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spinning-msg – 6/9/10


Spinning wheels, spindles. techniques. History of spinning wheels.


NOTE: See also the files: linen-msg, silk-msg, wool-hist-msg, cotton-art, weaving-msg, dyeing-msg, knitting-msg, wool-clean-msg, looms-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



From: ilaine at panix.com (Liz Stokes)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: biblio, sails, shoes, & lead

Date: 22 Jul 1993 06:45:11 -0400

Organization: PANIX Public Access Internet and Unix, NYC


priest at vaxsar.vassar.edu (Carolyn Priest-Dorman) writes:

>p. 132)  But for hands-on graphic evidence I have Ilaine de Cameron to thank.

>She showed me untreated wool from a double-coated modern sheep (a throwback

>breed) and a pair of vicious looking woolcombs.  We know the Vikings had and

>used both:  woolcombs and double-coated sheep.  Then she demonstrated what

>happens when you comb the wool the way the sources agree that the Vikings did:

>the long kemp comes away all nice and straight, leaving behind the the softer,

>shorter, shinier stuff that all clings together.  (Ilaine, if you're out there,

>jump in any time!)


        Sure! For what it's worth I have several sets of wool combs, and

I've found the Viking combs far more effective for separating a double coat

than the Medieval English style. The English combs hold more wool, and I think

make a nicer roving but they seem better suited to a medium to longwool fleece

of uniform type.




Liz Stokes         | Ilaine's E-Z Garb Workshop ...  Okay, now take the fabric

Ilaine de Cameron  | off the loom (or away from the kittens). It needs to be

                  | finished. Just find some fullers' earth, a convenient

ilaine at panix.com   | stream, and some husky peasants to pound it with rocks.



From: jab2 at stl.stc.co.uk (Jennifer Ann Bray)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: carding in period

Date: 12 Oct 93 09:32:38

Organization: STC Technology Ltd., London Road, Harlow, UK.


> Carding being OOP


Depends on the precise period you are out of, but a wooden object

found in a hiberno-norse settlement in Dublin Ireland has been

identified as a wool carder, or at any rate the back of one.


I have no idea what the grounds for the identification were, but it

definately wasn't a comb, as it had no holes for the teeth.



Vanaheim vikings

(nfps not SCA, but I was passing the Rialto & stopped for a chat)


p.s. hiberno-norse = irish vikings



From: jgm at helios.tn.cornell.EDU (James McLean)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: wool carding in period?

Date: 18 Oct 1993 21:07:36 -0400


There have been a few notes discussing whether carding of wool happened in

period, or if wool was only processed with combing.  I have absolutely no

knowledge in the area, but I happened to come across the following.

It's from _Renaissance_ by John Hale via TIME-LIFE Books, on page 79 and

refering to the wool trade in Florence during the rennaissance...


> COMBING the wool separated the long strands from the short tufts of fuzz.

> Then the long strands, wound on wooden blocks, went directly to the

> spinners.  The tufts were used too, but first had to be prepared by carders.

> CARDING was a scraping process applied to lower-grade wool.  Spreading the

> wool on wicker frames, workers untangled it with wire scrapers - tools so

> efficient Florence forbade anyone to take them out of the city.


Hope this is helpful/interesting.  Does it make sense to any of the

wool-wise folk out there?


--Matteo Sassetti



From: Sheri.Stanley at p911.f1066.n374.z1.fidonet.org (Sheri Stanley)

Date: 08 Jan 94 11:17:03 -0500

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: silk, was Re: Expensive Authenticity

Organization: Fidonet:The Blue Barrel Brewery (1:374/1066.911)


kc> There are two kinds of silk that are some-times called "raw silk"-+-

kc> one is silk noil, which is made by washing and spinning the short

kc> fibers from broken caccoons, and the other is tussah silk, which is

kc> made from the coccoons of other types of mothes which eat other things

kc> than mulberries.


You are, of course, correct - did I not differentiate in my post? Sigh. The

baby is sucking my brains out again.


kc> as mulbery-worm silk, and it's base color is never pure white.  I

kc> don't know where else it is worked, i have seldom seen it on the

kc> market, and when i do it is out-rageously expensive.


Shrug. Maybe it's your area...I've occasionally found Tussah for $4-$6 per

yard (though $10-12 is more common). Check out Thai Silks (their address is

in the back of Sew News magazine),they have reasonable prices on silks (and

great quarterly sales!)


kc> I love silk noil--it has all the warm-but-cool properties you expect

kc> in natural fabrics, it has a wonderfull drape and hand, and all though


Ever tried to spin it? Eek! What a pain in the butt. I've given up trying to

get good, consistent yarn from the noil rovings I can buy here, and started

using it carded w/other fibers (works *fantastic* carded w/merino!). I love

it, too...it gets *so* soft when you wash it, and it keeps you toasty warm in






From: Tom Perigrin (4/14/94)

To: markh at sphinx

oak spears?


Sorry for the delay on replying...


A "walking wheel" is a type of spinning wheel that one uses while standing

up. In fact, one walks back and forth and back and forth...   The wheel is

anywhere from 3' to 5' in diameter, but it is also wide, but thin!  I make

them out of 3" wide 1/8 thick oak.   (They don't have to bear much force).





Ld. Thomas Ignatius Pergrinus



From: rosalind at kenton.iii.net (Donna Kenton)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Lace Making

Date: 22 Nov 1994 13:04:34 GMT

Organization: iii.net subscriber


In article <0Di5Vc4w165w at bregeuf.stonemarche.org>, una at bregeuf.stonemarche.org (Honour Horne-Jaruk) says:


>> Also, I'm tempted to dabble in spinning; how hard is it to find a spinning

>> wheel? Are spinning wheels terribly expensive?


Halcyon Yarn in Bath, Maine, at 800-341-0282 has wheels, books, and

fibers as well as qualified help.  Everyone there knows different fiber

arts, and they'll transfer you to someone who can help you.


Also, I've started spinning this summer, and it you'd like to talk about

this through E-mail, that would great.


Rosalinde De Witte



From: corliss at hal.physics.wayne.EDU (David J. Corliss)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Lace making - Ann Arbor

Date: 21 Nov 1994 10:37:11 -0500

Organization: The Internet


Greetings from Beorthwine-


While I do not know of anyone making lace in Cynnabar (Ann Arbor), there

is some very good work being done near by.


By any chance, have you spoken with Lady Persephone, the (new) Arts and

Sciences officer there, or to Lady Arianna, who has just become the

Regional A&S officer? Your local officers should always be an excellent

point of contact for such questions. Certainly those in Cynnabar are very



You will want to contact Lady Jeanne Anne le Bonnetiere, (Nancy Evans on

Edsel in Clinton Township, about an hour and fifteen minute drive from

Ann Arbor). Her work is excellent and she is a fine teacher. She is well

aquainted with others doing this kind of work in the area.


