Spinning Crocus Colors

In 2013, I was painting some silk hankies (aka mawata, a preparation of silk for spinning in which one stretches single entire cocoons over a square frame to form incredibly thin layers), and I did one ounce in peacock shades, which I eventually sent to a friend who was learning to spin, and another in purple, green, yellow and white, for spring crocuses. A few months ago, I finally got around to starting to spin the crocus colors, and even wrote a poem about them to submit to an upcoming anthology in honor of Flora. (I still owe that anthology a piece on Hekate and lavender.) I was in a lot of pain at the time, and I used the spinning to catch some of it up and pull it out of me, one of the things that can be done with spinning magic, and one for which sticky, grabby silk preparations like hankies are particularly good for. I've been working on it in bits and pieces, using it to capture pain, worry, depression, anxiety. I finally finished it! One ounce of thick-and-thin energized-single silk yarn. The colors got rather more blue in the drafting and spinning than I had meant them to be. Next time I try this, I'll add some other colors to get a better balance. Some red to the violet, some yellow to the green. But it's pretty anyway. I hope to use it as warp and weave it into a narrow scarf. The thick-and-thin and the extra twist should give it some interesting texture. It may take a while to get that done, though. The RH Cricket loom is missing a length of dowel, and I'd have to replace that before I could weave....

The Fable of the Tuft of Wool

by Rebecca Lynn Scott Once upon a time, there was a mother who had three daughters who quarreled all day long. So she sat them down and handed them each a tuft of wool and said, "Pull it apart." They did, and it was easy. It came apart in their fingers like a puff of cloud. Then the mother took up her spindle and another tuft of wool, and spun it swiftly into good strong yarn, and said to her daughters, "Now, pull that apart." And it was much harder. "When you work together, you are stronger, just as fibers twisted together are stronger than loose ones." She taught them all to spin. Leaving the youngest spinning, but telling her to watch because soon, this would be her work, too, she taught the elder two to weave. When they had a piece of fabric, she said to her daughters, "Now, try to pull that apart," and they could not, for the weaving was strong. Leaving the middle daughter weaving, but telling her to keep watching because soon, this would be her work, too, she taught the eldest daughter to build a loom for herself. "Now you can all work together to make the cloth that cannot be torn," she told them....

Glimpses

I'm just sort of noodling around creatively lately. I threw a linen and cotton warp on the inkle because I liked the colors, and then decided to test out some patterns for god bands on it. Artemis's bow, for a band for the Twins, came out pretty well: But the first attempt at a tripod for Apollon -- the visually simplest of his symbols -- came out pretty much incomprehensible: A second try is more plainly a three-legged stool, at least, which I think is about as good as I'm going to manage: I've been trying to finish plying some thread I've been working on rather desultorily for months, and finally managed it: Nice soft gray, with purples, pinks and yellows. I think I want to do an abstract tapestry of hills and angles, something about mists and sunrise, when I get some more of it spun up. Finishing left me with a naked spindle: This, of course, is scandalous, and cannot be allowed, so I grabbed the next rolag of the color and began to dress it again: This weekend's project is the next Art is Anathema prompt, "Even the monster was once a dear child." I know what I want to do. We'll see if I can pull it off....

Creating Again

I know no one is reading this any longer. I'm sorry. It's been bad these last few months. I'll crosspost this around for people to see. I am contemplating starting up a small crafting business. Weaving and spinning, of course, mostly, but also a few other things. Amulets. Spell paper for genius loci, nymphs, and other nature spirits. Prayer hangings like this one, both custom and not. Ritual cords. Spell thread/yarn. Woolly gods (or cotton, linen or silk). Needle-felted gods. Red clay Hellenic alphabet oracle sets. Hanged Maiden divinatory pendulum. That sort of thing. Would anyone be interested? I'd have to run a crowdfunding campaign to get materials. Update: Excitement caused me to stay up much too late to make this....

