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.
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…
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.
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.
I was working on writing a guest blog post today, and I was talking about a specific spinning video I have seen. I went to re-watch it to reference it, but it has disappeared from you tube. I notice this quite a bit. A lot of videos I have watched and loved have gone. I don’t know why, often they just look like old home videos so I don’t think it can be copyright? Sure I’m finding new videos all the time, but I miss the old ones. I consider the European style spinning with spindle and distaff a dying art so it is sad to see an old video gone.
Today I share a close-up video of how I spin my spindle.
I have heard grasped spinning called many other things, including in-hand, in-the-hand, twiddling, suspended and supported. (yes, some people say it is suspended and others call it supported!) I’ve always called it grasped as I learnt that from Norman Kennedy who uses this technique. I was accused on ravelry of making up the term simply to confuse people, but sadly I can’t claim the term, it’s just what I use. I’ve have seen grasped spinning mentioned in a book from 1930—well before I was born!
Forgive the spinning is a little clumsy in this video, I was trying to move my fingers out of the way for the camera and was leaning at an odd angle to get my hand in view of the camera. Also, that’s not dirt under my nails, it’s cocoa. I was baking in between takes and cleaned my hands but missed my nails. Oops.