You mention that you are also interested in spinning. While I do not

spin, I have generally heard it recomended that a gentle begin spinning

with a drop spindle. Certainly, apart from other considerations, it

seems wise to put off buying a spinning wheel until one has determined a

considerable interest in the subject. Drop spindles with round whorls are

readily available at many SCA events and in stores catering to spinners

and weavers: you will certainly want to visit Traditional Handcrafts in

Northville, about 40 minutes away. From my own experience, having been

told by several people that Turkish/Palestinian/Double arm spindles (all the

same thing) are far superior to those with round whorls when spinning

medium to heavy yarns (whorls still being preferred for supported

spinning): they wobble far less, and hence waste very little energy.

Nearly all the available energy goes into the spinning, and they spin

much longer with less difficulties, for the same effort. Unfortunately,

they are hard to come by. I make them (they are truly are trivial to make)

and, as I will be at the Cynnabar Wassail next month, I can show you one.

Also in attendance will be Lady Estrella of Trinity, the fairest and most

graceful of ladies, who is also an accomplished spinner and teacher. She

swears by the Turkish spindle and has several of them. Ask her to show

you her work: she has a talent for getting people to start to spin

(basic heavy wool yarn) on the spot. See you there!


Beorthwine of Grafham Wood, one-time Cynnabar MOS



From: corliss at hal.physics.wayne.EDU (David J. Corliss)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Turkish/Palestinian/Double Arm Spindles

Date: 21 Nov 1994 11:07:13 -0500


Greetings to all from Beorthwine of Grafham Wood-


These spindles are very simple to make and work better than drop spidles

with round whorls for medium to heavy yarns. I have not seen one that

works well for light threads and a supported spindle with a small light

whorl is better for such material.


(David Corliss, the physicist, butts in here: I don't know anything about

spinning but understand tops well. Turkish spindles are superior because

the nutations ("wobbles") are heavily damped (go away quickly): if you

set one spinning and deliberately make it wobble, this disturbance

quickly vanishes. Thus, a much higher portion of the applied effort goes

into spinning the fibers and less is dissipated, giving a spindle that

spins far longer and straighter for the same effort.)


Make a solid piece of wood eight inches long, 3/4 to one inch wide,

and 3/16 to 1/4 inch thick. Make another. Smooth _very_ carefully

and thoroughly. Drill a quarter inch diameter hole through the center of

both pieces. Cut a ten inch lenth of quarter inch diameter dowel rod and

put a dull point at one end. That's it!



        l                                                         l

        l                           X <-- 1/4 inch hole           l

        l                                                         l






















Hold the whole thing together by wrapping a length of yarn around it.

Wrap the yarn you spin about it in the same fashion. When you are done,

just pull out the rod and the other pieces will come out as well, leaving

a neat ball ready for weaving.


Beorthwine of Grafham Wood



From: hrjones at uclink.berkeley.edu (Heather Rose Jones)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Spinning/Lace Making

Date: 26 Nov 1994 16:42:45 GMT

Organization: University of California, Berkeley


: Also, I'm tempted to dabble in spinning; how hard is it to find a spinning

: wheel? Are spinning wheels terribly expensive?


: Pattie Rayl


Yes, they do tend to be expensive. (Mine cost close to $300 a decade and

a half ago.) But fortunately, you don't need a wheel to start learning to

spin. Spinning with a drop spindle is very cheap on the equipment side,

authentic for any part of the SCA period, and in my opinion an easier way

to learn spinning. The essence of a drop spindle is a stick (about a foot

long) with a notch at the top and a weight at the bottom. Commonly the

weight will be a wooden disk or a large ceramic "bead". The stick should

protrude slightly below the weight and the weight _must_ be fastened

firmly to the stick. (There are a number of other authentic historical

designs for drop spindles -- sometimes specialized for particular fibers

-- but this is the one I'm most familiar with.) Fasten your starter yarn

onto the spindle just above the weight, loop it down around the bottom of

the spindle then up to a half-hitch around the notch. Note the spin

direction of your starter yarn. Hold the loose end of the yarn in one

hand and the top of the spindle in the other. Twist the spindle between

your fingers in the appropriate direction to spin the yarn tighter, and

let go so it hangs spinning from the yarn. Begin adding fresh fiber to

the free end of the yarn (this is the tricky part and the one best

demonstrated in person). Respin the spindle when it stops. When the yarn

gets too long to manage, undo the half-hitch and loop, wind some of the

yard around the spindle, and set up to go again.


Several times I've taught spinning classes where the first thing I had

people do was make their own spindles. It's really _that_ easy!


Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn



From: salley at niktow.canisius.edu (David Salley)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Spinning/Lace Making

Date: 27 Nov 94 12:45:26 GMT

Organization: Canisius College, Buffalo NY. 14208


Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn (Heather Rose Jones) writes:

> : Also, I'm tempted to dabble in spinning; how hard is it to find a spinning

> : wheel? Are spinning wheels terribly expensive?

> : Pattie Rayl

> Yes, they do tend to be expensive. (Mine cost close to $300 a decade and

> a half ago.) But fortunately, you don't need a wheel to start learning to

> spin.


As the A&S officer for my barony and someone who knows his way around

libraries, I often helped my fellow barony members who were intimidated by

them. One gentlewoman was looking for documentation on spinning and

weaving. Among the books I found for her was a pamphlet on how to make a

usable spinning wheel out of an old bicycle.  Total cost was about $75 not

including the bike.  I wondered why you wouldn't just buy a wheel, but if

they're $300+, that may explain it. ;-)


                                                      - Dagonell


SCA Persona : Lord Dagonell Collingwood of Emerald Lake, CSC, CK, CTr

Habitat          : East Kingdom, AEthelmearc Principality, Rhydderich Hael Barony

Internet    : salley at niktow.cs.canisius.edu

USnail-net : David P. Salley, 136 Shepard Street, Buffalo, New York 14212-2029

Movie Double Feature : "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and

        "Roman Holiday" (Contributed by Ianthe d'Averoigne)



From: gwennis at infinet.com (Gwennis Mooncat)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Turkish/Palestinian/Double Arm Spindles

Date: 22 Nov 1994 23:29:06 GMT


David J. Corliss (corliss at hal.physics.wayne.EDU) wrote:

: Hold the whole thing together by wrapping a length of yarn around it.

: Wrap the yarn you spin about it in the same fashion. When you are done,

: just pull out the rod and the other pieces will come out as well, leaving

: a neat ball ready for weaving.


actually, it makes a neat ball that is ready to ply or wind on a

niddy-noddy. then you set the twist, then it is ready to use.  just a minor

correction! 8)


gwennis, who still does better on a wheel...


mistress gwynydd ni gelligaer, ol, called gwennis       natural dyes maven

tarkhanum, khanate basking lizard, great darke horde    i have 2 cats   8)

shire of tirnewydd, barony middle marches, midrealm         columbus, ohio

member #34497     society for creative anachronism     usenet: rec.org.sca

email: gwennis at infinet.com   wizard at sanctuary: telnet 7200



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: Andrew Lowry <alowry at wchat.on.ca>

Subject: Iceland Knitting / Nalebinding

Organization: WorldChat / The Online Source, Burlington Ontario.

