Not dead yet!

Just letting you all know I’m not dead yet! Real life interviened. I hate doing things half-assed so I tend to dissapear when real life calls rather than have a diminished presence. I keep saving up for the time to catch up fully and so it never happens! Anoying! I’ll try to catch up with everybody, I’ve missed you all!

Spinning progress has been a big fat zero but I have had a chance to play with my new loom and will try to post pictures soon. In the meantime I’ve managed to update my other blog with some of my more modern costuming, so take a quick look. http://cathelinadialessandri.wordpress.com/kathelynes-clothing/

New Loom!

So my young man (who is very attentive and observant) thought up a wonderful surprise for my Christmas present, only he is a)bad at keeping surprise secret and b) didn’t want to get the wrong sort. So he told me he wanted to get me a new “weaving thing to do my looming on”

My little spears loom has been ok for working out the basics and getting a hang of things but already I’m wanting to use double heddles which is do-able but tricky when they’re the wrong length and have nowhere to actually sit.

I’ve chosen an ashford knitter’s loom in the 50 cm width mainly because of the ease of getting it (buying something available locally means cheaper postage) and the versatile width, not too wide but wide enough for most uses.

 

New Reader

For those that blog via wordpress you mak have noticed we have a new reader (how we read blogs we’ve followed). I don’t usually comment when things change (I’m not one of those people who moan that they like the ‘old’ facebook better!) I just figure out how to use the new one. But I’m commenting now because the new reader is designed to DRIVE VIEWS AWAY FROM YOUR BLOG and make it HARDER to read blogs and have your reading count as a view. If you’ve noticed a drop in your views then this could be why.

With the old reader the blog posts were listed and you’d click the title of a blog which would take you to the blog where you could read it. This would count as a view in your stats.

With the new reader the blog posts are listed and you click on a blog post and read it in a pop-up which is NOT counted as a view!

The reader has the option to click a link in the pop-up which takes them to the original post which is then counted as a view. But why would someone go out of their way to click twice to read what they can click once? And why would you go to the bother of formatting your blog nicely ad possibly paying for access to better customization if readers don’t see it?

Now the way I see it, if someone sees your blog in their reader and clicks on your post and reads the thing in its entirety it should count as a view, but it doesn’t.

So what I’ve done is gone into my dashboard>settings>reading and found the option “For each article in a feed, show” and clicked ‘summary. This means if you click my blog in your reader it still doesn’t count as a view but you are UNABLE to read my post. If you wish to read my post you MUST click again to come to my blog.

I’m sorry for forcing those of you who read my blog via reader to take an extra step but I do like to keep track of how many people are reading my blog! If you like to keep track then I encourage you to do so too.

EDIT according to the (many) posts on the support blog this reader is WORSE for mobile readers. If you have your options above set to summary then they can get to your post but if you have it set to full text many can’t read your post if it’s over a certin size (scrolling issues) and they can’t get to the original post as the link doesn’t appear. So if you have readers who use mobile devices, even if you don’t care about your view statistics, then I suggest you still change those settings to summary to support those readers’ ability to actually read your blog.

Not Just Drop Spindles!

One of the criticizms I see directed at those of us who are researching medieval spinning techniques is “here is a picture where the spindle was suspeded, therefore they are drop spindles and they are doing drop spindle spinning” or words to that effect.

My methods aren’t about prooving they never suspended the spindle, to the contary the more research and experementation I do I see the more the spindle can be suspended using the methods I’m developing, especially with wool. That, however, doesn’t mean they were ‘drop spinning’ or using ‘drop spindles’. People will look at my spindle and say “oh, that’s a drop spindle.” Really, it’s a spindle. It could be used in the drop spinning method (though is’t ideal for that style), but I don’t use it that way. I call my spindle a spindle. If I were French I might call it a fuseau or if I were German I might call it a spindel or a handspindel but, and forgive me forign speakers if I’ve missed this but I don’t see other languages calling them anyhing to do with dropping. Their names all seem to revolve around things that, well, revolve, twist and turn and spin upon an axel. I don’t see any dropping. Is it just English that does this? And what makes a drop spindle anyhow? The fact it was designed to be a dro spindle, that it is used as one, that it could be?

