30 April, 2011

29 April, 2011

Responsible and Serious

A National Film Board documentary from 1980, North China Factory, shows a cotton factory and its "comrades of spinners and weavers."

I wonder if workers nowadays who run spinning machines in Chinese factories still have to read Mao as part of their jobs.  I've seen similar machines in operation a couple of times in North America and it strikes me that as much as textile tools and fibre can be the same, outlook, philosophy, and organization can be very different.

One manager called the factory's workers "responsible and serious" as a great compliment.  But in the documentary lighter qualities crept in too, as with the wedding celebration for two factory workers and the training for a buoyant novice learning to tie her knots.

You can stream it online here if you're interested:  http://www.nfb.ca/film/north_china_factory/  The documentary is rather long and doesn't spend all that much time on the factory floor showing textile equipment, just to let you know.

28 April, 2011

From Flax to Linen Report from Ribe Viking Centre

I read the Ribe Viking Centre's From Flax to Linen Report, found here http://ribevc.net.dynamicweb.dk/Files/Filer/Forskningsrapporter/Flaxreport.pdf.  The descriptions of Viking-age spindles and whorls was interesting, as were the many measurements they took of experiments and the inferences the researchers made.  For example, one-seventh of a flax field should be allowed to mature and set seed in order to replant the same size field the next year.

The report contained some parts of flax processing I had not read about before, such as flax dried in shallow pits lined with heated stones before breaking.  In experiments, flax dried in a pit was much more thoroughly broken by a flax break than flax dried in the sun.

I enjoyed the stories in the report about tourist reactions, for example their fascination with the flax field in bloom, and how "interested tourists distracted the scutcher to the point of negligence."  You can tell reading the report how often the need for workers to interpret the process for visitors conflicted with the need of the experimenters to take measurements, especially for timed tasks.

If you do nothing else, go to page 59 and look in figure 39 at the beautiful golden line flax dressed on the distaff.  As the report says, the flax "looks remarkably like a blond wig on a broom handle."  Figure 42 on page 61 is also amazing, though the camera doesn't catch the same sheen on the fibre as in figure 39.

On page 66, there is a diagram of a warp-weighted loom.  I cannot reconcile the closeup view of the cloth where it is sewn to the cloth beam with what I've read previously about this type of loom.  There doesn't seem to be any sort of band woven in advance off the loom to create a top selvedge and give something besides individual warp threads to sew onto the cloth beam.  Does not make sense the way it is depicted.  Unless I missed something, the text says nothing about the manner in which the warp is attached to the cloth beam, merely that it is attached by sewing.

27 April, 2011


I've been looking at images of handspinners in Medieval Europe and the ancient Near East, and I cannot figure out how they manage to spin the spindle down and to the side.  I suspect the distaffs stuck in their waistbands have something to do with it.

I wonder if a distaff would help me draw a larger amount of fibre at a time.  My short draw is extremely short.  A different hand movement could turn out to be more comfortable over long or frequent handspinning sessions.

26 April, 2011

Five Components of Textiles

According to Kay Wilson's A History of Textiles, "A textile is considered to have five components:" fibre, yarn, fabric construction, finish, and colour.

I hadn't really seen the components laid out like that before.  I find the list useful.

You can say that the first four are consecutive steps in textile construction, the fifth occurring at any time.  For example, a textile can be dyed in the wool.  Skeins can be dyed, or warp painted on the loom, or cloth dipped, painted, and printed.

You can also say that at, in times past and in sundry places, nations camped out on one or all of these components with high degrees of specialization and furthermore, whatever position they held (or failed to hold) affected history.  Take England, whose wool exports ensured they had a lock on the first component during the middle ages and the Renaissance, and who thereafter had to scramble to industrialize in order to compete with imported Indian cotton chintz.  England managed that by working backwards through the components, first importing plain fabric to dye in chintz patterns, then weaving, then spinning.  The fibre production was outsourced.  Maiwa's podcasts, The Cotton Road with Rosemary Crill, parts 1, 2, and 3 cover the change.  I had no idea there was actual prohibition against the import of chintz at one point in England.

