Home-Spun Coasters: The Perfect Homemade Gift

Originally posted January 25, 2012

 

I’m a medievalist. I love history. I love learning how to make things the way they were made before everything was pre-made for you and sold in stores. Before the industrial revolution, most people spun their own thread and yarn which they then knitted, crocheted, or, if the yarn is fine and smooth enough, strung into a hand loom and wove into cloth. Up until the 19th century, these methods were the dominate ways most people produced the textiles used in everyday life. Spinning wheels emerged in the Renaissance, but they were expensive and not portable. So the drop spindle, our method for yarn and thread production since humans started creating textiles, remained the tool of choice.

Spinning with a drop spindle takes some practice. I’m just a beginner, so I won’t explain how to spin. Instead, I discovered the perfect gift that blends these timeless techniques and applies them into a useful gift anyone can appreciate-all the more so because so much of the process is done by hand.

 

Materials You Will Need:

Approx 4-6 oz of wool roving spun into 1 skein of hand-spun yarn (any quality; avoid merino wool as this is a coarser project)

Food coloring & Vinegar (optional)

Medium size crochet needle

drop spindle

Step 1: spin the skein of thread.

Step 2: wind off the skein and secure with thread or yarn in figure 8 pattern

Step 3: In a medium sauce pan, boil 1-2 quarts of water. If a dyed yarn is desired, add food coloring. Use from 18-25 total drops of food coloring for a vibrant color. Think Easter egg dying and you have about the right amount. Add 2 to 3 tbsp of vinegar to the boiling water to set the dye.

Step 4: remove from heat. Add skein. With a fork or chopstick, beat skein vigorously in the pot for about 2 minutes. Drain. Refill pan with ice and tap water and beat vigorously. If you have added color to the yarn, rinse until dye no longer runs off.

Step 5: beat skein against wall; dry overnight on doorknob.

Step 6: Crochet using single and double crochet into a round coaster 4-5 inches in diameter.

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