Sheep, Socks and Wire Woollies at the Manchester Museum

This month’s Close Knit session, ‘Sheep, Socks and Wire Woollies’ was at the Manchester Museum, as part of the Manchester Science Festival. The Museum was extremely busy with all the festivities going on so we were up in the Resource Centre on the 3rd floor.

Anna Bunney curator of public programmes started the session and welcomed everyone to the museum. She talked a little bit about the museum’s collection which were on display for the purpose of the workshop and about making yarn from natural materials such as nettles. The collection display included showed the 10 stages from raw wool to yarn, woven camel hair and natural fibres including hemp all used for making textiles.

The session began properly with Jude beckett talking to the group about the wonders of spinning. She explained the process from beginning to end advising on the best type of sheep wool to use, sourcing raw wool from farms or EBay and about washing the coat. Jude had brought with her a number of different examples of hand spun wool in a variety of colours and types as well as different things she had made.

The demonstration started with carding which aligns all the fibres in one direction and fluffs them to make drafting easier. Jude’s friend Belinda had a hand-cranker with which she transferred the raw wool into fibres which Jude could begin spinning with.

Using a lot of hand, eye and foot coordination Jude fed these fibres into the spinning wheel creating even, smooth yarn. She made it look very easy and everyone at the workshop was very envious.

After the demonstration Jude invited some people to try out her wheel while other sat down and got on with some knitting.

There was a wide mix of abilities at the session form expert knitters to beginners including a 6 year old boy who came with his Mum and managed to knit a whole line. There were a variety of patterns available, including slugs, acorns and leaves for Ordsall Hall and older sock patterns from the Gallery of Costume.

Everyone had a great time and Jude inspired a new group of spinners.

For more information about spinning take a look at this spinning magazine:

Local groups include the Stockport Spinners who meet at The Plough in Heaton Moor on the first Tuesday night of each Month:

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