This is a copy of a painting on a Greek vase from about 500BCE. You can see they're using what's called a warp-weighted loom, and the shuttle is, yup, a stick wrapped with thread. It was this picture - and the chopsticks I use in my hair - that made me think to use one. I'm not that clever; I just read a lot.
To entertain y'all, I looked up some dates about spinning, since it's far more ancient and widespread than knitting is. The problem is the same with dating knitting, only moreso; no one saved their everyday clothes for posterity, and weather and circumstance cause textiles of all kinds, and many of the tools used to make them, to rot into the ground. But still. There's some interesting stuff.
The oldest spindles I could find a record of, specifically, were these, from Egypt, dating back to about 1550BCE. They spun and wove linen, of course (their religion stated that sheep were 'unclean'), so there was no need to wait for the domestication of any wool animals, or the breeding of animals that bear spinnable wool. Everyone's fairly certain spinning goes back a lot further, but those are some of the oldest spindles recovered so far. I think the tool at the bottom is some kind of bobbin or niddy-noddy; no one can agree on it.
Of course, you don't really need a spindle or anything else to spin, depending on what you plan to do with the string you produce. It's thought that basket weavers far back into the stone age would twist bits of fiber together and use them to secure their materials before the weaving started to stablize them.
Then there are the string skirts. This one is from Denmark, from about 1300BCE. I suspect it could be produced without a spindle or anything except maybe a simple stick to wind twisted fibers onto. It is made of wool. This one is from the bronze age, but there are statuettes going all the way back to over 20,000 years ago, depicting women wearing these string skirts. (The Willendorf Venus is probably the most famous of these.) Textile experts claim that some of the carvings imply that the strings they're made from are spun - frayed ends on the skirt fringe.
I betcha spinning is WAY older than weaving.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
A spot of history.
Everyone seemed to think I was terribly clever to think of using a chopstick as a shuttle, but really, through most of weaving's history, the shuttles really were sticks wrapped with yarn or fabric. Check it out:
at 1:42 PM