How to use a Belt 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.

Off to the 15th century again!

Once again I’m off to the 15th century at the Abbey Medieval Festival.

Set up starts tomorrow and I’ll be leaving on friday and back on monday. Maybe I might even have some photos to share?

I’ll be doing a demo on fingerloop braiding which I’ve done for the past few years and is always popular. This year it’s been featured on the ‘what to do with young children’ list so I’m making sure to be taking some thick, brightly coloured wool set up for some simple braids so if there are kids wanting to have a go they can make a braid more quickly than with cotton.

I’ll also be doing a talk/demo on ‘how to turn straw into gold’ which covers how flax becomes linen and the spinning technique in the 15th century.  I’ve been working on wooden dowel spindles and clay whorls incase I run out of enough spindles for people to try spinning on. It’s the first year I’ll be doing this one and it clashes with a drop spinning class so I’m not sure how many people I’ll have to it, but best be prepared.

I’m off to the 15th Century

This weekend I’ll be off camping—15th century style.

I’m in a living history group and every year we take part in the Abbey Medieval Festival, the biggest of its kind in the southern Hemisphere. This year it started on the 30th of June with a medieval banquet they hold every year on the weekend before the tournament—which is the main attraction. The tournament runs on Saturday the 7th of July and Sunday the 8th, though the re-enactors get there as early as Thursday and stay as late as Monday.

There are usually around 35 different re-enactment and living history groups that go each year and each group is given a plot of land at Abbeystowe. These plots are arranged by time, so my group will be camping near all the other 15th century groups.  My group is big on living history so if you wander past our encampment you will see some beautiful 15th century styled tents (quite a few, actually. We have quite a high tent to person ratio because, well, we love our tents! Some are furnished with historically accurate furniture and furnishings so come, take a look), an awesome camp fire where we do all our cooking, a whole series of tables set up as dining tables, sideboards or places to play games or do crafts on and a bunch of people in 15th century Florentine dress going about their daily tasks. We’re often seen eating (we love to do this also. We have a whole tent just for storing and preparing our food!), playing games, doing embroidery, making fingerloop braids, kneading bread, making pasta, cooking the dinner or any number of tasks! This year I hope to be spinning which will be a first for me. Members of the public can wander along at any time and have a chat to find out what our life is like or they can come along to one of the scheduled times for a demonstration of something specific. But wait, there’s more! That’s just our encampment I’ve talked about. Now times that by thirty-something. Yup.

But wait, there’s more! As well as the encampments there are other arenas. There’s the main tournament field, the jousting lists, the archery range and smaller areas such as the village green and there’s almost always something going on there, be it a dancing lesson or a full scaled battle.

But wait! There’s more! How could I mention Abbey without mentioning the shopping? Or the street performers? No wonder tens of thousands of people visit each year.

It’s held at around the same time each year in Queensland, Australia. You can see where it’s located here http://candela.com.au/abbey/tournament/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/AMF_LocationMap_2010.jpg and while you’re at it take a look at the main page here http://abbeytournament.com/ where you can read more about it.

I’m looking forward to it and hopefully I can return with some more spinning practice under my belt! Literally, that’s where my distaff will be…