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Fiber Demo for Scottish Faire

Poster: "Terry L. Neill" <Neilltl@ptsc.slg.eds.com>

mn13189@WCUVAX1.WCU.EDU wrote:

>I'm in charge of working on
>displays and tings like that that may interest the kids, and involve
>Scottish history and culture.

One thing Ana Ilevna and I do at demos is 'sheep to yarn' (since neither of us

We explain it thusly:

Here is wool right off the sheep, ready to be washed.
(Sample of yellow, greasy, raw suffolk wool - they can feel it if they want.)

Here is wool that has been washed, it's ready to be combed.
(Sample of white wool full of bits of bracken and straw.)

(Ana Ilevna combs wool.) (We seldom let the kids comb.  The combs are SHARP and
the kids tend to be rather cavalier about them.)

Here is a roving that has been combed, it's ready to spin.
(Sample of fluffy white roving.)

(Anarra spins.)

Here is yarn that has been spun, it's ready to be used as sewing thread or
woven into cloth.

(An explanation of the difference between woolen yarns and worsted yarns goes
here if they ask about carding as opposed to combing wool.)

Here are samples of colors one can get from natural dyes.  There were no
chemical dyes in the Middle Ages.  All the color in cloth had to be obtained
from plants, mollusks or insects.  These colors were obtained using woad, onion
skins and brazilwood.  The different hues happen because the fibers were _
mordanted_ in different metal salts.  For color to bind itself to the fiber,
the fiber must be simmered in a bath of water and metal salt.  This is called
_Mrodanting_. These fibers were mordanted in copper, alum (aluminum) or Tin. 
And some of the fibers we didn't mordant so you can see how pale the shade is
without a mordant.

(Here we have color cards made at a dyeing workshop held by Lady Magdalena d'

Dyeing can occur at any stage after combing.  Dye in the wool, dye in the yarn,
dye in the cloth.  The earlier in the process you dye the fiber, the more
evenly colored the resulting cloth will be.

Spinning is easy.  Would you like to try?

(Anarra shows children how to spin.)

I show the kids how to spin by standing them in front of me, facing outwards.
 I bring my hands around in front of them and show them what I'm doing, while
explaining that I draw the roving with my left hand whilst pinching with my
right hand so the spin doesn't travel beyond where I pinch.

Then I let them do it with my help.  Then I let them do it on their own.  I
keep the spindle turning so they can concentrate on drawing out the roving.

After they're done, I show them and their parents the length of yarn they spun
themselves.  I have my picture taken a lot at that point.

Adults want to try, too, so I'm not shy about asking them to give it a shot.

Sheep are endemic to Scotland.  A Fiber demo would fit into what you're doing

Good Luck!

        - Anarra
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