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'Their thread of life is spun': A Spinning Workshop

The instructor is stood wearing a mask and demonstrating spinning tehnique.Directed by Carey Fleiner

When: Tuesday 04 July, 19.00-21.00
Where: University House: Beechgrove Room
Price: £52.50

One of the oldest of the textile arts, spinning involves creating yarn by drawing out and twisting together fibres. For many people in the 21st century, spinning is primarily the stuff of fairy tales – princesses fall into an enchanted slumber after pricking their fingers on spindles or sinister creatures spin straw into gold. In Greek mythology, the Fates control destiny by spinning, and then cutting, the thread of each life. Throughout the medieval period, however, spinning was an essential part of textile production, producing thread by hand that can then be woven into cloth, with the spindle and the distaff serving as symbols of femininity.

In this two-hour workshop, participants will learn about the basics of spinning wool on a hand spindle. The workshop will begin with a short talk on the basics of sorting a fleece, what is staple, and a look at the tools used for combing and carding wool for spinning. Participants will practice carding wool into rolags (small, fluffed rolls of fibre prepared for spinning), and then learn the basics of drafting and creating a twist, as they work their way up to hand spindles. Finally, the workshop will finish up with further information on setting the twist and plying the yarn.

Whilst the workshop works mainly with top-whorl spindles, there will be opportunities to talk about and handle other types of spindles, which may include medieval, French, support, and Turkish spindles.

All materials, including wool and top-whorl spindle, will be supplied, and participants will be able to keep their spindle. No previous experience of any sort of textile work is needed.

Carey Fleiner is currently Senior Lecturer in Classical (Roman) History at the University of Winchester. Her areas of research include Roman women and entertainment and sport in the Classical world. She learnt to embroider, knit, and crochet as a child, and later learnt spinning, weaving, and nalbinding. She has exhibited and won awards for her work especially throughout the United States. She is keen on the history of textiles and techniques of all sorts, especially in the Classical period. In practice, she enjoys cotton-spinning on the charkha, wool-combing, and working with exotic fibres and blends.

Visit her website: and follow her on Twitter and Instragram @AugustaAtrox.

This workshop can only accommodate a limited number of participants. Early booking is recommended.