A very tiny ancient treasure – NOT found on Pinterest!


This is it.

Ancient Yarn - Handwork Homeschool


You’re probably thinking what I’m thinking… really ?  That’s it?

When I read the headline

“FOUND:  A 3,000-year-old Ball of Yarn”

images of a gloriously dyed ball of some sumptuous stuff found hidden in an ancient temple in Constantinople or discovered carefully tucked into an Italian stone urn sprang to mind.

A bit of luxury yarn some ancient fibre-worker stashed away intending to come back to it another day.

When I clicked through, as of course, I absolutely HAD to… I came to this image.


Ancient Thread found in England


Well, I guess we can all have our fantasies! Right ?

According to the archaeologists who discovered this tiny ball of thread near Cambridge, England at a recently discovered site called “Must Farm” – which is just teeming with spectacular textile & homecraft-related finds – this was one of the hardest artifacts
to retrieve & conserve.

This special discovery, a ball of thread  (probably spun from nettle, flax or hemp) is only about 1.5 cm in diameter.  Given that it is ULTRA fine, you might be able to do a bit of bobbin lace with it, embroider a teeny design on light linen or make a short length of crocheted trim.

Problem is – as far as we know, people in the Bronze Age weren’t doing any of those things !

So why is it SO fine ?

How did someone manage to spin it if they were using only ancient, “crude” materials & tools ?

And how did it not disintegrate over the last 3 millennia ?

Think about it – this was created around the time King Tut was on the throne & Britain was supposedly covered in forests & wild beasts.  Woolly mammoths had only recently become extinct.

Ohh, the mystery of it all.

It’s discoveries like this that remind me why I LOVE fibre & textiles & handwork so much.

As with anything done by hand, someone invested their time & energy into the work.

Who was it?  Why did they do it?  What were they thinking about while they worked? Unlike a book or a painting, fibrework often goes unsigned & throughout history, most textile workers remain anonymous.

You know what Virginia Woolf said about that ~

I would venture to guess that Anon, ….
was often a woman.


In her amazing book about ancient textiles, Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years, Elizabeth Wayland Barber makes a very convincing case for the idea that spinning was something done almost exclusively by women & girls.  So, that someone, who spun this tiny ball was very likely a woman or maybe a very skilled girl.  Not a young girl.  (I’m the one assuming that bit, since I know it takes some time to refine the craft enough to be able to spin such a thin thread.)


Neolithic Textiles in France Handwork Homeschool


Have you ever stopped to think about who makes your clothes (other than you)? Or who winds your wool into skeins before it lands up at your Local Yarn Shop ?  Do you ever imagine what life is like for the people who hand-dye your craft felt ?

Are you teaching your children to do this?

I think you should.

We spend a lot of time talking to our kids about where our food comes from & how to save energy wisely.  What about becoming aware of how the textiles in our life come to us? How can we start understanding the way they link us all together?

This is one reason why I’m so passionate about introducing young children to fibrework.

Every single aspect of our lives includes textiles.  Try to think of a moment during your day when you are NOT in contact with some form of fabric – other than when you’re bathing (although, even then, you might use a washcloth!).

Since time immemorial, we’ve been weaving our lives together – one thread at a time.

Teach your children to use their hands so they can MAKE the future we all deserve.  It only takes a bit of material, a few minutes & a small effort on your part.

We’ll all be glad you did.


Make Stuff ♥ Be Happy !



P.S. – For super-textile lovers….

If you’re interested in ancient textiles you might enjoy this post
Neolithic Textiles ?!

Oh & if you’re looking for simple patterns, clear how-to’s & videos to make introducing Handwork into your homeschool super easy – watch out – I’ve got something FAB coming your way!!

Just in time for back to lessons.  And… it’s FREE !!







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