Lest I forget… ROC Day or St. Distaff’s Day is on Saturday, January 7 this year. My friend Pat from Confessions of a Fiber Enthusiast and I will be spinning away at her house .. perhaps dyeing a little wool or even weaving a bit. No matter.. it will be fun! Leef fromApple Leef Farm in Van Alstyne, TX will be celebrating ROC Day on Saturday the 14th with a Pot Luck Lunch and all day fun… If you can get away that really is THE PLACE TO BE.. :o) And, you ask, “What is ROC Day?”…
“In times past, January 7th, the first free day after the twelve of Christmas was known as St. Distaff’s Day. It had no connection whatsoever with any saint but its place in the folk calendar gives an indicator of the importance of spinning at a time when this was the only means of turning the raw wool, cotton or flax into thread capable of being woven into cloth. The day, which was also know as Rock Day (referring to another name for either the distaff or the spindle) indicated that this was the end of the Christmas festivities and the return to the normality of spinning whenever there was a spare moment. As Anthony Fitzherbert, wrote in his ‘Boke of Husbandrie’ (1523) ‘it stoppeth a gap…it saveth a woman from being idle, and the product was needful’.
Before the invention of the Spinning Wheel, spinning on what is known as the Drop Spindle (a pin or stick weighted by a whorl) was a slow and tedious task. The spinning of one pound of woollen yarn could take about one week and one pound of heavy cotton yarn several weeks to spin. The method had not changed since the earliest times. There are images from as far back as time of the Ancient Egyptians showing how the distaff was used to hang the flax or tow and the spindle to effect the twisting. The distaff was carried under the arm, and the spindle left dangling and turning in the fingers below, and forming an axis round which to wind parcels of the thread as soon as it was made.
Women of all classes would spin. Everyone from the Lady to the peasant was expected to spend time on the task, though the wealthier may have elaborate spindles. In the evening, after the chores of the day were done, there would be spinning, and the spindle would be taken to visit friends as the task could be undertaken at the same time as a conversation.
The woollen industry became in the Middle Ages, the major industry in the land with huge areas gaining there main income from sheep. It is said that many of the elaborate churches in East Anglia, such as those at Long Melford and Lavenham, were financed from the woollen industry. In the 14th century, Edward III commanded that the Lord Chancellor should sit on a sack of wool – a reminder of the importance of the trade, for not only had home consumption increase but there was now a thriving export market.
It was at about this time the spinning-wheels first started to appear, to replace the drop spindle. There are several depictions of women from this time using the spinning wheel – all show the woman standing at her work, moving the wheel with her right hand, while with her left she twirls the spindle. The introduction of this method speeded up the production of spun wool and the addition of the foot driven mechanism in the 1500s made even more of a difference.
Land use was also greatly affected by the wool trade. Many of the deserted villages that have left their mark on the English landscape, particularly in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire occurred as a result of whole communities being moved to make space for the grazing of sheep between the fourteenth and the seventeenth centuries. Spinning the wool became more important than ever and Distaff Day a crucial date in the calendar
But whereas women would recommence spinning on Distaff Day, the men did not return to the plough until after Plough Monday when their ploughs had been blessed. Robert Herrick in the seventeenth century collection of poems ‘Hesperides’ describes young people maids and ploughboys messing around at this time with the lads setting fire to the flax and in return, the maids soaking the men from the water-pails”
My sweet DH and I have very different thermostats… his is never cold and mine is always cold.. ;o) As a result our separate sides of the king size bed show very different bedclothes. His side….. bottom sheet, top sheet and if it is very cold one medium weight quilt/bedspread. Mine… bottom sheet, top sheet, medium weight quilt/bedspread, another medium weight quilt (folded so he won’t smother on his side of the bed) and very often a large crocheted afghan. So I’ve decided that in keeping with the idea of quilting… either Block of the Month or just How to make a quilt I’ve decided to make a very simple quilt for the first project.
The Basic Sandwich Quilt
I have chosen my fabrics. ($2.00/yd at WalMart. This will be a twin/single bed size that I will use on my side of the bed… ;o) It will be used and abused, washed and dried so I have not chosen expensive fabric that would be used to make an heirloom quilt. I did pay attention to the pattern of the fabric. This will be a tied quilt as opposed to a quilted quilt. The tied quilt goes together very quickly and easily. The thread is stitched twice, cut and tied. As you can see in the picture below, the pattern of the fabric is quite consistent with the cherries patterned into straight lines about 2 inches apart and the lines below almost making a square. The fabric you decide to use does not have to have cherries.. ;o) But see if you can find a piece that has a fairly easy to see design repeat. It does not have to be 2 inches… it can be 3… but I would not use one with a distance between ties of greater than 4 inches. If you prefer to use a solid fabric, the ties can be placed using a card spacer.
I will give you the supplies I used… but this easy quilt can be made any size you would like, from doll quilt size to California King. This quilt is just to introduce you to the very basics of the quilting sandwich.
So if you would like to follow along and make yours with me the supplies needed will be:
Top fabric of your choice….. 2 yards (Mine was 42″ wide)
Bottom fabric of your choice…. 2 yards (Mine was 42″ wide)
Batting in the width of your fabric … 2 yards …… You may not find batting exactly the width of your fabric, but you can cut it to fit very easily. ( Very light quilts can be made with no batting…but it will not be very warm.. ;o)
Matching or contrast heavy thread (I used crochet thread to match the cherries in color.)
Darning needle… Mine is about 1 inch to an 1 1/2 ” long, sharp (not round tipped), and has an eye large enough for the crochet thread to go through.
Optional: Quilt frame or large embroidery hoop. If you baste the pieces together really well, you can quilt it without the hoops. I prefer stitch quilting without a hoop, but I find that tying is easier when the fabric is held with a more consistent tension.
More on this tomorrow. Right now I’m off to bed. Had a short 3 hour hospital stay “yesterday” for a lumbar epidural that we sincerely hope will help with back pain. And since I slept for quite a long time after we got home I suppose I should not be too surprised at posting this somewhere around 3am..;o)
Have a good day…;o)