Medieval Distaff & drop spindle

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calicocloth
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Medieval Distaff & drop spindle

Post by calicocloth »

Does anyone know of a supplier of distaffs and drop spindles? I'm looking for somthing similar to the one pictured below (Luttrell Psalter 1325 -1440 aprox).
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m300572
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Post by m300572 »

If that is the answer, what's the question?? :)

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calicocloth
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Post by calicocloth »

eh! :wink:

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sally
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Post by sally »

the distaff part may not have any more shaping to it than just the stick, but some have a slightly shaped profile. I don't think it necessarily matters which type, it just depends on how the spinner likes to work. So, any spindle and a suitable straight shaft shoudl do the trick for this one unless you have a specific extant type in mind, its not clear in the image if there are identifying features to the distaff.

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calicocloth
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Post by calicocloth »

Did I briefly catch you on Radio 4 this morning Sally?

m300572
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Post by m300572 »

[/quote]eh!

Apologies, for some reason the picture came up on my screen without the text - I now see the question attached! :oops:

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Post by m300572 »

Jeez, my bloody fingers are all over the place - that last post was a right pigs ear!


I think Mulberry Dyer sell drop spindle kits with wooden spindle whorls. I don't know if any real ones survive from the archaeological record so I couldn't tell yo for sure if they were shaped (there is a stick from Roman Ribchester which tapers from both ends to a point about 3/4 of the way down the length which has been interpreted as a spindle - unfortunately the whorl was not still attached)

I have some clay whorled drop spindles with straight spindles (cheating by using dowel) but they are in a box somewhere as we are in the midst of moving or I could have sent you one.

Distaffs, you can either use a stick or get a fancier one from a trader - my other half got one at one of the markets years ago but I cannot remember who made it.

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calicocloth
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Post by calicocloth »

Good idea - I think I might have a go at making them. There a number of clay spindle whorls on display in my local museum (The Collection) and we have found a number over the years field-walking with my archaeology group www.washingborough-archaeology.co.uk, particularily when we walked the site of a deserted medieval village recently (though these are now on deposit with the Collection too).
Last edited by calicocloth on Tue Aug 01, 2006 5:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

m300572
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Post by m300572 »

Good Project (although your fingers are having a dyslexic moment as well - archaeology in the web address you typed needs another 'e')

I used to work in Lincolnshire, I was Project manager for the Trust for Lincolnshire Archaeology for a year (1998-9) based in Sleaford.

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calicocloth
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Post by calicocloth »

Thanks - just popped the 'e' back in place, so the link should work now!

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Karen Larsdatter
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Re: Medieval Distaff & drop spindle

Post by Karen Larsdatter »

calicocloth wrote:Does anyone know of a supplier of distaffs and drop spindles?
The Spanish Peacock. He's a woodworker out here -- not actually in Spain. We have two waxed tablets that he's made, and an awl and a needlecase too. He makes really nice textile tools.

There's also some online instructions for making a distaff and spindle, if you'd like to make your own.

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calicocloth
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Post by calicocloth »

Thanks for the link, just had a look - he does some nice drop spindles and 'distaffs are coming soon'.

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Post by Lady Cecily »

Have a look at the textile finds book from York - there are definately some spindles in there. Pointed both ends and fat in the middle. Easy to make one yourself.
Caroline

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calicocloth
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Post by calicocloth »

Thanks for the tip - where would I get hold of the textile finds book from York - is it generally available?

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sally
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Post by sally »

its another must have for the serious textile collection calicocloth! There are a coupe of Waltons books that cover textiles from York, but I think its this one you want. http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0906 ... e&n=266239
Seems to be out of print at the moment but its easily goton. I.L.L

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sally
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Post by sally »

Gareth can probably make you whatever you need, once you have chosen a style let me know and I'll get him to do you a quote if thats any help :D

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calicocloth
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Post by calicocloth »

Yes, it doesn't seem to be in print and I can't find it on abebooks either - what is the I.L.L.?

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Shadowcat
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Post by Shadowcat »

Inter Library Loan. You know, where you ask your local library, and they borrow it from another library. (It never worked for me here in Southwark, but American friends swear by it.)

S.

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calicocloth
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Post by calicocloth »

Ah, good point - I might try my college library.

Lady Cecily
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Post by Lady Cecily »

Sorry chaps - I actually meant this book

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1872 ... e&n=266239

If you want a copy you could try contacting York Archaeological Trust direct - they may have copies left.
Caroline

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sally
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Post by sally »

That one too! They sort of go together all the textiles from York books. I always get them muddled up :lol: Not in my collection currenly buton my want list. Every bit as endlessly referrable to as the Museum of London textiles book

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calicocloth
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Post by calicocloth »

Gosh - both of those books are proving really elusive! Looks like it will have to be the ILL...

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Post by m300572 »

Try Oxbow Books - an evil place which regularly extracts huge amounts of money from my bank account - one of the biggest and best collection of archaeology related books in Britain (and possibly the World!)

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Post by Nigonwyrtas »

You can get a medieval lead whorl from ebay, cheaply enough. Mount it on a shaft (almost any native bit of stick will do) and bob's your uncle... There's this waxy stuff you can coat it with, but it's safe enough to handle so long as you wash your hands afterwards. People cast repros of them too, all the time, in a 'safer' metal.

What you want to avoid is a clunky big wooden spindle. It can be top whorl or bottom - there are illustrations of both, although the received wisdom sued to be that they were only bottom whorl after the vikings left England. Not the case.

That kind of distaff is just a stick with the bark stripped off. What you're looking for is a stick with a natural 'fork' in the top. The wool is wound round the 'tines' (couple of subdividing branches), and there you go. It's not easy to spin from a distaff - rolags are much easier. But most illustrations you see are of women spinning off the distaff.

Mulberry Dyer do a nice slate spindle that is about the same weight as a medieval one. Although it's an earlier period, they look identical anyway.

There's an article exploding a few myths in the recent anniversary edition of 'The Journal of Weavers Spinners and Dyers' all about medieval spindle whorls and spindles, by Penelope Hunt.

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gaukler
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whorls

Post by gaukler »

I make lead-free versions of medieval whorls (cast in stone moulds). http://medievalwares.com/medievalmisc.htm .
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Gaukler Medieval Wares
http://www.medievalwares.com

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calicocloth
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Post by calicocloth »

Thank you Gaukler - they look very good and I can see a number of other very useful items on your web site too.

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