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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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The Spinners: 1942

The Spinners: 1942

August 1942. "Aroostook County, Maine. Airing wool before spinning." Medium format negative by John Collier for the Office of War Information. View full size.

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Freshly washed

KathyRo, if you’re spinning “ in the grease”, with fresh off the sheep fleece, you really want to wash it after spinning, and before skeining. The yarn blooms a lot when the lanolin is washed out.

The County

Even today, Aroostook County in Maine is a rugged and beautiful place populated by tough-as-nails New Englanders. No doubt doubly so back then.

That's some bad hat, Harriet

Took me a while to figure out what that was on her head!

Roving versus Yarn

Boy I am having a tough time decoding what stage of yarn preparation is going on here. With respect to the caption writer, I doubt the wool was "aired". It's much more likely that it was dyed or bleached and hung out to dry.

The "large skein" configuration bears testament to that. Strangely though it looks like it's already been spun (if not plied). Wool that is ready to be spun is called roving and it's much fluffier than this. (See picture below.) However, if you are dyeing your wool a uniform color, it makes the most sense to do it while it's roving (aka "dyed in the wool").

Any other fiber enthusiasts out there with more mid-century experience than I have?

Spun Yarn

Airing before spinning? Sorry, the caption is in error. The photo shows already spun yarn.

Typically, after spinning and plying (twisting a second thread of spun yarn with the first), the plied yarn is then washed and hung in skeins (as shown) in order to set the twist.

After which, it is ready for weaving or knitting.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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