M’Lady Raithnat O’Braonain
This is a mostly hands on class. This hand out will be a high level overview and a listing of a lot of wonderful sources for additional learning/ documentation. My class uses fibers that are donated by local suppliers and are usually prepared for spinning by myself and students who wish to learn how to process fleece. They are not mill processed. They are received in the grease and full of Veggie Matter, among other things. I cold water process my fleeces as I have not found any records showing washing wool before spinning in hot water. Rather I have heard and read about river washing methods prior to shearing. Anyone who has played in a river knows THEY ARE COLD! J
The Fiber We are Using Today
I used the new Dawn Soap that promises an overnight soak in just a few minutes. Castille soap is closer to accurate processing for the times we represent, but Dawn was less expensive and goes a LONG way. The fleece is still in partial grease. This means you will feel the lanolin still in it. This can be an irritant to some people so please be aware of this. If you start to itch or develop a slight rash, stop spinning, and go wash your hands immediately. This could be a sensitivity to the wool or the lanolin. Spinning in the grease for those who do not have sensitivities or alleries to it has some great benefits including soft hands when you are done ( love that part) and a water resistant fabric once woven/ nalbound/knit.
This particular fleece we are using today came from a sheep named June. She is 2 yrs old and had her first lamb this year. She is a Suffolk Cross from champion bloodlines. The ranch that she comes from Raises Suffolk Crosses for FFA and 4H students. She donated 4 fleeces this year to my 4F (Friendless Fiber Foster Farm) The animal is raised and cared for in Kingman AZ and is a pampered baby to be sure. JSuffolk sheep are primarily a meat breed, only recently being bred for wool as well. It is considered a medium wool. With the staple length today between 2-5 inches I have separated the lengths with the longer lengths being processed into roving coils, and the shorter fibers being made into rolags (the sticks)
The spindles we are using were made by a member of my Shire who wanted to know how to make spindles.
Interesting tidbits about spinning:
Spinning on a spindle goes WELL beyond our Current Era, and continues in many countries today. There are as many types of spindles as there are regions that use them.
No one knows for sure when Spinning first began, or even who made the first spinning wheel.
Some earlier illuminations from china in the 900’s show a woman working what at first glance looks like a spinning wheel, but turns out to be a silk reeler. I can easily see how a reeling machine evolved into what we use today.
Painting and illuminations throughout Europe show Spinning from a spindle and distaff to a bobbin and flyer treadle wheel during our timeframe. Bobbin and flyer wheels were VERY late period for us but did exhist in the latter half of the 16th Century (1500’s) before then there were spindle/ quill wheels, so named, because you spun off a spindle that was sideways. This was powered by a power wheel and drive band. The treadle that we see on most modern wheels is also VERY late period but did exhist. Most wheels during our time however were painted or drawn with hand cranks. There are even pictures of Wheels small enough to sit in a ladies lap to spin on and quite ornate. Prior to the spindle wheel though you see oodles of paintings and illuminations using spindles.
Spindles are basically made up of a shaft and a weighted wheel called a whorl. These whorls were made of many things including cast metal. There have been many findings of whorls from our time but not many shafts. It is presumed that the shafts were mainly made of wood. A notable museum showcase in England shows one of the rare finds of a iron forged spindle complete with hook.
I will be putting this hand out up on my Blog page and will add to the below listings as I have the chance and find the new goodies to share. Happy spinning!
Places to look up and read when you have time for more information:
Twitchell, Linda. Spinning With a Medieval Twist. The Compleat Anachronist, 1996.
Ancient History of the Spinning Wheel by F.M. Feldhaus in Heidelburg, Germany
Barber, Elizabeth, Women's Work The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth and Society in Early Times.W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., London. 1994. ISBN 0-393-03506-0.
Spin Span Spin. Hockber & Hockberg, USA. 1979 ISBN 0-9600990-3-4
(this is the google books link to the cambridge book. Takes you straight to the page discussed)
Hochberg, Bette. Handspinner's Handbook , Hochberg & Hockburg, USA. 1976. ISBN 0-9600990-5-0
Handspindles. Hochberg& Hockberg, USA. 1977. ISBN 0-9600990-2-6
James, Peter and Nick Thorpe. Ancient Inventions. Random House, Inc. New York.1994. ISBN 0-345-40102-6
Grenander Nyberg, Gertrud. "Spinning Implements of the Viking Age from Elisenhof in the Light of Ethnological Studies," Textiles in Northern Archaeology, ed. Penelope Walton and John-Peter Wild, pp. 73-84. North European Symposium for Archaeological Textiles 3 [NESAT 3]. London: Archetype Publications, 1990. (ISBN 1-873132-05-0)
Øye, Ingvild. Textile Equipment and Its Working Environment, Bryggen in Bergen c 1150 - 1500. The Bryggen Papers, Main Series, Vol. 2. Oslo: Norwegian University Press, 1988. (ISBN 82-00-02537-3)
Statistical and comparative analyses of 410 whorls and 31 spindles from twelfth through fifteenth century Bergen, Norway.
Walton Rogers, Penelope. Textile Production at 16-22 Coppergate. The Archaeology of York, vol. 17, Fascicule 11. York: Council for British Archaeology, 1997. (ISBN 1-872414-76-1)
Careful analysis of 149 whorls and 5 spindles from York, England, in periods ranging from the ninth through the fifteenth century. Lots of line drawings! Useful catalogue in the back.
Cambridge History of Western Textiles, Volume 1 ( 2003)- Check out the section called “Medieval Woolens: Textiles, Technology and Organization” around page 203