There’s only so much looking at pictures and videos can do for you when trying to figure out how people spun. At some stage you’re going to have to just pick up a spindle, give it a go and see what works.
Of course, the first then I did was sit down and order a bunch of stuff from the internet, but with internet ordering comes the wait of up to a month for your goodies. So I got a dowel, whittled it down with a craft knife to a point on one end and a taper on the other and added a bunch of hairties to make a whorl.
Because I needed something to spin I dug around in my stash and pulled out some wool designed for needle felting and spun that. I spun from the fold, and I used my spindle supported in a little bowl to start off with. No, I don’t have any evidence for this but I’m learning. I figure that if I don’t have to worry about keeping the spindle in the air I can work on my drafting and twist and other things.
Here’s my first attempt. I plied it because it wasn’t the strongest piece of string in the world. It could be worse for a first go. To ply it I just made a ball and pulled from the centre and the outside at the same time and spun it to ply it.
Just as I was getting bored of the felting wool my flax tow arrived. Flax tow is the waste from making line flax which comes in stricks. This is the beautiful long stuff I want for my spinning, but the tow was easy to come by and I wanted something. I’m not sure about importing flax stricks into Australia and can’t find a local supplier. Apparently there is one somewhere…
I still used the supported spinning method to spin this but instead of spinning it from the fold I lay a bit of sliver over my left shoulder and pulled from there, almost using my shoulder as a king of a distaff.
Well, that’s all for today. Next time I’ll investigate distaffs and see if I can figure out why medieval women loved them so much and modern women seem to shun them!