It is time to open the Ribbon Tin again and see what is inside.
First out…a simmering Pineapple Stacks Hat.
Karen from The Sweaty Knitter blog, sent me this pic recently. She has been knitting up my Pineapple Stacks Hat design for various members of her family. If that isn’t thrill enough for me, Karen also dyes or over dyes yarns she doesn’t like the colour of, into favourite colours for her family. She dyed up some yarn in hot pink for her granddaughter, then overdyed the remaining yarn for a hat for her grandson. In this dye pot, you can see an adult-sized Pineapple Stacks in the process of being transformed. I love that Karen uses the yarn she has to hand, using dye to transform an unappealing colour into a personal favourite.
Next is something exciting for Victorians, Cheryl Crosbie from Granite Haven is having an open day on Wednesday 12th of November near Euroa, Central Victoria. You can meet the Gotland sheep, a rare breed sheep in Australia, and llamas she raises and purchase fleece, fibre and yarn all processed in Australia. Gotland is just lovely to knit with. This is the Maldon Made shawl I knit up with Cheryl’s yarn a few months ago. If you can’t go, you can buy from the website.
If that wasn’t exciting enough, how about this? A group of women are recreating the Eureka Flag, our other national flag. It was made famous by the Eureka Stockade and infamous by the Builders Labourers Federation.
Image of the Union Jack and the Eureka Flag flying at the Eureka Stockade, 3 December 1854, taken from a series of illustrated history resources found in some Australian schools in the 1950s, from WikiCommons
This whopping big flag, 2m x 4.5m was stitched up in 1854 by a small group of women who were living on the goldfields, Anastasia Hayes, Anastasia Withers, Anne Duke and probably Eliza D’Arcy. Underneath it, most of Ballarat swore to stand by each other and fight for their rights against onerous government imposed mining licences. The original flag was taken by one of the troopers after the rebellion was put down and before folks knew better, about 40 per cent was cut up for souvenirs. Click here for a look at the original. The replica is being made for the 160th anniversary of the Stockade and has already taken 3 stitchers, 45 hours and they haven’t got to the stars yet!
They were tough, resourceful women in 19C Australia. I have been reading about Pru Arber (1852 – 1932) and she was as tough as barbed wire. Pru was born in Western Australia of immigrant parents. She had no formal education and learned bush skills from the Aboriginal children living nearby. She acquired her first flock of sheep through hand rearing orphan lambs and by sixteen was living away from her family with her sheep, sleeping in a possum-skin cloak. She raised and bred more sheep and sold their fleeces. By the time she died as a very wealthy woman, she held multiple freehold properties and pastoral leases of over 13,000 acres.
I read about Pru in a beautiful book called Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor: 100 women, 100 brooches, 100 stories. It is the book of an exhibition held earlier this year in Sydney where 100 jewellers were commissioned to make brooches celebrating the lives of 100 notable Australian women. Rachaeldaisy knows how much I love both historical anecdote and things hand made and sent me a copy.
Another notable woman featured in the exhibition was Margaret Ann Field (1842-1936). Margaret came to Australia from Scotland and married a mining engineer. The whole family would travel with him on his expeditions to remote parts of Australia. Whilst travelling and living rough and raising children, Margaret became a self taught astronomer, publishing a guide to the southern constellations and a crochet pattern book of designs based on stars and constellations. Australian Lace-Crochet: Easy and Artistic (1909) was endorsed by Queen Alexandra and can still be purchased here.
This is a pic from the Powerhouse collection of one of her lace samples.
And that’s all folks!
Amidst the big projects, little things slip in. Here are a few.
A gift, a teacosy just for one…for surely, the act of making a proper cup of tea just for ourselves is a moment of commitment and love.
The body is crocheted in a mystery yarn from my stash. It is from someone else’s destash and I have no clue what this could be, only it is sooo soft but sturdy with lots of short fibres like possum or something. It is like a wee pet all curled around the littlest Brown Betty teapot. The flower is a Jamieson and Smith left over in the stash.
