13 May, 2011

Props for Sleeping Beauty

You know you've gotten a reputation when a friend calls and asks you where to find a spinning wheel to help her child and friends tell the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale in a video project for school.

I figured that the best option for a prop would be a drop spindle and distaff combination because there would be no sharp tip to hurt kids, no pieces to worry about losing or breaking, and nothing large to cart around.  Yet the set would look impressive and archaic.

I trimmed a forked branch down to one yard in length to make a distaff.  I loaded the four tines with a wad of combed Romney wool.

I made a basic bottom-whorl drop spindle from a dowel and wooden toy wheel.

I took one of my spindles and more Romney, and I spun some special Z spun, S ply two strand yarn.  (I started widdershins or the opposite direction I usually spin and finishing up by plying in the opposite direction I usually ply.)  I spun a medium amount, enough for show, and I wrapped it onto the basic spindle.  Then I tied the free end of the yarn to the distaff, hiding it in the wool so it looks as though wool feeds into the yarn.

The yarn was Z spun and S ply so that the child could turn the spindle normally clockwise without undoing the yarn.  This was the first time I'd spun widdershins.  I got used to drafting and turning counter-clockwise after five minutes.

Forget and spin clockwise when spinning counter-clockwise, and you'll know right quick.  The single strand falls apart.  But plying, you wouldn't necessarily know.  I accidentally let an arm's length of plying get past me that was turned the wrong way.  Discovered it later when I unwound the yarn.

The tip of the dowel is blunt, so the audience at the child's school will have to imagine Sleeping Beauty pricking her finger on the spindle tip and falling into her swoon.

I should have secured the yarn on the spindle with half-hitches instead of the usual clove hitches just to be sure it stays in place.

So, I have now made a distaff but still have not used one.

ETA: Here is a photo of the spindle, if you need to copy it.  You can click to see it enlarged.


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