Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Spinning at the Ren Faire

Ha! I knew I had pictures of spinning somewhere! This is from the 2006 Renaissance Faire near Irwindale, CA. The lady--she seems too demure to be called a wench--is holding a spindle in her right hand.

In the first picture, she's wrapping the spun thread around it. The spindle is actually upside down; when she gives it a flick and lets it go (as described in the previous post), the weighted end will be down and the little hook--which appears to be at the bottom now--will be at the top.

In fact, that's exactly how the spindle is positioned in the second picture. The reason that I went with a different picture to begin with is that it just seemed very rude to chop the lady's head off when she really did not do anything deserving of such a fate.

In the second picture, you can also see the distaff tucked in her belt--or maybe pocket. This stick holds the prepared wool. In the 21st century renaissance, the wool is all even, sparkly white, and lovely. In Ye Real Olde Days, the clumps of wool were not so nice looking.

Why am I writing about spinning? Well, this is what women did in Gaul and in almost all European lands. Spindle weights are found all over Europe, as are weaving looms or the remnants of looms. And where there's looms, there's got to be thread, which implies spinning. Some of the looms are over 5,000 years old. The stone weights are a little harder to date, I think, because stones can only be dated in context with other goods found near them--they're not organic, so no radio-carbon dating.

If you're writing about a woman in Gaul, or in any pre-Renaissance setting, she probably spent her day spinning. Even the wealthy.

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