No pattern, I just chained the circumference and worked a couple of rows of double crochet in the round (US: SC) and then some trebles (US: DC) back and forth, decreasing for the top in double crochet in the round.
A couple of hot water bottles for cold nights.
After cutting a rough template from a hot water bottle, I cut out the fronts from an old slip stitch wrap that I had fulled. Years ago, I had got very excited about Kaffe Fasset’s method of joining random yarns together in a ball and knitting a colour work pattern from them. I found a slip stitch pattern in a Harmony Guide and just kept knitting. I had no plan or design in mind, just a burning drive to knit up these mixed balls of mostly Jamieson and Smith fingering weight. It never really became anything…till now.
The backs were cut from a moth ravaged pure wool sweater that had been fulled. Luckily the holes were conveniently placed in other spots. The opening at the back was a velcroed closure reinforced with woollen fabric.
Is there nothing that cannot be made better by wool?
Finally, a wee garden.
We found a fishbowl recently that was being thrown out and I briefly contemplated fish, then contemplated the cleaning, the feeding, the inevitable deaths and probable spillage and then made a garden instead. Our Dear Girl and I searched the garden for rocks and gravel and we bought some tiny air plants. All they need is a little water mist every now and again.
These simple projects which generate from the materials to hand and a purpose or need give me so much pleasure. Of course, there is something exciting about the anticipation of a project from a pattern and the gathering of materials but these other kind of projects make me feel quietly capable.
The Scotland-based, knitwear designer Kate Davies is writing a book about yoked sweaters. She has been researching different yoke constructions and designing a series of yoked sweaters. I, along with many others of the yoked persuasion are waiting for the publication of this book with great anticipation.
In a recent post, Kate Davies shared some pics of yoked sweaters from her pattern collection and it got me wondering what yoked sweaters might be in my pattern collection.
Alas, I only found a handful but curiously they are all constructed quite differently. They are also all from Australian yarn companies.
The collection begins with the Australian Wool Corporation’s interpretation of a Shetland yoked sweater from their Traditional Knitting with Wool book published in 1982.
These sweaters are knit flat in separate pieces. You can see the raglan seam clearly on the gentleman. The raglan seams are sewn and then the shallow yoke is worked from live back, front and sleeve stitches. If you are going to do a yoke anyway, I am not sure why you would introduce these ugly raglan seams as well. Was raglan construction so fashionable that every sweater had to have them?
From a very shallow yoke to a very deep one…
This pattern is from Hand Knits by Villawool and was produced by the Villawood Textile Company, an Australian yarn company based in Sydney in the 1960s and 70s. This cardigan is worked back and forth in one piece. The sleeves are knit separately back and forth and then joined at the yoke. It has seven sets of decreases which occur between the colour work.
A nostalgic aside…all the accessories and clothing in this pattern book were provided by Fletcher Jones and Company, the once great, worker-owned, Australian clothing manufacturer.
This next one was the treasure though. The pattern book is a Sun-glo Knitting Book…another old Australian yarn company and was published during the Second World War. The booklet contains the proviso ‘…the bulk of our production is now requisitioned for the Defence Department…please make allowances for our difficult war-time manufacturing problems, and remember the greater needs of our men overseas.’
It was given to me by my former neighbour and friend, a few months before she passed away aged eighty-five. These were her patterns which she knit to the radio and I treasure them. The one I want to share with you is called Sunny Hours.
It is knit in pieces from the bottom up. After casting off and shaping the armholes, the middle portion of the back and front (just under the yoke) is cast off, then each side is decreased by one at the neck edge on every row till only two stitches are left. The sleeves are then worked and set aside. The yoke is picked up along the shaped back and front, casting on stitches for the shoulders. The yoke features cables against a purl background. The decreasing takes place in the purl stitches in three sets, preserving the cables. The sleeves are seamed to the front and back at the armholes and gathered into the yoke at the top, along with some knitted shoulder pads of course.
In the pieced construction and picking up of the yoke, Sunny Hours is similar to the Wool Corp sweater but the set-in sleeves are a much more elegant and ingenious version than those very visible raglan seams.
