Distaff Day 2023


January 7th has special significance for many guilds. Since the Middle Ages people have come together to work with fibre as a way to honour the work of women who spin and weave.  This was the day when women in past ages went back to work after the Christmas celebrations once 12th night was over.  Today women all over the world work with fibre arts and are the ones responsible for the domestic work of spinning and weaving. This is a way for us to celebrate and honour their work.

Today we gather together to spin with each other, build community and enjoy each other’s company. Groups can be large or small it is all about playing with fibre.  Guilds in my area host Distaff Day events around January 7th.  We can reconnect with each other as we travel from guild to guild building our island fibre connections.

This year TSWG hosted a Distaff Day event where we honoured our fibre arts and celebrated our guild’s 50th anniversary.  The Bradley Spinners, Mid-Island Guild, Victoria Guild and Qualicum Guild members joined us for a lively day of spinning. We also had visitors from Kingston, Ontario and Brazil join in the fun. There was a delicious cake, yummy homemade soups, so many yummy treats but most importantly being in the company of so many women and men who share a love of spinning.

So many different wheels were whirring away throughout the day. Our President Cherry did a count of all the wheels in the hall. Here is the breakdown per wheel type/manufacturer. This unofficial list shows just some of the many wheels and ways to spin available to us.

  • Ashford 19
  • Drop Spindle 3
  • Peacock 2
  • Peggy 1
  • Bluebonnet 1
  • Pocket wheel 1
  • Kromski 1
  • Canadian Production Wheel 1
  • Spinning Wheel Cabinetry 1
  • Louet 7
  • Majacraft 7
  • Lendrum 7
  • Electric 7
  • Schact 3

I’ll close this post with a poem written in the 17th century in celebration of spinning.

St. Distaff’s Day; Or, the Morrow after Twelfth-day

PARTLY work and partly play

You must on St. Distaff’s Day:

From the plough soon free your team;

Then come 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 one

To his own vocation.

~ Robert Herrick