Just recently we had the privilege of visiting the National Wool Museum at Geelong. Having had to teach my students about the processing of fibres into yarns and fabrics these last few years, it was an especially interesting experience being able to see the older machines that are used turn raw wool into beautiful yarn and fabric. Experiencing these technologies first hand was such a buzz – I wish I could have run excursions here for my senior textiles students! It was especially lovely visiting grandparents this weekend and sharing the photos with Fay. Her family originally came from Victoria (farmers) and she has enjoyed working with wool over the years, both spinning and felting.
The complicated nature of these processes, the design, intelligence and time involved makes you realise why beautiful textile products really should cost money. Farmers need ingenuity to bread stock that will produce high quality fibres (remember that different sheep grow different types of wool, another consideration!), wool graders and sorters play their part so the end product is uniform, inventors come up with technologies that allow for time efficient and intricate fabric designs to be created, technicians design and maintain machinery, cutters and machinists allow beautifully made items to be produced, scientists develop dyes that will work for fibres with different chemical compositions (eg. wool is a protein fibre, it dyes differently than cotton, a cellulosic fibre) … and the list goes on and on!
Hope these pictures encourage you to consider the work in the textile items you enjoy using!
A small, working Jacquard carpet loom; the card system at the top works a little like some of the earliest computers – the pattern of holes are ‘read’ by a set of needles and these indicate the pattern that will be woven into each row of the carpet. The cards are strung together and together hold all the information for the pattern of the loom. Pianola rolls work in a similar system.
All the yarns threaded into the carpet loom ready for weaving at just the right moment to make a beautiful pattern.
The ginning machine that cleaned the wool, it was lowered into a trough of water and moved through a series of prongs.
The cleaned wool
The carding machine, the fibres began to be aligned in readiness for further processing. A series of rollers with fine wire ‘combs’ are used to enable this process.
One of the carding machines. Carded woollen yarn is used for softer items like knitting wool, combed woollen yarn is used for things like fine wool suiting.
After carding and then combing (further aligning of the longer fibres used for higher quality suiting fabrics) the fibres are prepared for spinning.
An interactive weaving activity demonstrating different weave structures.
Having a go on a hand-loom.
A sock knitting machine.
This machine used dried teazle heads (from the teazle plant) to ‘nap’ the surface of woven woolen items like rugs!