Monday, January 7, 2008

Happy St. Distaff Day

In centuries past, January 7th, the day following Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas, was known as St. Distaff’s Day. It was not really a holiday, nor is there really a “St. Distaff”. But the marking of this day by common people indicates the importance of spinning in the days before the industrial revolution. The distaff, or “rock”, was the medieval symbol of women’s work. Year round, spinning was a never-ending chore. During the Christmas season, however, both men and women took a break from many chores during the 12 days of the holiday.

But on January 7, the festivities were officially ended, and women would resume their daily round of household tasks. Men, however, did not resume ploughing until Plough Monday, when their ploughs were blessed. That left young men with time to play pranks on the girls, as described by a poem by Robert Herrick. But whereas women would recommence spinning on Distaff Day, the men did not return to the plough until after Plough Monday when their ploughs had been blessed.

“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 oneTo his own vocation.”

So St Distaff’s Day, or Rock Day, as it was sometimes called, was a final opportunity for some playful high jinks,with the lads setting fire to the flax and in return, the maids soaking the men from the water-pails… Life might have been difficult during the middle ages, but there was still some room for fun.

Elizabeth, a fantastic spinner, dyer, & knitter was kind enough to offer her home for local spinners to gather & celebrate "Rock Day".

Thanks Elizabeth for fine food, drink & the Neil Young "fix".

From left to right - Tonni, Cindy, Darlene & Wendy.

Sorry, I know the picture is blurry......... but it was taken before the glass of wine & I tend to wear my glasses on my head like a hood ornament!!!

Grace, alias "Boobs McGee" in her spectacular Central Park Hoodie minus hood. Fab job on the sweater Grace & the buttons look great on it too!

I know better than to shoot into the sun......must have been blinded by the boobs! LOL

Look, Grace's eyes are smiling too!!!

Our gracious hostess, Elizabeth & Wendy.
Only in Alabama - Forsythia was in bloom across the January!!! It was warm enough to sit outside & we had the a/c on in the house.

Carrie of the Etsy shop Funky Carolina showing Wendy a few "tricks of the trade".

Cindy with her Christmas "Minstrel" holding that mouth just right!!! It really helps with getting just the right tension.

Jessi giving it a whorl on her Ashford Tradional (it too was a Christmas present).

Grace & Elizabeth in their "element"
I think this picture says it all......

Tonni (right) trying to decide what to spin next on her Kromski.
Jessi in the background.

What a fantastic afternoon we had! It was so easy & I thought the energy was really great among us.
This was my first time to meet several of these ladies & to really talk with others I had met briefly before. Everyone was sooooo nice & so eager to share their assistance & knowledge.

Thanks all for a wonderful day & I'm ready to do it again!!!


grace said...

Man, this was such a fun day! We have to make it a monthly activity!

Yarn Collectors Anonymous said...

GREAT post....It was indeed a wonderful afternoon and just too much fun (despite my husband saying to me upon my return home....So...ya'll just sat in a circle and spun yarn?) LOL!! Poor thing....I didn't enlighten him as to all that went on...let him think it was just boring spinning......WE know how much laughter and fun there was....I'll never again be able to look at a "bobbin" or an "orifice" without getting tickled!!

Looking forward to the next Spin In.

Bubblesknits said...

It really was a great day! :-) I can't wait until the next meet-up!

tonni said...

It was SO much fun! I say no less than monthly we should plan to get together again :) Your new wheel is so pretty... I loved seeing all the different kinds.

Cindy said...

OMG! What was it with me and the mouth that day. I guess I had to much wine!

elizabeth said...

So.Much.Fun. I'm still reeling!