session focuses on clothing production, from identifying and spinning
the fibres to weaving, then cutting and sewing the cloth. The two
main fibres used were wool and linen.
The children can see some raw fleece, then
help to wash it with 'marrow-soap' - a gentle soap made from bone
marrow and wee filtered through ash and straw! (Really it's just
soap flakes.) Carding and combing come next, using replica
wool combs and modern wool carders.
Linen comes from the flax plant and is
grown tall to maximise the length of the fibres. The children can
see the dried stems and learn how they get to that point. Linen
production is long and complicated! First, they will help to 'break'
the stems - either by hand (AS, V,N) or with the 'brake'
(M). Then they will 'scutch' the fibres by scraping
them down the scutching board with the scutching knife (made of
wood). Then they will observe the heckle being used, and
finally, they will comb the fibres to straighten them.
this point the fibre may have been dyed, and I show the children
some of the dyestuffs used. I will then demonstrate both the
hand-spinning of wool and flax from the distaff to make
thread. (Fibre or thread could have been dyed). Hand-spinning is
quite tricky so I keep this to just a demonstration.
children can have a go weaving using card squares and I show
them how my 'warp-weighted loom' works. It's very tricky
weaving on this, so I keep it to just a demonstration.
at the very end, I show the children the tools that would
be used to cut and sew their cloth.
skeleton of Bernuthsfeld Man was discovered in 1907 during peat
cutting in Hogehahn bog in Lower Saxony, Germany. The body was wrapped
in several garments, including a sleeved tunic made from 43 pieces
of textile and two long leg wrappings. Bernuthsfeld Man died
between A.D. 660 and 870.