had been attached right onto the most critical part of the sampe, ie they covered the last stitch! There were also several short, about 5 cm long sample rows, on the top of which had been hand-sewn either a label and/or a needle that had come with the sample! Frustrating :)

People who answered the survey in 1957, and sent not only several samples but also several needles, of metal and wood at least. Some had included a wooden "sample needle" which obviously had not been used but was meant to be a copy and to show how the needle went under and over the yarns. Some needles were amazingly wide at the other end, and it looked like they were made from tea spoon handles, but they were so wide that how an earth did they fit through the loops. Most of the needles were of usual size, about ten-ish centimetres (ab. 4 in), but also a few rather long needles were included.

While in Helsinki, I also popped into the Finnish National Museum to see some old nalbound fragments, from Eura Luistari, Tuukkala and Kaukola graves. Oh, such small, darkened, and crispy looking lumps they looked like ;) . The striped mitten fragment from Kaukola surprised by its smallness although I had see photos of it with a cm-ruler visible. The yarn used in the original piece was so dazzlingly thin, and the stripes very narrow, so that probably made me think the piece would be larger. The Kaukola fragment is about 3 x 2 x 4 fingers' width in size.

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