Historical Fiber Arts (To Write and Have Written)

Ivorivet joins us again to talk about historical fiber arts, from carding to spinning to weaving! Great for historical or fantasy world details.

Show Notes

Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times (Elizabeth Wayland Barber)
Warp-weighted Loom image
Morgan Donner, medieval hem video

Video (from Twitch and YouTube):



Historical Fiber Arts! another Learn With Me episode – powered by Happy Scribe


I think we’re live.

I think we’re live.I think it worked.

OK, I’m going to ask the chat to tell us how

many people they can hear sincethe sound was being so bad.

So while you grab that webpage.

Hey, so hey, everybody,it’s Tuesday night.

This is To Write And Have Written.

I am Laura VanArendonk Baugh.

I have here with me Emi, who I –oh, good.

I did actually put your Twitter up there, because

I was just about to say whose nameI totally forgot to add.

But no, it is on there.


OK.Oh Bridger can hear two people.

Seeker says he can hear us.

Oh this is, that’s excellent.Hey.


There was much panic happeningfor the last few minutes.

While I couldn’t get any sound to come

out, I could hear me,but the rest of the world could not.

So.So all right.

So yeah.

So we’re just goingto jump right in tonight.

No, no precursors or preambles or

anything, because I’m going to useall the time to just let Emi go.

So I think

that I will ask questions

of anything that goesby that I think looks cool.

Hey, let me mute my phonelike a responsible adult.

Excuse me one second.

I just realized I hadn’t done that.

All right.

So this is a Learn With Meweek here on the show.

So this is where we get to learn about

things that I don’t know about,which encompasses a great deal

of territory,things that will be useful

as we’re writing our historical orfantasy or sci fi or or whatever worlds.

And and Emi’s been with us before

talking about metal casting,which was much fun.

And then this time it’s about historical

fiber arts, which is actuallya really, really huge topic.

And we will probably not cover everyculture from the dawn of time.

But Emi has specialties that she will

share with us and thenwe have other questions.

We can go there.So

so, Emi, how muchstructure do you want?

Do you want me to just, like,turn you loose and then I’ll ask questions?

I mean, I’ll just kind of gofrom the beginning and then if we have

questions just kind of pop in. So the earth’s crust begins to cool,

We have sheep,

let’s go.

So and I have if anybody is interestedin learning about this as an actual, like,

hobby thing and not just like I needapproximate knowledge so that I can write

approximate things about it in my fantasynovel, I do have several book

recommendationsthat are very fun and informative.

But so my name is Ivorivet.I’ll get those from you and put them in the show notes

people who are hearing this on the podcast later,they will be there. OK.

So my name is Ivorivet,

but also I go by Emiand I have been weaving as a hobby

for several years now and kind of fellinto the fiber arts pit because if you

stay one part of it long enough,you’re going to pick up another thing.

And I have done almost everythingexcept own sheep at this point.

So which is a hard line for me, butfor some people, they go all the way.

So so my my experience with fiber artsmostly has a historical

slant in like Iron Ageslash like Viking medieval type stuff.

So it’s most of my knowledgecomes from that context.

But you’ll see similar developments

happen acrossa lot of cultures across the world.

So but that’s kind of wherewhere I’m coming from.

So when we say fiber arts,it’s it’s the very broad category

of taking either a plant or animalmaterial that comes in like little little

strands of stuff and eventuallytransforming that into string

and eventually transformingthat string into cloth.

And it is a very bigand laborious task that

just pre-industrial revolution

was absolutely like super time consuming,made clothes and cloth, very valuable.

And and that’s just kind of how it wasbefore you had, like,

big machines to to take care of everythingand simplify a lot of those processes.


So you’re going to go ahead.

Let’s say you are

like a person out in the wild and you wantsome clothes, you’re going to go ahead

and find a sheep, which I don’thave a stuffed animal sheep.

But this is this is my sheepskin.

You’re either going to you’re goingto find some kind of source of fibers.

So very broadly,

pre-industrial revolution,

your fibers are going to come from oneof two sources, either plants or animals

and.Animals have protein based fibers,

plants largely have cellulosetype fibers, so like

your cellulose fiberswould be cotton, linen,

nettle.I’ve seen some people get into like

spinning and weaving that which islike super hard core,

your animal based…

Is that the stinging kind of nettle? Or I think.

So there I recently.

So the the stem of the nettle plant,

I think it acts very similarto linen, where when

when you’re taking

when you’re comparing a linen fiberwith say something like a cotton,

the length of the fiber that you’re

working with is going to define like howit behaves and how easy it is to spin

and how smooth everythingit’s going to turn out.

So in the case of linen,

your fiber actually comes from the entirestalk or the stem of the plant.

So however tall your plant is when you cut

it down is how long yourfibers are going to be cut.

Kind of like if you

you know, like you’ve ever cracked opena celery stick or something like that.

And you have, like,

those little little tough things that Ihate getting stuck between my teeth,

though, that is kind of like whatyou’re harvesting from the linen plant.

And so you can get something that’s,

you know, several feet long versussomething like a cotton where, you know,

you’re getting that little cotton puffof know short little staple fibers.

So that’s going to kind of effect the

the behavior of, you know, your yarn thatyou make and ultimately your your cloth.

And then if you you kind of see

that difference to an animal fibers withwith sheep, there are particular breeds

of sheep that are bred to have like verylong fibers or short undercoat or

whatever, that there’s a whole bunchof different things that I don’t

understand well enoughto really talk definitively on.

But there’s a whole variety of lengthsof of fibers that you’re going to have.

And the key thing that let me actually get

While you’re grabbingthat, I’m gonna interrupt real quickly.

So the chat is informing me that we havejust a massive, massive lag going on.

They were hearing you introduce yourself

while you were just talkingabout stuff a moment ago.

I’m going to totally sick.

Well, I had a lot of problems with,like last week, too.

And I know I saw just about an hourand a half ago a cable down, a line down

in front of our house because of,you know, snow and everything.

So I’m just going to say that it’sprobably being super laggy.

We’re going to go aheadand I’m recording this.