I hadn’t looked at my vintage patterns for a long time and this wee mission was a delight. Of course, I want to make most of them now. Perhaps I can squeeze a vintage knit in before Kate publishes more yokes?
Today the Needleworks Collective held their first event, a GiveWrap workshop in Melbourne town. Needleworks Collective is a small craftivist group of friends: Emily, Aisha and I. We have been making stuff together for a few years now and discovered we had a shared interest in making things that could have a bigger life somehow, maybe change minds or make the world a little kinder.
GiveWrap is a sweet but powerful project that aims to transform the culture of disposable gift wrap into one of reciprocal giving of treasured wrapping cloths.
Inspired by the traditional wrapping clothes of Japan and Korea, GiveWraps are a unique expression of their maker and contemporary life. They might be embroidered, appliqued, pieced, quilted or printed.
GiveWraps are given with a gift but not returned to the giver. Instead, they have a life of their own and are given and regiven continually. GiveWraps inspire us to make something that has no monetary value. It is not made for sale. Its value lies in the giving and increases the longer it remains in circulation.
GiveWraps can be the size of a pocket handkerchief up to the size of a bunny rug and use scraps and leftover bits of fabric, doilies, old table clothes, vintage pillow cases, really anything you have to hand.
Thank you to all those lovely folks who came today and made a GiveWrap. We had a merry and productive throng. These are some of the beautiful GiveWraps that were made today.
You could make a GiveWrap too. Here are some handy instructions which are also available as a PDF on the Needleworks Collective website.
First assemble your materials
Use what you have already. A GiveWrap is a perfect way to use small scraps, bits of braid, a pretty pillowcase, anything really. You will also need a sewing machine or sewing needle, scissors or rotary cutter, pins and tape measure.
Decide what size GiveWrap you will make
A good size range seems to be from the size of gentleman’s handkerchief to a baby blanket. You might be limited by the materials you have to hand. There is no correct size.
Cut out the backing and attach your label
We printed our labels onto inkjet printable fabric for quilters or if use your best writing, you could use a laundry marker on calico. Either hand stitch or machine stitch the label to the backing. Make sure to include a name, location, date made. You can download our printable labels from Needleworks Collective.
This might be pieced from small pieces, embellished with braid or embroidery or screen printed.
Lay the front on top of the backing, right sides facing each other. Then pin the two layers together. Sew a seam around the edges of the GiveWrap, remembering to leave a gap for turning inside out. Clip the corners and turn inside out, making sure you push the corners out neatly. Hand stitch the opening closed and press with an iron.
Take a photograph of your new GiveWrap and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #givewrap. You could spot your GiveWrap in a faraway place when you search later under #givewrap or it might pop up in your feed like a message in a bottle. You can also send us a pic for the GiveWrap gallery at email@example.com.
Here are some of the lovelies, all wrapped up and you can see more pics of GiveWraps by following me on Instagram where I am Rebeccaspindle.
Give away and make another
Please do make one, indeed, make many. You might consider making a set of GiveWraps that circulate just within your family or that you use especially at Christmas time.
You can sign up for updates on other Needleworks Collective projects here. No worries about being inundated with emails…we move slowly but with purpose!
One of the most pleasurable aspects to writing a blog about making things is when people share special handmade items with you. A couple of weeks ago, a friend lent me this extraordinary woven bag.
This bag is so tough and strong, I am sure it could deflect lightening or survive a sandstorm. Seth had bought the bag whilst travelling in the Middle East. He had kept the label attached and I will share with you what it says.
This product was hand-made with dedication and love of their weaving heritage by Bedouin Women in the Negev Desert. It was woven on a traditional ground loom using highest quality Awassi sheep’s wool that is handspun and made into yarn. The women of Lakiya Negev Weaving dye and weave the wool and work communally through their own co-operative enterprise which they manage themselves. No child labour is used by Lakiya Negev Weaving.
There was so much in that label I wanted to know more about and I had a fine old time exploring the interwebs.
