Historic Spinning question


alaskajean1
 

Hi,
 A maritime historian friend and I are trying to complete my deceased husband's book on the evolution of sail design and construction.  Louie felt that a full discussion of sails had to include info on the production of thread, yarn, and cloth in order to be complete.  In his section on spinning in the draft we found this statement:

Although output was greatly increased (with the advent of the spinning wheel), the basic, cord-driven spindle-wheel produced a yarn that had less twist and was softer.  Therefore, it would not necessarily hold up under tight warp tensions on the loom as reliably as well-spun yarn from a drop spindle. For the majority of purposes, however, the vast increase in quantity outweighed the decrease in quality.

Neither of us knows where Louie came up with this!  He didn't cite any source. I've never spun on a whorl wheel, so have no personal knowledge of the quality of the yarn.  Can someone help?  My books say next to nothing about this type of wheel so I'm at a loss.

Thanks for helping us!
    Jean Bartos


Sara von Tresckow
 

I've spun quite a bit on great wheels and charkas - the amount of twist is
determined by the spinner, not the wheel. If more twist is desired, holding
the drafted yarn in the hand a bit longer achiever the extra twist. Not
quite sure where a statement like this is coming from.

Sara von Tresckow, Fond du Lac, WI
sarav@woolgatherers.com
Author of “When a Single Harness Simply Isn’t Enough”
http://www.woolgatherers.com Dutch Master Loom/Spinning Chairs/Öxabäck
Looms, visit us in Fond du Lac or contact us about your weaving/spinning
needs


Ian Bowers
 

I have both heard, anecdotally, and read reports that, at the time that the Spinning Jenny was developed in the UK, the  Jenny yarn was considered fit for weft but that worsted prepared warp yarn was still hand spun for strength.   I suspect that the antipathy of hand spinners to mechanisation of their craft would also power this belief as a protectionist step, along with Luddite action against the Jennies. 

 

That may form the basis of the ‘logic’ behind the reports.

 

Best regards

 

Ian Bowers (Dr)

Managing Director

 

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From: weavetech@groups.io <weavetech@groups.io> On Behalf Of alaskajean1 via groups.io
Sent: 07 September 2021 04:47
To: weavetech@groups.io
Subject: [weavetech] Historic Spinning question

 

Hi,
 A maritime historian friend and I are trying to complete my deceased husband's book on the evolution of sail design and construction.  Louie felt that a full discussion of sails had to include info on the production of thread, yarn, and cloth in order to be complete.  In his section on spinning in the draft we found this statement:

Although output was greatly increased (with the advent of the spinning wheel), the basic, cord-driven spindle-wheel produced a yarn that had less twist and was softer.  Therefore, it would not necessarily hold up under tight warp tensions on the loom as reliably as well-spun yarn from a drop spindle. For the majority of purposes, however, the vast increase in quantity outweighed the decrease in quality.

Neither of us knows where Louie came up with this!  He didn't cite any source. I've never spun on a whorl wheel, so have no personal knowledge of the quality of the yarn.  Can someone help?  My books say next to nothing about this type of wheel so I'm at a loss.

Thanks for helping us!
    Jean Bartos


Gabriele Breuer
 

Hi,
yarn spun on a drop spindle has (at least) enough twist and therefore stability to hold the weight of this spindle. When spinning on a grand wheel, charka etc., the spinner may insert the same amount of twist, as Sarah points out, but she/he will probably get along with a lot less twist without the yarn falling apart ‚immediately‘. This would be favorable in terms of production speed for the spinner, who in those times made a living by spinning. 

Am 07.09.2021 um 05:46 schrieb alaskajean1 <jlbartos@...>:

Hi,
 A maritime historian friend and I are trying to complete my deceased husband's book on the evolution of sail design and construction.  Louie felt that a full discussion of sails had to include info on the production of thread, yarn, and cloth in order to be complete.  In his section on spinning in the draft we found this statement:

Although output was greatly increased (with the advent of the spinning wheel), the basic, cord-driven spindle-wheel produced a yarn that had less twist and was softer.  Therefore, it would not necessarily hold up under tight warp tensions on the loom as reliably as well-spun yarn from a drop spindle. For the majority of purposes, however, the vast increase in quantity outweighed the decrease in quality.

Neither of us knows where Louie came up with this!  He didn't cite any source. I've never spun on a whorl wheel, so have no personal knowledge of the quality of the yarn.  Can someone help?  My books say next to nothing about this type of wheel so I'm at a loss.

