“Round and round went the spindle, sinking slowly toward the stone floor; then she wound the thread up on her distaff and meanwhile twisted a fresh handful of wool. … As she spun out the thread, so she spun the lives of men-was it any wonder that one of the visions of the Goddess was a woman spinning … from the time a man comes into the world we spin his baby clothes, till we at last spin a shroud. Without us, the lives of men would be naked indeed …”
Quote from ‘The Mists of Avalon’ By Marion Zimmer Bradley
Christmas day morning, 2012. I awoke early to prepare for the day ahead and when it finally came to opening presents my other half presented me with a rather large box, not to sound ungrateful but at that moment I feared he had deviated from ‘The List’ and I would perhaps have to feign surprise and gratitude at a food processor or some other random gadget! I tenuously opened the parcel one corner at a time…I’m sure I am not the only one who has experienced this strange sense of both excitement and dread?!
It turns out my fears were unfounded because my beloved had actually bought me a drop spindle, complete with starter guide and some pre-carded wool ready to draft and spin. I was delighted, for the art of spinning, something traditionally assigned to the women folk, had fascinated and intrigued me since I first read Marion Zimmer Bradley’s ‘The Mists of Avalon’ many many years ago. Anyone familiar with the novel will know how spinning is presented as a vital part of daily life, not only to the regular women of court but also the mighty Priestesses whose visions and magic would often be initiated by the simple repetitive act of spinning thread…a fine example of how the mundane can very easily become the magical.
As I read and researched the ‘how to’ guides and so on I was first struck with the mass of vocabulary associated with the craft of spinning…roving, drafting, whorl, spindle, carding, twist, skeins, hank, niddy-noddy…a veritable glossary of terms and expressions I had to get my head around. Secondly, it very quickly dawned on me that actually, this was considered an art and a skill for a reason…it’s actually bloomin’ tricky!
Since then I have however produced two useable balls of Yarn which will make fine magical cords…no they aren’t perfect, there are thick bits and thin bits, fuzzy bits and smooth bits… Such is the life we weave!