Picture Friday: Between the Knees

I’ve posted a sitting to spin picture before. If I’m sitting on the couch at home then I can trap my distaff between the couch, the arm and my leg. But what if there’s nowhere so easy to keep the distaff standing? Answer, hold it between the knees.

15th C broughton church Cambridgeshire

Here you can see a depiction of Adam and Eve. Eve holds the distaff between her legs and appears to be resting the spindle on the ground.


Here is an image from a book of hours. You can’t see her spindle as it’s hidden beside her in her right hand, but she grasps the distaff between her knees as she sits on a basket.


Hours of the Virgin: Terce Annunciation of Christ’s birth to the shepherds. Once again with the distaff between the knees.


In this detail of Proverbs bu Pieter Brueghel the Younger you get a good look at a spindle and once again the distaff is held between the knees.

Distaffs are pretty long and you don’t want one falling over as you’re trying to spin! How do you keep your distaff upright as you spin?


4 responses

  1. I haven’t used a distaff regularly because it’s difficult to carry that around in public these days (though I do need to devote more time to practice on it because I do see its value), but when I used it at home I also had to put it between the knees (or more like thighs) sometimes. In my case I didn’t have as long of a stick as these ladies did, so the distaff would lean to the side and the end would rest against the chair I sat on.

    One of the things I want to try is to tie the distaff to a second chair or to the table and see if that helps to stabilize it better.

    • I usually spin at home or at living history events, so a having a distaff isn’t a problem. I really like the idea of tying it to something though, sounds like a good solution for times when the chair or bench I’m using is going to be getting bumped etc

  2. Pingback: A wonder on the wave: ice became bone. | Of Dreams and Swords

  3. Pingback: A wonder on the wave: water became bone. | Of Dreams and Swords

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