Viking history co-op. Week 2: Clothing (Spinning)

Week 2: We spun wool into yarn.

The Vikings wore warm clothes made of wool sheared from sheep. The book Charlie Needs a Cloak by Tommie de Paola does an excellent job of explaining the process of making clothes from sheep to cloak.

Beginning with clean wool, the wool was combed with wool carders to remove even more dirt and straighten the fibers. Wool carders are like big hair brushes with metal bristles. A dog brush can serve as a cheap carding tool for kids who want to try it out. I have purchased several products on-line from Mielke's Fiber and recommend them for trying these activities.

After wool sheared from a sheep has been cleaned and carded, it can be spun into yarn. Spinning yarn is actually quite simple as the only thing done is twisting the fibers. Wool can be spun by hand (as the girls are doing above), with a hand-held spindle, with a spinning wheel or using a machine.

During the time of the Vikings, wool was spun using drop spindles made from wood, bone or metal. There are several different types, but all work basically the same way. They have a rod to wind the yarn around, a disk to aid in spinning, and a hook to hold the yarn while the spindle is spun. The spindle above was made from an old CD.

Youtube has some great tutorials such as How to Spin Yarn with a Drop Spindle shown above.

Sometimes it's easier to learn to spin with a partner. One person can spin the spindle while the other can use their hands to learn the fiber pulling techniques.

After the time of the Vikings, advancements were made in technology and the spinning wheel was created. Early wheels were large and spun with the hand usually by walking a few steps forward an backward near the wheel. Professional spinners could walk miles a day next to the spinning wheel.

Later wheels introduced foot power. As the wheel I was using above was spun by the feet, fiber was pulled into the device. My hands were busy pulling the fiber in exactly the same way it was done on a drop spindle to prepare it for being twisted. Therefore, the hands and feet work simultaneously with a spinning wheel.

To read more about our hands-on educational activities please visit our Arts and Crafts Page and History Page.

This post is linked to
TGIF Linky Party


  1. Wow, where did you go to see the spinning being done?

    That is very cool and the kids look like they loved it. I wouldn't mind having a go myself!

    Thanks for linking to Science Sparks.

    1. That's me at the spinning wheel. My daughter and I learned after seeing it done an a living history festival in Colorado. We asked if there were any local teachers, took about three lessons and then were off and spinning. There are youtube videos that can show you how to get started, and you can buy a hand-held spindle and fiber at

  2. That's pretty neat that you have your own spindle. Interesting hands-on draft!

  3. This is one of the neatest learning experiences I've seen! I love it! This is one of those lessons that is going to stick with them. Thanks for linking up to TGIF. I am featuring this at TGIF today ( Feel free to grab an I was featured button and I look forward to seeing what you link up this week =-)

  4. This is so cool! How wonderful to get to card and work with a spinning wheel. Thank you for linking to Read.Explore.Learn. I am going to share this post on the Read.Explore.Learn. Facebook page today.

  5. This is pretty interesting; I love watching people spin. Would love you to come link up on Mom's library!


  6. I love it! I've never spun before, but I love knitting with hand-spun wool.

    I would love for you to share on Eco Kids:

    I'm following. I can't wait to read more!

    1. Becki - That's a great idea for a link-up. I'll definitely join and come back and visit again. Thanks for letting me know.


    2. Thanks for joining us! I hope to see you again tomorrow.

    3. I'm featuring this post tomorrow!

  7. Thank you for sharing with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday! I am hoping for sheep someday!

  8. Fascinating! Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week; I hope you’ll join us again!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick


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