Sunday, May 04, 2014

Plus ça change

Recently I took a trip into my past and took my family with me. That sounds a lot more dramatic than it was. 

In reality, we visited a place I'd last been to in my early teens with school - Armley Mills in Leeds.  From over 30 years ago I could only remember a tiny bit of what I had seen and been told about - that cloth was fulled using urine and poo...  Barry still shared that information during the tour we were cheerfully given and really, I doubt much had changed since my school excursion.

What I had failed to remember was what nearly the whole museum was about.  It wouldn't have registered all those years ago, but I could not have asked to visit somewhere much more fitting with my current interests than this place. So, apologies to my family for unwittingly indulging myself, but I had a wonderful time at what was once the world's largest woollen mill, seeing the textile machinery for processing from fibre to cloth.
I hope my pictures give at least a flavour of the place and that even you don't make a special journey, you consider visiting if you're ever in the area

Here's the carding mill - a lot larger than my hand carders or any drum carder I've seen!

There was lots of fibre for people to handle/pocket (insert casual whistling here)

They also had some hand carders for people to fiddle with.  What a load of neps and noils!  at the top left you can see the fine roving that the carding mill produces for use in the next stage

The roving is spun using this

I couldn't get close enough, but just look at that industrial skeiner!
The yarn is sent away to be dyed and then comes back to be woven into cloth.  
Here's a display that has seen a few fiddly fingers!


 My understanding falls apart here a little as I'm not a weaver.  I think the strands are wound onto this creel, then it is transferred onto a big tube before putting onto bobbins before the weaving begins

No wonder these were called the dark satanic mills - the looms looked terrifying!

Hubby made a cameo appearance!

I couldn't get a decent shot of the shuttle, but I was intrigued by the soft fringe that I suspect was to keep the thread in order.  There was a basket full of pirns (?) that I wanted to run my hands through

I suspect this loom is a bit bigger than those of most of my weaving friends

Once woven, the cloth is thickened by using............... teasels!

It's then stretched out and cropped with the biggest pair of shears to make baize for snooker tables.  Shame I forgot to take a picture - maybe it will tempt you to go see for yourself?

More random pictures follow.  I would have stayed ages and taken more, but my lovely mother in law was feeling weary by this point

There was a huge set of drawers to poke about in and they had this amazing vintage advertising booklet that illustrated the different 'fancies' (the way the carding teeth were set according to someone's fancy).  It was just there for the handling and I am still worried that someone will pocket it or tear it.

I wasn't sure what this wheel was meant to do - maybe it played some part in making the pencil roving?

This was just stood at the side.  I'm hoping that it is used by a group there

They had a jacquard loom with both singular and concertina punch cards.  I don't know much about this stuff, but I'm hoping it is interesting to weavers!

There were quite a few weavemaster looms in glass cases

and lots of weaving charts with their related samples

They had a set up of a sewing room

Is it only me that covets this singer sewing chair?

This was in another display, but how lovely?!  My daughter wasn't happy until it was threaded...

Oh, what a lovely time I had!

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