So, OK, we’re just to say we’re probablygoing to have fewer questions coming in live.

Oh, Bridger says it seems to be doinga little better now, so that’s good.

I’m tweaking things that I can overhere trying to see what’s going on.

But yeah, guys, if you have questions,go ahead, throw them in something else.

We’ll do a Q&A at the end.

And I will I am recording this so we will

have a smooth streamthat you can get later.

And and I apologize.

This is what I did.


We can only work the bestwe can, but Emi is coming in smoothly for me.

So it’s just a matter of pushingit out to twitch and.

But the.But anyway.

Yeah well we’ll see if we can get it.

I’ll keep messing with stuffhere and see what I can do.

OK, but all that to say.

Well you are talking about fibers.Yes.

So you said you had a hard line.

No sheep which I guess.Yeah.

No sheep.


And and ShyRedFox threwit in the chat earlier.

She said, oh yes.Fiber arts hobby creep is real.

So yeah.

But I actually know someone who collectedher dog hair and used it as fiber.

So are there advantages to some, I mean

obviously we, we did developsheep for a reason.

But what are what are the what are

the what are the reasonsfor choosing one fiber over another.

It really a lot of it in the beginningat least, had to do with just what you had

available just from a you know,because if you are, you know, say,

living in like a northern Icelandic area,sheep are going to be really good.

You probably can’t growcotton there very well.

So your sheep,they waterproof! I mean.

Yeah.And they you can move them.

They don’t have to staystuck in the ground.


But basically you’re a lot of, you know,kind of earlier history periods are going

to be limited to just geographically whatgrows or what stays alive well in your

area and then you’re goingto trade for the rest.

So like the silk trade was obviously a big

thing that defined a lotof cultures and a lot of history.

And I mean, even even to this day,

China and India,and you know that that region

of the world, you know, you needa particular climate to grow the

stuff, to feed the silkwormsand stuff like that.

And it just doesn’t make a lot of senseto try and do that outside of a climate

in a in a climate whereit’s just inhospitable.

There’s actually a reallyif you want to get into a weird little

niche of history, trying to get reading upon American attempts to set up silk farms

here is super interestingbecause it ending up failing.

I know almost nothing of that.

I just know that it was attemptedand kind of face planted.

Yeah.So yeah.

So I won’t delve into that.

Ithere’s if you go

to the Henry Ford Museum,they actually have like a little little

setup that goes into that alittle bit more about it.

Like here are some things from theshort lived American attempt to grow.

So for us.OK, yeah.

And so I will I will have to look that up

for myself later because again,I know just enough to know that that was

a thing that happenedand then it did not happen.

So yeah.

So, so anyway so most of the time,

especially in like a lot of historical

thing societies,at least in European societies,

you’re going to see a lot of wooland you’re going to see a lot of linen.

So those are the two fibers that Ihave the most experience with.

So if you are

you know, you shave your sheep orwhatever, I’m going to start with wool.

You’re going to get somethingthat looks like this.

And I apologize.

This kind of looks like intestineson my my screen because of the color.

But this is this is wool roving,which is basically like loose

unspun fiber.

It’s it’s been processed and dyed.

So that’s why it’s likethis fuchsia color.

But as you can see,

the the fibers themselves, you know,I can pull them apart pretty easily.

There’s not a lotof tensile strength there.

And so the the key in making yarn

and ultimately cloth is you need to imparta twist to it, because if you twist these

fibers together,they have enough friction against each

other that you can pull and pulland pull, and they won’t fall apart.

So so it’s just friction that’s holding.Yeah.

When you’re OK.Because I know

I know a few people who spin for fun,but I always just assumed there was like,

I don’t know, maybe it’s maybeit’s the same in rope making.

Maybe it’s all just friction.Yeah.

No that.OK, so it is.

Yeah.So and you called that roving.

Yes.This is wool roving.

ROVING.Mm hmm.


Hashtag today I learned OK?

Yeah, so and I keep seeing this like

video in my YouTube mentions,suggestions come up that’s like why you

shouldn’t, like, try and knit a bigchunky blanket out of wool roving.

And I can tell you right now,without watching the video,

that it’s they’re going to saythere’s no twist in the roving.

So it’s literally justgoing to fall apart.

So depending on on how fluffy or thin you

want your yarn and and whatyou’re planning on doing with it,

that’s going to determine how how muchfiber actually goes into a particular

length of yarn and how tightlyyou’re going to be twisting it.

I’m sure if you’ve ever taken a string

in your hands and tried to twistit and twisted and twist it until

and then you bring the ends a little bit

together, it’ll you know,he looks up on itself.

Yeah, that happens all the time when youhave spun yarn that is not under tension.

And so depending on what you’re using,

you can get a very strong tensile yarnif you spin it together very tightly.

But then you’re also going to have

more issues with that particular typeof yarn getting like

I I’ve heard like it has a lot of energyin it or it has a lot of twists.

It just if you take the tension off of it,

it’ll just becomespaghetti and you have to

untwisted.And it’s it’s a big.

So having setting the tension properlyfor your spinning machine is as important

as setting the tension properlyfor your modern sewing machine.

Oh, absolutely.OK, yes.


So once you have your your wool roving

and it’s nice and processed and doesn’thave like lots of bugs and dirt and stuff

in it because she, you know,don’t they go outdoors.

They go outside.Yeah.

You are going to want to the next process.

We’ve already got a little bit of

stuff here you’re going to take.

These are called cards or you’regoing to card your wool basically.

So these are carding brushes that I

already have some of that that woolroving attached to.

But you’re basically going to go ahead and

start out with a littlebit of wool on one card.

I’m going to try and hold thisso that you can see it and we.


helps if I actually have the correct card,well, you’re just.

Yeah, well, I ShyRedFox says in the chatthat she did cat hair just to see it worked

and a spinnery in Finlandmixes wool and dog hair.

Mm hmm.So

so the point of carding your wool is

basically to get all of yourfibers going in one direction

and then you are going to verycarefully peel this off of your thing.

And for those who are listeningto the podcast these look like giant dog

hair brushes, like they’rethey really do that.

Slicker brushes.Yeah.

