Once, Laumas (Latvian, Lauma/Lithuanian, Laumė) were sky spirits who looked down on the Earth and saw the suffering of orphan kids, so they decided to leave their place in the heavens to become fairies help children with no parents.
Laumas are great at housework–washing, spinning, weaving. Any job that traditionally falls to women. They are hard workers, but have two fatal flaws: They can’t start a job, and they can’t finish a job. So they might come at night and work on a weaving that you started, but they will leave before the final threads are placed.
One of my sources, R.G. Latham’s The nationalities of Europe (Wm. H. Allen & Co., 1863) says that the fairies aren’t malicious, only mischievous, but goes on to say they kidnap children and replace them with fairy changelings. Uh, how that isn’t malicious I don’t know. Also, where do they get these fairy doubles, since they can’t have kids themselves?
A Lauma might take on a child who has lost both its parents as a project, Fairy Godmother-style, but when they give a gift with a warning, they mean it. So if a Lauma gives you a length of fabric and says don’t measure it, DON’T MEASURE IT.
Some say that Laumas spin and weave the fabric of life, weeping while they do, for the fate of mankind.
Some also say that the Laumas have lost their beautiful looks, due to disrespect from humans, and now look like ugly old hags.
Marija Gimbutas, Miriam Robbins Dexter, The Living Goddesses, University of California Press, 2001