a package arrived at my door:
two plastic Turkish style spindles (10g and 14g),
3-D printed by my son.
Wetspinning flax is a drippy business
and I didn’t think all that moisture was good for my lovely wooden spindles,
so before tackling my second strick of flax (this one from Vävstuga),
I asked him to make one for me.
He thought I needed weight options, so made two.
both spin beautifully and I don’t have to worry about wrecking them.
Well, that’s not strictly true --
I can’t help but grow attached to most useful tools
(note previous love letters to my PVC loom),
but at least moisture won’t be a problem with these.
They’ve already survived the odd clunk to the floor
and so far are none the worse for wear.
Note: there is open source code (google)
that you can take to your local 3-D Printer
and as I’d promised myself I’d try ‘properly’ dressing a distaff with this new strick
(before I’d used the strick-wrapped-in-a-towel-and-draped-over-my-shoulder method),
I ran outside, cut a piece of willow
bent a couple of thin branches into a vague oval,
and tied them together with a bit of string.
Though not really like the distaffs described in the books I’d consulted*
it worked astonishing well --
the linen fanned out in thin, curved layers on a bed
just as they all said it should,
and when I’d wrapped the delicate array around the willow,
tied it with a ribbon,
lashed it to my body with an apron and stuck the butt end into my leg warmer
(this last was not described in any my sources but made a big difference for this novice),
the strands of flax poured smoothly down into my waiting hands.
Not that the videos above and below show this exactly --
but take it from me, it felt simply amazing.
The fibers drafted more smoothly and evenly than with my first attempts at the towel method,
and though it took a while to figure out where to put my dish of water
the time-honored and oh-so-elegant spit technique helped me get started..
*Linen: Hand Spinning and Weaving by Patricia Baines (Batesford 1989)
-Your Handspinning by Elsie G. Davenport (1953 and 1964)
-the handout from my 1992workshop with Marge Bentley from whence came the flax I talked about before
-a couple of You Tube Videos on dressing a distaff
All gave essentially the same information,
though the Baines book was the most specific and gave the widest range of. options,
many of which I look forward to trying.
1. A belt works better than an apron (and looks classier too)
2. It’s easier to see at that focal length without my glasses
3. I look awfully grim when I’m concentrating.
4. The website upgrade that now allows me to put videos in my blog posts might be a dangerous thing.
The rest of the evening was spent clutching the distaff with my elbow and
alternately filling yellow and white spindles.
I got pretty comfortable with the whole business after a while,
but next morning I strapped the distaff to an old tripod we’d fished out of a dumpster,
and found that this, though still less portable,
allowed for a little more elbow room and general drafting ease.
and with my glasses.
I imagine it’ll be quite some time before I can read and spin flax
as I can with wool,
but next I want to try a hand held distaff and some other ways of dressing it
so I can practice spinning while walking around the yard --
or at least around the studio while waiting for spring.
of how much pleasure I get from the act of making yarn--
the sensation of fibers in my fingers,
the energy of the twist transforming fleece into wool or flax into linen,
and the subtle vibrations that flow up the yarn and into my hands
from the twirling tool below.
It also reminded me how much I dislike drawing my hair in a messy ponytail,
so this morning I got out the scissors,
and now there will be NO ponytail drawings
for at least a couple of months.
so I ordered a copy and it came a few days ago.
- info about growing and processing, which of course makes me want to do that,
-articles on scouring and bleaching (another fascinating topic)
-a fair bit about working with tow top (which so far I don’t like nearly as much as the line).
-and naturally quite a few very useful discussions on spinning (twist, handling the fiber, water in the drafting zone etc).
The only specific how-to discussion of dressing a distaff is by Hannah Merritt Woods,
and she shows a different method again from the sources mentioned above
(fibers hanging straight down rather than swooping across and around),
so I will probably try that eventually too.
In the meantime there is another freshly sized linen warp waiting on my loom.
Cuz yeah -- there is that cool thing to do too.