She layeth her hands to the spindle,
and her hands hold the distaff.

[Proverbs 31:19]

In some cultures, January 6th marks the end of Christmas celebrations so January 7th was, historically, the day to return to work. This was an occasion for a party and sometimes pranks. For many women, work included spinning yarn so they brought their distaffs and flax to the party. Some spinning guilds still meet on January 7th for a party and a day of spinning.

My father made this black walnut drop spindle for me fifty years ago (I was in high school at the time). I have spun on it but never learned to use the spinning wheel. My daughter, Ellen, is the spinner in the family. She also weaves on a loom that Daddy built.

In a world that sometimes seems to spin out of order, I find comfort in touching the honeysuckle of my shuttle basket and caressing the old wood. I don’t yearn for times past, but I do enjoy meditating upon the ingenuity of our creative ancestors.

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