You can also say that people in the fibre arts today specialize in a component, while keeping a hand in the rest.  The handspinners' guild I belong to has members who are shepherds, handspinners, weavers and knitters, and dyers.  No fullers, though, that I know of.

I haven't needed to do much in the way of fulling and finishing fabric myself because to date I have knitted items from my handspun.  From what I gather, finishing is necessary for woven cloth and quite transformational.  I like colour; I like it best when someone else applies it for me.  While I don't grow or raise fibre, I believe strongly in the power of a handspinner's skill in selection and preparation of fibre.  So you can place me squarely in the second component (yarn) with some overlap in the first (fibre) and third (cloth); that is, I spin yarn and in doing so I chose and if necessary prepare fibre, and then I either stow the spun yarn in a box or I make cloth with it.

You could say that every choice you make in each of the components along the way determines what you get.  I had a couple of opportunities the other week to talk to people interested in the fibre arts about how I choose wool from different breeds of sheep depending on what effect I desire in the final cloth.  To me this approach makes sense.  As an analogy, when I want to eat beef stew, I don't buy garbanzo beans to make it.

25 April, 2011

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!  Nothing handspun to write about today nor anything handwoven (photo of something bird-woven, yes), but I will make mention of my favourite fabric, linen, since I associate it with this holiday.
Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb.  Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.  Luke 24:12 NIV

23 April, 2011

So Far So Good with the Blue Scarf

So far so good with the blue scarf.  The taper appears to be less drastic now that I'm alternating rows with the two balls of handspun of different weights.  It's still a bit early to know how well this will work overall.

Not quite as mindless to knit but whatever gets the job done.

22 April, 2011

Spun Sample of Pure Dark BFL

I spun a small sample of the pure dark Blue Face Leicester roving I bought recently from Breezy Meadows Farm.  I hope you can see how rich the colour is, like a good dark chocolate.

20 April, 2011

"They are a Corrupt Lot, and Seductive"

Thought you'd like the dry humour in this quote from Katy Turner's The Legacy of the Great Wheel:
Then there are the spinners who never stop experimenting.  They can follow exact procedures and spin excellent yarn but rarely do.  Halfway through a project they start to wander, throwing in another fiber, practicing some refinement or moving to the treadle for a while.  Spinners in this group are apt to have baskets and baskets of yarn, no two skeins alike, and spend hours designing wall hangings.  They are a corrupt lot, and seductive, coaxing you away from the studio to long afternoons defoliating parks and byways for the dyepot.
I was very fortunate to have a chance to read a copy lent to me.  The slender book, published in 1980, starts at $75 used now.

19 April, 2011

one hundred-second skein

This is the first time I've spun so thin that the strands broke repeatedly as I plied.

18 April, 2011

Chucking an Ounce of Cotswold Singles Yarn

This ounce of spun Cotswold wool is now in the wastebasket.  I really wanted to like it.  I'd been told wool from Cotswold sheep could be so glossy that people mistake the woven yarn for silk.  Sounds desirable to me with my taste for luster.

I am sure that someday I will find some Cotswold that is glossy and in first class shape but unfortunately this stuff feels brittle and damaged.  I got a more experienced handspinner to handle the fibre and confirm this.

When I was spinning, I said that it felt as though the fibre was fighting me.  To which someone replied, "Looks like it's losing."  True, I was able to spin it but I should have just quit.

There was a lot more backspin on my drop spindle than I usually get, strangely.  That may have nothing to do with the poor condition.  Cotswold is categorized as a longwool, so it would make sense that it would resist twist compared to a fine wool or a down breed wool or an unusually soft and fine longwool like Blue Face Leicester.

I was fighting more than backspin.  Intermittent snarled strands in the roving and the brittle surface made drafting unpleasant and difficult.