Yeah.So I didn’t know that everyone who owned

a German shepherd was actuallyjust carding wool, so.

Yeah.And so then I have like this little cake of

wool that’s basically going in one

direction and depending on how… It’s very well organized dryer lint.

It is. Yeah.Yes.

And so you I, I can’t do this on camerabecause I don’t have the correct surface.

But basically you will kindof roll a little cigar out of it.

And depending on the type of yarn that youwant to make, you can either roll this so

that you make like a little kind of likea little enchilada of of hair where the

the fibers are kind of goingaround in a circle.

Or sometimes if I want to make a tighteryarn, I’ll roll at the other direction

to keep all of the fiberslike parallel to each other.

So longitudinal to.Exactly.

OK, yeah.

So but then I’m sorry,

I’m just clarifying because this istotally like I’m just like, oh wow.

I just thought that wool came offthe sheep, like the sheep had dreads.

(That’s not what I thought but you know,as far as process goes.)

But I had no idea that you could choose

which direction to roll yourfibers to get different effects.

So can you can you go into just slightly

more detail on that just becauseI think that’s fascinating.


So I actually I’m blanking

on the terminology here, butdepending on the behavior that you want

your final yarn to have, you can doI think it’s woolen or worsted yarn.

You might want to put this in the show

notes because I’m not sure if I’mgetting these terms mixed up.

I believe woolen yarn is very fluffy.

The fibers are actuallykind of going in all sorts of different

directions, like they’re they aretwisted up and kind of locked together.

But the end result is a very fluffy yarnthat kind of fills up space,

especially if once you weave it into clothand you submerged in water and then those

fibers have a chance to expand and kindof bloom out

it, they kind of fill in the gaps a loteasier versus worsted yarn where the fibers

are kept parallel to eachother as much as possible.

So you get a very slick, strong yarn,relatively speaking,

and that tends to do more likeit has a smoother finish to it.

It’s it’s stronger

and it’s also apparently morepain in the butt to deal with.

So I don’t know.

I always hear, like, so many historicalthings that use the word worsted.

And I knew it had to do with the weaving,

but I never knewexactly what that meant to.

So another another hashtag, todayI learned for me today.

So.All right.

Yeah, so I am going to attempt to well,I have I have a spindle

and I also have a spinning wheel that I’mgoing to try to show you guys today.

But basically, your next step,you have this little taco of, like, happy,

you know, yarn fibersthat are ready to go.

And basically, I’m going to hold this up

to the camera, but also try to kindof describe what I’m doing.

You want to get these in a position where

you can pull out just a little bitat a time and very slowly,

like control how much? You know,you want approximately the same number

of fibers leaving in a predictable stream,basically as you pull it out of this bundle.

It’s a very fine line of cotton candy.

It is.

It definitely looks like cotton candy.

And so probably the the most simpleway of imparting spin into this,

this fluffy cotton candy is somethingcalled a drop spindle,

which is literally just a stickwith like a notch carved at the top.

This is one that it’s

basically got like a fat middle notchat the top and then it kind of goes down.

Oh, ShyRedFox says I’mcorrect on wool and worsted.

And I’m glad I didn’t getthose terms mixed up.

But then you, your

Spindel, can also have more more features.

So one big thing is that you can adda what’s called a whorl, w h o r l.

I believe to either the top or the bottom

they come and both and some of them areremovable like something that

this one doesn’t have a removable whorl,but it’s it’s just like a top one.

And then if you have a whorl,you can have a little notch in it.

That kind of helps you keep your fiberfrom from, you know, slipping out.


basically, you’re you’regoing to be holding

this so that the spindle is suspendedby the the yarn that you are creating.

And you’re and I wish youcould see more of my body.

I’m going to back up here a little bit

because I’m going to show you parkand draft, which is like the beginner.

Beginner technique,that’s everybody’s best friend here.

Let’s see if I can back up.All right.

So I’ve got my my spindle right here.

And when you’re when you really get going,

this thing can constantly be bespinning around the entire time.

So you’re going to beholding it up by one hand.

And ideally, your

your fiber sourceis going to be held in one hand.

Like this, and you’re going to be feeding

in fibers with one hand and you’re goingto be imparting spin with the other hand.

And so this I’m not going to try to dothis because I’m just going to drop it

because it’s been a couple of months sinceI’ve worked with this particular one.

But this will be spinning and this length

of yarn will eventually be,you know, start up here and then extend

down until it gets almost to the floor orwherever it’s comfortable for you to stop.

You’re going to stop.

Wind it up.

Put it back on the hook and then just keep

dropping it, and this isa very accessible thing to do.

You know, if you have, like

peasants or poor people or whatever,like it’s it’s something that

I think historically,

like even children were expected to belike, hey, you know, you got hands.

You learn to do this.

I don’t care that you’re four years old,you know.


so that’s that’s one way of of makingyarn.

And I know some people who arereally, really good at that.

But I’m not. I know you have cats.

So how does that work out?

So all of the yarn that I make is at least

one percent cat hair,that’s just how it works.

It is a cat sheep blend

and dog blend, too.

But with with all that spinning,all that spinny attraction going on

here, or do your cats just say,Ah, she just does that?

Yeah, they’re not super duper interested.

Like if I had a kitten, I’m sure theywould be all up in that business.

But my my cats are old enough nowthat they’re just kind of like, oh,

she’s being boring again becauseshe yells at us when we get too close.

Bridger’s comment, “Drop spindles are

either deceptively difficult orI’m surprisingly bad at them.”

Yeah.So there’s

if if you if you’re practiced enough and I

got good enough at this point that I wasable to just be continuously moving,

that’s great.

But you don’t have to be that good to beable to spin on a drop spindle like that.

You can do something that’s called park

and draft, where basicallyinstead of simultaneously feeding

fiber into the twist zone and also makingsure that you’re you’re imparting twist

to the yarn, you can split those twoactivities up where basically you

don’t feed any fiber in at all you kindof charge your yarn with twist,

then put your spindle betweenyour knees and have it held.

And then you have both hands to feedthe fiber into it.

