Thursday, February 28, 2013

Family Living Center (Spinning)

Here is where we do our wool & flax demonstration.  We have a cute little sheep to represent the sheep that were here in the 1840's.  During the summer he gets a  bit wobbly from all the little ones (and some big ones) who like to ride him.
We show how to card the wool.

We explain how the spinning was done but we don't actually do it.

Remember the song "Pop Goes the Weasel"?  Well this is the weasel they were singing about.  It's used to measure the wool after it is spun into yarn.  When a certain amount of yarn is wound on, it makes a popping sound.

After the yarn was spun, it was dyed using natural dyes.  My favorite is the red - they used Cochineal.  Anybody want to guess what that is? 

It's a red bug.  If you squish it, it explodes with this beautiful red dye.  Then they had to set the dye with vinegar, cream of tartar, alum, or salt.  Then they could make an article of clothing  with the yarn, but Nauvoo is VERY hot in the summer so I don't think wearing wool would be very comfortable. 
They had an alternative but it took a lot of time and work and patience.  Someone knew what to do with the flax that was growing around here.  It kind of looks like a weed and it has a really hard, tough stalk, but inside it has long, beautiful silky looking fibers.  It took up to two years to get them out.
They would soak it in water, beat it, and hackle it with this wicked looking hackle board.

After this two year process, they could make fine linen.  Linen is not as durable as wool but it is cooler.  It also would not hold a natural dye, so it always stayed that natural color. 
To get the best of both fibers, they wove the wool and the flax together and made linsey-woolsey.  They used a simple weaving pattern for clothing.

And they made beautiful things for their homes with more elaborate patterns.  All the home sites in Nauvoo have linsey-woolsey on the beds and some have tablecloths.
When I do this demonstration I usually ask the guests if they can think of a project that has taken a lot of time and patience.  The one I think of is raising children.  It certainly takes a lot longer than two years but it is soooooo worth it.  


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Family Living Center (weaving)

We have been assigned as assistant site leaders with another missionary couple at the Family Living Center for several months now.  We do 8 demonstrations of skills the people needed when they lived here in Nauvoo.  I'll tell you about them one at a time.


Elder Knudsen fell in love with the looms when we first arrived here and he has really learned the trade well.  He makes some really beautiful rugs for the sites and also for missionaries to take home as a souvenir of their mission.  It was the men who did the weaving in old Nauvoo so that's the way it's done now. 

He's also gotten really good at re-stringing them.  It takes a couple of days to do it and not many missionaries take enough interest to learn how.
There are two floor looms - one is 30 inches wide and the other is 38 inches wide.  These pictures were taken when he re-strung the big one.  It has 18 miles of string - 19 sets of 24 strings.  Here he is loading a set of 24 strings in the middle.  Elder Schkrohowsky is turning the warp head.  (He and his wife are from Boise).  He has to turn the handle 70 times for each set.

Here are some pictures as they progressed.



It's loaded.  Now comes the hard part.  They have to individually pass each thread through the eyelets in the heddles one at a time and tie them to the strings that were left from last time. 

Then they tie each set to a canvas.
When they get all the sets finished, they're ready to weave again.
When they finish several rugs, they unload them and the sisters tie little knots all along both edges so they don't unravel.

The sisters also keep the shuttles loaded.  We cut fabric into 3 inch strips, sew them all together and wind them on the shuttles.
Here's a finished rug.
And runner.

We also make beautiful shawls on a triangle loom.  It's pretty cool - as you weave one side it also weaves the other side, and you finish in the middle.  Then you add fringe  along the edges.
Before we came, only site leaders and assistant site leaders were allowed to weave on the floor looms.  But you know Elder Knudsen - he loves to teach.  So now, he teaches anyone who wants to learn (Elders that is)