Lakiya Negev Weaving is located in Israel but there are several similar organisations in the region such as Al Sadu Weaving Co-operative in Kuwait and the Bani Hamida Women’s Weaving Project in Jordan. As formerly nomadic people, the Bedouin have settled in many countries and work hard to preserve their handcraft traditions.
The Lakiya Negev Weaving co-operative is an empowerment organisation run by and for Bedouin women to provide training, education and income generation opportunities. The organisation currently supports about seventy women who are divided into six groups, each of which manage a processing stage in the weaving enterprise.
Spinners spin single yarns on hand spindles. These spindles are top whorl spindles about 60 cm long, so they can hold a lot of yarn. The following image shows a demonstration of spinning at the cooperative. Notice that the spinner has a ball of yarn behind her. She might be plying from two or more singles wound into a ball.
Free image by Dr. Avishai Teicher Pikiwiki Israel from Wiki Commons
Skeiners prepare the singles for dyeing and then dyers dye the yarns. Interweavers ply the singles together to make a strong, durable yarn.
Weavers weave on traditional, home made, ground looms. In this next image, you can see the loom being demonstrated at the cooperative.
Free image by Dr. Avishai Teicher Pikiwiki Israel from Wiki Commons
A traditional Bedouin loom is made of simple materials. Basically it consists of two metal or wooden bars resting against four tent stakes driven into the ground and sometimes…blocked by stones. The warp yarns are wound over the bars. The flat weave of the surface is found only in rugs made according to this Bedouin technique.
Finishers sew the final articles, attach tassels and provide quality control.
Awassi sheep used by the co-operative are indigenous to Lebanon, Jordan and Israel and are very important sheep in the broader region. They are hardy, fat-tailed sheep that according to experts have been bred in the area for over 5000 years. The sheep are bred for meat, milk and fibre, having a mixture of hair and sturdy carpet type wool. They are tended by Bedouin shepherds and shorn once a year with hand shears. You can see some wonderful pics of Awassi sheep here.
Seth came to the Negev desert as part of a round-the-world trip with his wife and children. On their last day in Israel…
we rented a car and drove out to the Dead Sea, then headed south in the Negev region. I had read about the Lakiya Bedouin Women’s Weaving Cooperative in a guidebook (I think) and we had a contact phone number and some directions from their website. However, we did not have a GPS and were having great difficulty finding it as the afternoon grew late. Finally, we got there as they were about to close. The two women were very accommodating and gave us a short tour, showing us the weaving techniques used in this traditional craft. The little shop-front was full of wonderful weavings, including very coarse rugs and many similar bags. I would have loved to buy more but our backpacks were fully loaded so I had to settle for this little token.
If Bedouin textiles interest you or you are curious about their weaving techniques, you might enjoy this video that Seth also sent me. It is a narrated video of a 2012 exhibition Tents and Camels: the Bedouin Textile Collection of Joy and Robert Hilden. Make yourself a cuppa…it is a long one!
Thank you Seth for sharing.
Finally…I started this in the summer and it is finished in mid winter, just the time for three quarter length sleeves and lace. I was knitting the sleeves at the Winter Solstice.
The pattern is called Lace Cardigan by Simona Merchant-Dest. It made perfect use of a stash of Patons Bluebell Merino 5ply I had bought years and years ago for $3.00 a ball. Sometimes stashing works out like destiny. I think I used about 7 balls, approximately 875 m but I kind of lost count along the way. Ravelled here.
The only mods I made were to the button holes. The pattern called for a two row button hole but I couldn’t make this work for me, so I did a standard yarn over button hole that is just fine. The buttons were bought at last year’s Wool Show from The Button Lady.
It is lovely to wear and that mauve seems to unite a lot of my wardrobe. My only concern is that the Bluebell is quite a dense heavy yarn and as the cardigan was knit in the round, it lacks any kind of structure for the lace to hang off. When you put the cardigan on, the lace feels like it just wants to keep opening up and up. If I was to make this again. I would make it in pieces, at least the sleeves and seam them together. The raglan seams would hold the lace panels like a spine.