And you don’t have to worry about,

like your spindle falling on the floor,because I know the yarn was too weak

and it couldn’t supportthe weight of the spindle.

And now my foot hurts because I dropped

my spindle on it and all of the otherstuff that’s never happened to me.


So in the category of things that can go

wrong, if I do drop my spindle, is there any way to, like, is that yarn,

can that be joined or justgoing to have to, now

I have a short piece of yarn?How does this work?

You can absolutely join.

It’s actually very easy and like

especially you, you are going to haveto be making joints constantly because

like this this roll leg is not enoughto make a usable length of yarn.

So it is super duper easy.

One finger warmer, yes.Yeah.


the so I, I brought my spinningwheel in here today as well.

I don’t know, we’re probablyabout halfway through our time.

I don’t know if we want to get super duperdeep into the discussion of how this

works, but…

I would like to see a spinningwheel because everything I know about them

is that you prick yourfinger and die, right?

Like, this is my summary of Disney knowledge.

I don’t have a pretty I don’t have

a pretty old world spinning wheelthat you can pick your finger on and die.

So it’s mine’s more compact and sporty, Iguess, because I have commitment issues.

I’m going to move my

camera here.

So hopefully I can you get in frame.

Can this.

Oh, dear.


might have to get a littlecreative here, I’m sorry.

Well, if it’s too difficult,

we can go on because I know you havesome amazing looms that I get to see.

Well, I do want to show you guys I just

need a surface that I can actually showyou guys on my back up here a little bit.

OK, now you can actually seethe top of the spinning wheel.


So I’m going to bringthis up a little bit.

This is a very modern spinning wheel.

It has two pedals on it.


the main business of whathappens is, is up here.

So basically you have a something called

a bobbin, which is similarto a sewing machine.

And it’s basically the samefunction where it’s a,

you know, a containerfor your thread, basically.

And that’s where the thread that isor the yarn that is spun is collected.

And then and I’m having a brain fart andforgetting that the terms of all of this.

But basically you have a

let’s pull this up here so youguys can see a little bit better.

Alena is pointing out in the chat inthe traditional Sleeping Beauty tale,

it was put your finger on the spindlerather than on a spinning wheel.

But if I recall, I isn’ta spindle on a spinning wheel.

Is that not true?Or

I could be totally making that up.

I you know,

I don’t know enough about spinning wheels

to to say yes or no,because the one in the Disney movie…

I know that my spinningwheel does not have a spindle on it.

I think Shyjust identified your spinning wheel.

So it is an Ashford Joy.Yes.

It’s very cute and itcomes with a backpack.

You can take it places so yeah.

You can take it to the sheep and.

No, I’m kidding.

And so

this basically the the spin action happensright here because it is threaded through

a small little metal hole that basically

spins around when thesefoot pedals are attached.

I’m going to I’m goingto run it for you here.

So you can see that’s spinningand starting to work,

and I had it going in the wrong direction,so it’s actually on spinning the yarn.

It’s important to get it correctedand going in the correct direction.

But this is something that makesspinning yarn very, very much faster.

It’s also got a lot more moving partsand is more technologically complicated.

So depending on your fantasy world,

they might have some version of likea spinning wheel or something like that.

But by and large, like drop spindles are very,

very ubiquitous and like good for peoplewho have lots of times on their time,

on their hands and not a whole lotof other stuff in here with no Netflix.


Shy’s got us in the chat, she says

the old wheels started as spindlewheels, look up walking wheels.

So they’re ok.OK, ok.

I was not completely making things up.

I just didn’t have enough detail to be.

Let me see if I can get a decent angle forspinning.

I’m probably only going to doa little tiny bit because I don’t.

This angle is probably not fantastic.


so basically what this is doing is it’sgot a tensioner that depending on if I

release tension on this yarn,it’ll there’s like a force that wants

to draw it and put it on the spindleor the wants to put it on the bobbin.

So the yarn uptake is basically definedby me releasing, you know, being like, OK,

you can go and then it’ll getdrawn into the spinning wheel.

But if I just to get that righttension, you have to.

Yeah, that’s defined by the spinner.

And so like depending on on how tightlytwisted your yarn is going to be,

you know, you might sit here and pedala lot and in part a lot of twist

into the yarn before youlet it go onto the bobbin.

I’m spinning something that’s really,

really skinny and usually very thin yarnsneed a lot more twist to be able

to to stay together than if you’remaking a really thick, bulky yarn.

But and I’m going backwards again, so.

But this is nice because it’s very easy

to just kind of like zone outand kind of do do your own thing

and you don’t have to worryabout dropping your spindle.

And you can have both hands involved in,you know, managing just the amount

of fiber that you’re you’refeeding into the thing.

So it’s it’s very like you cansit back, relax, do your thing.

I’m not making super fabulous yarn herebecause this is not an ideal setup.

But and then basically, if I want to stop,

I’ll probably just likeleave my my things sticking out.

Usually if I have a little bit

thicker yarnthis will just kind of hang there and then

my cats will want to play with thatbecause that’s like super awesome.

But anyway, so that’s you get yarn.

You also what you are spinning there ifyou’ve ever taken a close look at yarn

is not plied together.

So that is another thing that if you are

making yarn to use,depending on the function that you want to

achieve with it, you might end up puttingtwo or more of those strands together.

And so what that is called is a single,

which is just a singletwisted piece of yarn,

most yarns for knitting and like

crocheting and stuff like that,or at least to play

or more, depending onwhat you’re looking at.

And the nice thing about playingmultiple singles together is that

that phenomenon of like

springing up on itself with thetension is is taken off of it.

That doesn’t happen when youhave a correctly plied yarn.

So it makes the fibera lot more manageable.

And then also, you know,it tends to make things stronger.

So depending on on what you want to do,that’s that’s cool.

A lot of historical weaving wasactually done with singles, so.

Yeah, I’m really sad that we’re having

the lag for the chat,because I know that like of everybody,

I think like that I can see in the chat oron the screen or whatever,

I am the most ignorant person here,which is great with me.

But I know that ShyRedFox does a lotof this historical things as well.

And I would love to just for the twoof you, just go up and go together.