Date: Thu, 7 Sep 1995 23:41:29 GMT


Good gentles of the SCA. My lady who is interested in 10 th Century

Norse culture and anything to do with wool and knitting has found a

company (person) that may be of interest to others so inclined.The lady

in question is:


Louise Heite

Importer of Icelandic Wool

Post Office Box 53

Camden, Delware 19934

Compuserve 76254,231

1-800-777-9665 Fax (302) 697-7758


Various items of interest to early period knitters, weavers and spinners

are for sale including the bane of all SCAers - books! My lady is

particularly excited about the opportunity to buy Nalebinding needles

and a book, Foroysk Bindingarmynstur. They also carry reindeer antler



So if you are interested drop them a line and you can get your flyer.



Richard Larmer



From: dickeney at access1.digex.net (Dick Eney)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: spinning/weaving:animals used?

Date: 14 Sep 1995 11:49:28 -0400

Organization: Express Access Online Communications, Greenbelt, MD USA


Tamar (sharing account dickeney at access.digex.net) says: dog hair probably

was used.  Archaeological accounts (_Prehistoric Textiles_, and a book

about Scandinavian Textiles) indicate that cow hair and horse hair was

used, besides the more usual (to us) sheep and goat hair.  However, the

coarser hairs I recall were used to make socks (often with needle-looping

rather than knitting) instead of woven cloth.  But check the books rather

than my memory (my books are still in boxes).


-- Tamar (sharing account dickeney at access.digex.net)



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: spinning/weaving:animals used?

From: una at bregeuf.stonemarche.org (Honour Horne-Jaruk)

Date: Wed, 13 Sep 95 18:22:36 EDT


rayotte at badlands.NoDak.edu (Robert Ayotte) writes:

>      Does anyone have some information if dog hair was used in period

> for production of yarns?  Any sources would be appricated.


>      Horace


        _Spin Span Spun_, by Bette Hotcheberg, may have what you need. She

didn't miss much. Check good spinning stores.


                               Yours in service to the Society-

                               (Friend) Honour Horne-Jaruk R.S.F.

                               Alizaunde, Demoiselle de Bregeuf C.O.L. SCA

                               Una Wicca (That Pict)



From: devonab at aol.com (Devon AB)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Help - Source for Spinning Wheels/Looms?????

Date: 26 Mar 1996 02:04:49 -0500


While not a spinner or weaver myself, I have heard wonderful things

told of a place called;

   The Sheep and Wool Shop

   4977 Ridge Chapel Road

   Marion, NY 14505



I know that they have looms, spinning and carding devices, but alas I can

not tell you what brands.  I DO know my lady spent a great deal of money

at the shop, and that they do mail-order as well.  I hope you find them



Devon Adair Bartholomy



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Cheap ugly spinning wheels available

From: una at bregeuf.stonemarche.org (Honour Horne-Jaruk)

Date: Sun, 09 Feb 97 23:50:07 EST


mms6824 at atlas.tntech.edu (Mary Spila) writes:

> what do they look like?  Saxony Style, castle style, Charka?  


> Marian, The Spinster


> una at bregeuf.stonemarche.or

> >     I've stumbled across a source for spinning wheels which,

> > while uglier than Sin unchained, work as well as the very best and

> > only cost US $100.

> >     The only problen is, they are made of modern materials and

> > would _not_ be suitable for use at events.

> >     ... Any opinions as to whether there would be interest in them?


       Respected friend:

       They're castle-style, and mostly plastic. As I said, ugly.

But they come with 6 bobbins, 3 at 5:1, 3 at 6:1, and experienced

spinners can get the ultrafast 18:1 bobbins for US$4 each.

       ...He's got an experimental double-flyer production model,

too... about US$145 including shipping.

       (Americans, aparently unable to cope with the idea that

people with two hands could spin two threads, dubbed these "gossip"

wheels, and came up with the interesting idea that two people with

a total of four hands and four feet between them were somehow

better off using only two hands and only one foot to spin. This

is very cute, but useless and senseless. The original purpose

was to double the thread produced without doubling the time

spent spinning.)

       If I can get 4 co-conspiritors, I can get the single-head

version wholesale for US$80 plus S&H; Email me.


                               Alizaunde, Demoiselle de Bregeuf

                               Una Wicca (That Pict)

                               (Friend) Honour Horne-Jaruk, R.S.F.



To: <markh at risc.sps.mot.com>

Subject: Re: Cheap ugly spinning wheels available

From: <una at bregeuf.stonemarche.org>

Date: Sat, 08 Feb 97 11:48:08 EST


markh at risc.sps.mot.com (Mark S. Harris) writes:

>   I suspect that there will be of interest. If you wish to make the

> source public, I would love to add such a message of my spinning-msg file.

> I'm not enough of a spinner to get one myself. The one time I tried to

> do drop spinning the thread kept breaking and getting shorter and shorter

> rather than longer. :-)

> Stefan li Rous


        Respected Friend:

        ... pity I can't teach you myself; if I can get a three-year-old

spinning with a potato-and-pencil spindle, I can certainly help you!


        Babe's Fiber Starter (TM)

        Great Yarn Loft Co.,

        120 N. York Road, suite 220

        Elmhurst, IL 60126


        Retail, they're US$99 plus US$6 shipping&handling.

        They come with 6 bobbins, 3 at 5:1 and 3 at 6:1 ;

18:1 bobbins are available for US$4 each, but are recommended only for

_experienced_ spinners.

        The builder is working on the possibility of a double-flyer

version, for people who are ready for 2-handed production spinning,

but want to try it out for less than US$796 -US$1,330. It may

be several months before he has a prototype ready for testing; but

it might be worth getting your name in, in case he does get a

working model.

        There you go-               Honour/Una/Alizaunde



From: djheydt at uclink.berkeley.edu (Dorothy J Heydt)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: silk spinning supplies??

Date: 21 Mar 1997 17:21:38 GMT

Organization: University of California at Berkeley


MISS PATRICIA M HEFNER <HPGV80D at prodigy.COM> wrote:

>Does anybody know of a mail-order business that sells raw silk, ready to

>spin? ....


Not in Oregon, but try this:


       Straw Into Gold

       3006 San Pablo

       Berkeley CA 94702



They don't carry as many fibers as they used to, but I know they

still have some silk.  



