Video ‘Wednesday’- New Spindles!

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.

Video Wednesday- Drop spindle vs European Suspended Spinning.

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.

Video Wednesday- How I Dress my Distaff with Wool

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.



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.

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.


© 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.


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



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.

Updated spinning videos– wool and flax!

I’ve done some more videos of me spinning.  You’ll have to excuse that my movements are a tad slow and clumsy, I’m sick and it’s winter here which means my fingers were like icicles and blue with cold.

Here is the video of me spinning flax. Right at the beginning of video I don’t have my distaff in the right place (to busy being spinning in time for the 10 second timer on the camera) and in the kerfuffle that follows the thread snaps. Just after that when you see me fluffing my hand around I’m fixing the thread with water and twist. Works great for flax.  I took other videos but this one was the best so I thought you might as well see me doing an oopsie. Shows how easy it is to fix partially spun flax to partially spin flax though!

When I first wind onto the spindle I’m trying to show you that some of the spun thread has collected on top of the spindle, so I’ve spun a bit more than it looks like I have.

The second time I rest my spindle for a few turns on the chair next to me. Sometimes you see in pictures ladies resting their spindles. You can see here I spend longer spinning the spindle and I’ve collected quite a bit bore thread on top of the spindle.

You can see I’m also being a good girl and wetting my fingers with my pot of water rather than my own spit. Often in the past women would lick their fingers or even run the flax thread through their mouth. You can see both the left hand and thread are so close to the mouth this is very tempting and it really helps you get a nice thread more quickly than using you finger with water. I find the spinning with water much more slow, but it is very unhealthy to run flax through your mouth and even just to lick your fingers so I’m sticking with the bowl of water.  I saw a video recently of an old lady spitting on her flax which seems a great alternative, it’s not the spit on the flax that’s unhealthy (it’s going to be washed anyway, and you always wash your hands after spinning anyway) but the flax in mouth (and yes, finger from flax  to mouth counts as this), but I’m not much of a spitter, especially in public.

Here is the video of me spinning wool. It’s my own combed wool which is combed with dog combs, so it could be a better preparation! However I’m endeavouring with it! I still prefer the Merino wool I learnt on, good thing I didn’t know when I was learning that Merino was meant to be ‘hard’!

I start off just as I do with flax, and I could spin like that, wind on, spin more, wind on, especially if I wanted a lower twist thread. When I’ve moved awa from the distaff a bit I then pop a few half hitches onto my spindle and suspend the spindle out. The second time I spin I also show dropping the spindle off at the side. I don’t always do this. When I reach an arm’s length if I have the perfect amount of twist in my thread I just wind it on. If I have a little extra twist then I will drop he spindle.  I tend to drop my own combed wool more than I do the store-bought merino because I can draft the merino so much faster. This stuff takes more time to draft and I’m more likely to get to an arm’s length and realise I’ve got heaps of twist. I find one spin of the spindle is less than the amount of twist I want for the drop to the floor, and also if the spindle touches the ground or starts back spinning on its own (my whorls spin fast but short, often not long enough for the spindle to go from the height of the chair, to the ground and back up again) which is why I don’t tend to drop the spindle if my amount of twist is perfect.

As always, my methods are still a work in progress but are becoming a bit more standardised. My next task is to experiment with more types of wool and see what other differences I can find the fibre makes to my spinning technique!

Video of me spinning.

It’s taken me a while but I’ve finally got a video of me spinning wool.
Sorry for the low quality and angle etc. Hopefully I’ll do a better one soon!

When I’m spinning a fine thread I use a combination of techniques– grasped spinning and suspended spinning.


First I draft the thread out holding the spindle between my third and fourth fingers and spinning it with my thumb and second finger.


Then I put a couple of half-hitches on the top of the spindle and spin suspended. This gets extra twist into the thread and I lengthen it at this stage. I then butterfly the spun thread up on my left hand, wind it onto the spindle and start again.

If I’m spinning a more coarse thread then I don’t need to do the suspended stagg, the thread has enough twist from drafting it out.


At the end of the video you see I don’t do a suspended stage, I just rest the spindle against the couch for a few spins instead and this works well if you are sitting. It also means I don’t have to fuss with a half-hitch.


So, what does everybody think so far? Any questions?


A lot of firsts!

My first attempt at spinning my own combed wool. It was my first attempt at combing my own wool also! One ply of this two ply thread was also my first attempt at spinning on an antique French spindle with a spiral tip. Lots of firsts!


How do I comb wool without combs? Well, I bought some dog combs but my wool was so stringy and gnarly they weren’t enough. So I carded the wool first to make it smooth and get out the lumps and then I combed it. Below is my second attempt at combing wool using this method (and you can see my combs)