The time I invested in this project gave me a unique perspective on the amount of work our predecessors invested in a single piece of clothing. The whole of the project took over 200 hours from the spinning to the dyeing to the weaving and the sewing – and I took a significant short-cut using prepared wool and a spinning wheel. It is difficult to put into words how much respect I have for the women who had to make all of their garments from the sheep to the spindle to the loom by their own hands. The spinning is the most time-consuming part of any textile. While I spent only 100 hours spinning the yarn on my spinning wheel, I could easily have spent 300 hours or more using a spindle to spin, let alone preparing the fiber. The weaving took very little time when compared to the spinning and the sewing even less time. With the time spent in mind, I think I better understand how and why the cyrtel was cut so as not to waste any of the precious time invested in the creation of the fabric.
What would I change were I to do this over again?
I would do a better job at laying out the garment and fitting before I started spinning. As a result of inaccurate planning I had an extra three yards of fabric left over from this project. A mantle for me!
I would dye the warp with the Queen Anne’s Lace and the weft with madder. The madder is more expensive and harder to obtain. I would have had a better color result dyeing less fiber. I would also have soaked the madder for a longer period of time.
I would spin finer and set the warp at a minimum of 36 ends per inch. Fabrics in period were very fine indeed and I would like to reflect that.
I hope this project illustrates the time-consuming nature of textiles. From the spinning to the weaving to the sewing I invested over 200 hours. I had some benefits of technology (a spinning wheel) and used prepared wool, but in the end it is a product of my hands, my heart and my mind and that is what really connects me to the spinners and weavers from a long time ago.