Dorothea of Caer-Myrddin                          Dorothy J. Heydt

Mists/Mists/West                                Albany, California

PRO DEO ET REGE                                     djheydt at uclink



Date: Tue, 13 Jan 1998 10:25:34 -0500

From: caroline at netusa1.net (mystarwin/Moira)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Warp Dress for fine singles wool


>One of the things that's obvious, to my eye, when looking at photographs

>of migration era wool fabrics (usually a four-harness twill type woven

>from singles), is the quality and evenness of the spinning. The person

>who spun the wool consistently knew what the end result was going to be

>and selected her wool accordingly for the cloth she had in mind. The

>wool was then processed with a consistency I, as a fairly new spinner,

>can at this point only envy.




to get a consistent fine spin on your wool, make a lap cloth.  Take a dark

colour of fabric, mark off in inches so you know how long of a draw to

consistently pull.  The finer the thread, the tighter the twist, so be aware

of that, otherwise the silly stuff will just break all over the place.  To

test for the right twist, just let go occasionally and see how hard it

doubles up.  I like mine pretty tight, since when I ply it, it holds better

and is finer than usual.  Most of the spinners here have lost the talent to

do large, fluffy yarn due to we like to spin out very fine stuff.  Once you

do get the hang of spinning fine, try some flax.  You have to keep your

fingers wet tho, to keep it from grabbing onto your fingers.  Flax is also

very rough on your skin, so keep the lotion handy!


Moira Breabadair, MoAS

Shire of Narrental



Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998 05:55:56 -0400

From: Melanie Wilson <MelanieWilson at compuserve.com>

To: LIST SCA arts <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Drum Carders/wheels and looms-making


OK the book you need is Wheels and looms by David Bryant, gives details of

maning Spinning Wheels, Looms, Drum carders and ,most other accesories,






From: priest at NOSPAMvassar.edu (Carolyn Priest-Dorman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Spinning Wheels (was Making a period viking tent)

Date: 26 Oct 1998 03:22:21 GMT

Organization: Vassar College


Wilelm the Smith (powers at snoopy.cis.ohio-state.edu) wrote:

>>>Ah the spinning wheel wasn't invented yet during the migration era; but

>>>I can provide you with a soapstone spindle whorl; I assume you

>>>were thinking of a vertical loom.    

>>The spinning wheel *had* been invented by the Migration Age, but it hadn't

>>made it to Europe yet:  they were using it for cotton out East.

>>Thora Sharptooth

>I'm sorry I was just going on "Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel" by

>Frances and Joseph Geis which mentions that the spinning wheel was

>introduced to europe in the 13th century, (earliest picture Baghdad 1237),

>from the east.  So I asked my wife the spinster and she said that

>the great wheel dates to about 1000; would you be refering to a charka (sp)

>for spinning cotton?


John Munro's article on "Textile Technology" in the _Encyclopedia of the

Middle Ages_ says that the first documented use of the great-wheel style of

spinning wheel is in the "twelfth-century Italian fustian industry" and that

it came in via "the Muslim cotton industries."  He cites Endrei, whom I

haven't read, and Mazzaoui, whom I have.  I'd be interested in other

references to the great wheel in Europe, especially if they date it before the

twelfth century.


It's pretty widely agreed in the literature that the great wheel developed

from the charka.  The charka, accordingly, is *significantly* older than the

great wheel.


Carolyn Priest-Dorman         Thora Sharptooth

capriest at  cs. vassar. edu    Frostahlid, Austrrik





Date: Thu, 05 Nov 1998 08:30:20 -0800

From: Eleanor of Leycestershyre <hekav at gte.net>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re:Distaffs on the cheap!


CKONOW at aol.com wrote:

> Hi....the bundle, or strick, of flax can be a bit unwieldy.  Therefore, it is

> tied onto the distaff to give it a place to be, out of the way, and yet still

> be spinnable.  I don't have a distaff on either of my wheels, so I place the

> strick into a towel and roll it up.  It does about the same thing.  Now if I

> could only get that straw-into-gold thing going...Thea


I don't have a distaff on my wheel either, and just haven't managed to

afford one of those $75.00 free-standing ones that I see in catalogs.  :-<  I have also used the "towel trick"...but I wasn't very happy with that.  


I have started using a commercially combed roving instead, which spins much like a wool roving. But, the staple length is only about 3 to 4 inches.  :-< This is *allright* and I still get a nice fine single, however, I really want to spin from the strick!  I tried putting the strick over my shoulder, but that just resulted in a rather unwieldy and messy strick!  :-<  I finally ended up cutting the strick up into 4" chunks, recombing, into rovings or rolags, and spinning from those.  This worked very well...but still not the same effect as spinning the long line strick.



There are many kinds of distaffs.  Patsy Zawiatowski (sp?) in her video tape

suggests taking a length of dowel, about 1/2" - 3/4", and glueing some large

beads, spaced a little apart, at one end.  She then ties a ribbon ("which

should match the color of your eyes"...according to her.  :->) in the middle of the strick, ties the strick to the dowel at the point where the beads are. She

then wraps the strick with the remaining ribbon in the usual fashion, and uses a

music stand or dress form base to hold the "distaff" upright.


I thought this a rather clever idea, though I have yet to try it.  Don't have a

music stand, and my dress form always has a garment in progress, on it!  ;-) In

period manuscript pictures, I've seen ladies holding the distaff under one

arm...which looks very uncomfortable...or even tucked into their belt...also

not too appealing to me.


I came up with the idea of using one of those inexpensive commercial flag/banner

poles that you see everywhere these days, that people use to display little

seasonal banners in front of their houses.  It already has a nice knob on one

end. I'll tie the strick on just as patsy does, but then haven't decided on the

base yet.  I've thought about a coffee can filled with plaster of paris...but not delighted with that idea.


Anyone got any other ideas that might work well for the base?  I have no wood

working tools, so it needs to be simple to do.





Date: Thu, 05 Nov 1998 16:43:09 -0700

From: Curtis & Mary <ladymari at cybertrails.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Distaffs on the cheap!


> I don't have a distaff on my wheel either, and just haven't managed to

> afford one of those $75.00 free-standing ones that I see in catalogs.


I never thought of buying one :-0  Mine is made from an old wooden tool

handle that broke at the tool end.  I have a sort of homemade pole holder I found in the junk pile in the yard when I moved in, but another sort would be an old live christmas tree stand, you know with three screws that you screw in tight to the trunk? Check out the Salvation Army over the next couple of month, I'm sure you'll find one, and if it's too light to stay put pour some redimix concrete or plaster of paris into the basin where you put water for the tree.  


I also found out that really, the taller the better.  You are only taking a few fibers off the bottom at a time and it's best to have those fibers a little above the orifice to the wheel so you don't get too many at once.  {Of course this is me and I spun from a *full* 3-4 ounce strick at a time--looks really cool all on the distaff at once}


I found that thing in the belt too awkard to spin easily with, might work well for woolens, but was hard to manage with trying to spin extra fine flax.  I did discover that my wooden folding chair that I sit on to spin at events would work if I wedged the distaff just right, sometimes with a tie around it and the chair to keep it steady.


