On December 2nd and 3rd, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh invited the BMDL Fiber Guild back for the Wool Weekend. This was our fifth demo for the museum, and our biggest – we were there for two days and had demonstrators in the MAKESHOP as well as in the Studio art space. (MAKESHOP is a partnership between the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE). It is a space dedicated to making, reusing and designing things, using everyday materials and real tools. It has regular programs and special guests.)
This time, the museum guests and staff were able to learn how to use hand cards and drop spindles, spin with a distaff and on a great wheel, knitting, inkle weaving, weaving on a warp weighted loom, and wet felting. To complement these activities, the museum had finger knitting and needle felting stations set up as well.
We also had a display of woolen items and different types of wool for the kids to explore. The display had woolen garments and items spanning from Anglo-Saxon England to late period German. Most of the items were made by Lady Beatrix of Anglesey, who, though she couldn’t be there herself, graciously lent us her work, and by Mistress Irene von Schmetterling. (There was also a cloak made by Mistress Rowena of Coppertree, and a lined hood with oak-leaf dags by Lady Madelaine de Mortaigne of Carolingia)
The demo a great success. By the end of the demo, dozens of kids took home the wet felted potholder squares (one 8 year old lady made several, because, she explained, potholders make great gifts for grandparents). The cloth woven by the kids was gifted to the museum, and the yarn spun on the great wheel was given to the MAKESHOP for future projects!
It was wonderful to be back at the Museum, and we are looking forward to more skill demos at this location. Thanks go out to the Museum staff for inviting us and sharing their MAKESHOP and Studio space and to all the demonstrators: Mistress Mahin banu Tabrizi of Sunderoak and Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope who demonstrated weaving techniques, Mistress Irene von Schmetterling who taught the wet felting and spinning, Lady Kattera Doplerin and Lady Rivka bat Daniyel taught and demonstrated felting, spinning, and knitting, and Medea who did finger knitting, and spinning.
This demo marks a year of our partnership with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. We feel privileged to have this amazing opportunity to introduce kids to the skills and crafts of the middle ages, show off the amazing artisans of the SCA, and to provide quality programming to our local museum, while fulfilling the educational mission of the SCA. We are looking forward to going back!
You can see more on the Museum’s website here.
Article submitted and photographs taken by THL Lucetta di Cosimo.