I don’t know.We will do that.

I know.I was really looking forward to that.

I know.I’m so sorry.

But yeah, we can we canalways do this again.

Like, I feel like we’re going to havea lot of 2021 happening.

So I said yeah.Yeah.

Anyway, yeah.

So single ply historical.

And now we’ve got thread or yarn now.Yes.

So now you have a lot of yarn and I will,

we’re,we’re pretty through like ah our chunk

of time so I won’t go toomuch into fiber management.

But there are likeother steps in between making the yarn

and applying it and then getting it on aloom or even into like a ball or a skein

that like imagine you’re working with like

the world’s longest spaghetti noodleand like, you know, it’s just

you have to keep it from gettingtangled up on itself.

It’s it’s a nightmare.

So there are a lot of little toolslike that.

Historically, a lot of these were found.

And this is really confusing because I

looked at a picture of itbefore I knew what it was.

And I was like, what?

What does that do?

I don’t see how that how that does.

This is something called a knitty

knotty, which a lot of times they’represented like that, but they are actually

a lot more functional if you rotatelike that and you basically will take


that is on your spindle in a big wad, thatyou need to get off your spindle and you

wrap it around.

Like this, oh, I have seen this.

Yeah, and so then

you get I’m not going to do this for very

long until I can getto the other side here.

But this is what allows you to gethanks’ of of yarn like that.

So now it’s off your spindleand you can either twist those up

into the little bundles that youa lot of times if you

by like hand spun yarn or yarn from fancy

yarn stores, they’ll come in likea twisted like rope type pattern almost.

And that’s because, like,you can very easily go to from that form

to this, just like a big looptype form as well.

So that’s how you kind of knowit had a personal touch to it.

Bridger is talking about.Yeah.

Being so soothing.

And this is your illustration

of the personality types because Icompletely believe, like there are people

who would be like, repetitive motionhandling, nice soft, like totally.

And and for me I’m just like, I have donethe same thing eight times in a row.

I can’t now.

These are the polar oppositesof personalities here.

So yeah, I guess I didlike the closest I can come to anything

that we’re discussing was I didweave my own zori out of hemp.

What does that, hemp twine,

I guess basically at that pointand and that was fascinating.

And I learned so much and oh my gosh.

Like, I thank God it was a one timeproject because if it were something like

I would have been doing regularly,it just.

Yeah, totally.

We had hey, you know what?

God made a lot of personality typesso we can all get along like there.


So we we think is a really good hobby orfiber arts or a really good hobby like as

an adjunct to another form of likestimulation, like, you know,

listening to something or watchinga TV show or something like that.

But like I love doing this stuff,but I have to have something else going,

otherwise I will just get boredand leave because it is very repetitive.

But it’s it’s a very nice thing if youhave somebody who just is like,

I have to be doing somethingwith my hands at all time.

Yeah.I mean, I can totally see why

for that personality type it would begreat because it’s tactile and it it’s

repetitive and it’s low,hopefully low stress like you’re not.

Yeah.Good for anything.

But yeah I completely get that.

It’s just one of those that’sgreat for other people.

Yeah.Yeah, yeah.

All right.

I so one of the books if you’re interestedin just like the history of weaving

in general that I it hasa very interesting premise.

It’s called women’s work likeweaving throughout the… Gosh.

Let me look at it becauseI’m going to say it wrong.

Women’s work.

Women’s work, the first 20,000 years,

which is a very good overview of likehistorical weaving in general,

it kind of starts out with an introduction

saying that, you know,like why have fiber arts traditionally

been associated with women and likethe home and stuff like that?

And their argument is that it’s because it

is something very repetitive but canbe picked down and put up a lot.

That’s it’s something that canbe very easily interrupted.

And you don’t lose a lot of progressthat kind of lent itself to people

who were staying home and saying,like watching kids or stuff like that.

Not that like men can’t watch kids, too,

but just from like a historicalperspective, if you have a job that,

you know, you’re going to be having a lotof interruptions,

weaving kind of gels into that,a little bit more than something where you

need your full attentionon something at all times.

So I know historically

in a number of European cultures,you know, women would walk around

with their weaving, you know,on their belts so they could just pick it

up while you’re standing in line at themarket or whatever the case may be.

Exactly.And like,

go go ahead.Sorry.

Just like that.

Just and when I first encountered that,I remember thinking because, you know,

I’m thinking of, like,you know, again, what do I know?

Everything came from Disney movie.

So you need a wheel and you need,like, you know,

straw and pile, you know, whatever.

But the you know, it’s just like, oh,my gosh, how portable was that really?

You know, if that if that clearly was

the case and it justbecause I knew so little about it,

that just kind of blew my mind that youcould just walk around and be making it.

And people carrying their knitting

with them today, but that’s a muchmore compact yet, you know, process.

So, yeah, I just that was somethingthat just surprised me on that.

It was expected to be portable.

So, yeah.

So I don’t want us to run out of time

before we start talking about actualweaving and looms and stuff like that,

because right now we’veonly gotten to yarn.

So we need to make thisa part one in part.

That’s OK.

Let that happen.

So the I have a loom behind me rightnow that’s got my current project on it.

It’s I’m not sure how well I can

I really wish I could set this up in a waythat is not going to kill my laptop

and allow me to show you guyswhat’s going on with it.


Here, let’s do that.OK, so I’m going to move this

in screen here.There we go.

We’ve got about so you can kindof see what I’m doing here.


the the basic part,the whole premise behind weaving is

that you have the yarn going in twodifferent directions and it’s interlocking

with itself over, under,over under and particular patterns.

And so the this is somethingthat’s called a rigid a loom.

It’s it’s not the oldest type of loom

that there is,but it is a relatively like older type.

I think that there’s

evidence of like Romans using particulartypes of rigid heddle looms before.

So it is pretty old technology.

But basically the fibers that you set up

first on the Loomare called the warp threads.

And they are like really long threads,

like if you you know,when you go to Joann’s or something

and you’re buying fabric at the storeand you know, it comes in, however,

like 54 inches wide by how manyyards of stuff you want to buy.