Spinning Cobwebs

But no moonlight. But actual cobwebs. There was, across our front porch, a large and lovely orb web, which I insisted we leave there. Now it is abandoned, and today, heavy with sleep drugs but unable to sleep, I went out draped in black, and hooked my skull-armed micro trindle into the center of the web, and I began to spin, drafting straight from the web. Spider, Spider, Spinning Spells We are Kin beneath the skin Spider, Spider, Spinning Spells We are Sisters in our Craft Spider, Spider, Spinning Spells Show me how you weave your Web Spider, Spider, Spinng Spells Help me work my Will And I did. I got about a yard of delicate, sticky, gossamer-fine thread with bits of old meals and blowing bramble caught in it. I wrapped it around a small smooth vertebra I had handy. I'll have a picture later, maybe. It will be a powerful amulet, when I am done with it....

Silk Spinning Update

Still spinning silk for the Boukolos bracelets for the thiasos of the Starry Bull.These are meant to be twined black, white and red silk, for the priests. I’ve got enough of the black and white, but don’t yet have a red I’m happy with the start spinning. But I am enjoying making little cocoons of different colors on the spindle shaft. Once I get a red I’m happy with, I’ll get that spun up, and then can do the bracelets. PHEW, these are more work than I realized. Totally worth it, though. Tonight I’ve been writing the rest of the incantation for spinning them. Just one more verse to go....

Spider and Silkworm

I have started to work with new spirits lately. They aren’t ones that have sought me out, particularly, but ones whom I have found in my work, and am attempting to build a relationship with. For the moment, that means creating a tiny shrine for them, and chanting to them in my evening spinning. Tiny shrine to Spider and Silkworm, bramble wrapped in spell-thread, with beaded Golden Orb Spider and, covered in silk, an actual Silkworm cocoon with dried silkworm inside. My Spider is not, for example, Sannion’s Spider, nor Anansi the Spider, nor even Arachne as the Mother of Spiders (although certainly she’s closer to Arachne than to any of the others). I’ve never heard of anyone else working with a Silkworm spirit, but if I had, I doubt that this would be the same Silkworm, either. (Maybe, though; Silkworms are much rarer in mythology than Spiders. Maybe I should look into Chinese traditions. I’ve already found the Empress known now as the Silkworm Mother.) I hope that Spider and Silkworm will become specifically my allies in magic that uses spinning and weaving (this relationship is still in its very early days). They are witches in the same way that Sarah Anne Lawless and Harold Roth, aka the Alchemist talk about some plants being. They are witches differently than I am a witch, but I wish to learn their craft and spells, and indeed have already learned some. We are part of a sisterhood, bound by our threads. It is on that that I hope to build a relationship, on this that I give them a place in my home and my shrine room. I spin, chanting to them, and feel myself slip into a light trance that I do not when spinning my morning prayers. I feel the silk slipping between my fingers, and know that I am echoing their actions. I know that Spider weaves her golden webs, only to have them damaged and destroyed (and indeed sometimes she destroys them herself), and to build them again in new and more beautiful ways. She knows the cycle of creation-destruction-creation. I know that Silkworm sheds multiple skins and is renewed like a snake before finally weaving her cocoon, her womb, and then transforming herself into something completely different. She knows the cycle of birth-death-rebirth. I know that Spider is quiet but shows herself openly. I know that Silkworm is even quieter, and hides herself away. I know that Spider is well-known as a spinner and weaver, and that she protects us from many insects that would overrun us. I know that Silkworm produces the silk we actually spin and weave from. I don’t know what offerings to give them. Incense? Food? Drink? Flowers? Leaves and insects? Tea? All I know to do for them is spin, and chant. Soon, I’ll ask what more to do, through tarot or the Hellenic alphabet or geomancy, whatever seems to fit best. Spider, Spider spinning spells Show me how you weave your web Silkworm, Silkworm spinning spells Show me how you weave your womb...

