Fleece to White Belt: Post the third

Last time was washing, this time it’s combing. There are two basic kinds of preparing clean fleece to spin, combing and carding. Sure there are sub categories of those, like drum carding or flicking, but everything really boils down to those two methods. So what are the differences and which one should you use?

Carding: For making woolen yarns 

Carding is really good for making fluffy, airy, soft yarns. It basically brushes the fibers so they’re going every which way, trapping air, and giving the yarn it’s fluffy look. This is what you want to do for knitting/crochet yarns where you want that warm, soft, fluff. Like sweaters, hats, scarves, or blankets. Yarn made from fiber prepped this way tends to be more prone to pilling and not quite as strong. It also tends to have more of a halo (tiny fuzzy aura around the yarn) than yarn prepped by combing.  So skip it if crisp stitch definition is something you 100% need. This is also a lot better for short staple fibers.

Combing: For making worsted yarns

Let me get one thing clear: worsted yarns do not mean worsted weight yarns. Yeah, I know, I wish they’d picked a different term for the weight but there you have it. Combing aligns all the fibers in one direction, making them spin into a smoother, harder, yarn with less trapped air. This makes them less fluffy and warm, but stronger. Use combing if you need to make yarn for a warp, or anywhere that strength is a major concern. Also because it’s smoother yarns made from combing lend themselves really well to lace. This is your best bet for long staple fibers.

Let me let you in on a secret: the vast majority of hand spinners make some kind of half woolen half worsted hybrid yarn. It’s just the nature of the game. It’s easier to make a straight woolen than a straight worsted. So if you comb your fleece and in the process of spinning you make little bubbles of folded ends and fluffy bits? Don’t sweat it. That happened in period too far as anyone can tell.

That’s enough background. For this project I’m combing the warp and carding the weft.

Why both?

I’m doing both to take advantage of the pros of both types of fiber prep. The warp needs a very strong, very smooth, yarn in order to withstand the stress of weaving without snapping. However if I did the entire belt like this it’d be a very stiff, scratchy, and not very pleasant to touch finished product. So for the weft I’m going to use the softer, airier, yarn produced by woolen preparation in order to make the whole thing easier to use and much nicer to wear.

The fleece I chose (icelandic) is a double coated breed, which means it lends itself very nicely to this kind of mixed preparation. It has a long overcoat with very little crimp (perfect for combed/worsted spinning) and a short, fluffy undercoat with lots of crimp (perfect for carded/woolen spinning).

Fleece to White Belt: Post the First

So Magnus (yes the same Magnus I made the haversack and wrote the boast for) contacted me about a week ago and asked if I would be willing to weave him a belt to fight in. He was, I’m sure, expecting me to use commercial yarn and just knock out a tabby woven belt.

He’s still learning about me dears, don’t laugh too hard.

Given that I’m, well, me I’ve decided to use this as an opportunity to process from raw fleece using as close to period tools and techniques as I can manage. His persona is close enough to mine that I can make an argument that the tools that are right for my persona in terms of spindle weight and materials would also be right for his, and that the process would be similar enough that I’m not going to be offensively wrong.

This is my project outline post, next post will be a picture heavy post regarding how I’m processing the fleece to get it ready to spin.

Project outline: Warning, Math.

I’m aiming for a finished length of 6 feet, that’s roughly an inch wide. According to what I’ve read so far a decent gauge to aim for is roughly 10 threads per cm or 25 threads an inch. So 25 cards wide will give me just over an inch wide belt (there’s a lot of ish here guys), that also gives me the nice round number of 100 warp threads (25 cards x 4 holes per card).

To account for take up and loom waste I’m warping 8 feet. If I have extra warp I’ll do a knotted fringe at the end.

So math for the warp:. 8 feet x 25 cards x 4 holes each = 800 feet x 2 in order to make 2 ply yarn = 1600 feet of singles. Or 534 yards. Well 533.3333 but we like whole yards.

In order to meet my goal of 25 threads per inch I’m aiming for 13 threads per inch in the weft (to account for the warp passing between each beat of the weft. Yes I’m fudging what counts as threads per inch but I can only spin so fine right now people.) That means I need 13 inches of weft to go 1 inch of warp. Or expressed another way 13 feet of weft for every foot I want to weave.

Math for weft: 13 x 8 = 104 feet or 35 yards. Well for accuracy sake it’s actually 34.6666 yards. But round numbers here people. Multiply that by 2 in order to make two ply and that gets us to 70 yards of warp.