I should have checked the fibre when I first bought it instead of stowing the bag for some special someday.  Live and learn.  At least now that I am no longer being held up by this project, I can get on to trying out the BFL and Icelandic I got recently.

16 April, 2011

Lack of Gauge a Problem in the Blue Scarf

When spinning yarn for this scarf, I neglected to check my gauge and, as I feared, discrepancies between the skeins have lead to the same number of stitches producing narrower fabric at the working end than at the beginning.  The scarf tapers.  The fabric is looser at that end too.  These are not qualities I find desirable in a scarf.  I have a solution in mind that hopefully will solve this.  The bad news is it means undoing all the knitting.

15 April, 2011

I'll Leave Bamboo to the Pandas

I tried spinning yarn from a little bamboo fibre.  It made an off-putting squeaking noise as I drafted it.  And it shed.

14 April, 2011

Woven Lotus Fibres

Not handspun as far as I can tell, but still interesting.  "Weaving a Rare Fabric from the Lotus Plant," Wall Street Journal, 11/3/2010

If you watch the video embedded on the blog page, unfortunately the format clips off the far right side of the picture.  You might want to follow the link and view the video on the host site.

Note, this fabric is produced in Burma (Myanmar), a country which is under trade sanctions by Canada.

13 April, 2011


I still dream about the lustrous, three foot long golden strands of line flax I saw at Scotchtown years ago.  I haven't seen anything like it since.  My will-o-the-wisp.

I wish I knew where to get some.

12 April, 2011

Booker T. Washington's Scratchy Linen Shirt

The other week I got a chance to talk about why Booker T. Washington's scratchy linen shirt was scratchy.  I got to speak about it to people whose ancestors probably were obliged to wear scratchy linen shirts too, and I was really glad for the chance, the topic being meaningful to them.

It had been a while since I read Up From Slavery so I'd forgotten that Washington himself explains exactly why the shirt was scratchy:
In the portion of Virginia where I lived it was common to use flax as part of the clothing for the slaves.  That part of the flax from which our clothing was made was largely the refuse, which of course was the cheapest and roughest part.  I can scarcely imagine any torture, except, perhaps the pulling of a tooth, that is equal to that caused by putting on a new flax shirt for the first time....when I was being forced to wear a new flax shirt, he [Booker's brother] generously agreed to put it on in my stead and wear it for several days, till it was "broken in."  Until I had grown to be quite a youth this single garment was all that I wore.
There are four points I can add to that.  First, the refuse would be made of shorter fibres, and short fibres mean more ends to stick out and prickle.  When you have a handful of flax to process, you separate the tow which is the shorter fibre out from the longer flax strands called line flax.  Tow is used for lower grades of cloth.  Second, tow comes from the lower end of the plant stem and even if you look at line flax that runs the whole length of the plant, the end that came from the root is also the coarser, thicker end.  Third, any linen cloth is going to be stiff at the start and get softer with wear.  When I need linen cloth, I buy the pre-softened sort by the yard or I buy second-hand dresses that have been washed many times and I cut them down to what I need.  Fourth, there are many steps along the way to finished linen cloth where inept or insufficient handling could lead to a coarse, inferior product altogether, not just in the refuse part.  For example, you could grow the plants too far apart allowing more side branches and thus harvest a higher proportion of short fibres than you ought.  Pull the plants out of the ground too late after the tender stage (sort of like zucchini) and get coarse stalks.  Ret the stalks for too little time so pectin doesn't break down to release the fibres, and get strands that won't separate from the boon.  Neglect to break and scutch away all the woody boon, and the strands will be lumpy.  Misalign the tow fibres before spinning when hackling or when dressing the distaff, and produce rough inconsistent yarn instead of smooth.  Spin flax dry in dry weather without applying water or saliva as you go and yarn will be hairy instead of smooth.  Skip softening and bleaching after weaving and the cloth will be stiff.

