Tell a bunch of spinners that the output of a medieval spinner could be no more than 20 metres per hour, and they’ll want to prove you wrong. As such, the folks over at the Evangelical Church of Distaff Spinning are conducting a spinning experiment, looking at the production rates of modern spinners. The experiment collects a wide range of date, from spinning method, years of experience to fibre spun, tools used and more. Collecting all of this data means that we can use the results for different things. For example, we could compare grasped spinning production rates to that with suspended spinning, or we could look at how years of experience affects production.
I encourage you all to take part, here is the form you need to complete and you can take part multiple times.
When you are filling out the form, pay attention when it asks you to enter in the amount spun- just do that! There’s a slot for time spun also so your production rate per hour can be calculated. Don’t be clever and work out the average you spun in an hour, otherwise you’ll confuse the results:
At least it gave me a laugh! The preliminary results (without my mistake) are up on the facebook group so if you’re not a member, join to check them out. But we need more responses, so please take part!
Today I thought I’d share how Jane dresses her distaff after she kindly posted step-by-step photos on the Historic Spinning facebook group. Many thanks to Jane Hunt for allowing me to share!
I hand comb the fibres with my mini combs.
Then I draw off the fibres by hand, not having a clamp means I can’t use a diz, but maybe one day.
Next I plank the sliver, a fancy term for breaking it into suitable lengths for my distaff.
Then I spread out each length into a thin layer about 10″ wide.
I pile up the layers, one on top of the other, to form a batt.
Then I lay my distaff along the long edge (the same direction that the fibres are going in) As you can see, this is my deluxe ‘from the hedgerow’ distaff!
I then roll the distaff up in the batt fairly snugly.
Finally I criss cross my linen tape down the distaff and tie in a bow at the bottom. I tie it tight enough for there to be some resistance to pull against, but not so tight I can’t draught the fibres comfortably. Hope this helps!
How do you dress your distaff? Please do share your methods, and let me know if you’d like me to post your method on my blog for another Sharing Saturday.
You can read about some other distaff dressing methods here.
This week I bring you the first review of my five new NiddyNoddy Spindles. This was the spindle I tried first but turned out to be my last favourite spindle (of the ones I bought from NiddyNoddy, it is far from being my least favourite spindle I own!). That said, it is still beautifully made and works well. I struggled on it with my 20 micron merino but did better spinning a bit thicker with the coarser wool that came as the packaging. A spindle choice is a very personal thing, and influenced by the spinner, their technique as well as the fibre they’re spinning and the end product they’re creating. I’ve only spun a short time on this spindle, I’d like to sit down and do a spindle full of fibre then review it at that point also, but that would be some time away, so keep in mind these are my first thoughts with an empty- or almost empty spindle.
A few additional notes and information that I didn’t have for the video:
The wool in the packaging that I spun is Lleyn which is a welsh meat breed.
This spindle weighs 16 g which is a lot heavier than I am used to.
How many spindles does a medieval lady need?
Answer, five more than she has!
Yes, I ordered a few (ok five) spindles from Niddy Noddy
When I first started spinning I couldn’t find many places selling medieval style spindles or spindle shafts, now I can find a lot. I think there is a lot more opportunity for small sellers to set up shop online these days. Maybe there are more people interested in spinning with appropriate tools at re-enactment events too? Whatever the reason, there are spindles out there that I don’t have and I thought I should change that.
I have a few other spindles on my wish list, but if you see anything you think I should buy… enable me!
One thing I find with my current spindles is that I buy the spindles and whorls separately (though both sellers sell whorls to match their spindles) and many of my whorls don’t fit my spindles as low as I would like. Nothing wrong with the spindles, they are fantastic, but I do love my whorls too. So I talked to Neil first about my needs and he came up with a few ideas.
I bought two medieval spindle sticks (one with a spiral notch, one without), two medieval style spindle sticks which Neil shaped to my specifications (one with a spiral notch, one without) and a Dealgan just because I wanted to.
I’ve done a series of videos covering each spindle, but the below is just me chatting about the spindles I got and talking about what I got and why and how they fit my whorls.
I tried to upload this yesterday, but the internet was too slow, so I had to finish uploading it today, hence why video ‘Wednesday’ is on Thursday.
I’ve been looking into different video editors. I’ve downloaded lightworks and spent about 15 minutes playing with it, so I am not very practiced with it at all, but I can do some things I couldn’t do in my old editing program so I think I will try it for a few videos and see how I go.
This is a short clip I put together from some of my old slow motion videos. Here you see me spinning 15th century style and a medieval living history event with a spindle and distaff from three different angles.
I also managed to put music to this one so turn up your speakers.
I will also mention slow motion isn’t very flattering to one’s face…
Drop spindle spinning is the name we give to a type of suspended spinning that is very popular amongst modern crafters. We give it this name to differentiate it from other types of spinning. There are other ways to spin suspended. I don’t always spin suspended but when I do it’s different to the drop spindle spinning you might be familiar with. In this video I talk briefly about the difference.
I get asked a lot to do a video of how I dress my distaff with wool. I haven’t, because there are already great blog posts and videos out there, and I just ‘put my wool on’. I haven’t really researched much about distaff dressing.
But people still ask so at AROW I took the chance to do a quick video of how I dress my distaff.
If you’d like to read a great blog post on dressing a distaff I recommend you read Ode to a Distaff.
Cynthia asked on the facebook group Evangelical Church of Distaff Spinning how to use a distaff in a belt. I was heading to AROW, a relaxed re-enactors’ only weekend held by the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology ahead of the main Living history season and their Abbey Medieval Festival, so I thought it would be easier to do a quick video. Because there is no public here it meant I could set up my camera to take the video.
Today I share this fantastif video of Luca Costigliolo spinning with a distaff and a suspended spindle. He explains that as the spindle needs to be continiously turned that the drafting is done with only one hand, the left. This keeps the left hand at the distaff and the right hand at the spindle.
Later he talkes about suspended vs grasped spindles. He mentions that his spindle has a bulb on top for holding the half hitch so it should be used as suspended and that spindles with points like that of a great wheel should be used grasped.
Also of interest is the sling around his neck to hold the distaff, rather than relying on having it in the crock of his arm like I do.
Today I bring you a long video showing many different febre crafts. Of interest (ans perhaps an epposode of mythbusting monday) is the lady using a distaff for wool at the spinning wheel. One Myth I often hear is that they only used distaffs for short fibres in the middle ages to make their spinning portable.
While sometimes this lady uses a second hand to assist drafting, most of the time she uses one just as with the spindle method. Norman Kennedy shows this in one of his videos, and he spinds with both hands making two threads at once. Double the thread from one spinner!