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Dressing a Distaff:

The following is a description of one way to dress a stick distaff with flax. There are many other methods, some of which may be found in Patricia Baines' book on Linen.

Take a small bundle of flax line and start to spread it on a floor or table in a thin layer. Spread out any clumps of linen so the whole layer looks like a thin mesh. Ideally, the strands should be at slight angles to each other and the mesh should have lots x's in it where fibers cross. Later, when you are pulling the fibers off the distaff the x's will help draw other fibers down.

When you reach 2-3 feet wide, continue back in the other direction, making a second thin layer on top of the first. Continue spreading layers back & forth until you have used up your bundle or can't see through the layers. 

Place your distaff at one end, parallel to the fibers with the top aligned with the top edge of the fibers. Gently roll the fibers onto the stick. Don't twirl the stick faster than the flax or the fibers will catch on any rough spots in the wood, making it difficult for you to draft later.

Tie the center of a long ribbon (4-5') to the top of the distaff and LOOSELY cris-cross the ends around the fibers until you reach 4-5 inches from the bottom of the fibers. Go around loosely once more and tie a bow or half-bow. The ribbon should only be tight enough that it and the fibers won't fall off the stick easily. Alternately, you can tie one end of the ribbon to the top and spiral it down the fibers, tying it to itself at the end.

Spinning with an in-the-hand spindle

All content copyright the author, Jennifer Munson munson.jennifer@gmail.com The author makes no guarantees for instructions and recipes on this site; neither does she accept responsibility for their outcomes. Verbatim copies may be made for educational purposes only provided they contain original copyright marking.

This page created August 4, 2001

Last updated August 02, 2005