Saturday, August 16, 2014


I hesitated saying this for a long time. But really... It's about time it was said.

I'm getting deep enough into my spinning training to really develop a great dislike for the words "it looks handspun". It's mostly because it's generally said of yarn that is slubby and bumpy, and generally, beginner yarns that will not wear well. We've all been at that point, but some people stay there thinking that's how it's supposed to look. It doesn't have to. Think about it. How long have machines been spinning yarn? 250 years. Yup. That's all.  It all started to be mechanized in 1764 with the invention of the Spinning Jenny.  And that still required human power.  The next invention was the Spinning Mule, which attached a water wheel to the Jenny, and of course required modifications, but still. That's 1779.  This information was found on wikipedia.
Now, how long have humans been spinning by hand for? Oh, around 20000 years. Yeah. That's right. 20000 years.  Nearly every single garment was handspun, and hand woven or hand knit, or otherwise. The few exceptions being things made of hide or felt. And even those were done by hand with no machines involved. And think of the garments they wore in the early 1700s, and even before that. Here, let me provide you examples.

Clothing circa 1700's  (google image search)

Clothing circa 1600's  (google image search)

Clothing circa 1500's (google image search)

And just to be sure, one more link, showing actual fabric from the mid 1400's. Undies, no less.

Do you see what I'm getting at? There is no way that the yarns spun for these garments were slubby, bumpy, or uneven. Think about how fine they had to be spun to drape that way, to fold that way. Look at the ruff's on the women in the 1600's.  That is lace. Handspun, hand made lace. And a lot of it. Look at the voluminous skirts. I'm sure they draped and moved like our finest man made materials, made with chemicals on fully mechanized spinning set ups. Only they were made with hand spun yarn, made of natural materials that went through a more natural and time consuming process of preparation.

  It's high time that handspun yarns get rid of the beginner yarn stigma and people start to realize that it doesn't have to be like that, and that from very early on in civilization yarn was spun for perfection and evenness.  Goodness knows that the women who would have to slave away at the wheel and spindle wouldn't have gotten away with spinning slubby yarn.

I'm not claiming perfection myself.  I'm far from spinning yarns to the standards of the 1700's and earlier.  But I know I'm no longer spinning slubby, rough and pilling yarn.  And I'll take the "it looks machine spun" as a complement, as it's intended, because people are still of the mindset that machine can do a better job then humans.  One skein at a time, I'll knock down the stigma of handspun.

/steps off soapbox


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