Mary, in AZ where it's cool enough to have a fire at night and taking

forever for the just washed wool to dry!



Date: Fri, 6 Nov 1998 08:44:02 -0500

From: Margo Lynn Hablutzel <Hablutzel at compuserve.com>

To: A&S List <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Fiber into Linen -- additional information


Of course, the two questions asked are the ones that most need a visual!


Percy asked for elaboration of:


<< 6)  Place combed flax on distaff for spinning. >>


A distaff looks like a tiny platform on a staff, with a pointed stick

coming out of each corner.  The flax is laid betweeen these poles in small,

straight groups alternating N-S and E-W.  You pull the ends as they hang

down, and spin off the pile on the distaff.


Check in your dictionary to see if there is a picture.  Often in children's

fairy-tale books, a spinning character (Princess Aurora a/k/a Sleeping

Beauty, or the girl in Rumplestitskin) is shown spinning on a wheel with a



                                       --- Morgan



Date: Sat, 07 Nov 1998 09:10:26 -0700

From: Curtis & Mary <ladymari at cybertrails.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Linen thread


Stefan li Rous wrote:

> Lyle FitzWilliam said:

> > >Have you processed enough nettle to make any yardage? I'm curious...

> >

> > _Significant_ yardage?  No.  Enough to hand-lay into cord, yes (I didn't

> > spin it -- my mother has a Great Wheel, not a flax wheel).  The result

> > was very satisfying, though.

> What is the differance between a "Great Wheel" and a "flax wheel"?


The great wheel is turned by hand and is really a lot like a drop spindle

turned on it's side, with the spindle whorl grooved to take the drive band

from the wheel.  flax wheels have a 'flyer' with a seperate bobbin.  [most all

modern wheels are flyer types rather than spindle types]  Really there is no

reason you can't spin anything on any type of wheel or drop spindle.  It is a

matter of it being easier to spin certain things on different equipment.

Especially on wheels because wheels have an adjustment for revolving the

bobbin or spindle a set number of times for each revolution of the wheel.

Different sorts of wheels have different ratios.  Fine threads, especailly

flax, silk and cotton need a very high number of twists per inch, while soft

fuzzy thick woolen yarns need much less.  Modern wheels are a little more

versitile since many companys make different sorts of 'maidens and flyers' for

different purposes.  For instance, Ashford wheels, possibly the most popular

wheel sold in the US because it is one of the least expensive, comes with a

'regular' flyer, but there are also available 'lace' flyers which have very

high ratios and let you spin very fine, high twist threads with less effort

and a 'bulky' flyer which has huge bobbins and very low ratios, good for

making thick fuzzy woolen yarn.


Clear as mud, eh?  As a point of reference my older model Ashford Traditional

with a regular flyer has two ratios, depending on which groove on the flyer

I put my drive band in, one is 1:9 the other is 1:12.


Mairi, Atenveldt



Date: Sat, 7 Nov 1998 04:58:24 -0700 (MST)

From: starsinger at webtv.net (theresa sorrell)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: RE: Linen thread


The main difference between a flax wheel and a great wheel is size.  The

great or walking or wool wheel is about 5-6 feet tall and uses a spindle

to wind the wool on.  A flax wheel is smaller and gives a tighter twist

to the yarn and usually uses the flyer system.  You can spin wool on a

flax wheel.


The earliest woodcut I've seen printed for a spinning wheel is dated

1248. It is an early wool type wheel with no legs.


Paula Simmons has a book on spinning, weaving and working with wool that

has plans for an almost period wheel and other accessories.  She even

tells you how to raise the sheep.





Date: Sun, 08 Nov 1998 20:08:59 -0800

From: Brett and Karen Williams <brettwi at earthlink.net>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Linen thread


There are some techical differences. A great wheel is, as described by

another respondent, basically a spindle set on its side and driven by a

large wheel, usually powered by the spinster's hand rather than her

foot. Great wheels are also called 'walking wheels' for this reason. A

very skilled spinster using a great wheel can, I'm told, flick her yarn

over the tip in such a way to wind on her yarn, obviating the need to

wind on by stopping the wheel and winding on slowly.


Some great wheels will have an acceleration device attached between the

drive wheel and the spindle, usually some kind of Miner's head

(so-called for the inventor, who patented his device in the early

1800's). A Miner's head is usually a wooden disk that the drive band

turns, which in turn spins the spindle. The differences in ratios

between the acceleration head (said wooden disk) and the drive band from

the main wheel increase the speed of the spindle exponentially. Most

modern wheels have a separate dingus one can order called a 'lace

flyer', which ends up turning somewhere in the 40:1 ratio; a Miner's

head or accelerating head on a great wheel will be up there above 100

and even as much as 200. A great wheel also limits one's drafting to

woolen as tending the revolutions of the great wheel pretty much

precludes using both hands for the worsted pinch.


A more modern flax wheel has both a flyer (which enables one to wind on

the spun yarn without stopping the wheel) and a treadle. The flyer has

been variously attributed to Leonardo da Vinci and Anonymous of Unknow--

and appears in Germany in the 1500's. The advantage of this type of

wheel is one need not discontinue treadling at a steady speed to wind on

one's thread thus increasing one's production speed-- plus, one can spin

worsted threads as one's foot on the treadle means both hands are free

for spinning. Before the invention of the treadle, the spinster feeding a

loom would have to spin worsted (preferred for warp as it's MUCH

stronger than woolen-spun) using a drop spindle.





Date: Mon, 09 Nov 1998 13:05:38 -0700

From: Curtis & Mary <ladymari at cybertrails.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Linen thread


> A more modern flax wheel has both a flyer (which enables one to wind on

> the spun yarn without stopping the wheel) and a treadle. The flyer has

> been variously attributed to Leonardo da Vinci and Anonymous of Unknow--

> and appears in Germany in the 1500's.


Linen Handspinning and Weaveing, by Patricia Baines, page 29 shows a flyer

wheel, turned by hand instead of foot, date 1480


> Before the invention of the treadle the spinster feeding a

> loom would have to spin worsted (preferred for warp as it's MUCH

> stronger than woolen-spun) using a drop spindle.


there were also a lot of guild regulations against wheel spun yarn for certain

fabrics. I once thought of it sort of as the union protecting the workers

status quo, but realize that the early wheels were eminently suited to woolen

spinning, but not the tight hard spun worsted, therefore the reason for the



Mairi, Atenveldt



Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1998 19:34:29 -0700 (MST)

From: starsinger at webtv.net (theresa sorrell)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Linen thread and charkas


I love that issue of spinoff with the shawls and the gloves and the

chakra spining wheels.  But charka's are not eastern european period.