And back to these drop spindles in the middle ages. You see re-enactors spinning on a drop spindle at living history events. They aren’ using a distaff because yo don’t need one with wool, and they’re usually spinning wool because flax is ‘hard’. And no, you don’t need a distaff to spin wool with a drop spindle, but you know tht medieval image ofthat lady spinning wool without a distaff? No, you don’t? That one from 1453 that was painted by a monk who drew an arrow to the spindle and wrote “this is a drope spindle from ye olde shoppe?” nope? Really? Well, it doesn’t exist. I’ve never come across a picture of spinning that didn’t involve distaffs with one exception:

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(which I discuss a little here)

I don’t think they’re actually spinning thread here, they might be plying or making gilt thread as in this image,

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(Gilt thread-making
Lockwood Kipling, John, born 1837 – died 1911)

but I think we can hardly be calling this “spinning fluff into thread” because I don’t know about you, but I see no fluff there.

The other thing is have you heard of the distaf side? The distaff side referrs to the female sid of the family. You see a few instances where ‘disaff’ is associated with women or women’s work, and why not sindle? Or drop spindle? Who ever heard of the drop spindle side of the family? If distaffs are something that wern’t needed in spinning throughout Europe and the UK then why is spinning and women’s work so closley associated with them?

Now, I’m wandering away from my initial discussion which is “is evidence ofsuspended spinning proof of drop spindle spinning?”

First, we have to define drop spindle spinning. People jokingly say it’s called a drop spindle because when you are learning you accidently drop it when your thread snaps! But it’s not such a joke. In drop spindle spinning your thread slowly drops down as the thread is formed. Is this the full definition? If I suspend my pindle to th side and set it spinning I can drop the spindle down as i’m drafting my thread. I could not, however, do this without a distaff, as because of the length I’ve already spun I need one hand to draw my thread to the opposite side of my body leaving only one hand to arrange and draft the fibre. Every thing I’ve ever read on drop spindle spinning and the distaff says you don’t need to use a distaff when spinning wool, though you may if you wish to keep more fibre in reach. My distaff does a LOT more than keep my fibre in reach!

So, could we say drop spindle spinning is spinning where the spindle drops down as the thread is being formed and where a distaff may be ued for oranising and holdingfibe but must not play an ‘active’ role in th pinning process (ie, you could spin without it without changing your technique).

So, it’s not so much the spindle that defines the method, but the involvment of the distaff. Which means the saying “spun on the roc (distaff)” makes a lot more sense.

And I guess ll this means that if the spinning fo the 15th century couldn’t be done without a distaff then it’s not really drop spindle spinning, even when the spindle is suspended fully.

So I’m not fighting against suspending the spindle or even the dropping down of the spindle.  I’m just saying not all suspended spinning is drop spindle spinning and while we may be seeing suspended spinning in the 15th century I don’t think we’re seeing what I would call drop spindle spinning.

You might also be interested in reading my Don’t drop that spindle! and my Research Behind the Method.

New Spindle Sticks!

Those of you who follow my blog know I’m a HUGE fan of these spindle sticks.

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They are ‘just a stick’ but brilliant in their simplicity. You can see what another blogger thinks of them here.

Well, now we have a new spindle stick to choose from, baby spindle sticks which you can read about at here.

If any one gets a baby one (or several) I’d love to know what you think!

New Spinning Video– Slow Motion!

So Just a quick update to bring you all a new spinning video. My friend took this of me at a living history event.

Many of you have asked how much spin I get from each turn of the spindle when I’m holding it in my fingers. Is it just one turn? Up to now I’ve been trying to describe in words, but now you can see for yourself.

Long Time, No Post!

So Just touching base with you all to bring the fantastic news that I am not dead!

Hooray!

I’ve had a bit of a case of non-spinning related real life recently (nothing bad, real life of the good variety!) and lost touch completely with the spinning and weaving side of my real and virtual lives.

But I’ve missed you all so now I have a chance to get back in touch so I am. Thank you again to my loyal followers and friends I have not yet met for being interested in my work and taking the time to leave comments. I have a ton to read through and answer so I’m not ignoring you all, just catching up slowly. I don’t like leaving people half-baked replies and in most things I’m a “dive in with both feet” or nothing kind of person.

Looking forward to catching up with you all!

