I told him, "The Finns don't have blue sheep, however, they've got Mervi" (of the Hibernaatiopesäke blog).
|Jaala sheep's wool, dyed with woad.|
|The wool: very soft and short-stapled. And blue.|
Wool cards arrived in Europe during the later part of the 13th century, probably borrowed from the Islamic cotton industries in Spain or Sicily. Some historians argue that cards were being used as early as mid-11th century, but, according to Munro, it's unclear whether they refer to wool cards or fullers' cards, used to raise a nap on fulled cloth. Wool cards, as we know them, were quickly banned from use in many (not all) of the professional textile centres around Europe, at least for the production of high-quality cloth. In some places, carded wool was allowed in the weft yarn, but not for the warp (just like the use of the great wheel for spinning the thread). Later, in the 15th century, several of these bans were lifted, although many producers continued using only combed wool for their cloths. (Munro 2003, in The Cambridge History of Western Textiles).
This information is all about wool cards and their use in professional cloth production. But how widespread was the use of cards (and the great wheel, for that matter) among everyday spinners, who didn't spin for the big textile centres? When was the use of cards established in my native Sweden? Did we even use them here in medieval times?! I haven't managed to answer any of these questions. It doesn't help that in both English and German, the medieval word for cards/karden is also used for the teasel heads more commonly associated with raising the nap on fulled cloth. Some books (and about 10 million webpages) actually refer to teasels being used for carding wool, too, but I'm not entirely convinced. I've yet to see a reliable source, or someone who's actually carded a whole fleece with teasels. I have a suspicion that the strain of carding raw wool would be a bit too much for the teasels, but then again, I might be wrong.
(please prove me wrong! either with a good, solid reference or by a practical test. I have a bunch of teasel heads from Dipsacus sativus - the cultivated teasel that is used for finishing cloth - but no time to try them out myself at the moment...)
Anyway. The questions above, together with my general interest in trying things out, made me reach for my combs rather than my cards to prepare the very short Jaala wool. Here's the result.
|The short and slubby leftovers and the combed rolled-up fibres, ready to spin.|
Most of the leftover fibres are only a couple of centimetres or less, so I will first draft them into a fluffy semi-thread by hand before taking them to the spindle. It makes the short and lumpy wool easier to handle, but it also takes a lot of time and I have several hours left before I'm finished. So, back to work, and a great big thank you! to Mervi for giving me the spinning blues... ;-)
|A spindleful of blue, and the beginnings of the last batch.|
Teasels for carding - a myth?
Teasels: a quick note
Jenkins, David T. (red.). 2003. The Cambridge history of western textiles. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.