Paula Simmons has a book out that give plans fo a handcranked spinning

wheel that looks a lot like the picture I saw dated areound 1248.


I also love the issue that's all about drop spindles.  I just ordered a

new one with an acorn for the end.  It's for lace weight spinning.  My

newest book is the russian gossomer weigh shawl book.  So little time.

So much to do.





From: eanderso at acs.ucalgary.ca (Elizabeth A. Anderson)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: An Tir Spinners Guild

Date: 17 Nov 1998 10:56:44 -0700

Organization: The University of Calgary


To interested fibre craftspeople:


The webpage for the An Tir Spinners Guild is now up at the An Tir

Kingdom site. There's information on the Guild and its e-list, a

bibliography, sources list, and a short history of spinning.


The address is: www.antir.sca.org/Guilds/Spinners


Nan Compton (mka Bess Anderson)         eanderso at ucalgary.ca

Barony of Montengarde

Principality of Avacal                        Tolle legens!



[submitted by: "Philippa Alderton" <phlip at bright.net>]

From: brenmichevans <brenmichevans at MCI2000.com>

To: sca-middle at dnaco.net <sca-middle at dnaco.net>

Date: Tuesday, December 29, 1998 10:41 PM

Subject: [Mid] Hook spindles


A question for the more experienced spinners on the Bridge-


Several years ago, I bought a hook spindle at Pennsic, and received some

basic instruction on how to use it.  I have used it to spin some very small

amounts of various fibers.  I have a wheel, and use that by preference, but

purchased it because I wanted to have a way to hand spin for A & S.  I know

how to use a drop spindle, but I am right-handed and have a medical

condition that cuts off the circulation to my left arm when I raise it, so

I don't use it any more except briefly for demos.


My question is-is it possible to spin a thread of significant length on

this device?  I was taught to wind the completed thread onto the spindle

itself, and I leave the bottom half of the spindle clear so I can spin it

across my thigh.  It takes very little time for the thread to become

sufficiently bulky to get in my way.  Is there a way to wind the thread

into a ball or something while still leaving it continuously attached to

the spindle, or do I simply have to cut the thread and start over every

time this happens?  I'm sure the answer to this is very obvious, and I'll

feel stupid when I find out, but right now, I just can't figure it!


Lady Brianne of Greenlea

Brenda G. Evans

brenmichevans at cwix.com



[Submitted by: "Philippa Alderton" <phlip at bright.net>]

From: Patrick Mooney <PatrickMooney at email.msn.com>

To: sca-middle at dnaco.net <sca-middle at dnaco.net>

Date: Wednesday, December 30, 1998 12:10 AM

Subject: Re: [Mid] Hook spindles


I have been spinning for some years and I think I may have two solutions to

your problem.


1.   Try spinning holding the fibre in your left hand with the fingers

pointed upwards and your arm bent but close to your side, draw the fibre

towards the right and across your body with the spindle hanging down on

your right side.


2.   The method I most recommend is using a distaff.  The distaff is not

just for flax, it is for all types of prepared fibre, I could bore you with

details. My suggestion to you is to use a distaff of approximately 30" to

36" and medium/long wools, such as Romney or Lincoln (both are pretty much

period, again I could bore you on this subject).


Tuck the distaff under your left arm, or in your belt, pocket or waistband.

Place the distaff in a position that is comfortable for your arm to be in a

bent but relaxed position.  Draw the fibre with your left hand, controlling

the spinning triangle and draw it across your body to your right side. This

method can be done walking, sitting or standing.  This method can be seen

in a 15th century manuscript, Royal MS.20 CV.f75 from the British Library.


My concern is what does your hook spindle look like.  Sometimes we are told

a spindle is one thing, when in reality it is something different.  Are you

referring to a spinning hook, which looks like a bit like a crochet hook or

are you referring to a spindle with a whorl and hook at one end of the

shaft? If you are referring to a spinning hook, then that is a different



Ercadh bean ui Padraic

(mka Carol Mooney)



From: WSPaddison at aol.com <WSPaddison at aol.com>

To: sca-middle at dnaco.net <sca-middle at dnaco.net>

Date: Wednesday, December 30, 1998 9:06 AM

Subject: Re: [Mid] Hook spindles


brenmichevans at MCI2000.com writes:

<< I was taught to wind the completed thread onto the spindle

itself, and I leave the bottom half of the spindle clear so I can spin it

across my thigh.  It takes very little time for the thread to become

sufficiently bulky to get in my way. >>


Lady Brianne,


Although I am fairly new to spinning, I have some advice that might help. I

too was taught to wind the spindle up my leg. I ran into a few  problems.

First, it would get caught in my dress so I never could get a good quick spin.

Second, when I finally started to get something on the spindle it would bet

bunchy, matting together, thus tangling. Third, my arm tired quickly, and like

you I have nerve condition that cuts off circulation to my right arm when I

extend it. Because of all of this, Fourth....the quality of my spinning

suffered. I just basically sucked.  Since I found spinning comforting I really

didn't want to give it up so I found another way.  Try this. Take the bottom

inch of your spindle and rest it between the tips of  your middle and

forefinger the thumb of your dominant hand. Place your thumb on the spindle,

now in the motion of snapping your fingers, quickly spin and release the

spindle. I have been able to give mine an excellent long lasting spin that

allows me to spin a lenghth of 8 ft in one twirl. This technique has never

agrivated my nerve.


Arwenna Wen Seis



Date: Sun, 7 Feb 1999 05:58:13 -0500

From: Melanie Wilson <MelanieWilson at compuserve.com>

To: "INTERNET:sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu" <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Great Wheel Plans and other textile plans


The Great wheel plans were GBP 6.20


The Spindle wheel the same (smaller version of the Great wheel)


There is also plans for, Sloping Spinning Wheel, Norwegian Spinning wheel,

Shetland, upright, english traditional, connecticut chair, arkwright,

samual crompton, French, Dordogne, Charka wheels.


Drun Carder, spinning stool, tabby loom, tablet loom, inkle loom, 4 shaft

table, foot power looms and warping mill!


Top price of any is GBP10 Plus postage of course.

David Bryant +44 1565 651 681 (usually an ansaphone !)


He also did a book with many of these plans in it but this is now OOP.


Last time I bought plans for somebody in the US he didn't take plastic only

sterling so I sent a cheque for her, as I have a sterling & a dollar

account (and take plastic in my book business ) I'm willing to help out if

anyone is stuck





Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 15:13:10 -0500

From: Melanie Wilson <MelanieWilson at compuserve.com>

To: Blind.Copy.Receiver at compuserve.com

Subject: Some books on natural & period dyeing


I found some English small press publications that might be of interest to

you folks, contact me direct if you want to buy any of them.




