27 April, 2011


I've been looking at images of handspinners in Medieval Europe and the ancient Near East, and I cannot figure out how they manage to spin the spindle down and to the side.  I suspect the distaffs stuck in their waistbands have something to do with it.

I wonder if a distaff would help me draw a larger amount of fibre at a time.  My short draw is extremely short.  A different hand movement could turn out to be more comfortable over long or frequent handspinning sessions.


  1. I experimented with a distaff (ok, a wooden flagpole that I tied the fiber onto) and a reproduction Medieval spindle. The spindle doesn't keep spinning very long, so the hand nearest to it keeps twirling it every few seconds. The hand by the distaff draws the fibers out. I did stick the distaff in my belt, or under my arm, since I wanted to be able to walk around with it. After I got the hang of it, I realized that my hands were in the same position that the period illuminations show. Using their tools makes the difference.

    I don't know if you can get to it, but my current Facebook profile picture has me spinning with the distaff and spindle. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=652361003 (Melissa Wold McCollum)

  2. thanks, Melissa, great to hear about your experiment and see the photo!


Comments are moderated.