Saturday, January 09, 2010

She Said 'Staff', Huh-huh

Ever wonder what your feet see when you're spinning? This is it - 9/365 YIP

As you spinners probably know, today is the celebration of St. Distaff's Day, our very own yarn-y holiday! Marking a day off work after the 12 day Christmas celebration, Roc Day (as it is also known) allowed free time for European women (who traditionally did all the spinning) to return to their spindle and distaff (the latter holds their flax fiber) for the "pleasant" chore of spinning, while the men, who didn't return to their ploughshares until the following day, took the opportunity to punk the women by putting match to flax, setting it afire. Ha ha, guys. The appropriate ritual response by the women was to toss buckets of water on the presumably be-liquored men. The traditional poem by Robert Herrick describes the "festivities":

St. Distaff's Day; Or, the Morrow after Twelfth-day

Partly work and partly play
You must on St. Distaffs Day:
From the plough soon free your team;
Then cane home and fother them:
If the maids a-spinning go,
Burn the flax and fire the tow.
Bring in pails of water then,
Let the maids bewash the men.
Give St. Distaff' all the right:
Then bid Christmas sport good night,
And next morrow every one
To his own vocation.'1

Here's the description from The Book of Days:
"This mirthful observance recalls a time when spinning was the occupation of almost all women who had not anything else to do, or during the intervals of other and more serious work—a cheering resource to the solitary female in all ranks of life, an enlivenment to every fireside scene."
I would have made such a crappy medieval farm wife.

Our local fiber guild is having their annual Roc Day celebration today, but as I'm unable to attend I'm hosting my own private spin-in to mark the occasion. Just me, my wheel Harry, and a wee dram of scotch to take the chill off.

I'm also spinning for 2 specific projects on my Jenkins Turkish Delight drop-spindle right now: Hatsie and 100% BSG. Hatsie is currently a singles of superwash merino samples from Perchance to Knit on Etsy in green, purple, & teal/red/yellow/black mix. In order to spin enough to Navajo chain-ply and knit a hat, I'll need to add to that. I'll have to dig around for something suitable in my fiber stash, but I'm not sure I have any more superwash that will do; uh oh, there might be some shopping in my future!

The other project, 100% BSG, is a long-term lace project. At Black Sheep Gathering 2009 I purchased a Jenkins spindle from my friend Morgaine of Carolina Homespun, and 2oz. of yak/merino from Tactile Fiber Arts with the intention of spinning enough laceweight yarn to knit up a shawl with all materials/tools from BSG, then wear it in the 2010 Spinner's Lead. We'll see; that's a LOT of spinning & knitting!

But today I think I'll stick to the wheel. Maybe I'll work on that bamboo I've been spinning. Happy spinning!


  1. happy spinning you too.
    greetings from tirol:

  2. I missed Roc day too. Earthquake. I was in the old town shop. Major sucky. Hope you guys are ok. I just got power a little bit ago.

  3. Thank you so much for the info on the St Distaff day... I will definetly make a not of it. (Not that I did not knit or spin over this twelve day... I would go nuts...But then again, spinning is not work for me)

  4. That purple roving is gorgeous! I just emailed Jenkins about ordering a spindle. I've been thinking about them since Sock Summit!


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