Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The wheel's still turning.....

A quick mid-week post on a spinning theme. Last week I took my class to Kentwell Hall in Long Melford, Suffolk, to take part in a Tudor recreation. We all had to dress up as Tudors (Mr JK called me his wench!!) and we spent almost five hours meeting different Tudor characters who told us what life was like in 1553. It was a fascinating day. The kids thoroughly enjoyed it, completely immersed in history. Such a fantastic way to learn through living history.

Kentwell Hall 217

One of my favourite parts was seeing the wool workers! Back in Tudor times, Norfolk and Suffolk were both wealthy counties because of their wool trade. One lady was spinning on a very simple spinning wheel. She was spinning rolags and was drafting the wool out over an amazing length as you can see in this photo. Her other hand was turning the wheel - there was no foot treadle. Her spun yarn was really fine too. Obviously a real expert.

spinners and woolworkers (1) cut

Another Tudor lady was spinning using a drop spindle. I was surprised how small the spindles were compared with the ones we use today.

spinners and woolworkers (3)

The children were fascinated by the colours that could be achieved using natural dyes. The two balls of yarn in this picture were both dyed with ivy berries picked at different times of the year.

spinners and woolworkers (6)

As well as ivy, other plants were used - woad for blue, madder for red and weld for yellow. The colours were really beautiful.

dyers (7)

I liked the sentiment of the spinners' banner - 'toujours tournant' or always turning.

spinners and woolworkers (9)

From this coming Saturday, I hope that my spinning wheel is going to be always turning, as the Tour de Fleece gets underway. I've joined Team Superfleece on Ravelry. It seems like a nice relaxed group. I've set myself a couple of spinning targets for the TDF. Firstly, I have 375g of Corriedale fibre from Hedgehog fibres. The colourway is just beautiful, and I'd like to spin enough yardage to actually make something bigger than a scarf!

Tour de Fleece 008

If all goes well, I have some more fibre ready for spinning. Pop back at the weekend to see how I'm getting on! xxx


evaowl said...

What a post for one like me - I would like to learn to spin, but somehow in my area all the spinners vanished after WW II. It must be a very nice experience to take a bunch of wool and make out of this your own yarn.

coop said...

That's lovely fibre, can't wait to see it spun! It looks like you had a fascinating day

faith76 said...

I can just imagine myself outside that beautiful house with a cream tea. You look like you had a lovely day.

It's great when history is brought to life like that.

Leah x

Kathy said...

Oh I love dress up days in school. That looks like a great place to visit!

Anonymous said...

The wheel is a great wheel - there's a thread on Ravelry about one which was bought recently -

I have a vision of making an area of the garden to grow plants for natural dyeing, but given that my enthusiasm for gardening tends to last for about a day each time, I don't think it'll ever happen!

Good luck with the spinning - I was sorting out my handspun yarn yesterday, and wondering what to do with all the 100g skeins I have, so spinning 375g at once sounds like a great plan.

Helsie said...

I've probably commented before on how lucky English children are with their school excursions. You have so many places to take them to make their history come alive. I am soooo envious.(Well I would be if I were still teaching !!!)

Jenny said...

To spin or not to spin, still can't decide. I'll be watching the bike Tour and thinking of you pedalling equally hard, good luck.

Kim said...

Love the expression on the lady with the big wheel; she is one serious spinner! Loved it all. Thanks for posting!

Kat Jorgensen said...

Love the fiber, Helen! So very pretty.

snoopydog said...

Hello! Your Kentwell bring back some happy memories! Love the Corriedale. The colours are beautiful! xRos

Anonymous said...

what fun!
i love this peek back in time, what a wonderful adventure for your students!