Categories Threads
Theme(s) Arts and crafts
Collection Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL) Object Collection
Date Probably early 1900s
Object number 2019/86
  • Description

Spindles are an essential tool for the weaving process, typically used for spinning or winding yarn, usually wool. This particular spindle was used by the donor in Shetland, and then featured in an exhibition in the South Bank Centre, London, in 2012. It formed part of a baobab tree sculpture, 15 metres tall, which consisted of rings of textiles. Each ring represented a different community from around the world, and so celebrated global variation in textile design.  

Across the museum’s physical displays and online content, we focus on the traditional English smock which first came to prominence in the 16th century, and the ‘smocking’ technique which creates more elastication in the garment. However, some traditional clothes of other countries have an even deeper history, such as India’s sari, which was first mentioned in Hindu scripture 5,000 years ago. Like smocks, their designs have significant regional differences.