Medieval Spinning

This Website is still under construction.

This website is a support for Living Historians, Reenactors, SCA members and anyone else interested in re-creating medieval and renaissance spinning techniques from 1100-1600.

Why spin?

Spinning was a ubiquitous task that every woman would have known how to do. Spinning adds a realistic element to your persona, is a great opening for talking to members of the public about anything cloth or clothing related and results in thread or yarn that can be used in other craft projects.

So this website is about drop spindle spinning?

Spinning as a modern hobby still exists, and you may have heard of drop spindle spinning. As a craft, drop spindle spinning was born out of the American craft revolution that popularised many crafts. Between the 1930s and 1970s American Anthropologists and textile enthusiasts travelled to Central American countries and learnt their spinning techniques. The brought this information to the world of modern crafters by books and articles. These days you can hop online and easily find numerous free resources on drop spindle spinning.

You may be asking yourself “but what does this American-based research have to do with medieval spinning techniques”. If you are, you’re asking the right question.

Drop spindle spinning looks visually different to what we see in European medieval manuscripts; the tools are different, the hand positions and different, and we surmise that the techniques are different too.

There is a technique though that looks just like what’s shown in medieval manuscripts, and it exists to this day. It’s still practiced in some parts of Europe and has come to be known as “European Distaff Spinning.”

European Distaff Spinning is found throughout Europe and Great Brittan with many regional variations. It died out in many places with the coming of the industrial revolution. By the time modern crafters became interested in spinning again as a hobby in the 20th century they looked to the new American books to learn to spin, not to the traditional techniques of their own nations that might only be practiced in poor areas where the people had kept spinning out of necessity.

Medieval Spinning, SCA Spinning, Medieval drop spindle, Medieval drop-spindle, SCA, Reenactment, Reenacting, Re-enactment, Re-enacting, Living History, Society for Creative Anachronism.