Among the ancient Inca, the Aclla Cuna or Virgins of the Sun were selected from girls aged 8-10 who had special beauty. They spent their lives in temple convents and prepared food, corn beer and tended the sacred fire. They also spun very fine thread and wove garments for the emperor to be used in special ceremonies and sacrifices.
Spinning and Weaving Mythology
The textile arts of weaving and spinning have always been of great importance to many cultures. Weavers and spinners have been revered as goddesses in mythology.
Vadmal (Wadmal) is a woven wool cloth that has been felted. Felting the fabric after weaving, thickens the cloth and makes it wind and water resistant as well as warm. Vadmal is generally woven in a tabby or a twill weave on warp weighted or floor looms.
In order to felt the fabric, there are two methods that can be used. The wet fabric can be pounded in a hammer mill for several hours in order to flatten and thicken the fabric. The hammering process creates a fabric that looks more like “real cloth” and produces a stable fabric with very little nap and the wool keeps its shine. The wool fabric can also be pounded and stamped by placing the fabric in a large bucket filled with water and stamping with your feet.
A few years ago on a wonderful holiday to Corfu, Greece I purchased a beautiful sample of a Greek Flokati rug. It had been woven by my friend, Agathi the weaver, in Kassiopi, Corfu. She very kindly explained to me how these wonderful rugs are woven. The shaggy weft wool pile was made of handspun wool from local sheep. Her sister had done the handspinning and Agathi woven this fluffy rug that now sits on my rocking chair.
Tenntrådsbroderi, or embroidering with pewter or tin thread is almost a lost art. The Saami used tin thread since the 1600’s to decorate their clothing. The tin was obtained by melting down old pewter plates and dishes and was spun into thread. The use of pewter thread has recently become fashionable in jewellery items such as pewter braided reindeer leather bracelets worn by actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch.
A few weeks ago I had a lovely holiday in Kassiopi, Corfu. I had visited there a few years ago and had discovered a very talented weaver who has a small shop on the main street of Kassiopi. I was very pleased to see that she is still in business and is doing well. She is expanding her style and line of goods as her daughter-in-law is now learning to weave and is adding some of her own handwoven products to the shop.
Here are some specialized iTunes apps for crafters designed for use with iPads or iPhones. If you have used any of these and like them, or can recommend other ones, please let us know.
iSpin Toolkit – Michael Golden
Shows you the angle of your twist and calculates the WPI of your handspun yarn. Brilliant!
Easter and spring are quickly coming. Here are some highlights of projects I’ve been working on the past few months.
Felted Quail Eggs
Why not felt a few eggs for your Easter basket?
A new tapestry is underway at Chichester Cathedral.
How to make a felted cushion cover.