Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Preparing the Fibre for Spinning

Although I have been continuing my Hordewearde research my blogging is way behind where my research is up to. My production is ahead of my blogging but also well behind my research. Currently my production includes; 30+ balls of yarn, I lost count somewhere. 6 drop spindles worth of white yarn to be dyed for the tablet woven boarders and two bobbins worth of silk for the headband if I decide to do it and actually get that far. I have also woven almost a meter of cloth.

So my yarn is being done with both a drop spindle and a spinning wheel depending upon what part of my garment I am spinning. But aside from explaining my reasoning for what I am spinning and why I have not actually spoken much about the construction of yarn and what decisions I have made as far as constructing my yarn goes.

The notation for spun yarn is usually given in the terms Z or S. Z twist is when the spindle or wheel on a spinning wheel has been rotated in a clockwise direction. S is when the spindle or wheel on the spinning wheel has been rotated in the anticlockwise direction. (Walton Rogers. 2007:66-67).

There are a number of different ways to prepare wool for spinning. During the Early Anglo Saxon period combs were used to comb out the fibre so that it could be spun. Very few early Anglo Saxon combs have been found but they were probably very similar to the Roman combs that are found on many Roman sites where textiles are manufactured. Using this is a guide it was probable that wool was prepared during the Early Anglo Saxon period in the same way that it was prepared during the Roman period where a handful of fibre was pulled through the teeth of a short toothed comb of the type displayed here http://www.allfiberarts.com/library/graphics/roman/roman507.jpg (Walton Rogers. 2007: 15).

There are two main types of spun yarn that are produced depending upon the type of carding and spinning that are done. These are worsted and woollen yarn. Worsted is a smooth and strong yarn that is durable and long wearing. Woollen yarn is a softer yarn and does not last as long (Robson and Ekarius 2009:19). The type of yarn that is produced depends very much on the way that the fibre is prepared in the combing or carding stage. Combing helps to align the fibres so that they are parallel to each other. This produces a worsted style of fibre (Robson and Ekarius 2009:24)

During this project to save time I have used pre-carded wool. Pre-carded wool aligns all of the fibres together and produces a worsted wool similar to the process of combing during the Anglo Saxon period.

When weaving the most common sort of cloth found in Early Anglo Saxon burials is what is known as a ZZ tabby. Tabby is a very simple weave structure where the weft passes under and over individual warp threads one at at time. This is the type of weaving that most people will have seen or done in Primary School.

A ZZ tabby is one where both the warp and the weft are spun with a Z twist and the yarn is not plied. Plying is the process of spinning two yarns together usually using the opposite twist so the way the singles (single yarns) were spun. For example if I had two Z spun singles I would ply them together using an S twist.

Next blog I will discuss more about weaving in particular the type of weaving that I am doing and why I have made the choices to use the tools that I have chosen to use.

Robson, D and Ekarius, C 2009. The Fleece and Fibre Sourcebook: More than 200 Fibres from Animals to Spun Yarn. Storey Publishing, North Adams, MA. USA
Walton Rogers, P. 1997. Textile Production at 16-22 Coppergate. The Archaeology of York The Small Finds. Volume 17: The Small Finds. General Editor: P.V. Addyman. http://woeka.no-ip.org/byfrost/AY17-11-Textile%20Production.pdf (accessed 15/02/2012)
Walton Rogers, P. 2007. Cloth and Clothing in Early Anglo-Saxon England. AD 450-700. Council for British Archaeology, UK.

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