Certainly, however, the main thing is that the scratchy shirt was made with waste flax fibres.  From Frances Lousia Goodrich's Mountain Handspun we find corroboration of the same practice of dressing small boys in scratchy linen shirts and the same explanation:
In the old times much flax was raised and worked in the mountains [Appalachia]....The tow, or refuse from the scotching, and the better tow left after the heckling, was also spun for making coarse sheets or bedticking and for shirts for little boys, who found it very scratchy until several washings had rid it of the sticks.
One of the most common forms of flax available to handspinners to buy today is tow roving.  The other forms are fine flax roving and flax stricks.  I can't imagine ever wanting to weave yarn made from tow nor spinning it really.  Sackcloth and ashes stuff.

At the demo, another spinner had set out on display a skein of linen yarn she'd spun as well as a flax strick which is a twisted bundle of line flax.  Everyone commented how the strick looked like hair.  One woman asked if flax was what the rich people wore, meaning back in the middle ages.  I had fun astonishing her by saying, "You are wearing what the rich people wore," meaning cotton.  And very likely not even then, I don't think, not in Europe.

Flax is supposed to take less work by hand than cotton to separate out the completely unusable bits.  Flax is supposed to be less work than cotton to get the fibres in shape and arranged for spinning.  It is work, just not as much work.  Flax needs less twist to be spun into yarn than cotton because of the length difference and structure, so there's less work there too.  That gave flax an edge historically along with its wider growing range at greater latitudes in places with short spring days.

I didn't have any tow at the demonstration to show how much of a different grade of flax it is, but I did say, "You saw me combing wool and throwing the short fibres on the floor because I didn't want to spin it.  That's sort of like what Booker T. Washington's shirt was made from.  They shouldn't have done that, it was wrong, but they did."

I got asked if my wool combs were a cotton gin, which kind of threw me, because I was working with Romney wool which has a staple length many times longer than cotton and also because as far as I know a cotton gin is machine-powered not a hand tool.  I've seen one.  I don't know if I gave a good answer, except to say that I was working with wool, and you can get seeds out of cotton by hand by using something that looks like a large pasta roller if the seeds are smooth and not hairy.

The upshot is, if you don't know about spinning flax and cotton, you don't know, and that's okay.  If you don't run into these things in your daily life, there's no reason you should.  But it's good to know, to actually have a literal grasp on the tools and materials that shaped world history.

11 April, 2011

It's April, Do You Know Where Your Fibre Flax Seed Is?

I've taken great pleasure recently in playing Johnny Appleseed, giving away small packets of fibre flax seed divided from some bags I bought from Landis Valley Museum.  Three working farms and a couple dozen home gardens in Virginia could be growing some this year.

The amount of fibre flax seed the growers received from me should be just enough to see what the plant looks like and save seeds for next year if they want.  I hope I get to hear progress reports.

I didn't realize, until the seed arrived in the mail and I read the enclosed cultivation information sheet, that you need a pound of seed and a 20x20' plot to grow enough fibre to process for handspun linen yarn.  That's more seed and land than I expected, though I should have known since I've seen how little remains after processing stalks.  A thick patch prevents lodging, or plants toppling over.

The flax seed looks similar to the type you buy at the grocery store and eat.  However, when sown the fibre flax plant is supposed to grow much taller, throwing its energy into the stalk rather than the new seed.  This difference in composition (or structure or whatever you wish to call it) makes fibre flax good for spinning rather than eating or oil pressing.

I am sure there are reasons why fibre flax seeds get imported for sale from another continent.  I would really like plants to be growing, acclimating, and setting seed somewhere other than "away" as they say in the Atlantic provinces.  Somewhere near me.

I haven't decided whether I'll grow a patch myself.  I don't think I have access to good garden soil.