The the warp thread is determining like

how long your ball to fabricis actually going to be.

So these work threads that I have on hereor maybe about like six or seven feet

long, but they can be much longerand they’re they’re spun up on

loops on both sides of this so that Ihave like a manageable working area.

And then the second set of threadsthat you add to that are called the weft

threads, which go backand forth left to right.

And I always remember them because, like,warp is I think it’s like warp speed

from Star Trek or sci fi or something,because, you know, they always go like you

like away into the distance and that,you know, the direction of that.

The work threads are traditionally rangesup and down or like away from you.

So and if I’m comparing this to a modernpiece of fabric,

my selvage is going to be along,its parallel to the warp threads.

Yes, OK.


And so the warp threads themselves are

usually contained on some kindof roller or something like that.

And it’s very, very important in weaving

to keep proper attention on them,which is why a lot of looms are going

to have some kind of like ratchetingsystem like like this one has

so that you can tension them correctly,because if they’re all flopping around all

over the place, you’re not goingto get like a nice tight weave.

But if they’re too tight,

you can’t actually separate themto pass the weft threads through them.

So with this particular loom,what is is going on?

You have to have some way to raise andlower particular sets of of warp threads.

And so with this one, what I have is a

a rigid heddle, which is basically justlike a frame with a bunch of holes in it

that I threaded every othersmall hole with one of my warp threads so

that when I raise it up,like loops like that,

I now have a V shaped opening betweenthese these areas here that allow me

to pass one of my my shuttles that haveweft thread on them in between them.

And so

I’m actually this isa project that I’m actually doing two

shuttles with, so I haveto pass both shuttles through.

But normally you’re justgoing to make one one pass.

Bridger is going to write a sci fistory with weft speed to jump sideways between space.

Yeah, and I think that’s brilliant.I love it.

So that’s also I want to see that.

And then the other cool thing about this

particular thing isthis particular loom is that the

heddle, that the rigid heddle that youhave also kind of acts like a beater.

So, you know, I have a really loose, yousee like a pass of weft thread in here

that is not very close upagainst the other weft threads.

So I’m actually going to take this off and

beat it up against here to hack themtogether into a nice even weave.

And then I can put it back in a either

the neutral position like I have when it’sresting or I can go to the down position

instead, which effectivelyraises the opposite set of threads.

So this is this is set up to do basicallyjust plain weave at this point,

which is your your very basic over under,over under type of cloth,

which historically speaking, you know,

there’s lots of plainweave stuff out there.

It’s also called tabby weave, TABBY

you’ll see that in like a lotof historical sources as well,

but a lot of like twills were very,very common, especially in Viking times.

And I’m seeing… How does the heddle giveyou the opening to the opposite direction?

Actually, let me grab another heddle out.

Hold on just a second so I can show you

one that doesn’t haveit’s not full of yarn.

So if you’re using a loom with weights,I’m sure that’s one that is a different

style that does not have the what youdescribe the ratchets here.

So would that be something that you would

hang those threads verticallyand then weight them?

Is that.Absolutely.

So that is actually something that is very

that the Vikings like to use a lotcalled a warp weighted loom.

Yeah, I actually learned about that while

I was doing my researchfor The Songweaver’s Vow and…

Oh yeah!…They used intestines and human skulls.

That was the mythological version.

So yeah.

Not that’s not historical but but.”Oh wow.

That’s, that’s pretty cool.”

So now I’m trying to picturelike how you would do that.

So yeah.

So to, to give you guys very briefly

a close up of what a heddle looks like ora rigid heddle looks like when it

doesn’t have yarn in it,you basically have these very long holes,

these openings, and then you have thesevery short holes and they alternate.

So I’ve got basically a piece of yarn

threaded through tiny hole,big slot, tiny hole, big slot.

And then because the holes are tiny,

when I push this up,the yarn in the tiny holes has to be

forced up where the yarn of the big slotsjust kind of stays where it’s comfortable.

And same thing when I pull this down,

that’s what creates the thealternating opening pattern.

How long does it take to set that up? Like, oh,

OK, that’s the boring part.

is that as tedious as it looks? Cuz itsounds like… It is supremely tedious.

So it is it is my leastfavorite part of weaving.

And if anybody thinks that that’s their

favorite part of weaving,you should come and be my best friend.

This collaborative effort, all of my.Yeah.

Do all of my warping for me.

But yeah, that is like the the spaghettiwrangling like, the really like oh my gosh,

I need to keep this super long pileof fibers from getting tangled up.

All of that happens when you’re putting it

on the loom and then when you haveeverything weighted, tensioned correctly

and it’s,you know, you’re just weaving back

and forth, you know,taking it’s called taking a pick is

passing the the morethe weft thread from one side to another

is called a pick,that that’s the fun part.

But getting it on the loom is is not fun,

but going actually goingback to work weighted looms.

They are a super cool thing that I wouldrecommend that you guys Google,

if you don’t know like what they looklike, I’m going to try to describe it.

But a visual will help.

They were popular with the Viking culture

and other cultures for a very long timebecause they took up very little space.

So basically your warp threads are hanging

from a a tall horizontal beam that’s,you know, above the head of the weaver.

And it’s supported by two

poles that basically leaned up against

a wall, so, you know,if you have just a big,

you know, rectangular frame basicallyleaned up against a wall,

you could have a space to weaveand take up very little room.

And they also tended to be pretty modular.

So you’re hanging your warp threads upon this this large overhead beam

and basically tying them around likestones or, you know,

like soapstone with like little donutswere one thing that was very commonly used.

Looks like Bridger’s throwingus a photo in the chat.

So, yeah.Oh, good.


And that even though it’s,

they’re not that easy to weave on because it’s very, very easy to

have a lot of undulation in the widthof your your cloth if you’re not careful.

I’ve seen

I’ve been in a historical reenactment camp

where they had one of those set upand they just kind of let you know,

a bunch of different people trydoing a few pics of weaving on it.

And you can see like the clothstart out of one with like the top.

And then it just kind of goes throughand gets turns into like a trapezoid.

And so is that because the weftis getting too tight or how it.

Yes, that is a that’s a tensioning issue.

