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  • cdfleiner

Partying like it's 1699 - Spinning at Little Woodham, Gosport 7 August 2022

Updated: Feb 25, 2023

I belong to a spinning and weaving guild that's based in Shawford, near Winchester (Hampshire Weavers, Spinners, Dyers). We sent along a few of our members to one of the open house Crafter Days at Little Woodham, a recreation of a 17th-century village where time is frozen in 1642.

(photo (C) 2022 Coral Newton)

It's staffed entirely by volunteers, and is part of an initiative to create a living history museum which has its origins in a two-week, temporary exhibition back in the 1980s. All the houses and buildings are reconstructions, and at the end of the exhibition, a petition was made to make the site a permanent learning centre.

Members volunteer their time to reenact in character a villager from this era when Charles I was king, and no one had any idea of civil war brewing, not in a little village far away from London.

Open House days allow other crafters in the area to come and show their wares and skills; the crafters on those days don't come in character or costume, hence our modern clothes.

Four of us came from the Guild; several members of the Guild are also members of the Village, and work in the spinners/weavers cottage.

Over the course of the afternoon we spoken to people about our wheels, and what spinning entailed socially. Coral Newton, the Guild's treasurer, is also an expert on small looms, especially rigid heddle, so she brought a couple of them along as well.

The group:

(photo (c) Coral Newton)

I brought my foldable Kromski Sonata wheel, the first time I've driven it in anger:

(Photo (c) Coral Newton)

For variety I brought my Bosworth book charkha, and sat in front of its cousin, a great wheel.

(photo (c) Coral Newton)

I spent some time demonstrating the great wheel; this wheel belongs to the site, and we had a bit of a discussion about it -- my guess is late 18th century oweing to the lack of a Miner's Head (which dates it before the 1820s) and very little in terms of metal parts -- just the wheel's axel. It's had some modification and replacement parts added over the years. The village spinner thinks it's also had its legs cut down, as you'd have to be a child or very short to spin comfortably on it for a long period of time.

(Photo (c) Jenny Lang)

I managed to lose, in the tall grass, my wheel's sley hook (which you use for pulling the yarn initially through the flier's orifice when you get started -- or break a thread), but my Guild colleague and the village blacksmith had a thorough search of the area, and he came up trumps.

(Photo (c) Coral Newton)


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