14 December 2015

Tutorial: Distaff spinning

Myself and other members of our reenactment group, the Cardiff Castle Garrison, have been going on a bit of a distaff spinning craze over the last few months. We set up The Evangelical Church of Distaff Spinning to spread the idea and to share hints, tips and information. However, this weekend we finally managed to get a video of what we've been up to.

Here, I'm spinning using a modified drafting method devised by Vix Holmqvist. All of these ideas are founded on the excellent research of Catherina de Alessandri and supplemented by the ideas of Lois Swales and Anne Liese.

I've previously written about my tools. My distaff is dressed with combed Cotswold sliver, wrapped to mimic this example from the Luttrell Psalter. When I get some more combed wool, I'll make a tutorial of how to dress a distaff in this way. In the meantime, Vix has written an excellent post including several other ways to dress a distaff.

Woman with distaff and spindle, feeding chickens.
Luttrell Psalter (BL Add. MS. 42130, f. 166v)

Hopefully, this makes it rather clearer how to do the short-suspension style of distaff spinning. For the in-hand style of distaff spinning (which I find I have to do for anything that draws less quickly than this lovely combed stuff), see Cathelina's excellent videos.

Happy spinning!


  1. Thank you for this. I am going to have to wait for the dress a distaff post, I think.

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      There are a number of good tutorials for dressing distaffs, including at Cathelina's blog (https://15thcenturyspinning.wordpress.com) and Vix's blog (http://windwraith.blogspot.com/search/label/Spinning). Hope this helps!

  2. Is there any way to participate in the Evangelical Church of Distaff Spinning without having to be on Facebook?

    1. We are currently only on Facebook, I'm afraid. However, several of our most active members regularly blog, namely:

      Cathelina di Alessandri, at 15th Centrury spinning: https://15thcenturyspinning.wordpress.com/
      Judy Kavanagh: https://www.youtube.com/user/LuckyKavanagh/videos
      Josefin Waltin: https://waltin.se/josefinwaltinspinner/