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Re: MR: Huswifery

Poster: "Terry L. Neill" <Neilltl@ptsc.slg.eds.com>

>> And thou shalt have my distaf and go spynne! --

>This is the sort of thing that leads me to think that,
>in England, at least, spinning has been considered
>strictly "woman's work" for a long time

Spinning *was* women's work throughout most of SCA period in most of SCA
cultures.  And even if they guys or young boys helped out from time to time,
was still considered women's work.

I don't know the date of the Monks prologue quoted above, but judging from
language it's pretty modern (compared to my favored time period, well
entrenched in the 9th century) if still pre 1600.

I'm guessing about both sexes spinning in the Viking age.  It's based on the
fact that spindle whorls have been found scattered all over the place on
excavated farms.

>I notice that Anarra didn't mention any distaff in
>describing the fiber demos.  Just what is a distaff,
>anyway, and how does one use it?

I don't use a distaff, mostly because I haven't bothered to make one or buy
yet.  It would come in handy because, often as not, I'll get the roving all
wrapped in the spindle if there's any wind.  Thanks for reminding me, I
I'll go look for a suitable stick.

A distaf is essentially a stick.  It could be a stick with a Y in it.  One
piles  and wraps the rovings around the top of the distaff, clamps the
bottom of it under one's arm, and pulls the rovings off.  It's a way to hold
a lot of fiber for spinning, up out of the way.  It keeps the fiber from
picking up bits of braken and floor leavings (which someone has just spent a
lot of time getting OUT of the wool with the combs) and keeps the fiber up
out of the way of the spindle, so it doesn't get wrapped around the spindle
and yarn.

Generally the distaff is held under the same arm you use for pinching the
(in my case, my right arm).

        - Anarra
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