15th Century Spinning will be at Abbey 2021

Yes, long time, no post!
The past year and a half have been different for us all, and I’ve been focusing on my growing family and less on my medieval textile crafts and social media. But rest assured, I’m still here and still passionate about textiles.

But I wanted to drop by and let you all know about the Abbey Medieval Festival this year. As many of you know, the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology is a small museum located in Caboolture, QLD (Australia). It runs several fundraising events to help fund the museum and their conservation projects, the biggest of which is the Abbey Medieval Festival.

If you’ve seen my blog or Facebook page prior to know, you’ve probably seen photos from the Abbey Medieval Festival. It’s big and offers so many different things with reenactors from the dark ages through to the renaissance all coming together to share their passions and knowledge. I’ve been attending for over 15 years and I haven’t seen everything yet. Like many people and businesses, the Abbey Museum has been hard hit by the impacts of COVID.  The good news is, that the government is allowing the festival to take place this year and it will be on from 2nd-3rd July and I will be there!

large image of floral paper canvas or parchment

They’ve made some changes to ensure it will be a COVID safe event, along with the usual social distancing, hand sanitiser and so forth, they’ve capped the numbers of visitors each day, but are running it a whole extra day!    

There’s a LOT on offer and the great news is there’s still plenty of tickets left! So if you’re local do consider grabbing your tickets, at the moment they’re only for sale online until the end of this month (and yes, if the event does get cancelled they’ll refund your tickets).

My re-enactment group “Make Your Own Medieval Experience” will be attending. Our group consists of various “guilds” through which our members learn and share their knowledge of a particular craft or activity. Part of this is our Textile Guild’s “15th Century Textile Workspace” which some of you may have seen photos of over the years.

This workspace will run ongoing demonstrations/presentations and workshops. It will be open from 10am-3pm on Friday and 10:30-3:30pm on Saturday and Sunday. The sorts of crafts you can come and learn about include:
Spinning (obviously!)
Fibre Preparation for Spinning
Fabric Stamping
Fingerloop Braiding

Our Moneyer’s Guild is setting up a static display about the history of coinage and how it was made, and will be running a coin minting demonstration at 1:30pm On Saturday and Sunday.

Our woodworker’s guild and blacksmith’s guild are also setting up displays. The woodworking workspace will have ongoing demonstrations on Friday between 10am-12noon then from 1pm-3pm and on Saturday/Sunday from 10am-12noon. The Blacksmith and metal craft workspace will have ongoing demonstrations Saturday and Sunday 1:30-3:30.

An finally, what festival would be incomplete without some carnival games? Friday only, 10am-12noon then 1pm-3pm

Back to the Future

This past weekend I attended Abbey Medieval Festival as a 15th century reenactor with my new and improved textile workspace. Having a place I could permanently have my stuff set up in and having a few friends in the workspace with me worked much better than last year.


There were some things that went well on the weekend, and some things that didn’t go as planned, but I’ll start with the positives.

I had a rainbow of woo! The naturally dyed wool got a lot of love over the weekend and it was great to see people interested. It got people talking about the colours of the middle ages and people were interested in both the actual science of dyeing as well as general discussions about the relative cost of different colours.


Speaking of dyeing, my dyeing vats were fit for purpose and lasted the weekend. I got a lot of compliments on my “clay ovens”. Of course, what they were was a pot from bunnings, turned upside down and assaulted by an angle grinder, standing on an inverted bird bath top.



I also managed to get the madder to the right temperature, which considering I had only my hand as a thermometer and a fire in a pot, I was pretty proud of.

I had a lot of fun with the magic of indigo. I discovered that people were continually stopping by so rather than dyeing big skeins of wool, a small bit of cotton string worked well for showing the same thing 50 billion times.





We also had fun with cochineal and watching it change different colours. Oh, and I had a bunch of cool stuff.




And yes, my dyes and mordants actually made it there and back in glass jars with no mishaps.

I really liked the signs I made


I made over 30 or so of these all up, and also put them in our woodworking workspace.


And of course I had some friends with me this year, two dedicated ladies with me:


And some friends the dropped by:


Finally I took a photo of me wearing the same outfit as painted in my sign which I’ve wanted to do for a while.


While I had a great time, there are some things I want to change for next year.

First of all, we were meant to be set up by midday Friday, and due to a series of events that didn’t happen. This meant that I didn’t spend Friday doing videos as planned, nor did I spend it getting my dyeing all set up (I planned on getting some dyes soaking and some yarn mordanted ready for saturday morning). This put me half a day behind with my planned dyeing and meant I didn’t do a lot of dyeing that I wanted to do. We have taken note for next year what and when slowed us down and the elements we can control will be changed so next year we can plan to be ready earlier.

My spinning wheel looked fantastic, it was built by my friend who had never seen a spinning wheel before and he finished it the day before we started setting up. We were meant to spend some of Friday trying to tweak it to get it working, which didn’t happen. On the positive side I did receive some advice on the weekend and we know what needs to be done to get it operational.

I also should have laid some of my stuff out more neatly, I meant to but didn’t get around to it. oops.


Group photo- we planned on taking a big group photo of all of us.  Group photos are very hard to do at events, by the time everyone has had breakfast and is dressed and ready it is close to 8:30 and the public are in and you’ve got to be working.  Especially this year, it was so cold I lazed in bed until 6am! Two and a half hours isn’t long when you have so much to do and need to get the fire started so you can make breakfast (not to mention hot water on to boil so you can wash up after breakfast). Everything takes longer in the 15th century.

Now I’m back to the future, and coming back to reality. There are many things I love about the future, like being able to have a hot coffee before I properly wake up. Or plugholes. You know, after you have finished with a sink full of wash water you just pull the plug and out it goes? No need to carry it somewhere away from camp to empty.

But of course, I’m already talking and planning the next event. I’ve applied to be a presenter at the Queensland Living History Federation’s conference, I presented the year before last (last year they ran it the weekend I was getting married so I obviously didn’t attend). So (Hopefully) the next event I’ll be attending is that where I’ll be presenting, but I haven’t heard back yet from the organisers so we’ll see.


Video Wednesday- Drafting on the Distaff Side

Today I share a video that shows a clear view of the drafting hand. You can see that this wool is not as finley prepaired as the comercially combed top we find widley available today for handspinners. She appears to really need to tug down on the wool, and I think she is working at keeping her drafting up with the spindle. By this I mean the drafting, not her spindle or spinning technique is the time limiting factor.

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.

Video Wednesday- Reviewing Niddy Noddy’s Custom Medieval Style Spindle

Sorry I’ve been very lax with editing my spindle reviews.
This is my review of the first of the custom designed spindles Niddy Noddy made for me, THis one has no notch.

These spindles were re-shaped to fit my extant whorls below the ‘belly’ of the spindle, often spindle sticks are too thin to use these whorls.

This spindle has no notch, and next week I’ll post the video with a spiral notch.