All prices are British pounds approx 1 pound = 1.6 US dollars, plus

postage. They are A5 slim volumes.at 2.50 pounds each.


Dyer in the Garden-how to grow common dye plants & dye with them


The begineer Spinner- Basic fleece knowledge


The Medieval Dyepot-history of traditional British dyes


The spinners Rhymerie- somgs and poems about spinning, weaving and



Knitting handspun yarns- how to calculate the right amount for a garment,

plus basic patterns.


Everything in the kitchen sink-dyeing with kitchen waste


The insatiable spinner- spinning with the likes of llama, alpaca, angora,

dogs, cats etc


The dyers palette- how to get the whole spectrum from natural dyes


A Shepherd's miscellany-, crafts rhymes, stories & traditions on Shepards &



A Calender of common dye plants, -Nettle, dock,etc plants for dyes from



The foreroom rug- heirloom hooked rugs



Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 10:37:05 EDT

From: <SNSpies at aol.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Knitting and spinning


I have spun some hemp with a drop spindle.  Works best if you employ some

saliva, but you can do it either way.  Haven't done enough to know whether

one is better than the other.





Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 12:46:51 -0500

From: Roberta R Comstock <froggestow at juno.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Knitting and spinning


On Wed, 7 Jul 1999 02:14:59 EDT <DUCORBEAU at aol.com> writes:

>I have spun a little flax.  I tried the dry method, as I'm not really

>sure the wet method is god for my wheel.  Any thoughts there?



Wet spinning of linen produces a smoother firmer thread.   It really

isn't a sloppy process.  If you don't leave the occasional drop of water

standing on your wheel, it shouldn't hurt it.



who hasn't done much spinning recently, but used to do quite a bit.



Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 17:33:36 -0600

From: "Cathie" <Jorunn at qadas.com>

To: <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject:    Re: Knitting and spinning


>I have spun a little flax.  I tried the dry method, as I'm not really sure

>the wet method is god for my wheel.  Any thoughts there?



The wet method is how you are supposed to spin flax. It not only keeps the

fiber together while spinning it keeps the dust content to a minimum.  That

stuff is NOT GOOD to breath.  I usually wear a dust guard.   I don't get

water on my wheel and the few drops that I've got on the wood hasn't hurt it

any. How are you using the water?



Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1999 17:01:39 -0700

From: "Curtis  at  Mary" <ladymari at cybertrails.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Simplicity


> THE PROBLEM: Is this sort of a dress really period? I've seen people wear

> the sort, but I'd like to be able to find a source to document it.

> Elonwen


I did just this project  I used commercial roving, spun, dyed, woven at

24" wide.....7 pounds of wool. Took every bit of my spare time for

several months.  One of the things you need to decide is how fine you

want to spin and how you will finish the cloth. Fulling and shrinking

the cloth can cause a loss of as much as 25% in lenth and width.

spinning and weaving and fulling some samples are the only way to

predict how much you might lose since a lot will depend on the weaving

set as well as the type of wool. Courser wool will not shrink as much as

fine wool does{Merino shrinks like crazy with almost no agitation}.   To

help in your calculations  measure out  a known amount of wool, 2, 4, 8

ounces or so. Spin it the size you want {remembering that period cloth

was woven from singles yarn, not plied} then measure how many yards of

thread you have.  Try to keep your spinning consistent from skein to

skein {that was hard!}  Do a weaving sample from this spinning sample,

say 1/2 the width you plan your project to be by 1 yard long. When you

take it off the loom finish as you plan to finish your project. That is,

if you don't want to full it, then just wash it without agitating it.

If you are going to full it then measure it in both directions when you

get it off the loom, I use the washing machine for fulling. You can stop

it at any point, and check the cloth, when it's beginning to look like

you want, stop the machine and spin out the water.  _but_ time the

amount of time the machine was agitating, so you'll know how long to

leave it running next time! {I forgot one of my lengths of cloth in the

machine and it went through a whole cycle! shrunk twice as much as the

first peice}


When it's dry measure it again, then get a math whiz to help you figure

the percentage of shrinkage or you can rough guess by writing down the

loss, for example if it was really 36 inches long and shrinks to 34

you've lost 2 inches on the yard.  So, for every yard of cloth needed

for your dress you will have to weave 2 extra inches.  if your sample is

1/2 as wide as your finished cloth will be then multiply it's loss by 2

so you know how wide a cloth you should end up with.


Hope this helps a little.  Gee I sure rambled on, let me know if

something doesn't make sense!


Mary in Arizona

{Maistreas Mairi Broder, Atenveldt}



Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 20:49:23 -0700

From: Mary Hysong <ladymari at cybertrails.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: hand-carders or combs?


Patricia Hefner wrote:

> I've just read some notes on Stefan's Florilegium in which some gentles said

> that hand-cards are not period, but someone else said that a hand-carder had

> been excavated by some archeologists near Dublin.


we have some period illuminations of what look like hand cards {though I

can think of a couple of them I've forgot which books they might be in,

but can post when I find them}


> They recommend combs over cards.


Cards were also used.  Depends on the type of wool which is appropriate.

Long lustre wool is best combed {I'm thinking of stuff like Cotswold and

related breeds}so it can be spun as worsted yarn, where all the fibers

are parallel to the length of the thread. This makes a long lasting hard

wearing yarn and was especially prized in later period because it could

have a nice nap raised, not once, but many times over it's life.  Some

evidence that clothes were re-napped and even re-dyed on a fairly

regular basis.


While shorter, softer wools were carded, and spun 'woolen' where the

fibers go in all directions, but especially rights angles to the thread.

This is soft and fuzzy and is most suitable for coarse knitting, as well

as weft thread in weaving heavy cloth for cloaks or 'ruggs'


> I used to spin but haven't done it in eons. I'm trying to start back

> but I haven't done very much research into period spinning.


It's a little like bike riding, won't take you long to get back in the

'spin' {can't help it I was a herald before everything else }


> I prefer a drop

> spindle over a wheel for  $$$ reasons--some of these wheels go for $600+--

> ouch$$$.


You can get a second hand wheel like an Ashford traveler for under $300

from places like the Spinners and Weavers HouseKeeping Pages where

individuals sell and trade their extra stuff. Got mine that way. Paid

less, even with shipping for it than the cost of new, with extra things

that wouldn't have come with a new one. Just takes some looking


> Also, I'd imagine that there would be quite a difference between

> any kind of period wheel--like the Viking Great Wheel--and a modern wheel.

> Advice, suggestions, etc, etc will be greatly welcomed!


OK, I haven't a clue about the Viking wheel, not having done much

research on Vikings! But there are pictures pre 1500 of flyer type

wheels {that is with the flyer with little hooks that winds thread onto

removable bobbins, just like we see now} The main difference was it was

handturned, not foot powered. I'm not sure when they put the foot

treadle on them, everything I've seen has been post 1600, so I'm still

looking there. However, just for info, 50 or 60 years after the drawing

of this wheel was done, there is a wood cut of what seem to be pro flax

spinners {all men, BTW} spinning with spindle and distaff.