I've borrowed a copy of Linda Heinrich's The Magic of Linen: Flax Seed to Woven Cloth.  (Heinrich has a new book with a very similar cover and title, Linen From Flax Seed to Woven Cloth, 2010; I have not read it.)  Already as a homesick Vancouver Islander I love this book: it was published in 1992 by Orca Book Publishers of Victoria and there is a Nanaimo bar (a chocolate-flavoured dessert named for the city) pictured on one of the linen placemats.  My heart went pit-a-pat when I saw that.  But back to cultivating flax.  On page one Heinrich writes that there is a perennial type of flax, a wild flax, that was used for prehistoric textiles.  The flax seed I bought is an annual flax.  Both modern oilseed flax and fibre flax are annuals.

Right, new quest to add to the list: getting my hands on the perennial type of flax plant.  Presumably has the advantages of no plowing the ground, no saving the seed, no bare ground in the off-season, little erosion.  Wonder how the textiles looked.  There must have been a difference between textiles from perennial and from annual flax for the switch to cultivation to have taken place.

Perennial flax is as close as Monticello's plant and seed catalogues which list Linum perenne lewisii, but I am not sure whether the plant Lewis and Clark discovered in North America would be the same as the Swiss Lake Dwellers used in Europe.  [ETA: I want Linum angustifolium.]

Scratch item off the quest list: instigate some flax growing in Virginia in ordinary hands outside museums.

The Mannings Handweaving School and Supply Center carries the same flax seed as Landis Valley.

09 April, 2011

Unrolled Fleece

In the photo above, a friend unrolls and examines the colour of a Costwold fleece from Tuckahoe Plantation Livestock.  (She bought the fleece.)

Do I spy a Blue Face Leicester?

08 April, 2011

07 April, 2011

The Stash Barricade Has Fallen

The stash diet is over and I have begun to buy again.

I have half a pound of naturally dark BFL roving coming in the mail from Breezy Meadows Farm in Pennsylvania.  Not sort-of-dark-but-actually-blended-and-stretched-with-ecru but pure dark wool from a black flock.  At least I hope so, I forgot to ask.

I bought 6 ounces of local Icelandic roving from Magi's Wood Farm in a vendor's hall after Magi Shapiro told me that Icelandic wool from Iceland is much coarser than that raised in North America.

I have Icelandic wool from Iceland on order through a spinning supply shop.  (I didn't know any better.)  Also a wee bit of generic ecru BFL top.

I am contemplating BFL fleece that I hear is gorgeous and available from a shepherd in the B.C. Interior.

Maryland Sheep and Wool is in one month.  The vendor list is up on their site, useful for planning your shopping.

06 April, 2011

Wool for Interior Textiles

I read the International Wool Textile Organization's publication, Wool For Interior Textiles.  I immediately wanted to plaster the floors with wool rugs, the walls with wool tapestries, and the bed with wool mattress pads.  Why?  The IWTO outlines many benefits to wool in interior textiles, but the one promise that I found compelling was that wool absorbs moisture and a home with wool carpets has less humidity and needs less air conditioning.

Back when I moved from Vancouver Island to Virginia, I had to ask how to set the controls on the central air conditioning system.  I had never used one before, nor had I ever known anyone whose home had one.  I grew up hearing, "Close the door!  Don't heat the out of doors."  Never, "don't let the cool air get out."  So, I've always begrudged the need for the A/C to be on.  It's extra noise and extra costs and extra coal and nuclear power generation which I'm not keen on.

Wool could help.  Well, well.

Wool could also help places like Vancouver Island, I am guessing from the publication.  Wool is supposed to buffer the effect of the cool damp interior climate in winter, again by absorbing moisture, and thereby make people feel comfortable.

Elsewhere on the IWTO site under campaigns there is mention of "vested wool interested groups."  All wearing wool vests, I trust.

05 April, 2011

Less Philosophy, More Yarn

I've let singles pile up a bit, haven't I.  Need to ply some yarn.  That's Blue Face Leicester wool wrapped and waiting, and Costwold wool on the spindle.

