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  • Justin
    ... Knitting is as old as mankind, weaving too, do you think it was a guild issue that had professionals making fabric? I don t think it could have been a
    Message 1 of 7 , May 3, 2006
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      >
      >
      > >Now back in the day, the
      > >middle classes could buy a new outfit once in a while I suppose, and the
      > >poorer classes had to weave and sew new clothes them selves.
      > >
      > Actually, I believe _weaving_ was done by professionals for most of the
      > middle ages.
      >


      Knitting is as old as mankind, weaving too, do you think it was a guild
      issue that had professionals making fabric? I don't think it could have been
      a know-how issue that would prevent the masses from making their own clothes
      and fabric.

      I would think that it would be difficult for poor serfs and peasants locked
      in communal strip farming would be able to go out and get fabric, wouldn't
      it be more feasable to have access to raw wool or flax and then make the
      stuff your self during the long winters when all the boys are off fighting
      wars?

      I know some fabrics were imported, but I'm talking about day to day wear of
      the lower and middle classes mainly. I'm looking for books on the matter
      because it is my current obsession.

      -J


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • msgilliandurham
      ... Spinning requires a drop spindle or at best a spinning wheel. Weaving fabric of any width requires a *honking* big loom -- not the sort of thing you have
      Message 2 of 7 , May 4, 2006
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        --- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com, Justin <warriorneedsfood@...> wrote:

        > Knitting is as old as mankind, weaving too, do you think it was a
        > guild issue that had professionals making fabric?

        Spinning requires a drop spindle or at best a spinning wheel. Weaving
        fabric of any width requires a *honking* big loom -- not the sort of
        thing you have room for in a one- or two- room hovel :-)

        But that's a good point, did people who spun their own yard then farm
        it out to someone with a loom? or did they just make not-very-wide
        strips of cloth on a tabletop loom of some kind?

        Gillian [envisioning something like a potholder loom or an inkle loom,
        only slightly bigger] Durham
      • Maggie Forest
        speaking from a Scandinavian perspective here and generalising ... it doesn t need to be honking. A warp-weighted loom takes up little room and we know was a
        Message 3 of 7 , May 4, 2006
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          speaking from a Scandinavian perspective here and generalising
          heavily:

          >Spinning requires a drop spindle or at best a spinning wheel. Weaving
          >fabric of any width requires a *honking* big loom -- not the sort of
          >thing you have room for in a one- or two- room hovel :-)

          it doesn't need to be honking. A warp-weighted loom takes up little
          room and we know was a feature of many farms for a very long time -
          right up to modern times in places like western Norway. During the
          early period most fabric was home-produced - as the economy changed
          and the introduction of the horizontal loom industrialised the
          production of cloth, more clothing fabric was purchased as prices
          came down and availability went up, but things like blankets and
          packing cloth were still produced at home. Perhaps the fabric for the
          sunday best was purchased at the local market, or perhaps even
          ready-made, but undoubtedly fabric ultimately meant for every-day
          clothing was also produced on the farms.

          When things were utterly worn out, fabric was used for all sorts of
          other things; insulation in walls, ships, as toilet paper, as
          footwrappings (Bocksten man had a part of an old tunic wrapped around
          his foot), as padding, remade into childrens' clothing, nappies...
          There were no paper products around like today, and just like
          horn/antler was that day's plastic, fabric rags were the paper towels
          of the time.

          The urban situation is a bit different, and the urbanisation somewhat
          coincides with the industrialisation. I think there's a stronger
          stratification in the urban setting, but you also have to remember
          that there was a flourishing trade in second-hand clothing, and while
          your servant-classes probably couldn't afford to buy new fabric or
          clothing, they a) were usually given clothing as part of their
          payment, and b) had access to second-hand traders. I think it more
          likely that they got their clothing that way than from reconstituting
          old clothes themselves.

          >But that's a good point, did people who spun their own yard then farm
          >it out to someone with a loom? or did they just make not-very-wide
          >strips of cloth on a tabletop loom of some kind?

          Spinning was contracted out - the professional weavers purchased the
          work. So it worked the other way around.

          /maggie
        • kelyn_of_broceliande
          ... They set the loom up outside, where they had more space and better light to see by, too. -- Kelyn
          Message 4 of 7 , May 4, 2006
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            --- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com, "msgilliandurham"
            <msgilliandurham@...> wrote:
            > Spinning requires a drop spindle or at best a spinning wheel. Weaving
            > fabric of any width requires a *honking* big loom -- not the sort of
            > thing you have room for in a one- or two- room hovel :-)
            >
            > But that's a good point, did people who spun their own yard then farm
            > it out to someone with a loom? or did they just make not-very-wide
            > strips of cloth on a tabletop loom of some kind?

            They set the loom up outside, where they had more space and better
            light to see by, too.

            -- Kelyn
          • Chris Laning
            ... Um, not quite. Weaving is quite old, but humans had clothes before weaving (think animal skins, bark cloth etc.). Knitting, on the other hand, was a hot
            Message 5 of 7 , May 4, 2006
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              At 12:01 AM -0500 5/4/06, Justin wrote:
              >Knitting is as old as mankind, weaving too,

              Um, not quite. Weaving is quite old, but humans had clothes before
              weaving (think animal skins, bark cloth etc.).

              Knitting, on the other hand, was a "hot" new technology in the Middle
              Ages -- probably invented somewhere in the Mediterranean area after
              the Moslem conquest (the earliest dated pieces seem to be around the
              9th to 11th centuries). There were other textile technologies earlier
              that may _look_ like knitting or crocheting, but aren't either one.

