Friday, 2 September 2011

From Headwear questions to Spinning questions.

First of all, thanks to everybody who commented with links or hints to medieval headwear on yesterday's post. I will go hunt all those things down and have a good look at them. And if anybody thinks of any more, please comment to yesterday's bleg - it really is helping me!

And today's post... is going to be something similar-but-different. I am preparing a workshop on historical wool preparation and historical spinning, and I'm very, very much looking forward to it. However, I have been mucking around with this and that and fibres and spindles for a good long while now, and my spinning skill was never acquired in the traditional teacher-to-student manner. Thus, I have learned many things differently. And I do not have good insights into what makes a switch to historical spinning difficult for somebody who has learned hand-spindle spinning the modern way. (If you need to brush up on the difference, the two most important bits in my opinion are that historical spinning uses a distaff for holding the fibres, and there's no slinging the thread around under the whorl before fixing it at the top. There's more, but those are two very common differences.)

Hence, I will make you an offer. Are you spinning with a hand-spindle? Have you tried spinning historically? Whether you are spinning historical or modern, I would like to hear about what problems or questions you have. Is there something you just can't get to work? Or something you wanted to try but cannot figure out?

I will try to answer your questions here in the blog - and use the material for my teaching. This way, everybody wins: I get to know common problems, and you will get an answer. And I will try my best to make it a helpful one!

8 comments:

fiofiorina said...

I use a hand distaff when spinning "Roman" and a long one for medieval displays. I still sling the thread under the whorl, as it made the difference between whorl falling to the ground and breaking and spindle falling to the ground and whorl surviving.

For modern spinning I prefer working with the short Roman distaff than holding the wool in my hand. But that's me.

Lady Lamb said...

I learn to spin for myself with the help of some books and YouTube. I don't need to pass the thread under the whorl, and in case it helps you can make a small opening at the tip of the spindle. At events I try to use a distaff but this is my problem. I'm not used to it. I try to support it on my belt so it won't fall and my left hand it's free to grab the fibers, but sometimes I find that difficult. Another problem is that with a distaff I have some tendency to break the fibers. I don't know if you can give me some tip, or maybe I just need to get used to the distaff.

paantha said...

I have learnt to spin with a wheel and a drop spindle but I haven't yet got the hang of medieval-style spinning and I can't make my distaff work. :(

However, I do have one piece of advice for you, which holds true for all craft/textile teaching (and probably a few other things too). If you need to teach a left-handed person when you are right-handed (or vice versa) sit them opposite you and make them copy you as if you are mirror images of each other. My neighbour who taught me to spin was very careful to do this when teaching me to knit and crochet, so I do those right-handed (like I write). However, I just noticed that I spin left-handed, despite being right-handed, because we forgot to implement that when she taught me spinning...

Karen said...

I love spinning with a distaff. I have a long one which I generally use when drafting with a short draw, and a hand held one, that I am just getting good at using, that I use when drafting with a long draw. The biggest problem I had when learning to use my distaffs was keeping a consistant draft. My first spindle-full on each was very uneven. But it just took practice. I worried more about being comfortable holding the distaff than what my thread looked like, and very quickly my thread improved. I hate to spin without one now.

Good luck with your workshop.

Arachne said...

I'm still struggling with the distaff, I've tried both long ones and hand-held ones. My biggest problem is spinning with really long fibres (+ 20 cm) but it happens with shorter wool too: everything's fine in the beginning, but after a bit the fibres become wound so tightly round the distaff that I can't draw at all. I've tried arranging the wool as if it were flax on the distaff rather than wrapping the combed tops around it, but it still ended up a bunched-up mess after a while. Haven't given up yet, though...

Iðunn said...

Hej - workshop on historical wool preparation and historical spinning?? Please keep us informed about the wheres and whens and hows, will you?

Kveðja
Iðunn

Anonymous said...

Spinning with the distaff works quite well for me in the meantime. But one problem remains: the wool, which is wound around the distaff, keeps sliding down: when I start spinning, the wool is on the upper part of the distaff ... some seconds later the whole bunch rests on my hand. I have tried to fix the wool with a bit of yarn, but it did not prevent it from sliding down. Do you have any idea, what I do wrong?
All the best, Michaela

a stitch in time said...

Michaela, you are doing nothing wrong- that's just gravity. Sliding down of wool can occur when the distaff is too smooth. You can remedy this by cutting notches into it or wrapping it with something with more grip, like a leather strip, and then wind on the wool. I hope that helps!