I really like that photo.  I think it's the quality of the light.

04 April, 2011

Why I Spin Yarn and Why You Should Care

This post is about reasons why I spin yarn and why you should care.  Actually, I don't know for sure why you should care.  If you're not one of my friends and relations, probably you don't care that I spin yarn.  As to the question of whether you should care about handspun generally, that will depend. Hopefully somewhere in all my reasons there will be something that resonates with you.

A forewarning: what follows is a fairly idiosyncratic list.  That's the fun of a blog.

I like spinning a spindle in mid-air and feeling the hum of the motion in the yarn that forms under my fingertips.

When I spin yarn, I have control over the final cloth.

Getting the final product right is an enjoyable challenge to me.

I spin yarn and I get clothes to wear, after some assembly.

I get to select the most optimal fibre for the job, which makes me feel clever.

It's fascinating how different techniques can shape the yarn and in turn shape the cloth's properties and attributes.

Practice and mastery of handspinning technique is rewarding and satisfying.

Handspun yarn gives me evidence of my progress, improvement, and effort: evidence I can measure and feel.

I am sensitive and have a strong sense of what I like and don't like regarding cloth.  Handspinning lets me get what I want.

While some area farmers will sell me finished products like mittens and rugs made from their own fibre, what they sell is not always what I want to own.  Besides, often the products will have travelled off-site at some point (for washing, milling, or fabrication) and so are not completely local.

Having the tools and skill to spin means I can access locally-raised fibre the same way having a kitchen knife and a cooking pot means I can access local food.

Buying local supports the regional economy and often has benefits to the community as well as environmental benefits, which in turn benefit my health and well-being.

Talking to shepherds is cool.

Understanding the how and why of handspun is an intellectual challenge.

When I understand handspun I understand ancient and non-industrial cultures better, and it's enriching to understand the history of material culture.  It's a different headspace to be in, like when you learn a new language or read one in translation (especially transliterated or with original syntax order) and you realize that native speakers think differently than you do.

Making yarn with a fancy stick and some fuzzy stuff is my response in the face of future changes and risks that may be coming in terms of how we all meet our basic needs.  Changes like the rising price of gas.

When I spin yarn in public, people are interested in it and they talk to me.  They tell me stories.

I can make a hat with a $15 drop spindle, $8 worth of wool, and a pair of $9 knitting needles for a total of $32, and all the hats after that will only cost $8 for the wool.

I could have a new hat a week if I really wanted.  I can have hats to give away.

All the handspinners I meet are friendly and generous with their time, knowledge, materials, tools, and encouragement, and spinning yarn means I get to spend time with them.

Spinning yarn means I've had to form new contacts and relationships with mentors and suppliers, and that makes me more a part of my community.

Handspun requires well-designed functional tools, and it's great to have a reason and a justification to buy good tools.

Many, many fibre arts tools on the market are made by independent manufacturers and so when I buy the loom, spindle, wool combs, niddy noddy, or whatever I support small businesses with employee- and family-friendly labour practices.

Getting a handspinning tool custom-made to my specs is a thrill.

Many types of fibre arts tools and processes go back hundreds and thousands of years, and they function without petroleum, huge cash investment, strip mines, mass deforestation, water drawdown and pollution, and such.

I believe in handspinning and weaving tools of profound mechanical simplicity that allow a skilled worker to display outstanding versatility and virtuosity.  For example, a simple spindle is less limited than a complicated spinning wheel with flyer whose yarn has to be thin enough to pass through the orifice.

I don't want to wear the products of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) any more than I want to eat them, since I am concerned not only with their effects on the consumer but also on soil, wildlife, domesticated animals, farmers' autonomy, and farmers' debt loads.  Livestock is fed cottonseed from Bt cotton.

