geekin' on yarn, parenting, & whatever else comes up.



October 2006



Interconnecting Fibers

Written by , Posted in Legacy

As a clever ruse to cover the fact that I’ve done nearly no knitting in the past…oh, I dunno…weeks?, I have some images to show you that I found this past weekend.

I was building the new banner for this blog, and in the process I went looking for some images from Corbis.com, which is a site that offers royalty-free images to web programmers and graphic artists and really anybody who will register and/or pay, as required. The good news when building blog graphics is that the smallest iteration of the images are free to download, provided that the photographer in question, where available, is credited.

So. Onward to the actual POINT at hand. 🙂

I found the most amazing images, from all across the world and through time, depicting people spinning fiber into yarn. Men, women, then, now — it’s mind-boggling.

So in my next few posts, since I have little else of substance to share, I thought I’d share some of these amazing images with you. If you have images of your own to share, I hope you’ll blog them or answer with them here!

Today, I wanted to show you the coolest looking contraption:

This image, which was not credited, is the "Self-Portrait of Archduchess Maria Christina", and is listed as 18th century. What caught my interest with this — aside from the fact that it’s a self-portrait! — is that teeny tiny spinning wheel in her lap. A LAP spinning wheel? SO cool! And teeny! Yes, I’m easily amused by small, shiny (or gleaming) objects.

She appears to be turning the wheel by the wee crank (and oh the Google hits I may get from THAT one! Et tu, Mark Foley? Et tu?), spinning the fiber off the attached distaff, and winding on to the bobbin. I would love to see a diagram of a contraption like that from several angles, because it is just entirely too intriguing for words.

Speaking of diagrams, there was another 17th/18th century image I wanted to show you today:

This image, "Diagram of Spinner’s Workshop",  is from a 1770 book entitled the Dictionary of Sciences. The image from the book was taken by Phillip de Bay. In it, they show an image of daily work undertaken in the shop, and then below are diagrams of a single-treadle spinning wheel that appears to work with the spinner standing; a yarn swift with a very cool spindle-turned base, a few illustrations of flyer apparatus and distaffs, an interesting configuration of a niddy-noddy, and then something I can’t identify, but that may be a plying apparatus.

I love to find images of this kind in part because the renaissance faire costumer and researcher in me adores historical "evidence" of the objects of my obsessions. But also, it is marvelous to see how connected we, the "new" crafty generation, are to our forebears.

I have several more images to share with you, and I hope you find them at least marginally interesting, even though I currently don’t have knitting (or quilting, or cross stitch, or really anything else) to show you for the next week or two. I figure it is theoretically better than radio silence, but I may be wrong — so you can feel free to let me know if you’d rather I just shut up. 🙂


  1. YarnGeek

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