February 3, 2008

Medieval Loom

Filed under: Events,Science and Art,Sewing — sarah @ 10:04 am

At the moment the Museum and Art Gallery in Cheltenham has an exhibite called Medieval Machines which I took my two year old to. Whilst there I became intreged by this loom.

medieval loom

The long threads attatched to the frame are called the wrap – these are the ones running along the leanth of the loom that you weave the wool in and out of. The way this loom is set up there is a treddle which appears to be the treadle bar at the bottom though I wouldn’t swear to that and a heddle which I think was the flate panel of wood in the middle that had the string running though it, alternatively in slots or wholes. When the peadle was pressed down it raised this panel so that the strings going through the wholes where raised whilst those in the slots stayed in the same place. This ment that instead of weaving in and out, over and under each alternate thread you could just pushed the thread though the middle and then either put your foot on or off of the pedle and repeat the process.

peddle down

The presance of the heddle is too allow both hands to be free for moving the thread backwards and forwards.

the resultsThe resulting weave though some ones obviously not followed the instructions here!

There was also a piece of wood with rounded ‘teeth’ cut out of it along one side – this was the comb. This was used to push the threads down into place so that they sat flush against the previous row. The would make the fabric far neater I think.

The wool its self was wrapped around a wooden plank with two longer slightly curved pieces of wood either side that looked like runners on a sled. This is called the shuttle and makes moving the thread through alot easier. The wall that was rapped around the shuttle I think is called the weft.

There was also some information about the general history of weaving and looms. He is what I learned:

Apparently weaving begain with farming in the Neolithic which was about 10, 000 years ago. Origonally looms where upright with the long threads known as the wrap hanging down weighted by stones to keep them tuaght.

The clever teddle/heddle thing appeared to be a middle ages thing and allowed better efficiency with both hands being used to move the shuttle (wooden block with the thread, wool etc… rapped around it). Later on several heddle rods – the middle panel thing with the slots and wholes in (I think) where used to make complecated patterns.

This next bit is sort of about textile history in general but I thought it was quiet interesting in a handicraft sort of way!

Textiles it turns out were the most important industry apart from agriculture in medieval times. This was especially the case in places like Northern History and Flanders (which I think might have been part of Spain).

England origonally was just a wool merchant but then we got interested and started making our own stuff. I personally wonder about the rest of the UK did they develope their own textile industries around this time too?

To my suprise the spinning wheel did not reach Europe until about 1300 years ago. It migrated from the Middle East and helped the textile industries emmensly by increasing thread production.

Obviously I have parraphrased alot of this from stuff I read at the museum and from other things I have read since going to the exhibition.

Unfortunatly it is only there until the 8th of MArch 2008 but if you can catch the exhibite then it is lots of fun 🙂 I have also made some scetches that I hope to add to this post at some future date.

Wiki links that are interesting reguarding this:

One response to “Medieval Loom”

  1. […] also had a medieval loom which I have used for a blog post. We also had a little look around some of the rest of the museum […]

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