              >do you think it was a guild
              >issue that had professionals making fabric? I don't think it could have been
              >a know-how issue that would prevent the masses from making their own clothes
              >and fabric.

              No, as I understand it the primary reason for ordinary people not
              doing their own weaving is that a loom was a big capital investment.
              Production looms for making yardage were also big and took up space,
              and the sort of horizontal-beam loom used "industrially" in the
              Middle Ages was something of a high-tech instrument requiring
              specialized parts. People certainly understood how weaving was done,
              and had simple "heddle" looms for making belts and straps, but not
              usually anything big enough to make clothes out of.

              People do, on the other hand, seem to have done spinning for
              themselves fairly often. My understanding is that it was fairly
              common for people to spin up the yarn for a blanket, say, and take it
              to a weaver who would weave it into cloth either for money or for a
              percentage of the spun yarn as their fee.

              Another often overlooked factor is that people in much of medieval
              Europe had ways to buy used clothing -- cities in particular had
              thriving markets in secondhand clothes. So all but the poorest could
              purchase _some_ clothing.

              >I would think that it would be difficult for poor serfs and peasants locked
              >in communal strip farming would be able to go out and get fabric, wouldn't
              >it be more feasable to have access to raw wool or flax and then make the
              >stuff your self during the long winters when all the boys are off fighting
              >wars?

              On the other hand, they demonstrably _did_ go to local markets and
              fairs within a few miles of their homes, on a pretty regular basis,
              where they would indeed have been able to buy cloth. I suspect a lot
              of less well-off people may have _sewed_ the clothing for themselves
              and their families, but weaving their own cloth for clothing is much
              less likely.

              The evidence from American pioneer and European farm families in
              later centuries, BTW, is that they may indeed have been weaving
              _some_ cloth at home, but that it was almost entirely for furnishings
              and home textiles rather than clothing -- things like towels,
              blankets, and linens.

              --
              ____________________________________________________________

              O (Lady) Christian de Holacombe , Shire of Windy Meads
              + Kingdom of the West - Chris Laning <claning@...>
              http://paternoster-row.org - http://paternosters.blogspot.com
              ____________________________________________________________
            • Justin
              ... Do you think that the need for utility rags kept people from deconstructing and respinning the fibers of clothing into new thread or yarn for making new
              Message 6 of 7 , May 4, 2006
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                >
                >
                > >But that's a good point, did people who spun their own yard then farm
                > >it out to someone with a loom? or did they just make not-very-wide
                > >strips of cloth on a tabletop loom of some kind?
                >
                > Spinning was contracted out - the professional weavers purchased the
                > work. So it worked the other way around.
                >


                Do you think that the need for utility rags kept people from deconstructing
                and respinning the fibers of clothing into new thread or yarn for making new
                fabric or knitting (respectively) ?

                -J


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Beth and Bob Matney
                ... Naalbinding and sprang examples exist since at least late Iron Age (Roman) times in N. Europe. Knitting, however, is much later. The earliest that I have
                Message 7 of 7 , May 5, 2006
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                  >From: "Justin" warriorneedsfood@...
                  >Date: Wed May 3, 2006 10:06pm(PDT)
                  >
                  >Knitting is as old as mankind, weaving too, do you think it was a guild
                  >issue that had professionals making fabric?

                  Naalbinding and sprang examples exist since at least late Iron Age (Roman)
                  times in N. Europe. Knitting, however, is much later. The earliest that I
                  have heard of in N. Europe (Baltic) is 13th C.

                  It is not a guild issue that restricted weaving to professionals through
                  most of the SCA period. Guilds were relatively late (with the horizontal
                  loom) and were an urban organization.

                  >I would think that it would be difficult for poor serfs and peasants
                  >locked in communal strip farming would be able to go out and get fabric,
                  >wouldn't it be more feasable to have access to raw wool or flax and then
                  >make the stuff your self during the long winters when all the boys are off
                  >fighting wars?

                  There are two distinct periods to weaving wide goods and the social
                  structures relating to it in N. Europe:
                  1) The time of the warp-weighted and two-beam looms: at this time weaving
                  is a women's and primarily domestic craft. Excess production and
                  specialties were traded (in some cases extreme distances) but were usually
                  traded as garments rather than "yard goods". These included tunics from
                  Egypt ("Coptic") and the famous "Frisian Cloaks". Charlemaine ordered
                  cloaks from England.
                  2) The time of the horizontal loom: We don't know exactly when this loom
                  came to N. Europe but at least by the 13th C. (some authors put it as early
                  as the 9th C). It was a man's urban trade and production of yard goods was
                  the goal. This lead to the guilds.
                  Women and girls spun. They did it every free minute that could be found. If
                  they did not have fiber of their own, they were hired at piece-work and
                  were supplied. Serious source of family income in urban and rural areas.

                  >I know some fabrics were imported, but I'm talking about day to day wear of
                  >the lower and middle classes mainly. I'm looking for books on the matter
                  >because it is my current obsession.

                  After the horizontal loom, large quantities of cloth were trades
                  international distances. The cheaper grades of cloth were usually sold
                  closer to production, but starting in the 14th C increasing amounts of low
                  cost fustians (lined warp/ cotton weft) were produced in N. Italy (later in
                  Germany) and shipped everywhere. I strongly recommend that you read

                  The Italian Cotton Industry in the Later Middle Ages, 1100 - 1600.
                  Mazzaoui, Maureen Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1981 ISBN: 0521230950.

                  There are many books examining the textile industries of the middle ages
                  from an economics viewpoint. Most research has focused on the luxury trade
                  (ie silk and high grade wool). If you want some titles, let me know.

                  Beth of Walnutvale
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