Just a bit of a forward I was supposed to put some photos with this but as they never came my way and it seems a shame for me to lest this post go to waste, even if it’s a few months old. This is the end of our first set of weaving workshops before the winter holiday, I just wanted to add some finaly thoughts onto it, but as you see I never quite got around too it. However, better late than never. Here our my final thoughts on our first set of wrokshops, happy reading 🙂
As I have mentioned in a previous blog post this weaving course was the off-shot project of another course I was attending, this was a totally hands on workshop dealing with Bronze and Iron Age textile tools and how to use them, warping and weaving on the two beamed loom, as well as setting up the warp weighted loom. Those were the main projects, as well as preparing and spinning wool on various Bronze Age style drop spindles and the occasional modern one. Not only was it an opportunity for people to learn about textiles and textile archaeology it was a great place to have discussions around all parts of the history of textiles while learning the old ways of making textiles. No matter how many or few skills you have in working with textiles you will always learn something and speaking as someone who knows a fair amount regarding textiles, I still learned so much about working with, for instance the two beamed loom, as a modern weaver it was so great to be able to work on a style of loom that was used so many years ago. I think it’s just so amazing how advanced people were back then and I’m sure as time will tell they were even more advanced than we think.
As you can see this is very physical work, can you imagine how fit the people who were working as full time textile workers were? I would say that it was akin to what we would call today a “modern” athlete, a person of today would never been able to keep up with the physical capabilities of people in the Bronze Age. Simply from warping and weaving I can tell you that you have to sit in some very uncomfortable positions and you will have to jump up and down very frequently. Practically every time you want to change a shed. So to says that weaving is a very physical activity is an understatement to say the least and that leaves out all the the fiber preparation, something like hours of spinning really works your shoulders and arms so that you can be very sore after only an hour and you would have needed to spin upwards of 13,000 hours to get enough yarn to weave a single garment. The threads were also very fine, making them hard to see. As someone who already finds somethings hard to see I wonder how they worked that way, only during day light hours or by the light of a candle or fire of some kind, how would that have affected their eyes as they grew older and how old would a woman or a man be when they would be forced to stop weaving and move onto another occupation? These are just a few of the questions that I think to myself when I start weaving ans struggle with these things, it really gives you an shoulders of what it took to make a garment in the Bronze Age, but these things are things that you would never think about if you weren’t working with it yourself and experiencing the sore back or shoulder the next day or struggling to see the fine threads that you are weaving. It really opens up a whole new perspective to what life in the Bronze Age might have been like as a textile worker.
You really learn a lot from doing and I think that’s one of the reasons the workshops have worked out so well, as they are also very free, letting each person experiment with the things that they are interested in. This term we were only able to fit in a four part series, but since they worked out so well I know they will be back next semester to continue and expand these wonderful experiments.