So it’s very it’s rather difficult to get

a nice even width on a piece of clothon a loom like that where you don’t have,

you know, something like a rigid heddle ora beater or a reed that is, you know,

reminding you like, hey,this cloth needs to be this width

and we’re going to start acting realweird, but things are too tight.

So that used to be really good at it.To keep it.

You had to be very good at itto have a consistent with.

So this is the this isthe advanced weaver.

I’m pointing at the screenlike you can see it.

So I mentioned that that photothat that Bridger linked to,

which I will put in the show notes aswell,

actually looks very much like when I wasin Denmark doing research for things and I

went to a lot of reenactmentvillages and whatnot.

And yeah, that’s exactly that.

Like it looked it’s very period.

So but yeah.

Then they didn’t actuallyuse the human skulls as weights.

Only the Valkyries, but yeah.


so but yeah.

So depending on the arrangement of the,the heddles that you had, which

a heddle is basically just any sort ofconnection or string or thing that wraps

around a singlepiece of warp thread and allows you

to pull it apart from the thegeneral group of warp threads.

So if say you look at that picture of the

not the rigid heddle loom,the warp weighted loom that was put

in the chat you’ll seeabout in the middle of the frame about

where the the weaver’s waist would be ifthey were standing in front of the loom.

You see a couple of

like horizontal sticks sticking outthat have other bars resting on them.

And if you look at that central bar,you’ll see like a bunch of, like,

tiny little thread, like wrappedaround it all the way across.

Those are probably metal bars where,you know, maybe like every fourth thread

or every second warp thread has a littlepiece of string tied around

that and the metal bar so that when yougrab a particular bar and you pull it

towards you, you’re pulling that setof warp threads out to to open that shed.

So now you’ve got to keep trackof all those bars as well? You do.

Oh, this is definitely the advanced version.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Like they’re not even color coded here.

Come on.

OK, so how

and I don’t know because the lagin the chat is so great.

I don’t know when Bridger asked this

question, I don’t know what,what we were talking about.

So she asked if we would justweave string by string across.

But I think that’s what you’resaying there with the metal bars.

So.OK, OK.


So you, you can likeI call this like potholder style weaving

because everybody’s had those like little,you know, that little rectangular frame

with the little tabs on it where you takethe little loops and you put them on there

and you know, that’s like a craft packthat you got when you were five years old.

And you can do that over under,over under thing

each time.But any experienced weaver is not

going to sit aroundand have time for that.

They’re going to use some some kindof loom system that has had holes in it

that allow you to separatethe groups of warped threads easily.


Sobut yet traditionally with with Vikings,

there were they did a lot of twills,which you would usually have to have four

separate groups of warp threads.Plain weaving’s nice because you only

have to have two, because it’sjust every other thread.

And depending on if you get into, like,

really fancy looms,you can have as many heddle bars as you want,

but that means it’s morecomplicated to manage that.

So at some point you’re just showingoff here? Yeah, you are.

So speaking of showing off, I mean,

I know I’ve seen some of yourreally amazing Vikings trim things.

Oh, yes.Oh, my gosh.

Can you flash any of that for us?

I totally and completely forgot

to to bring this up because I was goingto talk about it a little bit later.

So this is actually a really coolhistorical method called tablet weaving

that here I’m going to hold up.With the original historical World of Warcraft cards.

I know

this is a trim that is based offof a extant Viking pattern that I’m working on.

It goes along the topof my dress when I’m done.

But the the cool thing about tablet weaving, I’mgoing to make sure that this is on here.


World of Warcraft cards were nothistorically accurate, but your your basic

setup is that you havea pack of tablets or

cards that have a wholebunch in each corner.

They are a square and you raise and lower

the sets of threads by rotatingthe cards in a particular pattern.

So I’m going to go ahead and justrotate all of these guys forward here.

And so I basically brought up one,

you know, one set of threads whilelowering another set of threads.

And I’m going to put this back.

Otherwise I’m going to get all confusedwhen I pick up this project again.


by alternating which cards you rotate

forward and backwards, you can createa lot of different cool patterns.

And this is something that

the ancient Egyptians did.

This is something the Vikings said.

This is something that a lotof medieval cultures did.

This is early punch card programing.This is.

It is.This is.

Yeah.Oh, my gosh.

That’s amazing.

And depending on you know,

this is let me show you an exampleof the the type of pattern that I’m

weaving here.

But basically, you willget to a point where you’re going to be

rotating some cards clockwise and someother cards counterclockwise.

And depending on how you threaded themwith what colors and which directions

you’re turning, you can create a lot ofcool, different patterns that just

allow you to make almostany pattern on the sun.

But that is somethingthat is extremely portable.

You you can attach it to a belt

and tension it by,you know, hooking your warp threads over

your big toe and just like kindof sitting down and doing that.

I have tried that.

And it’s for people who areyounger and more flexible than I am.

That’s how I did my zori.

And yeah, yeah, that’s historicallyaccurate and I’m glad I did it, but.

Now I’m done, you know?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,but that is something that you

the cards are basically your loom. Theythey are your thread management and your


you know, heddle and allof that other stuff.

So and they it’s it’s superportable, super easy.

Even when you get into later cultures

where you are like, you know, whole clothis is a little bit easier to access.

That was actually used as a common wayto finish off hems and raw edges.

You would actually encapsulate the the rawedge in a tablet woven line in some cases.


Oh, that’s really cool.

Yeah, so there’s actually a really cool

there there is a YouTube here that Ireally like named Morgan Donner,

who actually justin the past couple of months put out

a nice video where she’s doing the hemof like a Greenland gown in that way.

So I can send that to you and we can putthat in the resource pack if you want.


So we alluded to this very,very briefly at the beginning.


you know, in today’s fast fashion world,we have no idea how whole fabric

and clothing used to beso incredibly valuable

because everything now issuper, ultra disposable.

So can you just give us an idea

of the time commitment here to createsomething like,

I don’t know, enough cloth to make a shirt.Because I know if, I didn’t look anything

up for this, but I’ve got some numbersin the back of my head that I’m vaguely

remembering, but I just wantto hear your your thing first.