There were also guild regs against using wheel spun yarn in certain

types of cloth.  Possibly they were just interested in their pay checks

or perhaps the spindle spun yarn was finer. I know I can spin much finer

with my spindle than on my wheel.


> Whoah, I almost forgot the last part of this note. Does anyone know if there

> will be any merchants at Gulf Wars who carry period spinning items? If I

> don't have any stuff by then I may come looking for you! Thanks!


I know Master Mark of Guakler's up in British Columbia sells a repro of

a pewter whorl that he hand casts. I bought one at Estrella, but haven't

had time to try it out.


Mairi, ATenveldt



Date: 24 Feb 00 11:40:53 PST

From: Eilidh Swann <barcuk at usa.net>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: drop spindle weights


Isabelle wrote:

<< <re: drop spindles> I'm confused--some people tell me it's easier to start on a light (2 oz. or so) spindle because I don't want too much pull and some people tell me to use a heavier one. I'm going to get one of the beginners' kits from an  Internet site. I'll figure out spindles and then start to figure out this carding stuff!! These hand carders are *not* cheap. >>


I started on what I'll call a light/medium weight bottom-whorl

drop spindle. It spun like a dream.


I've experimented with some medium/heavy weight bottom-whorl

spindles since then, and I'm glad I started slightly lighter.

Because I'd had some experience, I was able to deal with the

heavier draw without feeling like I always dropped/broke my



I've made some VERY light-weight bottom-whorl spindles since

then, that I use to teach young kids. The first ones were

definitely "too light" because they light to unwind right

away. I'm going to make the next set slightly heavier to keep

the spin going, but not so heavy that the "beginner" thread

breaks constantly.


I'm still a bottom-whorl fanatic, but a few top-whorl's

I tried weren't so bad.


Hope that gives you some hints.


Eilidh ** eilidh at usa.net ** Darach Shire, CAID



Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2000 17:34:15 GMT

From: "Elonwen ferch Dafydd" <elonwen at hotmail.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: drop spindle weights


>I've experimented with some medium/heavy weight bottom-whorl

>spindles since then, and I'm glad I started slightly lighter.

>Because I'd had some experience, I was able to deal with the

>heavier draw without feeling like I always dropped/broke my



Well, I hope I'd been that smart when I started... My lord made me a VERY

heavy drop spindle, but for some reason or another it worked all right from

the beginning! But now that I've used medium weight drop spindle as well, I

can see the difference... But for making thick yarn for thick, heavy cloth,

I still prefer the heavier version. It has its own feeling...





Date: Sat, 04 Mar 2000 10:40:43 -0800

From: Cynthia Konow / Thea Northernridge <spinrldy at san.rr.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Spinning


    A few references on the history of spinning include the following:  


Fannin, Allen, Handspinning, Art and Technique, Van Norstrand Reinhold Co., 1970  


Fournier, Nola, Fournier, Jane, In Sheep's Clothing, A Handspinner's Guide to Wool, Interweave Press, 1995  


Hochberg, Bette, Spin Span Spun, Fact and Folklore for Spinners and Weavers, author published, 1979


Ross, Mabel, The Essentials of Handspinning, Ross Services, 1980  


In Sheeps Clothing will give you information about period breeds used in spinning; the rest have info about wheels and spindles and such in period.



------------------------------------------------------------------------ Cynthia Konow-Brownell  AKA   Thea Northernridge, Calligrapher spinrldy at san.rr.com          Weaver, Spinner, Costumer, Soapmaker San Diego, California             Barony of Calafia, Caid



From: Aceia at aol.com

Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000 17:57:39 EDT

Subject: BG - historical spinning and weaving site.

To: bryn-gwlad at ansteorra.org


Found this tidbit and thought I would share!






Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 16:03:27 -0500

From: "Sara K. Tallarovic" <electricfish at earthlink.net>

To: "Mark.S Harris (rsve60)" <mark.s.harris at motorola.com>


Don't know if this web site might provide information you are looking for

to add to the Florilegium.  It describes and discusses the wide variety of

distaff types and includes some instructions on loading a few.




I've also forwarded it to the person looking for the instructions on

loading a distaff.





Subject: BG - Historical Tidbit

Date: Mon, 08 Jan 2001 10:11:46 -0600

From: Aceia <aceia at mac.com>

To: <bryn-gwlad at ansteorra.org>


Greetings to all the spinners out there!


Saturday the 6th of Jan. was St. Distaffs' Day (AKA Roc Day)


Roc Day is a celebration for spinners

The German word for distaff if "rocken" and a distaff was sometimes called a

"rock" in English speaking countries.


St. Distaffs' Day was celebrated by spinners in Britain on Jan 7th. This is

the day after the Twelfth Night, when the Christmas festivities ended and

spinners resumed their work.



Date: Fri, 04 Jun 2004 17:10:16 -0400

From: AEllin Olafs dotter <aellin at earthlink.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] available merchandise, was things they dont

        explain       about Pennsic

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise wrote:

>> What's a strick of flax???

> Heck, who SELLS a strick of flax at Pennsic?

> -- Jadwiga, who is going to get back to spinning flax real soon now,

> uh-huh!


A strick is, um, a bunch, sort of, of line flax, almost ready to spin.

You  take this flax and dress he distaff, and then you can spin.


Hardly anyone was selling it... I had taken a flax spinning class, and

had thought this was one place I'd be able to get it. Well... there was

more wool roving, and silk caps (silk prepared in the modern way for

spinning, rather than being reeled off the cocoon, as was done,) and

stuff like that, but I didn't need it. It was one of those vendors,

though, and a few more had a couple of them, but sold out early.





From: Stefan li Rous <StefanliRous at austin.rr.com>

Date: October 11, 2006 1:36:14 PM CDT

To: "Kingdom of Ansteorra - SCA, Inc." <ansteorra at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Ansteorra] Spinning question


On Oct 11, 2006, at 11:58 AM, Chelsea Williams wrote:

> Good gentles of the Ansteorran list,

> I was wondering if any of you that spin had a good suggestion for a book

> about spinning. I'm interested in it and if I read a book about it and

> answer some questions, I get extra credit in one of my classes. I

> figured this was the place to turn to.

> -Lady Grainne Kathleen NicPadraig MacDaniel


Are you interested in drop spindles or spinning wheel?


For info on spinning wheels, I highly recommend this book. It goes

into the history of spinning wheels and describes the different types

of wheels and when they came info use:


Spinning Wheels, Spinners and Spinning

Baines, Patricia

ISBN: 0-7134-6205-1

Chrysalis Books





THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra

   Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org