The method of spinning with these spindles is by twisting continuously the top and not ever let the spindle fall. When one is drafting the wool - some women prefer to have them in the apron pocket - we open it while the top metal end of the spindle sits in one´s palm hold by the fingers that are not sorting the wool. The other method is by using the distaff.
Thursday, 9 April 2009
According to the region they are from, the Portugese spindles can vary from carved in wood to having the top part in metal. The very top of the spindles, either in the carved ones or the metal ones, is shaped as a spiral, very much like a wide screw spiral. The weigh of the Spindle is important, and women choose the one that feels better. The carved ones that I have can vary between 23cm and 32cm, and they are made in heather wood. I bought them in a place in the mountains, and they are still being made, but with the forest fires the local heather wood is not reaching the desired width. The metal ones are not in production any more.
These are Portuguese distaffs that were mainly used to hold the flax that was ready for spinning. The flax, in the old days was grades in three levels and only the very experienced woman would spin the finest. Children would learn how to spin with the coarser grade.