A common sight in medieval manuscripts is ladies standing while spinning, like this lady spinning wool amongst the sheep.
Also common, is the lady taking a break to spin, like this lady spinning wool amongst the sheep.
Which sometimes raises the question “How do I use a distaff while sitting?”
Well, there are many answers and the right answer is what works for you.
This lady has a beautiful standing distaff.
Grabow Altarpiece, Bertram von Minden, c 1379-1383
Sometimes the lady clasps the distaff between her knees
1380, Mary spinning
I would love a standing distiff, but I don’t have one yet. People have asked how I sit with my distaff and as it’s hard to explain I decided to do a video.
This is simply how I sit with my distaff, what works for you may be different. Please feel free to share what works for you in the comments!
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.
I thought I’d share a video I compiled of me spinning in slow motion.
In this video you can see me starting a leader, spinning, drafting and winding on in slow motion.
Things started slow on Sunday morning. While I got to bed at a reasonable hour some of our group got to bed at 4am! It’s not unusual for people to be getting UP at about 4:30am. And no, it wasn’t just the young ones! Lol.
I had a little more time on Sunday as we didn’t have the tournament and I was feeling a little better.
I managed to visit the 14th century encampment where I took a few videos.
Here is my friend tablet weaving:
The other videos I’m yet to edit, but I took some in the fantastic Historia encampment where they had a lot of artefacts on display. You can see some snippets of these videos in my highlights video here:
I also had time to watch (and video) my group running the Tournament of Strength and Skill, which I’m still editing the individual videos for but you can see the overview here.
Once again I had my fingerloop and spinning demos.
I was also really happy to see my first ever medieval dress worn again. This dress is about 13 years old and still has a lot of life left in it:
Actually, a few of my dresses were worn by people other than me. The tally over the weekend also included:
My green and gold silk cioppa (you may have spotted it on my friend in the first photo of this post.
My gold silk sleeves
My green sleeves
My jaffa dress (orange gironea)
My pink wool kirtle
I have a friend who has borrowed my brown giornea for the past few events but she had a new kirtle of her own for this event
I was really planning on doing some videos of me spinning, but unfortunately I was too sick on Thursday and Friday (also it was raining on Friday) to get them done. At my demo on Sunday I did manage to give and film an impromptu spinning lesson.
Now things are finally settling down from Abbey. Taking the shop is a lot of work. I had the event itself off from helping on the shop, but am still involved of course in the pre and post work which is significant. But I hope really truly to do some more videos soon. My husband bought me a bunch of spindles from a new (to me) shop so I hope to do a video review of each of them.
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…
I would love to be at the QLHF (Queensland Living History Federation) Conference this weekend doing a talk on spinning, but I’m not. I’m getting married instead! I thought I had planned my wedding on a weekend that no one would organise a reenactment event, but I was wrong, lol.
So while I am of vowing to love the love of my life for the rest of my life, I thought I’d share a video of my presentation at last years conference. It’s not the best, and you’ll probably need to plug in your headphones because the sound is bad, but it will have to do until next year unless you catch me at a re-enactment event!
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.