Total yardage needed for a 6 foot long belt: 70 + 534 = 604 yards of yarn spun finer than lace weight. Or (because I’ve been giving feet for everything else) 1812 feet of yarn. For a 6 foot belt.


1.Buy icelandic fleece. Why icelandic? Because it’s got both the longer hair (that I want for the smooth, strong, yarn for this project) and the fluffy and warm under coat (which I will card and use to make Other Things). Why buy? Because I live in an apartment my loves and if I tried to buy a sheep my beloved Scarp would kill me in my sleep. Then eat said sheep. It’d be a justified killing.

2. Wash fleece. This is the step that is not being done in a documentable manner.  I don’t own the sheep so can’t run it though a stream and I’m NOT using urine to get through the lanolin. I’m cheating and using my bathtub and dish soap. I have limits. Those limits are fermenting pee for the sake of fleece cleaning. There’s the line. Right there.

3. Comb fleece. Remember the first post about cord, where I talked about the difference between worsted and woolen spinning? For this we again want the smooth and compact worsted type of yarn. That means I get to keep using the Death Combs.

4. Spin wool. I have a bottom whorl, soapstone spindle that I picked up at Pennsic. I forgot the actual weight on it, but it is an appropriate weight, style, and materials spindle for my persona. Therefore arguable for Magnus’s.

5. Actually weave the yarn. I’m card weaving this. Because it’s going to be a white on white pattern I’m limited in what I can actually document. Most card weaving I’ve seen tends to be colored. But colored defeats the purpose of a white belt. I think I’m going to just do a simple diamonds/lozenge pattern. I have time before I get to this step.

6. Polish the belt. Yes polish. I’m not fulling this, I’m hoping to spin and weave tightly enough to not have to. I’ve found references to using a polished rock or chunk of glass, heated up in hot water, to essentially iron fabric. I’m thinking of picking up a large glass paperweight and experimenting with finishing fabric off with it. In theory it’ll iron it smooth and add some shine/luster to the finished project. I mean, I could just use my actual modern iron, but if I’m going through all this work to get here it’d be a shame to stumble at the finish line.

Sewing with a Bone Needle (Yes Again)

About a year or so ago, maybe a year and a half I read an article (which I have been trying to find again but can’t recall the name or author) detailing a particularly well preserved Dublin Hood. Preserved well enough to measure the space between needle holes as roughly 3mm. So fairly fine even with a modern needle. The common assumption I’ve run across is that you’ll never get stitches that fine using a bone needle, therefore metal needles had to have fully replaced bone and hawthorn as soon as they were reliably available.



THOSE ARE 3MM STITCHES. CONSISTENT 3MM STITCHES. And the needle I used to make them. Thereby proving it’s possible to make stitches that small without the use of a metal needle. Which means we can not accurately date when metal needles almost fully replaced bone, horn, and wooden needles based on stitch length and needle hole size.

That also means that this dress will be as period as I can possibly make it shy of spinning the thread and weaving the fabric myself. That’s next. After I have the space and money for a warp weighted loom. Then, oh then, I will make myself something from start to finish. Oh yes. *Ahem* right. Moving on.

Doing this I figured out a trick for getting the stitches so little. In normal hand sewing I tend to judge the distance between needle holes and aim for a consistent length in order to get even stitches. Here that resulted in big, ugly, suture like stitches of uneven length and a seam so gross looking I pulled the thread out and started over. Then I figured out why. In normal hand sewing with a modern metal needle the needle passes through the fabric, cutting threads, but leaving the weave generally smooth and undisturbed looking. Sewing with the thicker bone needle shoved the threads out of the way and left a large hole in the weave, while leaving the individual threads intact. So when I was eyeballing distance I wasn’t taking into account the added threads that would normally be in the space that is now the needle hole. So when the threads started to fill the hole back in suddenly there was more fabric between the stitch holes, and you end up with uneven ugly wonky stitches.

So how do you fix it? Count threads. Seriously. Eyeball the number of threads between the needle holes you want to make, not the distance they’re covering. 4 threads are 4 threads whether they’re spread out over 3mm or squashed into 1mm. Added bonus to doing this? You end up pushing the threads back into their original place with the new needle hole, healing the previous one, without having to rewash the garment.

Note: This only really works to heal the previous needle hole if you’re using the stab stitch method I talked about last time I discussed how to sew with a bone needle. Otherwise it won’t shove the threads back into their appropriate place in the weave of the fabric when you pull the needle through AND counting threads becomes a massive pain in the butt with a lot of fabric flipping to see both sides of the seam.