Oh, boy.Well, so I’m I’m not the most experienced

weaver ever, but like my my firstbig weaving project, I made about

three yards of twentyeight inch wide cloth.

So like, you know,

if you take like a shirt and youcalculate the average surface area,

we could probably math it out.

But at one point when I was really

in my groove of like just sitting downin front of the TV,

weaving as much as I could possiblystand before my back decided to rebel,

I probably averaged abouttwo to three inches of of weft per hour

on a 28 inch wide fabric.



that’s like it’s going to depend very much

on the width of your fabric, the,you know, how complex your your pattern

is, which I was going pretty fast with,like my particular pattern.

But it’s it’s incredibly labor intensive,

you know, a full finish, like, you know,garment like a shirt or a dress would be

very easily hundredsof hours worth of work.

And that’s not even countingthe the amount of time spinning.

There’s an inordinate amount of time

that’s put into just creating the yarnbefore you can even put it into,

you know, cloth and startweaving it together.

Oh, so I did a real quick Googlebecause I didn’t trust my memory.

And I was had it like vaguely

in the back of my head that if you tookthe number of hours to create, you know,

to spin and then to weave and thento actually fashion that into a shirt.

And you translated that into like

an hourly wage, that a typical medievalpeasant level shirt, not the “we’re showing

off shirt,” would be about 3000dollars in today’s money.

And and that’s what I was remembering.

And I was like, oh, before I committo that, let me real quick look this up.

And I fortunately hadsaved it and I was wrong.

It was, in fact, 3500 dollars.So.

Yeah, so even more so.

Yeah.Just, you know, when you when we talk

about people had a set of clothing anddid not replace that clothing until it

literally, you know, there was notenough fabric to patch it back together.

So yeah.

So but I’m really glad that you broughtto show us what that you know,

what that process was,because we just don’t get it in today’s,

you know, two dollarT-shirt world, you know.


And actually kind of kindof going off of that.

And you can stop me at any timebecause I know we’re over time.

But you’ll you’ll alsosee that amount of labor

that went into making that cloth also

affects the fashions that you’regoing to be creating with that cloth.

Yeah, because if you go like if you go all

the way back to Roman and Greek times,a lot of the fashions were literally just

draping a rectangle of fabric aroundyourself because, I mean,

you spend all that time weavingand spinning and all of that other stuff.

Why would you cut it?

You know, I just it’s like knittinga whole sweater and then just being like,

OK, it’s time for me to makethe center for an opening zip zip.


You know, you’re going to diea little bit on the inside.

Well, in the same way in that your really

expensive clothing was just more fabricbecause that was your being like,

let me flex on you because I’vegot two squares, you know.

Yeah.So yeah.


Bridger is pointing out, thisis why rag sellers were a thing.

You know, in the chat like this is,

you can’t wasteany of the fabric.

Yeah.Mm hmm.

And then like kind of the naturalevolution of that, once you start getting

away from just I am wearinga rectangle of fabric on my body.

A lot of clothing was either based on

rectangles or triangles wherethere was almost no no fabric waste

and so, like, you know,you’re not going to have a lot of curved seams,

that’s something that comes in laterin fashion because you can’t really like

once you cut, you know,a curved seem to kind of nip in that waist

a little bit more and make yourselflook skinnier or whatever.

There’s not a whole lot that you can doto incorporate that little weird C shaped

piece of fabric that youtrimmed out of the garment.

Unless, you know,

you’re going to just completely shred itup again and use it, like for stuffing or

something like that.

So it just you you will see more fabricways to become a later thing in fashion

because it was just so intensive to tocreate all of that. I’m going to jump continents.

But if you go over and look at,you know, Japanese clothing.

Yeah.Your you had your standard loom

width which I’m not prepared for thequiz, but I want to say was 14 inches.

It sounds about right.Yeah.

So and and then everything,all your clothing was constructed around,

you have X number of 14 inchpieces, and everything was

a straight line and everythingwas those 14 inches.

Yeah.So ok.


OK, as you say we are out of time butI was having a great time so and

so I will get those resources and we willput those in the show notes for people.

And if you did get a jaggy streamtonight, I’m really sorry, but hopefully,

you know, I’ve got the recording,the replay should be fine.

So I’ll make sure that itgoes up nice and clear.

However, it is on Twitch at the moment.


Emi, thanks so much for coming.

I learned things.Yes.

Oh, thank you.I hope I wasn’t too all over the place.

I really had a fun time andyeah, I love fiber arts.

It’s a fun thing.Yeah.

I want the Learn With Me to

just be like, Let the nerd flow.Like let’s just have a good time.

So I know that was great.Yeah.

So I’m going to officially wrap up hereand then we will hop over to Alena who is

doing laser cutting and othercool stuff tonight.

Oh, and Bridger says shewould be up for Round 2.

So maybe we couldwe will, we will keep an eye

on that in the future because,yeah, I’m all for learning.

Learning.Here’s what I find as a writer.

I am not ever the writer who’s like,I’m going to write in this period.

Let me go learn everythingabout this period.

That’s not how my brain works.

My brain just sucks updetails from everything.

And then that appears in my writing.

So actually the more random bits and bobsI pick up, the better my writing gets,

because I if I’m just like I’m goingto write in the setting,

I don’t know enough to knowwhat I need to know, really.

So.Yeah, yeah.

Oh, ShyRedFox.

This was a lovely chat about one of her

favorite topics ever, soI wish it could have been a bit more

interactive because I was really lookingforward to ShyRedFox chiming in more.

I’m totally up for like ifwe want to do stuff in the.


Where we pull in more people and everybodyneeds to show off their work.

And I’m just happy to sit here and take

notes like it’s my ownpersonal tutor session.

Like that’s fine too.

So yeah.

But OK.Anyway,

so for those of you listening at home,this has been To Write And Have Written

and I have still Laura VanArendonk Baughand this is still any and all of that.

And you can find her,follow her on Twitter and everything else

where she does share pictures of hergorgeous trim in progress and things.

And that is it.

And then next week is our Create-in.

So I will see some of younext week for that.

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