I had a great time yesterday at the Queensland Museum teaching people about spinning in the 15th century. I had some fantastic conversations. There were many good discussions about the social history of spinning, about the relative expense of linen and wool and how expensive clothes were in the middle ages compared to now. We also talked about the low quality of clothing today and how it starts right back at the fibre preparation stage. How many people these days list an apron or skirt in their will?
Quite a few older women came up and talked about their grandmother’s spinning (on a wheel). One Irish women told me about how to boost productivity her family were given a spinning wheel in exchange for planting an acre of flax.
I also had sever men fascinated at the physics of spinning, one in particular who said I’d filled in the missing link in his knowledge of how textiles were made, which was wonderful.
I also had a lot of people who had seen different types of spinning in their travels (such as drop spindle spinning, supported spinning and different types of grasped spinning) who were very interested in the different techniques. The great thing about talking with the public is they don’t have an agenda to prove their way of spinning is right or deny the existence of certain spinning styles, so we can discuss them all.
We recently got a video camera for using for our business, so we took that along and my partner took quite a bit of video, most of which I have to sort through. It was hard as I was usually surrounded by people, but here is a short snippet he got of me spinning.
There were also displays on illumination, needlework (specifically some beautiful gold work) and some artefacts that we got to have a up close look at, some of which we were able to handle.
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I would love to make a visit to Australia and get a chance to sit and talk spinning history with you. I love your research and hard work to show the past in textiles.