Saturday, November 19, 2011

Society Saturday - The Colonial Art of Spinning

Lac des Illinois chapter of Colonial Dames of Seventeenth Century met recently.  Our speaker was Maggie Kraus.  She is a local artist who works in several media, including painting and fabric.  She has been spinning her own yarn for knitting for over 30 years.

She brought her spinning wheel and showed us how she spins - talking as she spun.   She discussed the journey taken by wool after it is shorn from the sheep.  She demonstrated carding the wool and mentioned that it is a great workout for the upper arms!  She then spins the yarn and gathers it into skeins.  She has dyed her own yarn as well - in a large vat over an open fire!  It is not necessary to dye the yarn, though, as there are many naturally occurring colors and shades.

Maggie had brought several yarn samples with her, demonstrating the difference in yarn based on breed of sheep.  Finally, she showed several examples of sweaters and other items that she had knit.  Her homespun yarn and handmade sweaters were beautiful and quite durable.

It was easy to imagine our colonial ancestors spending hours going through this process, just to make a single item of clothing!


  1. That sounds like an interesting presentation, and such a good idea for a society meeting. I'll have to look in to that here!

  2. My daughter spins, and dyes her own yarns and knits daily. If she has a moment to sit, she's spinning or knitting.

  3. I have many spinning and weaving friends, and I used to be a weaver. I donated my loom to our local Historical Society, so now I weave only during demonstration days. It is fascinating to have kids guess how long it took to make socks, blankets, shirts... they are amazed at the process...