Using this method I got the stitches you see above, small, consistent, neat, with a stitch length roughly consistent with what I get out of my normal hand sewing with a modern needle. It does take a little longer, but not so much so that I’m willing to rule out “new skill slowness” as the cause.

Project list 8/30/2016

I’ve been quiet around here because I’ve been busy in real life land. Skarp and I are moving at the end of next month which means we should be packing and cleaning. I melt down in overly stressful situations (like my whole home being packed up to move) and I need distraction projects. To that end, here is a list and descriptions of my current sanity projects:

  1. Wrist cuffs. 

I have a theory that I’m trying out.

I found a set of clasps at Pennsic for closing the cuff of a sleeve. This is clever as most of the extant tunics/under dresses that I’ve seen references to don’t have tapered sleeves. At least for the time period I’m looking at (9-11th century Northern European). I was told these clasps were based on a Saxon grave find that I’m still trying to document on my own. But! It was explained to me that these would be sewn on to the sleeve to hold the pleating in place.

That seems… wrong. Why would you sew metal to what amounts to your underwear? Why would you invest in a set of clasps for every under dress or tunic you own? How would you keep the metal from getting bent/broken/staining your garments during washing? All these questions become moot if you sew the clasps too a removable cuff and basically make little wrist belts. It also solves the problem of wearing out expensive and precious trim by sewing it on and then picking the stitches out to sew it on to something else.

To test out whether this would be useful or annoying to wear I’m making a set. By “making a set” I mean I’m spinning some lovely deep blue indigo dyed wool into a bit lighter than modern lace weight, which will put me on the thicker end of period weaving yarns. I’m then weaving it into as close to a diamond twill pattern as I can manage using cards rather than a heddled loom (because I have the former and lack the latter), and couching my badge on them in honest to gods silver and gold thread. Even if they’re annoying as heck to wear, they’ll be pretty drat it.

2. Over Dress

I was gifted some lovely green and gold linen a couple months back. My colors are green, gold, and white. I am going to make myself a gold saxon style dress, with green edging at the cuffs, collar, and hem, and applique my hedgehog on it in green. I’m also going to attach said hedgehog and green edging with white blanket stitch and probably run white herringbone stitch along the seams, as I am wont to do. But! I am doing all of this with handspun linen thread and using only period tools. Because I want to prove it’s possible to use bone needles on tightly woven modern fabrics WITHOUT breaking your needle or going insane.

3. Under dress

This is structurally sewn. I just need to hem it and finish the seams. I’m going to use bone needles from here on out since I’ve decided that unless I’m in a rush those are the tools I’m going to use on all my garb going forward.

A quick note:

When I say ‘spinning’ I am not referring to a wheel (although I have one) or modern spindles. I bought a soap stone bottom whirl spindle at Pennsic that’s an appropriate weight and size for my persona. For the sake of accuracy I’m spinning my weaving yarn for the wrist cuffs and my sewing thread for my over dress on this. So far I’ve learned that this thing really wants to be supported not suspended, otherwise it’s not heavy enough to maintain it’s rotation without a decent sized cop of yarn on it already.

Aethelflied Battles Maldon part 5

Wherein our heroin realizes she’s bitten off more than she can chew in the time allotted.

I have to start memorizing. This means that sadly I need to put my own translation aside and work from someone else’s translation of the section I want to perform at Pennsic. Trying to be ok with the feeling that I’ve failed. I am still editing the poetics and word choice in the section I want to do, so it’s not like I’m not trying to make it my own. Life just got busy and I didn’t finish everything I wanted to do.

I am going to resume translating when I get back from Pennsic. I got some lovely textbooks in the mail from a friend of mine last week that’ll help a lot more than the internet has so far. So maybe it’ll go faster/easier when I’m not stressing over the one major event and deadline.

This isn’t giving up or failing. This is pausing. Right. That’s what I need to remember.

Fighting Tunic for Ciar

Trying to get better about documenting my work so here’s what I’m working on right now. This is Ciar’s fighting tunic. She commissioned a fancy tournament tunic for, well, fighting in tournaments. So here is a quick and dirty Norse-ish tunic tutorial! (In the following pictures kindly ignore Baldr, supervisor pup extraordinaire, also my bare feet. I’m too lazy for photo editing)


I use the following:

Around the widest part of the chest/torso.

Around the hips.

Across the back of the shoulders.

Around the neck.

Top of shoulder to wrist.

