Video Wednesday- Norwegian Crafts

Today I share an old film showing Norwegian crafts. There is weaving, spinning, and other historic crafts you don’t often see in films such as fingerloop braiding and naalbinding.

Of interest is the spinnin technique uses a hook in place of a distaff. It also shows the plying technique which Norman Kennedy speaks about, where the yarn is run through a hook in the ceiling.

Medieval Plying Picture… Could it be I’ve found one?

Well, up until today I would have told you I know of no pictures from the late middle aes or early renaissance that depict plying.

I know many others have said this.

But tonight when I opened up pinterest I saw this picture (which I’ve brightened to help see a few details)

I have heard of plying using a hook or nail driven into the ceiling. Could this be a medieval image deicting plying?

The manuscript is this one here and here is the page this image is from

Have a good look. It appears they are spinning thread hanging down from the ceiling. Well, this rattled something in my brain. I KNOW I’ve heard people talking about plying using hooks or mails driven into the ceiling.

I’ve been sick recently and spend some time in bed half-watching Norman Kennedy spinning videos. I’m 90% sure he mentions someone taking him to an old house and pointing to hooks or nails in the ceiling and wondering what they were for and Mr Kennedy said “oh, they were for plying thread.” I’m sure I’ve hard of it from some other source too (I’m thinking a lady somewhere in eastern Europe but I’m not sure).

How plying from a hook or nail in the ceiling works, I don’t know. I’ve always imagined the threads are run up from the floor (either in the form of a single plying ball or two spindles of singles), passed through a hook together and then spun.In the picture there are no threads going up, only going down. Of course, this is a medieval picture (looks 15th century French to me) so threads going up could just not have been painted in. They often left out parts of looms too.

So, what do you think? Medieval plying picture or something else?

Recent spinning progress.


More recent spinning.

I spun two lots of singles then wound them both together into a plying ball. Guess what? When I reached the end of one of my spindles I only had a foot and a half left on the other spindle!!! I just guessed the spindles had about the same amount on by holding them in my hands and I was THAT CLOSE!!! Ok, a coincidence, as I’m not that good, but impressive! Right? Not something that happens every day, anyway.


I then plyed on my medieval spindle but using it as a drop spindle. The fast spin spins longer when you stand up and quickly drop your heights worth of thread for it to spin from. Sometimes I didn’t get a good spin but most times due to the tapered ends of my spindle stick I did.

Here is my spindle full.


I was worried that I was putting too much spin into my ply so for each length I plyed (a length being my eyes to the floor when standing) I twisted the spindle once and when it started to slow I walked the spindle up the thread and wound on.

Here is my spinning on the niddy noddy.

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Here is the yarn straight off the niddy noddy before washing.


I thought this would have a lot more active twist than it does! This yarn at the moment has a nice feel to it. Soft and tactile. Not too hard but not without any movement either. Springy without being twisty. Of course, I don’t actually know what I’m aiming for, but I like the feel of it. When I start using my yarn up I’ll be able to look at the finished results and refer back to my notes of how it felt so I’ll know what to aim for in the future. It’s quite possible I’ll need more twist than this if I’m looking to use it for warp thread. I’ve washed it and it’s hanging to dry (unweighted) right now so I’ll see how it looks in the morning.


Talking about too much twist, remember how I said my first wool yarn had way too much twist in it and I washed it again and dried it on the niddy noddy? Well, out of curiosity I washed it again and didn’t put it on the niddy noddy to dry. This is what it did.


Yes, that’s a whole skein! It relaxed a bit after I stretched it out a bit (it was really fun to play with!) but now I wonder if it can be used. Ive heard there’s no thread to tight or too twisted to be used for weaving, but, really?


I mean, if I wove with this what would happen the moment the fabric got wet? Would it all shrivel up?

Well, I guess I could find out!  New experementation is looming… 😉