Friday, October 12, 2012

St Distaff Day in Westford

In England, as well as other countries the days from Christmas through Twelfth Night were considered a time of rest from the labors of spinning. The maidens returned to their work on St. Distaff's Day, January 7th. This day was also known as Rock Day, which is derived from the German word rocken, which means both distaff and woman's.

Although the maidens resumed their work on St. Distaff's Day, the ploughboys did not return until the Monday following Twelfth -Night. They used this discrepancy to no good by playing pranks on the busy spinners. The most popular of these pranks was to set fire to the tow and flax which was awaiting processing. The spinners in turn would quench the fire with buckets of water, drenching both fire and firebug.

We will celebrate St Distaff Day on Sunday January 3, 2016 from 1-5pm. Bring your spinning and those leftover Holiday goodies to share and the museum will put on the coffee pot. There will be a silent auction of some special items to benefit our hosts at the museum and lots of spinning and chatting!   Doors open at 1pm, sorry no early birds.

The Westford Museum is located in the original Westford Academy school house, built in 1792. With the opening of the new Westford Academy building in 1897, the old academy building was used as a residence until 1917 when it was then moved across and down the street and converted to a firehouse and used by the Westford Fire Department until 1974.

Directions:  Westford Museum 2 Boston Road Westford, MA 01886 Take exit 32 off Rt. 495. From the Southbound exit ramp, turn left onto Boston Road towards Westford Center or From the Northbound exit ramp, turn right onto Boston Road towards Westford Center. Drive 1 mile and the Museum is on the right, next to the Parish Center for the Arts.

A word on parking: the museum lot is small so if you are able please park
around the corner. There is also parking in a lot behind the Town Hall
further down the street. You can drop off the wheel first and then park.

See satellite map at: which show the museum and
the parking behind the town hall and library.

Further reading on St. Distaff Day: 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Rice Bags for Spay Clinics

Rice bags are used at the spay/neuter clinic. They are warmed in a microwave and used to keep the cats warm as they recover from the anesthesia, which makes their temp go down to 98 degrees or lower. They stay in the traps until the trapper moves the cat to a cage or releases it. These are basically single use items so the fabric does not need to be fancy just sturdy cotton or fabric you want to get rid of. For a small clinic of 50 cats 60 bags would be needed. For a more normal clinic of 75 cats they would need 85. I know it's a lot, but it really does keep the cats warmer when they most need warmth. The warmth also helps them wake up faster.

Cotton fabric-flannel, calico, poly cotton OK. Fabric cannot have any metallic in the weave as these go into the microwave.
Rice-1½ cups for each bag
Sewing Machine

1. Cut Fabric into 11x8” rectangles

2. Fold in half

lengthwise and stitch ¼” seam on 2 sides, leave one short side open. Remember to backstitch at start and finish. Turn right side out.

3. Fill about 2/3 full with rice, aprox. 1 1/2 cups, place a long pin to hold the rice to the bottom of the bag

4. Fold under top edge and securely stitch top. Remove pin and you are done.

Finished bags will go back to the shelter to be stored with the supplies for the clinics. Let me now how many you finish so I can let the clinic coordinator know.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


I haven't updated this in awhile and I'm feeling a bit guilty that Possum did not get the obituary her fur siblings did.
Possum and her brother Rusty were feral kittens living under a trailer in a nearby town and were totally feral. Rusty died of heart failure about a year after he came here and Possum then decided she needed to eat for two! She was a big rolley polley girl who loved to sunbathe. Since she did not wear sunscreen she got skin cancer on her all white left ear and had to be ear-tipped. She loved chicken and in her final months would put her paws up on my lap in order to steal the yummy bits of poultry from my plate. Possum was about 11 years old, her decline was very fast and she joined Rusty at the Rainbow Bridge on March 6.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

RIP Frack

Frack and his sister Frick came to me as kittens, trapped as part of a local feral colony. They were older when I got them and did not want to become tame. Frack never did get used to human interaction. He would beg for food but was afraid to get too near and lost out on many a treat that landed close to where I was sitting. He liked his buddy cat Sam and would occasionally sleep with one of the others but his favorite place was behind the sofa which is where he liked me to leave his snacks. He had been pretty healthy but took a sudden turn Sunday afternoon. There was little the vet could do so I sent him gently to the Rainbow Bridge to be with his buddy Sam. One thing I am greatful for is that after he passed I was able to hold him for the very first time. I wish he had let me do that in life. I'll miss you my handsome boy.
Frick and Frack in 2000

Thursday, January 7, 2010

St. Distaff Day

Today, January 7, is St. Distaff Day, not really a holiday since it was the day young spinners went back to work after the Christmas break which lasted from Christmas to the Feast of the Epiphany. In modern times it has become a holiday to celebrate spinning which is now more of a relaxing hobby than a chore.

Back in the 1970s when I first started spinning, I read an article in Spin-Off magazine about a group of spinners in Texas that held an annual St. Distaff Day Spin-In and I thought how much fun that would be but I didn’t know enough spinners to organize such an event. Then came the internet, with a few emails to the appropriate lists and I finally had company for spinning on the “rock” which is the other name for the day. I look forward to the event not just for the celebration of spinning but also as it is a chance to catch up with everyone. It’s also an event that runs itself, the Westford Museum does the advertising, docents help with the visitors and all the spinners pitch in as needed. All in all a great event.

I found some interesting superstitions related to the season, all regarding flax spinning which should remind us how important the production of linen was in times past.

In Lower Austria St. Lucia's Eve, December 12, is a time when special danger from witchcraft. A procession is made through each house to cense every room. On this evening, too, girls are afraid to spin lest in the morning they should find their distaffs twisted, the threads broken, and the yarn in confusion. In my house a twisted distaff, broken threads and tangled yarn are a result of feline mischief. I find this can also happen at a spinning demo when the public puts their grubby hands where they shouldn’t be…

In England no spinning might be done during the Twelve Days of Christmas. It was said elsewhere that if any flax were left on the distaff, the Devil would come and cut it as a punishment for lazy girls who had left unspun flax on their distaff. In other countries flax left on the distaff during this season would bring the spinner bad luck. I hope I got all the flax off my distaff before I put it away from it’s last use. I don’t need any bad luck this year.

Here’s wishing everyone a year of happy spinning, the finding of new and fun fibers for their stash and maybe a bit of stash reduction and most of all the good fellowship of many spin-ins!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Kittens November 6 2009

Photos from 11/6/2009

3 of the 4 kittens, the 4th is snuggled under #3.

Mom Cat Sophia in her Halloween head-dress--that I bought on sale last night...
She is the sweetest mom, kept that silly head dress on for photos which is more than I can say for my cats. I hope she finds a really great home.

And some more photos from last night. Today they learned how to climb out of the play yard so that is now packed up. Time to find all the toys to entertain them.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kittens October 21

These first 2 are from last weekend.

Here they are today, Oct 21. They are starting to eat solid food!

Sophia and her kittens will be available for adoption when the kittens are 10 weeks old. Adoption info at