Around the wrist.

Around the armpit.

From collarbone to as long as you want it to be.

Drafting the pattern and cutting the fabric:

The basic shapes for a tunic are two long rectangles(front and back), four tapered rectangles (sleeves) and two triangles (side gores). I am not doing any shaping or fitting here. This is slightly more complicated than a tee tunic, but not by much. Trust me. If you can handle a tee tunic you can handle this.

What you’re going to do is take the chest measurement and divide it in half. Make sure that number is longer than the across the back of the shoulders measurement. Because we want this baggier for freedom of movement I added about 5 inches to this measurement. That’s the short side of your two front and back rectangles. Take your measurement from the collarbone to as long as you want it to be, add 7-8 inches to account for seam allowance, hem, and meeting at the top of the shoulder. That’s the long side of your two front/back rectangles. Cut two of these.

Next up are sleeves. Take your shoulder to wrist measurement and add 2, that’s your length, mark this in a straight line. Take your around the armpit measurement, cut it in half and add 5. That’s the widest edge of your sleeve, mark this in a straight line out from one edge of your length line. Take your around the wrist measurement, divide it in half and add 2, that’s the short edge of your sleeve, mark this in a straight line out from the other side of your length line. You should now have three lines, one long one with two lines coming off the edge.

Now, from the point of the wrist line that’s NOT connected to the length line measure 2 inches in toward the shoulder. Mark that point and draw a straight line back to the wrist line. From the point of the shoulder line that’s NOT connected to the length line measure in 5 inches toward the wrist. Mark that point and draw a straight line back to the shoulder line. These two dots mark the beginning and end of the sleeve taper. Draw a diagonal line connecting them. Cut four of these.

This picture is upside down. The long straight side is the top of your sleeve.


Note: Sleeves can be tricksy little jerks because armpits are hard to fit, this is why the gods gave us gores. If you follow my directions and your armpit is too small to allow for freedom of movement do the following: cut two squares of fabric, unpick the armpit seam, fit the square so that one point is aligned with your under arm seam, one point is aligned with each seam holding your sleeve to your tunic, and the forth point is aligned with the side seam of your tunic, (it’ll form a diamond) and sew that sucker in. Hopefully you won’t need to, but knowing how to add armpit ease WITHOUT CUTTING WHOLE NEW SLEEVES is a life/sanity saver. 

Side gores! Super easy peasy. My basic rule of thumb is to take the long side of the front/back rectangle, subtract the shoulder/armpit measurement, and use 2/3 of the remaining measurement for side gore length on a tunic. Measure a 2-3 inch line (I like having the flat line at the top of my triangle rather than having it come to a point, I find it makes it easier to sew in later) From there measure out your length on a diagonal. Do the same from the other side of the line, try and get the angles the same. Alternately you can fold your fabric in half long ways and just measure out one diagonal line. Make sure the space between your diagonal lines is AT LEAST as wide as the difference between your chest/hip measurements (if any) Cut two of these.


Sewing together: 

Figuring out your neckline. I do keyhole necklines. I just think they look better than a round hole and they’re more forgiving size wise. Basically you can fit the neckline closer to your actual neck and still get your head through the head hole. So what you’re going to do is find the middle of the short edge of your front/back rectangle. Take your around the neck measurement and cut it in half. Add about two inches of give here. Measure it out so the middle of this measurement lines up with the middle of your front/back rectangle. Pin either edge so you know where to stop sewing the shoulders together. Determine which rectangle is the front one. Along that middle line cut a 3in slit. At the base of the slit snip two small notches angled away from the slit toward the bottom corners of the tunic. Very small, I’m talking quarter of an inch tops. What these do is allow you to hem a keyhole neckline. Yes you need them.

Sew the sleeves along the straight top edge, and along the tapered bottom edge. Set aside for a minute.

Sew the top of the tunic from your neckline pins out to the edge.

Take your sleeves, line the top seam up with the seam you just made on the top of your tunic. Shoulder to main body please. I know you’re all smart enough to not sew your wrist where your shoulder goes, but I’ve done weirder things so I’m specifying. Sew the front and back of the main body rectangles to the sleeve. Repeat for the other side.

Line your side goes up so the bottom of your side gore lines up with the bottom of your main body tunic. Pin into place. Sew from the armpit, down the main body, and down either side of the gore. Repeat for the other side.

Finish your seams (serge them, flat fell them, french seams, dealers choice here), and hem that sucker. Congrats on your new made-by-you tunic.