 

 

 

 

How Long to Spin a Thread?

When I return from the 15th century I aim to do a series of posts on the criticisms I’ve seen about methods similar to what I’ve been developing. One of the most common ones is that ‘drop spindles spinning is faster than spinning with a distaff and spindle. They had to spin every piece of thread in every cloth so needed to use a fast method.’ There’s two statements here and while I’m equipped with research to deal with the latter (would they have used the faster method or not) but I’m not yet equipped to deal with the former (is drop spinning actually faster?)

This brings us to the question ‘just how long is a piece of string?’ Ok, not quite. But if I am to spin on a drop spindle, then to spin using a distaff and spindle I will spin faster with a distaff and spindle because I’m not practiced with a drop spindle. When a person who has been spinning with a drop spindle for years tries other methods they may be slower at those because they are practiced with drop spinning.

Other than taking someone who has been drop spindle spinning all their life and taking hem back to the 15th century in Europe and racing them against the women there, there are a few things we can do to help answer the question of which is faster and for this I need YOUR HELP! Yes, you! (assuming you can spin with a spindle!)

What I’m asking is for anyone who can spin on a spindle (any spindle!) to spin their default thread weight. Time yourself from the moment you start spinning that thread to the moment you finish winding that length of thread onto your spindle and are ready to start on the next thread again. You may like to time it several times and take an average or time yourself spinning several lengths of thread and divide that time by the number of thread lengths you made. Because, you know, how long is a piece of string, you’ll also need to work out the average length of thread you spin when you spin a length.

Now, it takes less time to spin a chunky thread than a really fine one, all other things being equal, because te fine thread needs more twist to hold it together. So there’s a few other factors involved. If you can provide some quantifying measures of the thickness of your thread this would be great. It could be wraps per inch, grams per metre, or whatever. Just state how you measured and the units you used. Again feel free to give averages or measure several different ways!

Then if you could please report back to me with:
What you’ve spun (fibre and the preparation)What tool/s you’ve used (such as what type of spindle)
The average length of your thread that you spin
How long it takes you to spin it
How thick is your thread.
How long you have been spinning for (In general as well as with this spindle/technique if there is a difference)

You can report back in a comment to this post, or feel free to make a blog post of your own about it! I’m sure the results will be interesting and useful to more than myself so feel free to share the experiment with the followers of your own blog. If you spin using several different techniques then this is a great chance to examine your own spinning and see which is faster, with which you produce a finer thread or anything you like.

I understand that there are still many variables I haven’t addressed but it is a good side better than me saying ‘well, I sure can’t spin this fast on a drop spindle!’

I shall be doing my time trials in the 15th century this weekend so I shall report on my results when I return!

I’ll be putting the raw data I collect on this blog so all I ask is that if you participate you’re happy for your numbers to be shared freeley– I don’t own this idea or the raw results so I’m not going to restrict who can see it!

Thank you to anyone who will help out and in the meantime, happy spinning to you all!

Back in Time Again

I haven’t had much time to spare recently for this blog, but I haven’t forgotten it! I’ve got some wonderful comments to reply to still so no, I’m not ignoring you if you’re asked me a question, just waiting for the chance to answer it properly and not rushed.

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This weekend I’m heading back to the 15th century again and I hope to be taking a video camera with me. The event is a reenactors only event so we can use cameras openly as long as we don’t leave them lying around when they are not in use. If I can take a video camera I should get the chance to take some videos of me spinning.

Are there any requests on what you’d like to see in the videos? Anything you’d like to see closer up? Let me know and I’ll try my best to make it happen.

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In the meantime, happy spinning!

 

Picture Friday, St Elsbeth

 

 

Today’s picture is of St Elizabeth spinning in a woodcut from 1511.   There are a few St Elizabeth’s, but I think she might be St Elizabeth of Hungary whose charitable pratices included spinning wool for the poor.

 

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© The Trustees of the British Museum

 

What I love about this picture is that you can see spinning in various stages in the one image.

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This women here is holding her spindle how I do when I’m first drfafting out a thread across my body.

 

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This woman looks like she is suspending her spindle after drafting it out to add more twist. She even appears to be putting her thread over the back of her spindle hand the same way I do.

There is a little basket of spindles with th whorls removed holding spin thread in the foreground.