Crofting – Spinning and Weaving

I have reconditioned some of my fibre craft equipment, and it is so nice to get back to handwork of this sort. I have been a spinner and weaver for over a decade, although I have never graduated to  owning the Big Loom – mostly from lack of space and a loom’s inherent untransportablity!

Spinning and weaving were the traditional home crafts of crofters in the Shetland and Hebrides islands, as well as in many areas of the Highlands:

women carding by the fire

 This is a croft in the Shetlands, circa 1900.

A friend sent me some very nice roving – that’s wool and fibre that has been washed, carded and drawn into long ropes of loose strands, to be spun by hand. I oiled and balance my old Quebec wheel, and started to spin this morning. The roving feels like a mixture of alpaca and Shetland. That is a natural grey colour.

The wool has a wonderful “hand” – it glides through the fingers very easily. It is spinning  very quickly.

I have started on a small weaving project, just to get some practice. I took the warp-ends off my rigid heddle loom, and used them to set a warp on the inkle loom. An inkle loom is a small loom used traditionally for straps, belts, animal collars and leads, or even bootlaces.

inkle loom

I had this bag of lopi-type yarn, which is bulky and works up fast, but this odd raspberry colour wasn’t anything I would use for myself, and is too coarse for a little girl. I decided to see how it would look on this warp. It is very pretty. I’m thinking it will make a good collar to hold a sheep bell.

although I'm not satisfied with that far selvedge

I need more practice; it’s been a few years since I had time to weave. Spinning came back to me as if I had done it just yesterday.

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9 thoughts on “Crofting – Spinning and Weaving

  1. I just returned from demonstrating spinning to two third grade classes. We all enjoyed it immensely and hopefully I was able to convey my love of handcrafting and inspire them to learn to make things!

  2. Magdalena,

    My poor Ashford is woefully neglected and hasn’t been touched for (gasp!!) seven years!! (is it really that long?) It needs a good service! I miss it, but console myself with the knowledge that once the Academic season of my life is over (and there’s more room available to set up my spinning corner) I’ll take it back up again. Some of my happiest memories are of my spinning and weaving with a remarkable group of ladies (and a few gentlemen) as a member of a guild in another region. One lady in particular has left an enduring legacy in my heart; she is a dear soul, taught me to spin, dye, fruitcake bake, taught me the foundations of knitting, and stood faithfully beside me transforming the five years of my life prior to my marriage into a happy one that would otherwise have become wilderness years (as were the five prior to that half decade). When I didn’t have a roof over my head, she and her husband opened up their home and hearts to me and i shall ever be endebted, praying that one day I may be able to offer safe harbour to another as was offered me during a difficult period while still single. I am eternally blessed by everything this dear lady taught me – in the way she lived her life with authenticity, honesty and one of the most profound examples of Caritas I have ever been priveleged to witness.

    God bless she and her husband – and the other craftsmen & craftswomen of that region in Aus!!

    • I’ll start them the end of this month. Any sooner, they will get leggy or damping off. I haven’t checked the full moons to see when we will plant out, we have such a late frost-free date.

      • They shouldn’t get leggy or damp off if they’re well-lit and unstressed. Do you have a grow light or other light for your seedlings set up? That can help a lot.

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