I believe the textiles we chose have a cumulative impact on the world's genetic diversity, bio-piracy, cultivation, harvests of wild material, energy use, infrastructure spending, land use, waste streams, trade practices, and the treatment and breeding of animals.  I think these things matter.

After spending decades being uneducated and unsophisticated about spun yarn, I no longer think that's a normal, preferable, or acceptable way for me to be.

I am offended that Western buyers will contract for clothing from factories in emerging markets, accept shipment, and neglect to pay.  Also that they will set terms for price and delivery dates that can only be met by suppliers operating un-inspected, unregulated shadow factories alongside the model factories.  Factory workers scheduled seven days a week.  (See Alexandra Harney's The China Price.)  Now, today, after all the activism and the reforms following events like the Triangle shirtwaist factory fire in New York City a hundred years ago.

I love the moment a person sees twist go into the fibre and really grasps the concept of spun yarn.

I have a mad passion for pure linen cloth and I figure if I practice someday I'll be able to spin really good flax for fine linen.

It is awe-inspiring to see what peasants like us can do using seeds, animals, clay, wood, stone, chemical processes, and simple machines.  Open source.

Food and water are vitally serious but hypothermia is nothing to mess with either.

Sometimes I feel like the colours of ready-to-wear clothing are chosen by a conspiracy of redheads.  With handspun, I can commission an indy dye artist to dye me wool in a colour that looks good on me.

I can get more durable cloth with handspun than I can with ready-to-wear by choosing long-staple fibres.  Linen strick.  Longwools.  I've heard cloth from kudzu can be worn for seventy years.

While I won't go into depth about it, I will say this because it has to do with me spinning yarn.  My thoughts and actions–that list I just wrote–are (hopefully) steered by my religious convictions which in turn are based on the Bible.  Be responsible and show a good return for the resources and money we have.  Treat and compensate labourers fairly.  Pay what you owe promptly.  Give cheerfully.  Work with our hands and share with those in need.  Use accurate weights and measurements.  Care for our animals' needs.  Let the land rest.  Rest from work on the seventh day.  Gather together with other people.  Spend time in private contemplation and reflection on the truth.  Understand the times.  Expect inspiration and revelation.  Act disciplined and take correction.  Seek wisdom.  See trouble coming.  Gather crops in summer.  Love our neighbour.  Respect ancient boundary lines (property rights).  Don't crossbreed species.  Walk in the light.  Do our work well for God's glory.  I can give you the verses these principles come from but they're best understood in context and I encourage you to read them yourself.

Also, you may not care but I'd just like to say that I find the Bible rich with symbolism.  Its writers used things like linen, sheep, shepherding, washed wool, weaving, and handspinning to convey spiritual concepts that have a lot of meaning for me.  That's all.  If you believe differently, I respect that.  It's possible that you object to anyone finding meaning and purpose in the Bible.  If you want to talk about it, I would say that we can after you read it, except this is a handspinning blog and not really the place.  Your local pastor might want to talk.  You know, pastor means shepherd.

02 April, 2011

Going Medieval-ish

If you do educational handspinning demonstrations, somebody somewhere is going to think it's a good idea for you to do so dressed in clothes representative of a period in history when people spun yarn by hand.

This marks the first time I have done so.

The wool is representative too: it's from Cotswold sheep.

01 April, 2011

Luttrell Psalter Film

There is a spinning wheel pictured in the Luttrell Psalter, a 14th century European manuscript, and that wheel is constructed on the same principles as a great wheel.

You can see a wheel based on the Luttrell Psalter in use WAG Screen's Luttrell Psalter Film online at http://www.luttrellpsalter.org.uk/.  The film is a live action interpretation of the manuscript.  The wheel appears at the 4:30 mark.  There's a closeup of winding yarn on the wheel's spindle at 5:45.  The spinner is using a wheelboy to turn the wheel.

Stick around for the 12 minute mark.  I have no idea how the angry wife's drop spindle stays attached to her flax distaff as she beats the cowering husband over the head with it.