Well, up until today I would have told you I know of no pictures from the late middle aes or early renaissance that depict plying.
I know many others have said this.
But tonight when I opened up pinterest I saw this picture (which I’ve brightened to help see a few details)
The manuscript is this one here http://www.e-codices.unifr.ch/en/list/one/bge/fr0064 and here is the page this image is from http://www.e-codices.unifr.ch/en/bge/fr0064/161v/large
Have a good look. It appears they are spinning thread hanging down from the ceiling. Well, this rattled something in my brain. I KNOW I’ve heard people talking about plying using hooks or mails driven into the ceiling.
I’ve been sick recently and spend some time in bed half-watching Norman Kennedy spinning videos. I’m 90% sure he mentions someone taking him to an old house and pointing to hooks or nails in the ceiling and wondering what they were for and Mr Kennedy said “oh, they were for plying thread.” I’m sure I’ve hard of it from some other source too (I’m thinking a lady somewhere in eastern Europe but I’m not sure).
How plying from a hook or nail in the ceiling works, I don’t know. I’ve always imagined the threads are run up from the floor (either in the form of a single plying ball or two spindles of singles), passed through a hook together and then spun.In the picture there are no threads going up, only going down. Of course, this is a medieval picture (looks 15th century French to me) so threads going up could just not have been painted in. They often left out parts of looms too.
So, what do you think? Medieval plying picture or something else?