The actual knitting was an extraordinary pleasure. After the initial challenge of working across three different charts, the work developed its own momentum and the right stitches seemed to suggest themselves. At times, all I could see, were the number patterns. It was not like knitting at all but like seeing into the matrix, seeing only code! Those moments were pure bliss and then I would lose my head and need to go back a bit and put the right stitches in! Eurphoria and hubris in one garment. You cannot ask for a better knitting experience.
Craft Lit is a weekly podcast featuring an audio book reading with commentary, hosted by Heather Ordover. The books are all out of copyright books in the public domain, mainly Victorian fiction such as Dracula, Jane Eyre, The Woman in White and currently North and South. Heather introduces and concludes each chapter with historical and literary context. It is a fascinating way to listen to a story, even one you might have read often.
I fell in love with Craft Lit listening to Jane Eyre, a story I have read hundred times. I had not realised just how often I had skipped over biblical and French bits I didn’t understand. Heather researches every foreign language bit, every biblical reference, every reference to an arcane bit of costume. The story became fresh and new and the experience changed the way I approach reading and listening. It has got me paying attention and being curious.
And now I am falling in love with North and South, a novel I had never read before and got so compelled by, I had to borrow a copy and read fast to the conclusion just for narrative closure!
North and South was published in 1855 after being serialised in one of Charles Dickens weekly journal, Household Words. Set in a fictionalised Manchester, North and South tells the story of the meeting of the industrial north of England with the pastoral gentility of the South of England through the complex relationship between John Thornton, a mill owner and Margaret Hale, a dissenting clergyman’s daughter.
Manchester, from Kersal Moor, William Wylde (1857), image from Wiki Commons.
The contemporary discussion of the cotton industry, class and the burgeoning labour movement is just fascinating.
The book contains the best description of the psychology of the Industrial Revolution I have ever come across as John Thornton speaks of Milton (Manchester) and the invention of the steam hammer to Mr Hale,
And this imagination of power, this practical realisation of a gigantic thought, came out of one man’s brain in our good town. That very man has it within him to mount, step by step, on each wonder he achieves to higher marvels still. And I’ll be bound to say, we have many among us who, if he were gone, could spring into the breach and carry on the war which compels, and shall compel, all material power to yield to science.
Gosh, there is everything in there: the Victorian ideal of the self made man, conquest of nature by science, the belief in the inevitability of progress and the incredible optimism in technological innovation.
Evan Leigh, Modern Cotton Spinning Vol 1 Manchester, 1873, image from Wiki Commons
Something that struck me as I was reading and then listening to the book, was the sustained theme of pride and independence of the male Manchester weavers distilled into the character of Nicholas Higgins.
When Margaret first meets Nicholas and his daughter, she asked to visit them in the charitable way she was used to doing with poor parishioners in the South. However, instead of being grateful and humble, Higgins says roughly ‘I’m none so fond of having strange folk in my house’.
It is only when he sees that she is embarrassed by his answer, he softens and offers, ‘Yo’re a foreigner, as one may say, and maybe don’t know many folk here, and yo’ve given my wench her flowers out of yo’r own hand; -yo may come if yo like’. Whilst still rejecting her charity and his servility, Nicholas pities this middle class woman and concedes to her visiting them.
This kind of class challenge seemed suprising until I came across E.P. Thompson’s account of the Manchester weavers in The Making of the English Working Class which I have been dipping in and out of whilst listening to North and South.
He includes some testimony from Manchester cotton weavers to a Select Committee in 1823.
…no man would like to work in a power-loom, they do not like it, there is such a clattering and noise it would also make some men mad; and next, he would have to be subject to a discipline that a hand-loom weaver can never admit to. [my emphasis]
From Richard Marsden, Cotton Weaving: Its development, principles and practice, 1895 from Wiki Commons
Prior to industrialisation cotton spinning and weaving was a cottage industry located in the regions around Manchester. These weavers considered themselves independent artisans. With the expansion of the cotton industry in the latter half of the eighteenth century, more and more farmers became part time weavers attracted by the high wages. As mechanisation was introduced and looms were organised in factories, the status of these artisans declined to that of ‘hands’ operating a machine.
