Old farmer’s wife Katharina: Where is this all going to lead? Ravensberg linen was once prized! Where the Bielefeld traders exported our fabrics to! England. Spain. Sweden. Even Russia and America.
And now? It could soon all be over. I just cannot keep up with a machine. Bloody English with their invention...hrrmph mechanised yarn. That blasted thing is going to ruin us. It is pretty obvious to everyone that yarn prices are falling every year. Soon it will be worthless. I wonder though if machine made yarn is really any good. I`ve heard that it is not particularly strong and snaps easily.
Both our tenant farmer families live exclusively off spinning and yarn-making. They have been robbed almost entirely of their means of income. They have not been able to pay the land rent for months now and there are more and more quarrels because of that. They are at the spinning wheel day and night, even the children! Even the youngest have been winding yarn on spools!
Add a bad harvest to this and even we will be ruined. When it comes to the crunch, where is the money going to come from to be able to buy grain? And helping the poor in the village. We farmers will have to pay them as well. The whole thing is going to get unaffordable. I don’t even want to think about it.
Handwork comes at a price. It needs many skilled hands and long hours to get a good, smooth thread from flax. I am sure machines are fast but is the spinning as fine as we do here? I have heard of weavers, who “refine” the cheap machine made yarns. They boil it with finely ground charcoal powder and pass it off to people as hand spun yarn. Wretched cheats!
Foto: Bielefelder BauernhausMuseum