Fancy stuff:

Everything beyond this point is the embellishment I’m doing to make it a tournament tunic instead of just a basic Norse-ish shirt. This is all optional.

Cuffs. Ciar likes wide bands of contrasting color. So while I was cutting out the main tunic I cut out rectangles that I’m going to fit around the cuffs, collar, and hem, that I over dyed black. They came out more deep, deep red rather than a true black. But such is the nature of over dying. These will be folded around the hem, cuffs, and collar to finish them. I’m going to run a line of gold blanket stitch around them to make it extra pretty/ provide reinforcement on the edges.

They don’t look like much now, but trust me this’ll be pretty.


Side gores. Ciar uses a fox on her heraldry. So I embroidered the line work for a celtic style fox design on each side gore. I put them here rather than in the front or back because she is going to be fighting in this and it seems like the embroider may stand up better if it’s not directly in the front or back. Don’t know why, don’t know for sure if it’ll make a difference, but this is the choice I have made.

I use the sew through paper and trace your lines method of embroidery. Basically you lay a sheet of paper with your design over your fabric. Like so:

design layout

Then sew through it, tearing the paper out as you finish a section, like this:


Until you get this:

finished fox

Looks awesome and complicated and I didn’t have to free hand anything. It’s just tracing with string.

Seam embellishment. I’m debating running a line of herringbone stitch along each of the seams. We’ll see how time shakes out.

Pictures of the finished product (hopefully on her) once I actually, ya know, finish it.


Short Update

Blog’s been quiet. Mostly because I’ve been doing more with my mundane life than with anything SCA related. So here is just a brief list of what I’ve been up to:

Spinning. I teach spinning with a local fiber shop and had a student there. I’m also spinning in order to naalbind Scarp a hat. More on that when the yarn is finished. There will be a tutorial.

Accessibility/disability stuff. I’m working as accessibility porter for a major local event and that required some research before I went to see the site on Sunday. I still need to do a proper write up for the website. I just haven’t yet.

Maldon and I aren’t on speaking terms at the moment. We may be friends again shortly. But right now I can’t even look at it without wanting to light the world on fire.

Aethelflied Battles Maldon: Part 4

AKA Release valves are vital.

In the last week I have had to start my transcription over. Thankfully I only had a few words and lines translated here and there so I wasn’t losing too much by way of actual translations. But it is disheartening to discover on line 120 that you skipped line 20 all the way back on the first page and so need to rip everything out and start over (No I’m not a perfectionist, I don’t know what you’re talking about).

This led to more tasty beverage consumption than was probably advisable. Next thing I know there are social media posts regarding drinking and translating with the line:

“Shut up Seadude / Shit’s what we’ll pay you.”

As an argument for why drunk translations ought not happen. That line is arguably accurate by the way, both in verse style and meaning. That still doesn’t make translating the whole poem into competing frat parties a good idea.

Or does it?

There comes a point in every project, for me anyway, where you need a release. You need something to bring it around from being torture to being fun and entertaining again. You need something to help you slog through. You get slap happy and your options are A. Make fun of it. or B. kill it with fire. When working on Beowulf: The Event there were several moments of this. My entire plan of make a bunny and read it’s fake entrails was done as a stress relief for my first competition piece.

Now am I saying you should publish your out there translations? Perhaps. Unfortunately or not by publishing that one line I’ve now retitled that entire section, which is the one I’ll be taking to perform. And now I’m tempted to translate the whole section like that as this project goes on.

On the one hand, publishing release valve pieces can be fun. You get people to laugh and connect with the piece in ways they may not have before.

On the other hand? You run the risk of that being the sort of work you’re known for. This is the sort of thing that’s memorable. It’s also the sort of thing  that’ll ruffle feathers from Very Serious Scholars. Which is perfectly fine if you don’t care about those things.

Me? I need to not light everything on fire more than I need to pretend that these works weren’t the pop culture of their day. So I’m going to continue to publish and post little bits like that. You may not. There’s no shame either way.

When in doubt just remember: Shakespeare is made of comic relief and dick jokes. You’re allowed to laugh at period pieces.

Aethelflied Battles Maldon: Part 3

AKA Live for the light bulb.

Today I translated my first line without looking at a dictionary or other translation. This was the first moment of thinking I could actually do this and not crash and burn in two months. It was lovely, it was exhilarating, it was confidence inspiring. It made me go through the rest of the poem I had transcribed and pick out the words I do know and write them out too.