And yet it seems the vestiges of the this independence and pride remained. Manchester became the crucible of the Trade Union and Suffragette movements, a place of radical ideas. It is where Robert Owen, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels developed their theories on labour.
With wondrous synchronicity, My Man recently brought home this children’s book by Scholastic called You Wouldn’t Want to be a Victorian Mill Worker – A Gruelling Job you’d Rather Not Have.
Within these pages, you can see the squalor in which the mill workers lived, the cost of food relative to wages, the hours of work and punishing labour. The hardships children underwent working in the mills are described in horrifying detail. Here is an illustration of the cotton fluff children breathed into their lungs, which often, as in the case of Bessie in North and South, resulted in a lung condition they died from.
I didn’t expect to enjoy North and South so much, it was such a suprise to me. I had only read Gaskell’s Cranford, a very intimate portrayal of a tiny, quiet world. North and South is so large in its themes, a gripping story set within graphic, raw descriptions of class conflict, poverty, violence and social change.
It also documents an historic period of transformation in textile production…from one of cottage industry to the culmination of specialisation and mechanisation of spinning and weaving. This transformation was so successful that even in the 1880s, revivals of hand spinning skills were being organised lest traditional handicrafts be completely lost. In Spinning Wheels, Spinners and Spinning, Patricia Baines describes one such hand spinning revival in the Lake District in England called the Ruskin Linen Industry of Keswick. It was apparently the only enterprise that Ruskin ever lent his name to.
Ah, North and South has led me a merry dance! A great read and a great listen on Craft Lit. Thank you Heather Ordover.
Freshly finished…a cardigan for an eight year old friend of ours. It is my own design that I have named Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside. Ravelled here.
Knitting for children as they get older is a tricky thing. Some don’t like things around their neck. Some don’t like the heaviness of wool. And then there is the minefield of colour.
This cardigan was designed to be something that could be left at the beach house for rugging up on a windy walk by the sea or as a warm thing over your bathers as evening comes in. I used a variegated yarn to introduce a range of colours that a child could attach themselves to, a nautical stripe and purple marbled buttons that will hopefully seal the deal.
I am proud to say that this all came out of the stash, which is my favourite place for putting together a project. The blue is Heirloom Easy Care 8ply. I had three balls and needed to buy one extra to finish the button band. The white is of unknown origin as it came from an oppy with no ball bands but it is a commercial cabled jobbie that is probably machine washable. The variegated yarn is very special and was the nucleus of the whole cardigan.
It is a Jillybean yarn called Tweed Sock in a colourway called Sunrise Tweed. I bought it on our UK adventure a couple of years ago and had been saving it for something special. There was 400 m in the skein and I reckon I have got about a third left still. It is a machine washable merino sock yarn in a light sportsweight. It has combined with the DK in a lovely way, the different yarn weights creating a slight corrugated effect which accentuates the stripes.
Variegated yarns often pool when they have been dyed in short repeats. Whilst I love the colours in variegated yarns, I don’t really like a pooling effect. I reckon striping with contrasting yarns is a way to both highlight the variegation but break up any pooling.
This cardigan was knit in the round with raglan sleeves and steeked fronts. Steeking is when you cut up the middle of your knitting and bind off the cut stitches securely. Machine washable yarn in not usually recommended for a steeked garment. The additional processing undergone by the yarn, removes the barbs along the fibre shafts to prevent the fibres from mashing together and felting. Steeking normally requires fibres that are good at sticking together to provide a secure edge.
I could have just knit back and forth but knitting in the round is so quick and I don’t really have much available knitting time so I really needed a steeking solution that would work for machine washable yarns.
After much thought, I used Tom of Holland’s knotted steek method. In this method, you unravel the steek stitches…
The result is strong and secure but the stripes have been a little distorted by the weaving in of the steek ends. This wouldn’t be a problem if this was just plain knitting. It is a little bit of an experiment to see if the steek stays secure over time and wearing. I shall have to let you know how it goes.
