Saturday, January 19, 2013

Distaff Day 2013

It is that time of the year when all good spinners are called on to once again, pick up their spindles or get back to their wheels on the 12th day of Christmas. European tradition gives spinners the time off at the end of the year and the start of the new one. Distaff Day is the start of a new spinning year. Named after the spinners tool the distaff (think of a free standing hat stand, or a lamp stand without the lamp) which is used to hold the flax strands fanned out in a vertical oblong balloon shape. The distaff sits next to the spinner with the bottom ends of the flax strands about shoulder to waist height making is easy to pull the fibres from the balloon bunch and draft them into linen yarn.
the Tzuhalem Spinners and Weavers Guild once again hosted an excellent event. This year we were treated to a real distaff being used by a talented Brenda. It is hard to see in the photo but just below the fibre balloon and at elbow height is a small wooden ring around the distaff pole. Inside that ring is a grove holding a sponge which in turn holds the water used to dip your fingers (almost like the bowls of water at the entrance of churches) to keep the fibres damp as you spin them. Ingenious!
Brenda is part of the Linen Project, part of Transitions which aims to revive ancient skills and in the case of the Linen project, that means planting flax and processing it into linen. if you live in Victoria, BC check it out and get involved.
[Photo: Angel outside
St. Peter's Church] 
The whole day had a slightly spiritual feeling. The dipping of the fingers, the location St Peter's Church Hall and the site-- one of the most beautiful Gary Oak meadows which surrounds the church and hall. Truly a spiritual event for us spinners.

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