From Fleece to Fashion

Spinning

Once wool is carded (combed) fibres are twisted into long threads ready for the next process spinning.


Spinning turns slubbing (twisted wool) into yarn which can be used in weaving. Before the invention of the Spinning Jenny spinning was mainly done by women in their homes.

 

The Spinning Jenny

James Hargreaves invented the Spinning Jenny in 1767 to help spinners keep up with the demand for yarn. The machine could spin eight threads at one time and produce yarn much quicker than a spinner working by hand.


The Spinning Jenny became widely used in Leeds in the 1780s. Benjamin Gott had three or four dozen in his large mill at Bean Ing. Yet, the invention also caused problems, as many hand-loom spinners feared that they would lose their jobs.


In some areas people rioted, smashing up the new spinning machines. However, the Jenny produced very soft thread that was only suitable for the weft, the thread running across the material. It was soon replaced by the more efficient Spinning Mule. Employers did sack workers and lowered wages for less skilled work using the machines.


Glossary:

Efficient - being faster and more organised

Riot - a violent protest

Slubbing - twisting wool in preparation for spinning

Spinning - turning carded fibres into a continuous thread (yarn)

Weaving - the process of making cloth, rugs, blankets, and other products by crossing two sets of threads over and under each other


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