Sunday, January 9, 2011

Roc Day

Traditionally, Roc Day (or St. Distaff's Day), is observed on the day after The Twelfth Day (or January 7). It signals the final blowout before Christmas is declared to be Done, Over, Finished, Kaput, Stick a Fork in It (which is a good twelve days after I, personally, declare it to be over). The poet Robert Herrick wrote long ago about St. Distaff's Day as a transition from feasting and celebrating, back to every day life, thusly:

Partly worke and partly play
Ye must on S. Distaffs day:
From the Plough soone free your teame;
Then come home and fother them.
If the Maides a spinning goe,
Burne the flax, and fire the tow:
Scorch their plackets, but beware
That ye singe no maiden-haire.
Bring in pailes of water then,
Let the Maides bewash the men.
Give S. Distaffe all the right,
Then bid Christmas sport good-night.
And next morrow, every one
To his own vocation
In modern times, crafters often get together to spin and indulge in fibery pursuits on (or near) Roc Day, and this year I was lucky enough to join my guild (the Prairie Arts Fiber Guild) in Groton, SD, for the day. Happily, there were no men to bewash (and I'd be doing something more dire to anyone who was foolish enough to burn my flax anyway). But the weather (hovering near zero, sometimes just above, sometimes just below, but with no wind and no new snow) permitted 22 of us to gather for a day of fun and wool fumes.
 No matter what else happens when spinners get together, there is always a spinning circle. Here, Shay, Julie, Marie, Celeste, and Connie do what spinners do. Five spinners, three different wheel styles.
 Young spinner Hannah spun and plied yarn yarns on a drop spindle. Her mom, Malissa crocheted, and Jill used yet another style of wheel.
 Rose, Betty (from my knitting group), Brandy, and Dianne worked and talked and laughed. Brandy was knitting mitts, and Diane was crocheting a shawl. Two more wheels... I wish Mary could have been there, she would have come away feeling much more confident about her own wheel. Well, actually, I wish Mary could have been there just because. Karen too.
 Some of us spent time wet-felting armbands for the board members to wear at the next NCFF.  Dianne, Brandy, Hannnah and Kelly (wearing her armband), watched as Malissa cut the felting base patterns from an old sheet.
 Kelly's arm band, un-armed, is a simple length of felt, with a couple of buttons. Easy-peasy.
 We layered our wool on top of the cloth pattern, and then covered it with a screen.
 and then we sprinkled it with soapy water from handy devices we dubbed Snot Suckers (because... obviously). And then we applied elbow grease. We rubbed and kneaded and pushed and rolled and added more soap, and massaged, and complained about our aching shoulders, and we shocked the piece in alternate hot and cold water baths, and rubbed them on washboards, and observed our pruney fingers.
 And in the end, we had lovely more-or-less rectangular pieces of felt. Mine will go to a board member- I'll be interested to see how she finishes and embellishes it. All that felting gave me a notion for making felted wrist bands with the Grandgirls, next time they come out to the farm. I think they'd love making them (and their hands would definitely be clean afterwards).
 I had time to spin too. I took a hank of Twisted Fiber Arts  Puffy (merino) roving, painted in the Valkyrie colorway. (note the nifty chair cushion).
 I was able to spin a bobbin of lovely singles. I'm not going to try to make this a self-patterning yarn. I'm just going to let the colors develop as they may. I'll probably knit hats or a scarf with it, so matching isn't important.
I also contributed fiber for a Fiber Sandwich. 4 ozs of donated fiber from each person playing was pooled and mixed and then divided back again, into 4 oz bundles, and redistributed. I didn't have time to start spinning this lovely bunch, but I'm looking forward to it. And I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else does with their Sandwich fibers. If you give 10 spinners the same wool, you're going to get 10 different yarns back. That's part of the fun.
We also had far too much good food (which I did not record for posterity, owing to the fact that I was eating too much of it),  and a whole lot of laughter (which also doesn't photograph well).
All in all, it was an excellent Roc Day. And no one's tow* was fired.
*for the non-fibery among Blog Readers, tow here refers to jumbled linen fibers (which come from flax)
Also for the non-fibery people who read all the way to the bottom of a post that is all about fiber, Disney notwithstanding, Sleeping Beauty did not prick her finger on a spindle. She pricked her finger on the Distaff (the tall upright thingie, to which linen fibers are tied, for spinning).

1 comment:

joannamauselina said...

That looks like it was a pretty fun day. I was totally not productive, and slept all day.

It may have been a sharp spindle. When my daughter was about three, she had to have a blood test, and when she saw the phlebotomist coming, she shrieked, "AAAAAAH! It's the wicked fairy with her spindle." I thought this was very witty. The phlebotomist did not.