Sunday, November 29, 2015

Suffolk Puffs or Yo Yos

Making Winter November

Hi Dear Folk,

Sharing Winter crafting joys and joining with Silverpebble, who Blogs from East Anglia.  I have enjoyed making Suffolk Puffs or Yo Yos.  It seems appropriate as my sister also lives in East Anglia, in Suffolk.

In the States they are called Yo Yos, but in the UK Suffolk Puffs.  I'm sure they go back centuries, I can just see those Suffolk women of old saving their scraps of fabric, and I wonder if those first fabrics used would have been woven wool fabrics; sitting by the fires of their beamed thatched cottages, and making quilts out of them.

East Anglia was known for sheep and the trades associated with sheep, so it seems to me that it would have been so easy to use up wool to stuff these little puffs with to add weight and warmth to their quilts.  Therefore giving them the name of Suffolk Puff.

Lavenham see here, in Suffolk is one of the best examples of a medieval wool town in England.  In Tudor times, Lavanham was said to be the fourteenth wealthiest town in England, despite its small size.  Its fine timber-framed buildings and beautiful church were built on the success of the wool trade.  Long Melford see here, has a huge church in proportion to the size of the town.

By the fifteenth century, not only was England producing enough cloth for her own use, materials were now being sold abroad.  Working in their tiny cottages the weavers and their families transformed the raw wool into fine cloth, which would eventually end up for sale at the markets of Bristol, Gloucester, Kendal and Norwich.

In the 1570's to 1590's a law was passed that all Englishmen except nobles had to wear a woolen cap to church on Sundays, part of a government plan to support the wool industry.

Most of the first Pilgrims who came to New England were from the East Anglia area and north, hence such names as Boston, Haverhill, Wethersfield, Essex, to name but a few, so their needlework crafts and designs would have come with them I'm sure in the form of Suffolk Puffs.

When I ran across these templates to help you make Suffolk Puffs, I bought one, a small one, not realizing how small a Suffolk Puff it would make.  I wondered whether it would really be worth using  a template, as how hard is it to cut a circle of fabric run a stitch around, while turning the edge in and pull the thread up to make a puff?

But I am now addicted to the templates, how easy it makes it.  The ones I bought are made in Japan, the brand is Clover and I bought them at Joanne's you can also get them at Michael's in the USA and I'm sure other sewing shops too.

Here is a diagram of how they work.

Needless to say after becoming addicted I went back and bought other sizes to have a complete set.

I have still to try this one a flower shape, but you will be seeing more of my Suffolk Puffs.

Hope you enjoyed my post on Making Winter.



  1. That is interesting. I didn't know the law about wearing woolen caps to church. Look forward to seeing more of your Suffolk Puffs. A friend here makes them into brooches with the addition of a pretty button. Yes winter makes me want to be creative as well.

  2. I love Yo yos!!! Years ago I made a belt out of them for a dress I got at the thrift. And when I had my kids my DH grandmother in Australia made a clown out of yo-yos for them. Nice post. I want to make more!!!!!

  3. I had never heard about yo yo's until today...that's what I love about blogging! What a great way to use up odd scraps of material. And I'm sure very addictive! Barbara

  4. Thank you for stopping by Barbara and leaving a comment, yes they are addictive.


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