Thursday, August 14, 2014

Spinning and Weaving Field Trip

This field trip was so awesome. I have a friend that is an expert spinner and weaver (she's even in Guilds and things) and she agreed to let us come over and see how it's done! The children had been curious about spinning and weaving ever since we had talked about how long it might take someone during Colonial times to complete one homemade shirt—after shearing the sheep, carding the wool, spinning it, weaving it into cloth, and sewing it up. We talked about how careful you would be to mend the shirt and patch it and make it last as long as you could, and then reuse the cloth for baby clothes or quilts or in any way you could! Anyway, when I told them we were going to get to see a real spinning wheel they were very excited.

First, my friend let us feel some different types of wool. The sheep wool was kind of coarse and fluffy, and we loved the alpaca—so soft! Then she let the children try carding the wool by hand.
They liked doing that. It was pretty hard work! Like combing tangly, tangly hair (but without all the crying and ouching that usually goes with that task, of course) :)
Then she got out her drum carder, which does the same job in much less time! That was a big hit, especially with Sebby, who kept going back to it and carding more and more wool the whole time we were there.
Then we stretched out the carded wool in preparation for spinning. I've forgotten what this process was called. Maybe drawing?
The spinning wheel was so cool! It was amazing to see it in action. I had thought it would be too delicate for us to do anything but watch, but Cayenne let all the children have a turn at spinning! It was a pretty complicated process, and took a lot of coordination to feed the wool in, keep the tension right, and push the treadle at the same time. They got on much better when Cayenne worked the treadle and they only had to concentrate on feeding in the wool.
Here is Sebby's little ball of yarn which he made all by himself: carding and then spinning (well, you know, by "all by himself" I mean that Cayenne did all the treadling and helped him hold the yarn steady). Now if he just crochets it or knits it into a little tiny blanket, he will have really accomplished something! :) He was SO, SO, proud of himself. He kept the yarn in his pocket for the next several days and kept pulling it out and admiring it. Cute. :)

It was a wonderful field trip and we learned so much!

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