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Spinning wheels

(1,574 words)

Author(s): Kirstie Buckland
With few exceptions (felt and some silks) every fabric uses thread which must first be spun on equipment evolving from the drop spindle (rock) and distaff -- simple, portable, handheld tools – with, as the period progressed, improvements introduced by logical developments (see spinning). As looms improved, superior tools were required to hasten this essential task, so that spinners could meet the weavers' demands for yarn. In the 13th century the arrival in northern Europe of the hand-turned spindle or spinning wheel was a major improvement to increase speed and…


(591 words)

Author(s): Kirstie Buckland
In 1369 the Book of Worcester reported that '... they began to use caps of divers colours, especially red, with costly linings ...', implying that these caps were the new fashion, replacing elaborate hoods (see hood) and chaperons (see chaperon). The distinguishing feature of a cap, as opposed to a hat or hood, was its fit. Caps could be made of fabric, felt or leather. However, most were made of wool, coarsely knitted and closely fulled (see fulling and fulling mills in the British Isles), with…


(613 words)

Author(s): Kirstie Buckland
While a hat was not an essential garment, hats were worn by men of most ranks from the 13th century onward for practical reasons and as an expression of individuality and fashion. Consequently hatters worked to meet demand and to satisfy changing fashions. Made from felt, fur, leather, straw or fabric that was sometimes fulled (see fulling and fulling mills in the British Isles) or waxed for stiffness, by the 14th century hats had replaced the elaborate chaperons that had evolved from the manipulation of simple hoods. Some headgear would show specific use or rank …


(1,526 words)

Author(s): Kirstie Buckland
Some mention of cappers, capmakers or capknitters appears in most wool-growing areas of England where the fleeces were of good felting quality, the finest being the Cistercian lands of the Wye Valley at Abbey Dore and Tintern Abbey (see wool: sheep). These were cleverly marketed through Leominster Priory and given the name of 'Lemster Ore', the golden fleece of Leominster. They were still popular when a Parliamentary statute of 1512 imposed an element of quality control by the marking and pricing of caps according to the fleece used: Caps of the finest Leominster wool, 3/4d, marked L 2nd so…