Thanks for helping us!
    Jean Bartos


P George
 

Hello Jean!

First, the news of Louie’s passing is a sad surprise. Sincere sympathy to you and your family. Thank you for your effort to complete the publication of your husband’s incredible research into historic sails and maritime textiles.

 

A few years ago you connected me to Louie after I asked something on this list. We exchanged a few long messages about the construction of Viking sails, and he shared his vast experience with restoration and reconstruction on historic ships.  I have never forgotten his detailed information on the exact  fiber quality, twist level, and twist direction, of yarns used in different parts of the sails, especially his analysis of selvedge strength.

 

Those messages are archived somewhere on my old storage drives, so I can’t access them at the moment. But, I wonder if his statement about spindle vs wheel spinning was related to a specific ship or site he worked on? The possibility of a hand spindle spinning stronger yarn with higher twist may have been true for only a short period of history, when mechanical spinning was first introduced in Europe.  Even the Viking era lasted several centuries, so there was probably a difference yarn production quality as time progressed.  If there is a written source of medieval spinning technology Louie referenced, it may only be published in German, or one of the Scandinavian languages. 

 

Looking forward to more ideas from the yarn experts in this group (I am not one of them!)

 

Patrice George

NYC

 

 

Hi,
 A maritime historian friend and I are trying to complete my deceased husband's book on the evolution of sail design and construction.  Louie felt that a full discussion of sails had to include info on the production of thread, yarn, and cloth in order to be complete.  In his section on spinning in the draft we found this statement:

Although output was greatly increased (with the advent of the spinning wheel), the basic, cord-driven spindle-wheel produced a yarn that had less twist and was softer.  Therefore, it would not necessarily hold up under tight warp tensions on the loom as reliably as well-spun yarn from a drop spindle. For the majority of purposes, however, the vast increase in quantity outweighed the decrease in quality.

Neither of us knows where Louie came up with this!  He didn't cite any source. I've never spun on a whorl wheel, so have no personal knowledge of the quality of the yarn.  Can someone help?  My books say next to nothing about this type of wheel so I'm at a loss.

Thanks for helping us!
    Jean Bartos


Kati Meek
 

Though some years ago, when I was tuned-in to all mention of spinning with bast fibers, I communicated with someone about spinning for sails and that hemp, not flax, was the fiber of choice because hemp is far more resistant to mold and mildew than flax, therefore a superior choice for sails.  Though the device for spinning may not be mentioned in my notes, if I can find them, I will share. 


Kati Meek
 

Though it was some years ago, when I was tuned-in to all mention of spinning with bast fibers, I communicated with someone about spinning for weaving sails, Hemp, not flax, was the fiber of choice because hemp is far more resistant to mold and mildew than flax, therefore a superior choice for sails.  Though the device for spinning may not be mentioned in my notes, if I can find them, I will share.   
     So happy to know that such research is on-going! Oh,to live long enough to learn answers to more important questions..... treadle with Joy, Kati
Kati Meek
Treehouse Studio


bigwhitesofadog
 

It's hard to know exactly what he is talking about when he says "cord driven spindle wheel".  A great or walking wheel, which tends to produce a soft yarn  uses a spindle, but can make a harder twisted yarn.  My guess would be that the walking wheel is what he meant by handspindle, and the cord driven spindle is the spinning Jenny that Ian referred to.  A treadled spinning wheel with a flyer and bobbin doesn't use a spindle, but it can make very hard yarns.  Both treadled and walking wheels were in use when machine spinning started.  Having made sails, I find it hard to see enough hard spun yarn coming from a drop spindle, which is what comes to my mind when I read handspindle.  
Sandra


Neal Goman
 

In Spinoff Summer 2001, Peter Fowler had an article about Viking sails. He gave a rough estimate for the amount of time (1 year at 14 hours per day if I remember correctly) needed to spin yarn for a sail using a drop spindle.
Neal.

