Distaff Day, also called Roc Day, is 7 January, the day after the feast of the Epiphany. It is also known as Saint Distaff's Day, since it was not really a holiday at all. In many European cultural traditions, women resumed their household work after the twelve days of Christmas. The distaff, or rock, used in spinning was the medieval symbol of women's work. Often the men and women would play pranks on each other during this day, as was written by Robert Herrick in his poem "Saint Distaffs day, or the Morrow After Twelfth Day" which appears in his Hesperides.This is the second year I've celebrated Roc Day. This year, on a whim, I was talking with some of my spinning friends on Moonwood Farms Ravelry group about Roc Day, and we all decided it would be fun to exchange different fibers to spin for Roc Day. Little did I know it would blow up into a full-fledged spinning dance with fibers ranging from wolf, bison, possum, and lint!
Some modern craft groups have taken up the celebration of Distaff day as part of their new year celebrations.
I decided to use my samples as a study of fibers. I divided them into three groups: natural, fun, and colored. I know, not that scientific, huh?
WARNING: If you are allergic to any animal, do not touch this if you see it in public!
First, I took all the natural animal/processed fiber and lined them up by texture. I kept like-textures together (bamboo/silk/corn, wool/bison/alpaca), then mixed up the colors so that similar colors wouldn't be next together. I spun these into a dk-worsted weight single. It was interesting going from one fiber to another. Many of the fibers I had spun previously and knew what to expect. So, let me hit the unusual ones.
I was pleasantly surprised by how soft the yak down way, though it's staple length was very short. It was almost like spinning cotton, but a little easier.
The Swaledale, Merino, Possum didn't really catch my eye when spinning, besides the guard hairs were prominent. Upon knitting them however, I found it to feel and look just like new household carpets. After looking up the Swaledale sheep, I found out that their wool is indeed used for carpet making.
The hank came out looking pretty unassuming as you can see. That's the beauty of something like this, it's when it's knit up that the true beauty id shown. I grabbed a set of 9 and went at knitting up a simple triangular shawl. Nothing fancy because I wanted to fiber to be the showcase, not the pattern.
I actually used some creative stitch markers I had swapped from Winemakerssister.etsy.com. As you probably know, I have a thing for steampunk and these beauties pulled at me to take them. A knitter can never have too many stitch markers!
The fibers include (from top to bottom):
Dark Grey Carbonized Bamboo
Dark Brown Bison
Creamy Tan Camel/Tussah Silk
White Angora Rabbit
Brown & Blue Alpaca/Cat
Alpaca & Wool
Grey European Karakul
And finally White/Cream French Angora from my own rabbits