Part 2: Equipment and Fibers
Section A: Fiber-Preparation Tools
Image 10: Lantern distaff by Alden Amos
Image 11: Comb distaff by Alden Amos
Image 12: Using a wrist distaff with roving
Image 13: Knitted cuff style wrist distaffs
Any device for holding prepared fiber for spinning can be considered a distaff. Attaching the fiber to the distaff is called "dressing the distaff." If necessary, the fiber is held in place by a ribbon but it should never be so tight as to impede drafting.
Most styles can be short for holding in the hand, long for mounting on a floor stand or between for tucking under the arm or into a belt. Long fibers such as line flax require a long distaff. Most can be used for either wheel or spindle spinning. Some spinning wheels have a mounting bracket or hole to hold a distaff.
Since many modern spinners are unfamiliar with distaffs, some experimentation is helpful to determine which style and method of dressing works best with an individual's personal spinning preferences.
To prepare fiber for the distaff:
- Top or roving
- Continuous top or roving can be dressed without additional preparation and spun from the end.
- Loose short fiber
- Card or tease and make a batt if desired. If the fibers do not hold together well, use a basket distaff.
- Loose medium fiber
- Card and make a batt or lay out small bits of fiber in a random overlapping layers to make a batt.
- Line flax method one
- Divide out a small portion of the strick and hackle if needed to loosen the fibers before dressing the bat, comb, stick or towel distaff.
- Line flax method two
- Divide out a small portion of the strick and hackle if needed to loosen the fibers. Lay out thin overlapping layers of fiber on a flat surface to create a batt. The fibers in each layer should cross each other at an angle and be free of tangles.
- Loose long fiber
- Fiber arranged in a parallel bundle can be treated like a strick of line flax. If using a cage distaff, choose one with a smaller cage to match the length of the fibers. Slippery fibers may not hold well on a bat, comb or stick distaff, use a batt style arrangement instead.
To dress different styles of distaffs:
- Wrist distaff (two kinds)
- Wrap the prepared fiber around the hanging cord and place the loop on your wrist (image 12.) If there is more than one cord, you may also wrap the fiber between them. For the cuff style, tuck the fiber between the cuff and your wrist or in the pocket if it has one (image 12.) A wrist distaff works best with shorter fibers in a top or roving and is most often used with a hand spindle.
- Basket distaff
- The prepared fiber is placed loosely inside the basket and is not necessarily in a top or roving form. Loose fiber is drafter through gaps in the basket and top or roving draped over the top. The basket distaff is used with shorter fibers.
- Cage distaff (Image 10)
- The batt of prepared fiber is wrapped around the cage. It may be tied with a ribbon if needed. A cage distaff is used for long fibers such as line flax or hemp. Cage distaffs come in many different shapes and sizes. They are also called lantern distaffs.
- Bat distaff
- The prepared fiber is laid lengthwise along the flat paddle and held in place with a ribbon. The bat distaff is most often used for long fibers such as line flax prepared by method one.
- Comb distaff (Image 12)
- The prepared fiber is draped over the top of the comb. It may be tied with a ribbon if needed. A comb distaff is usually used with bundles of long fibers such as line flax prepared by method one.
- Stick distaff
- The prepared fiber is wrapped around the pole and held in place with a long cross-wrapped ribbon. For flax, either method of preparing line flax may be used. A deeply carved or turned distaff holds the fiber more securely.
- Towel distaff
- The prepared parallel bundle of fiber is wrapped in a terrycloth towel with the end exposed. It can be placed on a table, held in one's lap or over the shoulder. This is useful for spinning line flax with a spinning wheel.
Maximum 12 points
- Examiner 1: 12
- Examiner 2: 12