07 January 2014

from the distaff side

Disclaimer: I've never used a distaff. However, I spin. Lots. Especially since Maisie (my Victoria) and I have made friends. (Maisie doesn't have a distaff, either.) 

You can read about the origins of Distaff Day at the Book of Days. Essentially, Distaff Day marked the resumption of duties after the 12 days of Christmas, but it was often sabotaged by spinsters and those pesky ploughmen.  My favorite phrase from this article, describing how men viewed spinning: "It stoppeth a gap..." --  in other words: it keeps women out of trouble and makes a useful product. Heaven knows what trouble a woman might get into. It's enough to make me clutch my pearls.

Disclaimer: I don't own pearls.

I'm reading an ARC of a book by Larissa Brown, writer and knitting designer: Beautiful Wreck. Much of it is set in ancient Iceland, where a woman from our future finds herself - in both senses of the word. She finds herself in an alien landscape, and she finds herself as a person. Larissa Brown wears her research lightly: I found myself totally comfortable in the midst of history and language with which I'm not familiar. I'll review it thoroughly when I'm done - prepare for many stars and superlatives.

I did know one of the references, though: Frigg, the Norse Goddess, who spins the clouds...  In the West, we know her constellation as Orion, but to the Norse ancients, his belt is her distaff, and Venus is her star. In one article, she is "spinning the threads of time." When I am sitting at the wheel, or plying a spindle, I lose myself to the creation; my time is enhanced and - yes - useful. In so many ways.

Happy Distaff Day! And yes, that is a wombat sitting in my spinning.

Disclaimer: I don't have a pet wombat.

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