Monday, January 08, 2007

distaff day

Yesterday, I spent a good portion of the day taking care of the chickens and the rabbits. I cannot recall spending so much time outdoors in the month of January! It was a lovely day. Originally, I had planned to observance of St. Distaff Day...but there were chores that needed to be taken care of, and a big rain on the way!

Jack has a great thick coat. I can hardly believe he was clipped two months ago. I have been worried about the rabbits dropping coat in this warm weather, but actually Jack's is in good shape. He had a few tiny matts behind the ears, and one big one under his front paw and chest area. After a good brushing, he had his toenails done, and ears cleaned. Lakota got a nice combing too, and will need a clipping in the next day or so. She is in full coat, and had only one matt behind her ear where a large hay seed had lodged. Each time I clip Lakota, I notice more and more grey coloring showing, but the length and quantity of her wool more than make up for it.

While combing rabbits, my mind wanders to the act of spinning, and then to distaff day. I wonder how many spinners out there use them? I really would love to learn to dress a distaff. I have never seen anyone using a distaff. I have studied many pictures, and read what I find about the topic, but I would really like some clear- step by step instructions. I have not found any that feel I can honestly learn from. I need to watch someone so I can understand.

My Ashford Traditional has a slot on the side of it to hold a distaff, but my wheel did not come to me with one. I am the third owner of this wheel, and I sometimes wonder if it originally had a distaff attached to it at one point. A few years ago, after reading Pennington and Taylor's pictorial guide, I decided I wanted a "branch type". I have never used it, and the only flax I have spun came from the Manning's, in prepared form. I grew flax seed that I had purchase from the Manning's also. It was enough to sow a 5x5 foot patch. It had a pretty little blue flower. I never did anything but harvest it, as I was unsure of the retting process.

So, I want to someday, try and work with this type of fiber. The reason is more for tradition than it is for design or function. I am a descendant of those who knew the process, and I want to at least experience some of what they knew.


Anonymous said...

That's one fuzzy rabbit!

Fiberjoy said...

What a sky!

I too have been wondering about using a distaff. Since I only use a spindle I dream of one that tucks into a belt or sash. It makes so much sense to use one I wonder why the practice vanished? I've been studying pictures and showing them to Ed but so far he hasn't seemed inclined to make one. If he ever does and I figure out how to use it, I'll let you know.

Your rabbits almost make me want one. :-)

SarahIvy said...

I love when you post pictures of your rabbits...those ears!

I am no help when it comes to the distaff, though count me among the curious as well.

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