Group F: Wool Lab Data


The steps we performed: (see corresponding images below)

  1. Alejandra had warped the loom for us. We used the shuttle stick to separate the warp, moving over-under-over-under each thread of the warp. 
  2. Once we’d moved the shuttle stick through each thread of the warp, we rotated the shuttle stick and moved it towards the top of the loom, where the loom’s tension held it in place.  This created a large enough gap in the warp to perform our next step.
  3. We pushed the shuttle (which was threaded with yarn) through the gap in the warp. We did not pull it tightly through.
  4. We pushed the thread of yarn so that it sat in a loose v-shape inside of the loom. We removed the shuttle stick from its propped position.
  5. Then we used a wooden comb to tamp the new strand of yarn, from the middle of the strand outward. This pushed it down towards the other strands so that it formed a part of the weft!

Qualitative observations and quantitative notes about the process:

  • Our loom was small and made of wood.  The shuttle and comb were wooden as well.
  • The loom had 57 notches along the top to hold the warp, and each notch was 1/4 inch apart.  
  • The loom was 36 inches wide.
  • The comb was 3 and 7/8 in wide. A longer comb might have been more convenient.
  • Our loom lacked a heddle which would have made the process much easier. The viking loom from the previous Experimental Archeology class did have this.
  • Our loom created a ‘balanced tapestry’ but an example of a textile that Alejandra showed us was a ‘weft-facing’ tapestry.
  • For the yarn and loom we were using, 1 inch height of woven weft corresponded to 10 rows of yarn.
  • To have a more durable fabric, Alejandra said you would need more warp threads per square inch. This is called a higher EPI (ends per inch) or thread count.

There were lots of new words for me in this part of the lab, so I’m including a section on relevant definitions:

  • Warp: the horizontal threads you are weaving on the loom
  • Weft: the loom is strung with the weft; these are the vertical threads on the loom
  • Shuttle: a long flat wooden spool that holds the yarn to be incorporated into the weft.
  • Shuttle Stick: piece of wood the same length as the loom that you use to separate the warp threads.
  • Heddle: an additional part that some looms have which threads the shuttle stick for you so that you do not have to manually separated the warp by going over-under-over-under.
  • Tamping: pushing the new thread of weft down 
  • Weft-facing vs. balanced tapestry: weft-facing tapestries occur when the weft is much thicker thread than the warp.  The warp becomes invisible and only the weft can be seen.  In a balanced tapestry like ours, both warp and weft are visible.


The steps we performed: (see corresponding images below)

  1. Put raw wool 1/3 of the way onto the hand carders. 
  2. Comb the wool, flipping and moving the wool from one card to another as you progress.
  3. Stop when the strands of wool have stretched out and look homogenous; no clumps of wool.

Qualitative observations and quantitative notes about the process:

  • Carding requires physical strength. 
  • There is the most potential for loss of material due to inexperience here (I wish I had thought of weighing roving before and after carding to determine wool lost in the process).
  • Jake told us that long strands of roving (like the roving Alejandra provided to us) was created by skilled carding.   The longer we carded our wool the more elongated the strands became.
  • In half an hour Amalia thoroughly carded 10 grams of wool.  This measurement isn’t so helpful we realized though, because you can always card wool for longer to achieve better results.
  • Variation in wool resulted in different observations from my group members about the carding process:
    • Jacob: brown and white; soft and some clumps; easier to card into long strands
    • Leicester Longwool: white; soft and less clumps; easier to card into long strands
    • Soay: brown; wiry and clumpy; hard to card into long strands


The steps we performed: (see corresponding images below)

  1. Knot the ends of the leader together to make a loop, hook this around the spindle and push it towards the spindle weight.
  2. Wrap it clockwise up the shaft of the spindle and secure it twice around the hook at the top.
  3. Pull a small bit of roving out of your bundle. Thread it through the loop of the leader.
  4. Spin the spindle clockwise until the leader and then the wool picks up some of this tension and twists as well.
  5. Park your spindle on a hard surface. Move your fingers up the wool while thinning the roving as you go.  Then stop, hold your fingers in place, and watch as the twist climbs up your roving.
  6. Pick up your spindle and spin it clockwise again, creating more tension, and continue the process.
  7. When the yarn gets long, wrap it around the shaft of the spindle.
  8. Add more roving at any time by using your fingers and the twist of the spindle to attach the threads.

Qualitative observations and quantitative notes about the process:

  • The most social part of the lab.  This was the only part of the lab where conversation among my group members turned to matters outside of the activity we were occupied with.
  • I measured Samantha and my spinning progress.  This data also has to do with our personal skill levels and the weight of the yarn we were spinning:
    • Luisa: spinning Leicester Longwool.  3 grams roving yielded 26 inches of avg. 1/4 inch wide yarn.
    • Samantha: spinning Jacobs. 8 grams roving yielded 38.7 feet of avg. 1/16 inch wide yarn.
    • (This shows also how drastically yarn weight affects the length of yarn you are able to achieve).
  • We also weighed Samantha’s yarn before and after spinning which produced a curious result (roving lost in the process?):
    • Before: 8 grams (of roving)
    • After: 7 grams (of spun yarn using only that roving)
  • We noticed that combining Soay yarn with longer-stranded yarn like Jacobs or Leicester Longwool made the Soay easier to spin into a homogenous string.

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