35,000 Views!

On the 30th of June 2012 I posted on my Live Journal “I have a spinning blog!” An excerpt is below:

My journal is friends only, has been for a while. I post a lot of costuming stuff to the dress diaries community when I want to share it with the world because I know I appreciate reading other’s diaries as they have helped me in the past. Also it is just interesting and inspiring reading what other people are doing. My spinning progress is something I’d like to share with the world because I know I would have found it very helpful. Still world, actually, if I found someone else doing it. I’ve joined a few communities, mostly yahoo groups and I’ve joined ravelry because there are some spinning groups on there. I’m reading lots of interesting stuff but a lot of it is modern based or based on non-European peoples. So I’ve started a blog as my portal to share my progress with the world. I don’t expect it to get high traffic or a stack of hits, that’s not what I’m after, but I feel better knowing that I’m contributing my research to the re-enactment community at large and it’s out there for anyone to find and access…

 

When I started this blog it was really because I felt a duty to share my knowledge in a public place. I expected that a couple of people might look at it, as in, one or two people. I thought it would be wonderful if a handful of people saw it and found it useful.

Well, today I have past 35,000 views which is (to me) a lot. Like, tens of thousands more than I expected a lot.

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When I started learning about these spinning techniques I knew no one that did them. In my early research I found a few old films showing it, but the first person I ever saw talking about it was Norman Kennedy. While there are still people out there who argue that this style of spinning ‘doesn’t exist’, I come across a lot of re-enactors who, like me, are trying to learn about the old European spinning traditions and how they might apply to their period of historic interest. Also, I have come across modern spinners who aren’t re-enactors spinning this way or learning about it. The Evangelical Church of Distaff Spinning Group on facebook has over 300 members and is growing.

There is so much to learn, and so much to figure out, but I feel both proud and privileged to have become a part of this little spinning movement.

So I‘d like to say thank you to my fans and supporters, but an even bigger thank you to everyone who is learning about these techniques and sharing your learnings online. Please keep posting, and if you need a platform to publish anything let me know, I’m more than happy to share your work on my blog- even if you are just begining your efforts are of interest to other spinners. If you’ve published something on a blog or website of your own and would like me to link to it- please let me know.

And finally, this is a lot of views for me, if this isn’t a lot of views for you, or your blog has a wider audience than mine, then PLEASE POST ABOUT DISTAFF SPINNING! Because that way even more people can see it! 🙂

 

 

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Spinning Experiment- We Need You!

Tell a bunch of spinners that the output of a medieval spinner could be no more than 20 metres per hour, and they’ll want to prove you wrong. As such, the folks over at the Evangelical Church of Distaff Spinning are conducting a spinning experiment, looking at the production rates of modern spinners. The experiment collects a wide range of date, from spinning method, years of experience to fibre spun, tools used and more. Collecting all of this data means that we can use the results for different things. For example, we could compare grasped spinning production rates to that with suspended spinning, or we could look at how years of experience affects production.

I encourage you all to take part, here is the form you need to complete and you can take part multiple times.

When you are filling out the form, pay attention when it asks you to enter in the amount spun- just do that! There’s a slot for time spun also so your production rate per hour can be calculated. Don’t be clever and work out the average you spun in an hour, otherwise you’ll confuse the results:

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Oops!

At least it gave me a laugh! The preliminary results (without my mistake) are up on the facebook group so if you’re not a member, join to check them out. But we need more responses, so please take part!

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Video Wednesday- Busy Not Spinning

I’ve been pretty busy these past few weeks.

First I got married.

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Then this past weekend I attended History Alive, a multi-period re-enactment event that sadly got mudded out on the Sunday due to excessive rain on Saturday night and early Sunday morning. The rain eased early but the mud was there to stay and the mud made the entrance to the grounds and the car parks unsafe.

I did manage to enjoy myself on the Saturday though, and had the best time I’ve ever actually had at this event. The morning I spent helping with our shop, Make Your Own Medieval. The afternoon I spent visiting some other re-enactment groups and talking to them about their crafts and activities.

I visited my friend Rosalie from Rosalie’s Medieval women and saw her display of artifacts.

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The ladies of my re-enactment group had a go at fabric stamping at the encampment of Karvan-saray and now have plans for fabric stamped wall hangings.

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I took a short video of the fabric stamping.

My friend and I then decided to attend a shoe making workshop, but took a wrong turn and as we walked past a display of coloured wool we stopped to ask if it was naturally dyed. Well, it was and the group spent almost half an hour talking to us about their crafts- it was like a private show.

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I took some video of this as well.

My friend is also interested in researching 15th century dyes and doing some dyeing of our own, so I’ll see if we can get something happening at our reenactment group’s den after the reenactment season.

After this we watched a woodworking display, which I videoed but haven’t yet put up (I might not, there were a lot of people in front of me so the video might not have come out too good and an inkle weaving workshop done on modern inkle looms. The looms were for sale and I was very tempted, as I was last time, but I don’t think I have room or time for another modern loom. I’d rather a box loom I can use at home and take to events.

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I planned on spending Sunday doing some spinning videos but due to the cancelation I had to pack down the stall in four inches of mud instead.