On 9/7/2021 11:10 AM, bigwhitesofadog wrote:
It's hard to know exactly what he is talking about when he says "cord driven spindle wheel".  A great or walking wheel, which tends to produce a soft yarn  uses a spindle, but can make a harder twisted yarn.  My guess would be that the walking wheel is what he meant by handspindle, and the cord driven spindle is the spinning Jenny that Ian referred to.  A treadled spinning wheel with a flyer and bobbin doesn't use a spindle, but it can make very hard yarns.  Both treadled and walking wheels were in use when machine spinning started.  Having made sails, I find it hard to see enough hard spun yarn coming from a drop spindle, which is what comes to my mind when I read handspindle.  
Sandra


alaskajean1
 

Thanks to all who replied. Louie usually documented his sources, but this note has no reference!  Ah well, we will put together the best answer we can.

I know it sound impossible that drop spindle spinning could produce enough yarn for sails, but it did.  Remember, sails of earlier times would have been much smaller than those for later ships.  Even so it appears to have been an almost Herculean task!   Some of the references he has cited regard the mechanization of spinning and weaving as the most important gains of the Industrial Revolution.

Patrice, I appreciate your kind words. I'm glad Louie provided you with good information.  He so enjoyed sharing what he had learned with anyone who was interested.  Whatever he became researched, he approached with 100% involvement. He always wanted to know the how, when, where, and why of things.  On ships like VASA, he would try to analyze exactly how the sail was made and how any attached rope work was done. Then he would draw it and finally replicate it to the smallest detail. I just hope Nat and I can do justice to his dedication.

Thanks,
  Jean


DR D W Taylor
 

Hi Jean, et al
All fabric pre industrial revolution were made with spindle spun yarn/thread so I don’t find it hard to believe that fabric for sails was spun this way.  The spindle was carried everywhere all the time. Spinning lends itself to multitasking- I.e. spinning while performing other tasks. To misquote Ed Franquemont: ‘Drop spindling is slower by the hour but faster by the week.’

I’m curious about the time for spinning for a sail. Was a year the estimated length of time that it took for one spinner to spin enough yarn for a sail- or multiple (how many?) spinners?  Interesting topic. All the best with the book. 

Peace. D Taylor, DVM




Ian Bowers
 

Wheel driven spindles (spinning wheels) were developed in C12 or thereabouts. These greatly enhanced productivity and were surely the main source of yarn for all types of uses until usurped by the spinning Jenny. 

Ian Bowers (Dr)
Managing Director 
George Weil &Sons Ltd 

On 9 Sep 2021, at 16:31, DR D W Taylor via groups.io <dtdvm@...> wrote:


Hi Jean, et al
All fabric pre industrial revolution were made with spindle spun yarn/thread so I don’t find it hard to believe that fabric for sails was spun this way.  The spindle was carried everywhere all the time. Spinning lends itself to multitasking- I.e. spinning while performing other tasks. To misquote Ed Franquemont: ‘Drop spindling is slower by the hour but faster by the week.’

I’m curious about the time for spinning for a sail. Was a year the estimated length of time that it took for one spinner to spin enough yarn for a sail- or multiple (how many?) spinners?  Interesting topic. All the best with the book. 

Peace. D Taylor, DVM




Sara von Tresckow
 

We have visited the Danish ship museum in Roskilde a few times. Each visit,
ostensibly to see ships, winds up a trip to view the latest in research with
warp weighted looms and tests of "sail cloth".
In 2017 there was wool on the loom, in 2019 there was linen. It seems there
is no really definitive answer to "Viking" sail materials because none or
only tiny frargments have been found. Apparently making the sails was so
time consuming that if a boat were lost or used in a ceremonial burial, the
sails were passed on until nothing was left.

Sara von Tresckow, Fond du Lac, WI
sarav@woolgatherers.com
Author of “When a Single Harness Simply Isn’t Enough”
http://www.woolgatherers.com Dutch Master Loom/Spinning Chairs/Öxabäck
Looms, visit us in Fond du Lac or contact us about your weaving/spinning
needs


Colleen Sorensen
 

Jean, and all,

I do not have access to the book that has been referred to concerning spinning for sails, and I do not spin, however there is a recent book which discusses spinning in history: The Fabric of Civilization, by Virginia Postrel.  On page 49, she gives chart of the time to spin items. She lists a sail as 60 miles of thread.

On a Charka, with cotton (100meters/hour) - 1540 hours (193 days).
With a Spinning Wheel, wool, medium (91 meters and hours) 1692 hours (211 days).
...
Viking, wool, coarse, woven at 50 meters an hour: 3088 hours (385 days).

She has copious notes. I found the book fascinating. The chapters are: Fiber, Thread, Cloth, Dye, Traders, Consumers, Innovators. 

Colleen