Spinning and Dyeing

Hand-spinning is an ancient craft that has been around for eons.  A recent discovery dating back around 41,o00 to 52,000 years ago is of animal and plant fibre spun by the Neanderthal people. This was achieved by rolling the fibre down the thigh to make a twisted cord, and then two were plied together to make their yarn. 

There seems to be a bit of a discussion as to when and where the spinning wheel was invented. Some reports state it was invented by the Islamic world around 1030. Others state the spinning wheel was invented in India during the Gupta Empire, which was around 320-550CE.

In the later Middle Ages, it was introduced into England and was mainly done by women. Their main fibres were wool, flax (for linen) and cotton. They used it as a means to generate more income, and to furnish their homes.


The art of dyeing fibre and fabrics dates back to Neolithic times, originating from the Anatolian peninsula. China has been using natural plant dyes for over 5000 years.   Dyed Flax fibres have been found in a cave in the Republic of Georgia dating back to 34,000 BCE.

With the advent of modern dyes, it became much easier to colour fibres and fabric. Natural plant dyeing also plays a big part in today’s modern world, although most commercial items use chemical (acid) dyes for the unlimited colour range and colourfastness.


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