Frickin' Historians

I get so frustrated trying to research Hellenic fiber arts. We have so few depictions of the processes, and no examples of any wooden tools, including looms. Things like clay epinetra, as I mentioned before, survived, but wood just doesn’t last in the Mediterranean. Nor does wool, so we have very few examples of finished cloth. But it’s more than that. There are all these historians who, like the Wikipedian who wrote about epinetra, are simply talking out their asses. They know nothing about how cloth is actually produced, or thread, or how wool is processed before spinning. They look at depictions on vases, make a guess at what they show, and that description sticks, despite the fact that it has nothing to do with reality. Like, say, this image: I got that image from this page, which describes the image as “Woman spinning, filling a baket "Kalathos" with yarn,” which it plainly is not. She’s not spinning. She has nothing in her hands with which to spin, no tool that could possibly be twisting the fiber. It looks to me like she’s dressing a distaff with wool roving instead. Or she might be loading a shuttle stick with thread, since those also seem to be wound this way, but some other depictions of women in basically the same position definitely show the strand of fiber as much thicker than thread elsewhere in the scene: (same source) And some show wool being taken out of or put into the same kind of kalathos basket as plainly much wispier and looser than any yarn: (from Perseus) On the other hand, the lefthand figure in the second pair on this vase very plainly is spinning, while her companion is either dressing an indistinct distaff or ordering combed wool into roving and dropping it into a basket: (from here) That’s a low-whorl drop spindle hanging from her right hand, and a dressed distaff in her upraised left hand. And you can see there that the thread she’s spinning is depicted as much finer than the stuff her companion is working with. By the way, the notes on the piece I got that last image from describe a spindle thus: “The spindle was a stick, 10 or 12 inches long, having at the top a slit or catch in which the thread was fixed, so that the weight of the spindle might continually carry down the thread as it was formed.” That’s not the author’s description, it’s taken from a University of Chicago piece. But what leaps out at me is that it neglects one of the most physically important parts of the spindle, the whorl. It’s clearly a drop spindle, not a stick or a French-style that requires the hand to be on it constantly, turning it manually. It must be able to maintain a spin once set in motion, or it will backspin, all the twist will be lost, and the thread will fall apart. You can clearly see the whorl in the image, too, the tapered knob at the bottom and the flatter part above it. Without a whorl, spinning on a drop spindle is impossible. And yet whoever wrote that description is so ignorant of how spinning works that they left out that crucial detail. I see it again and again. Historians thought that depictions of warp-weighted looms couldn’t be accurate, because they thought of looms as horizontal, and assumed no one could weave on a contraption like that… until someone pointed out that similar looms were still in active use in other parts of the world, and that a reconstruction certainly could be woven on, pretty easily by anyone conversant with other kinds of loom. They never thought to ask actual weavers, though, just as they never think to ask spinners. I came across another reference to an epinetron as being used for protection, this time while roving wool. But if they were used to protect clothing, why were they so small? If they were used to protect against, say, the use of some sharp object, then why are they never shown as being used with one? And in any case, why are they textured the way they are if the texture isn’t meant to be used? I just… they seem to spend no time at all considering reality, only theory. On the up side, while doing the same research, I came across this: (Perseus; again, not a spindle in the hand of the woman on the left) I’ve seen an illustration of a frame loom similar to the one the woman on the right is holding before, but a seated woman was holding it, and the side pieces looked like they ended and were resting...

Epinetron

It occurred to me to wonder, after the post about thread as a process, how the Hellenes prepared their wool. They couldn’t have had modern-style cards, those require stiff fine steel wire, which simply didn’t exist. I’d never seen mention of the kinds of combs used in Northern Europe in the medieval era (I have a set of those; they are deadly). It turns out that what they used was an epinetron, a wood or ceramic piece that fitted over the knee and thigh, like a saddle on a donkey (and they were sometimes called onoi or donkeys). The surface was textured or crosshatched and rough. Raw wool was draw across it, much as modern spinners draw wool across a card, to comb out dirt, trash and short fibers, and to order and align the long staple fibers wanted for spinning. The short fibers, once washed, might be used as stuffing or for felting, or throw out. Since the ceramic ones were often richly decorated (see that link, omg, it’s gorgeous), given as wedding presents, and found in graves, those may have been largely symbolic or ceremonial, and wooden ones used for everyday, but I suspect that at least some ceramic ones saw regular use. Oddly, while looking these up, I found the bizarre assertion on Wikipedia that they were used during weaving to protect the clothes from grease, but this is laughable. Their clothing was made from wool anyway, which had been greasy itself once (and might be still) and wouldn’t be harmed by it the way cotton is. Besides, it wouldn’t cover much, and an apron is far more practical. There’s a potter in England who’s making them now, but when I can afford to buy things again, I’m planning to ask my friend Sherry Kirk of Sidhefire Arts, who’s made a number of ritual items for me. I’m also hoping that when I eventually get a warp-weighted loom built, she’ll make my weights. Someday. But now I know how they carded wool....