Wool is one of the oldest materials known to man, yet we are still finding new uses for it. Spinning and weaving by hand holds a fascination for me as it makes me think of the work which my great grandparent’s generation were still regarding as a normal part of their everyday lives.
My family heritage is from Estonia and I know my great granmother spoke of spinning as a young girl to provide yarn for winter garments in her home. As commercial yarns became readily available, women were quick to abandon spinning and over the generations the skills were lost. In recent years there has been a revival of interest in heritage skills as we realise there is pleasure to be gained from taking a little more time to make things.
There is nothing quite like seeing a finished hank of handspun yarn, knowing that I personally saw it through every step by hand, starting in the farmer’s barn choosing a fleece, through to having it ready to knit. The time taken to do this means that there is no economic sense in handspinning, but the satisfaction it gives is immesurable.
Felt making has been around even longer than spinning as it is thought people stuffed loose fleece into footwear and headgear and it then felted with the combination of sweat and heat from the body. Many cultures still use handmade felt for garments, yurts and other homewares. Current craft trends have popularised the making of colourful accessories and toys, using both wet felting and dry needle felting techniques.