University event will spin some yarns and weave a web of words

26 Oct 2023
woman in yellow dress spinning yarn

Where would we be without textiles? Apart from short of a change of clothes, our language and vocabulary would be much the poorer.

A unique, free event organised by the University of Winchester will gather up some of the many threads which link fabric, language, identity and storytelling through time.

Spinning A Yarn, which takes place at the Arc in Winchester’s Jewry Street on Saturday, 11 November, is the University’s contribution to this year’s Being Human Festival of Humanities.

Visitors will be able to watch a demonstration of handweaving on a warp-weighted loom and hand spinning by Senior Lecturer in Classical and Medieval History, Dr Carey Fleiner (pictured above).

Historical linguist Dr Eric Lacey, Senior Lecturer in the Department of English and Creative Writing, and Dr Polly Stoker, a Lecturer in Classical Studies, will be on hand to talk about some of the famous myths, legends and fairy tales with weaving and spinning at their heart.

Dr Lacey said: "The link between textile, language, and story is both ancient and timeless. Text comes from textile - words woven together to make a cohesive whole. People skilled with words weave them, and can spin facts. This permeates myth, legend, and lore too: supernatural figures could weave the fate of mankind, or snip lives short, or enrapture them with sorcerous strands."

Fresh from Winchester Fashion Week will be a display of posters created by University of Winchester students for This Is Me, an event exploring the make-up of their ‘Fashion DNA’, tracing the influences – history, ethnicity, subcultures and much more – which have shaped their style choices.

Anyone coming to the event is encouraged to ‘spin a yarn’ of their own, perhaps about a cherished item of clothing or a craft project.

For children there will be a dressing up corner, with costumes supplied by Winchester City Museum and Hampshire Wardrobe, as well as drawing and colouring.

Free tea, coffee and cake and soft drinks will be available at the event.

Event organiser, Myra Wilkinson, Research and Engagement Officer at the University of Winchester said: “This is the University of Winchester’s first Being Human Festival event and I’m thrilled that we have become part of the Being Human family.

"The event speaks perfectly to this year’s festival theme of 'Rhyme, Reason and Research', and is a wonderful opportunity to showcase some of our many strengths in the Humanities. I have no doubt that together our academic experts, students and guests will weave a rich and colourful tapestry.”

The event is free to attend and anyone can drop in between 2pm and 4pm. 

Being Human is led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, with support from Research England, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. For further information about the festival, including listings of other events, visit Being Human Festival.

Picture on home page: Diego Velázquez (1599–1660), The Spinners (Las Hilanderas, The Fable of Arachne) (detail) (c 1657), oil on canvas, Museo Nacional Del Prado, Madrid. Wikimedia Commons.

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