My schedule is pretty jam-packed for the next few weeks, but I hope I might be able to get some video at Abbey Medieval Festival in July- we’ll see, I’ve got a couple of shows planned each day and things can get pretty crazy at Abbey.

Video Wednesday- Slow Motion Trio

I’ve been looking into different video editors. I’ve downloaded lightworks and spent about 15 minutes playing with it, so I am not very practiced with it at all, but I can do some things I couldn’t do in my old editing program so I think I will try it for a few videos and see how I go.

This is a short clip I put together from some of my old slow motion videos. Here you see me spinning 15th century style and a medieval living history event with a spindle and distaff from three different angles.

I also managed to put music to this one so turn up your speakers.

I will also mention slow motion isn’t very flattering to one’s face…

Video Wednesday- Drop spindle vs European Suspended Spinning.

Drop spindle spinning is the name we give to a type of suspended spinning that is very popular amongst modern crafters. We give it this name to differentiate it from other types of spinning. There are other ways to spin suspended. I don’t always spin suspended but when I do it’s different to the drop spindle spinning you might be familiar with. In this video I talk briefly about the difference.

How to use a Belt Distaff

Cynthia asked on the facebook group Evangelical Church of Distaff Spinning how to use a distaff in a belt. I was heading to AROW, a relaxed re-enactors’ only weekend held by the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology ahead of the main Living history season and their Abbey Medieval Festival, so I thought it would be easier to do a quick video. Because there is no public here it meant I could set up my camera to take the video.

Mythbusting Monday

Myth:
Grasped spinning is slow, therefore it would never have been used when production spinning was needed, such as in the middle ages.
Fact:
If grasped spinning is slow or not is objective. People learned how to spin grasped from a very young age, they would have found it faster than a modern person who has spun using a different style for, say, ten years, pick up grasped spinning, try it once and find it slow.

Many people say Continental knitting is faster than English, however some of the world’s fastest knitters knit English style and English style knitting has been used for many years. All my cardigans as a small child were knit English style and my mother had to knitt them or I went cold. If only the fastest method was used in situations where people had to produce or go cold then why did my mother not use Continental or my Nana’s knitting machine?

If speed was the only factor, why was the wheel not embraced more readily? The wheel was considered to produce thread of poorer quality and it was hundreds of years after it’s introduction before it really gained hold.

New Whorl and the Half Hitch

So I’ve been working on my spinning. I’ve managed to suspend my spindle with the wool a couple of times now and also managed to take a chunk out of my whorl. That chunk actually happened when I was making the whorl and I just plastered some more clay over the break so it’s not surprising it broke again. Need to make a new whorl for it.

I’m still sure there’s a trick to suspending the spindle. I’ve got the knot down pat, a visual is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1l3tAMFu3c  It sounds silly to need a video to learn how to do a half hitch, but my version of a half hitch was something different and I always wondered how people could be doing that with one end attached to the spindle and the other to the distaff. The reason my half hitches sometimes don’t hold is because the downward pull pulls the thread up off the cop and up the spindle shaft which then means the knot pops off the top. I’ve noticed spinning tends to help stop this—as in it’s more likely to happen if the spindle’s hanging rather than spinning fast. I’m sure there’s a trick to do with how you wind the cop. Need to trial and error to find it I think.

I’ve started reading through my copy of the Museum of London Textiles and Clothing book.  According to the glossary Woollen is a yarn made of carded wool fibres and Worsted is a smooth thread spun from wool fibres which have been laid parallel by combing. I’m reading a bit about the different preparations and the technology available and the spinning weel and so on, so hopefully I’ll have more to say about that next time!

Clay Whorls and Spinning Wool

So I finally took off my hairtie whorl and replaced it with one made of clay. Here’s a photo of it with my current spinning on it. To celebrate the new whorl I’ve been practicing suspending the spindle from a half hitch at the top. It works not to badly. I think there’s a trick to how you wind on your cop to help the knot not fall off the top. Sound gross but a bit of spit on the top helps as well, makes it stick a bit better. More practice at this is needed I think!

While I was making my whorl I made another spindle (with a clay whorl) and because my beautiful organic wool arrived I took my flax off my distaff and had a go dressing it with wool. Because I still don’t have a period correct distaff (remember the “I don’t do woodworking” thing?) I put a curtain rod end on my distaff to secure my ribbon and woo onto. It actually worked pretty well.

Then of course I had to have a go at spinning it…

What can I say? Spinning wool is very different from spinning flax. It’s easier to keep a consistent thread width and if I draft too thick I can easily stretch the thread out thinner before adding more twist. I also don’t need as much twist to hold the stuff together.

Here is my early progress with the wool.

I’ve heard people say you need a distaff for spinning line flax but don’t need one with wool. Well, I can see why a distaff for wool is so great! You just reach up and pull when you need to draft more fibre. Even though I didn’t do a great job at dressing it, it still worked out fine. I found if I let the twist travel a little into the wool in the distaff I could just pull the spindle away as I spun it and the wool more or less “drafted itself” at an even thickness with little impact from me. I believe this is called spinning the wool woollen so I’ll have to investigate that. The other option is to spin it worsted which is where you don’t allow the twist to go into the drafting area. I’m sure there are more differences than that, but it’s something to learn!

That’s all for today, next I’ll investigate woollen vs worsted spinning and of course keep practicing!