Home » Uncategorized » Knotting frames and hand spinning

Knotting frames and hand spinning

This afternoon I performed a selection of Weaving Yarns poems and songs at a local residential care home where I met a Setter, a Weaver and a Picker (who started out during the war working on munitions in a carpet factory when she first left school). It was very rewarding seeing the responses to my performance, and the knowledge I have built up over the past year or so enabled me to have meaningful conversations with carpet industry experts!

When I first visited the Museum Archive well over a year ago, I came across a photo which intrigued me. It was a long line of girls seated at a very wide hand loom. I didn’t know exactly what I was for a long time until on June 6th I went to one of the regular “Meet Melvyn” events to hear Melvyn Thompson talking about hand knotting.

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Part way through his talk, the photo in question appeared on the screen and it all made sense! It’s a Brintons 40 foot loom for hand-knotted carpets (second photo below). The talk was fascinating, and at my workshop following it, I started a poem. The finished piece is below.

Oriental Knot40ft loom

Knotting frames
for Melvyn Thompson who solved the mystery

There’s a line
from Turkey to Kidderminster
girl after girl after girl

tucking tiny fingers
between the warp threads
posed and squashed on solid planks

buckled legs preserved in knots per inch
following a pattern
to last a lifetime

© Heather Wastie
June 2013

During another of my workshops, I watched Elizabeth sitting at her wheel and spinning. Sadly I didn’t take a photo of her.

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I listened to what she had to say and wrote a poem for her:

Hand Spinning
for Elizabeth Gelhard

Lazy Kate wraps wool around a bobbin
sitting in the garden chatting to a friend.
Spool to kate to spool to niddy noddy.
Pull it, run your finger, don’t think about your feet.

Take the whole day to fill up a bobbin
clockwise, anticlockwise, spin it twice.
Spool to kate to spool to niddy noddy,
Pull it, run your finger, don’t think about your feet.

She washed the wool, carded it and rolled it,
hung it out to dry, now it’s soft in her hands.
Spool to kate to spool to niddy noddy,
Pull it, run your finger, don’t think about your feet.

An act of meditation loved by Queen Victoria.
Niddy noddy maidens, mother of all.
Spool to kate to spool to niddy noddy,
Pull it, run your finger, don’t think about your feet.

© Heather Wastie
June 2013

Lazy kate, bobbin, spool, maidens – parts of a spinning wheel
Niddy noddy – a skein maker

Many of my Weaving Yarns poems and songs can be heard in performances as part of Kidderminster Arts Festival, on Friday and Saturday August 16th and 17th. Details will be on my website very soon!

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