Fingers crossed our friend likes her cardigan or that their beach house is so cold, she will have to wear it!
Welcome to the August opening of the Ribbon Tin. Inside the Ribbon Tin is a monthly series featuring a miscellany of bits and bobs, odds and sods, knicks and knacks, all sorts of interesting things related to textiles and making.
First out of the Tin this month is a yarn bombing festival that a dear reader let me know about. It seems Australian country towns have embraced yarn bombing. I have been seeing cosied trees and and signs everywhere. But I have never seen anything like this before.
This is Jumpers and Jazz in July, a fibre festival in Warwick Queensland. There are exhibitions, prizes for tree covers and a yarn bombing extravaganza.
A very special part of the festival was an exhibition called Knitchen by Loretta Grayson, an entire retro style kitchen covered in textiles. You can read more about the festival on the fabulous Australian road trip blog Sparkling Adventures of a Free Range Life.
Next, I want to share with you the best description of spinning ever…
Spinning is the technique of twisting together a number of fibres which can vary in length…into a strong, continuous thread. If a bunch of any textile fibres is held in one and with the other a few fibres are drawn-out, these will part company from the bunch, but if the hand drawing-out the fibres at the same time twists them in one direction only, they start to form a thread. Give them more twist and the thread becomes stronger, and continue to draw-out fibres while twisting them and they become a continuous length.
Patricia Baines wrote that in 1977 in her book, Spinning Wheels, Spinners and Spinning and it just says everything really. Such a simple concept that requires years to master as a technique. One of my spinning friends lent me this book after she found it in an charity shop… what treasure!
Women twirled a spinning wheel wound with wool or plant fibers and pulled out long threads for weaving clothes and household goods.
What does that even mean?
The picture doesn’t make it any clearer. It looks like the woman is pulling out yarn from the spindle instead of it being wound on. The illustration moves too when you pull a handy arrow, making things even more confusing. But hey…it is very pretty!
Back to the previous marvel though, Patricia Baines and her spinning book which is just full of curious annecdotes and emphemera.
This is my favourite…apparently the Patron Saint of Wool Combers is Bishop Blaise. This is not because he had anything to do with wool but rather because he died after being tortured with instruments which were similar in look to wool combs in Armenia in 316.
Stained glass from Picardy, France, 13th Century. Blaise is in the middle. The photograph is by Jastrow, 2005, Wiki Creative Commons.
But wait…it gets more bizarre. From 1769 till 1825, in Bradford, Yorkshire (still a woolly place where wool is spun) a festival to honour the Saint was held every seven years. A procession of folks carried lots of wool and represented all the wool trades including staplers, spinners, sorters, charcoal burners, dyers, comb makers, and combers. According to Baines’ description, they all wore wigs make of combed wool! The Saint was represented surrounded by shepherds and shepherdesses and Jason and Medea (the Golden Fleece thing I guess).
What I would not give to see such a parade!
Bishop Blaise Pub, Derby, 2006, photography by Mark Shirley, Wiki Creative Commons
And here is the Bishop Blaise in Derby, the town in the North of England that built the first mechanised factory and considered the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Interestingly, the factory produced silk not wool but clearly those Northerners loved their Blaise.
And that’s all folks.
Older readers might remember my Trouser Quest last year, to find the perfect trouser pattern. For me that pattern is New Look 6713, recommended by and borrowed from my neighbour. After fitting and altering the basic pattern, I have made this pattern three times now and the latest version is my favourite.
And a red poker dot waistband lining that you might recognise as left overs from the Spooky Doll Project.
It had been home sewn. The seams were not finished and hems and facings had been hand stitched.
The dress was enormous on me but the construction was so simple that all I needed to do was to move the side seams inwards by three inches on each side. I added a zip in one of the side seams and took up the hem a couple of inches.
Then I froze for a couple of minutes to take this pic. Our Dear Boy made the Lion Mask which has quite the look of a Sun about it.