Obviously I’m going to go back and check my work. I don’t trust my brain that much. But still! Progress! I am thankful that Old English resembles modern German (which I have a background in) enough that certain words and inflections carried through. I am thankful that, while English mutated when it stole grammar and words from every other language, it retained some words. Or at least retained them closely enough to be able to pick them out. Eorle meaning Earl or lord for example, wæter meaning water, folc means folk or people, that sort of thing.

If nothing else this project is giving me a deeper appreciation of the English I do speak and write on a daily basis. And an understanding of just how true the joke that English didn’t evolve, it just mugged other languages and riffled through their pockets for loose grammar actually is.

Old English? Makes sense. The spelling makes sense, the pronunciation makes sense, the grammar is easier than modern English. I’m feeling an inexplicable fondness for the dipthong ( Æ ) and thorn ( þ ). They’re just so pretty. Why did we ditch them?

… stupid Normans.

Aethelflied Battles Maldon: Part 2

Last time we talked about the plan of attack and the cost in terms of time that goes into a project like this. Today we’re going to look at sources. Namely, how to choose them. I am still gathering my sources which is why these posts are still abstract rather than ‘I am going to light this poem on fire. I will invent a time machine, go back and ruin all the nibs of the original poet’s pens so no one will ever hear of this monstrosity’. Not that I am at that point yet mind you. I’m still cursing translators more than the original piece. MOVING ON.

Finding Sources.

So you’ve picked your piece for translation, had enough tasty beverage to convince yourself this is a brilliant and fun idea, now what?

Chances are you’ve already read your piece, maybe a couple different versions, before you decided to do your own translation. Now comes time to pick out which versions and which original transcription you’re going to work with. You want reputable sources, not someone who, well, is doing exactly what you’re doing. At least not as your primary source. So how can you tell if you’re looking at a basement translation or a reputable one?

Check your source’s sources. Who do they cite? A reputable source will have citations. Good ones. A lot of them. And they won’t be shy about showing their sources. Check and see if you can get your hands on anything your original source cites. If your source only has one citation, and doesn’t give your further reading? I’d shy away from them.

Check your source’s credentials. Is the author Dr McTranslatyface, Professor of whatever-you’re-studying at Such-and-such University? Then they are probably reputable. Are they someone going by a made up name on the internet posting things on their blog with no peer review? Then you don’t want to trust them implicitly and really should check their work. Hi, I’m a random made up name blog person! CHECK MY WORK!

Check where your source was published. University Press labels tend toward reputable, peer reviewed academic journals, publishing companies known for publishing high quality old texts? All good places to start. That’s not to say you should discount your source if you find it online! There’s a lot of good free stuff online! But remember to evaluate your source’s sources and your source’s credentials when considering using them.

You’re going to hear this all the time: Wikipedia is not a reputable source. I disagree. Should you believe everything you find on wiki? No. Please don’t. However, good wiki articles will have what at the bottom? Sources. These sources are what you want. Wiki in and of itself is not a source, it’s more like a meta-source. A blurb, a gateway drug. Start there, but don’t end there.

Consider your source’s publication date. Is your source older than you and not a primary source? Do some more digging, make sure they’re still relevant. Make sure new research hasn’t discredited their theories and translations. Yes that is possible with language and translations, languages evolve, new texts surface that change how we look at other extant works, someone has a break through that changes context, ect. Old sources can still be great! Just have newer research to back them up when possible. This may not be possible if the piece you’re looking at is particularly obscure, in which case? Best of luck to you, go forth and add to the research on that piece.

Consider what type of source you’re looking at. Is it primary? Secondary? Tertiary? Primary sources are going to be the text itself, no one else’s translation or interpretation. You will probably not get your hands on this. If you have high quality pictures or scans of the original? Luck you! You have a primary source! Primary sources are the most accurate as they are the piece or thing you’re looking at. But if you don’t know how to read it or have a clue what you’re looking at? It won’t do you much good.

Secondary sources are what we’re going to tend toward working with. These are translations from the original, either literal or edited, ect.

Tertiary are things like textbooks. They condense what multiple secondary sources say about your piece and give a brief over view. Wiki is a tertiary source. Essays on social context are a grey area but I tend to lump them in tertiary. Think on you favorite topic from history and remember how your high school history book treated it. This is why you don’t want the majority of your sources to be tertiary. Go take a look at their sources and work backwards from there.

The exception to this for me? Language and technical texts. If it’s an instructional text then that’s a whole different monkey to wrestle with. And that my dears is outside the purview of this (wordier than anticipated) post.