Sheep Thrills by Lynda Forgues

St. Distaff’s Day. A new religious holiday, you ask? Nope. An old English tradition revitalized and revamped for modern consumption.

In bygone tymes, when the celebration of Christmas lasted a full twelve days (hence the song), by day thirteen—January 7, St. Distaff’s Day—it was time to get back to work. And women’s work meant spinning.

For those readers who may not make the connection, the spindle was the apparatus used to spin fibre into yarn, and the distaff was a stick (staff) which held the as-yet-unspun fibre (‘dis’ being Low German for ‘flax’ which would have been spun into linen). Starting to make a little more sense?

But why write an article about an obsolete British winter tradition just as the Canadian cherry blossoms are about to bloom? Well, back in 2002, the West Carleton Fibre Guild and the Kintail Spinners and Weavers got together and decided to resurrect St. Distaff’s Day with a few twists. Since we tend to be busier than ever around Christmas (without the twelve-day break for recuperation) January 7 no longer signals a return to work—when did we ever stop working? Besides, for those of us no longer burdened by the necessity of spinning and needlework as a means of survival, these activities have become sheer pleasure! Some changes were clearly needed.

Around here, St. Distaff’s Day is celebrated in the summer, and it’s for fun. What a notion!

This year marks the tenth anniversary of our local St. Distaff’s Day celebrations which will be hosted by the West Carleton Fibre Guild at the Agricultural Hall in the Almonte Fairgrounds from 9 am to 4 pm on 4 June.

There will be 10 workshops to choose from—either one four-hour basket-making workshop or two two hour classes on various themes including spinning with a drop spindle, button making, weaving on a triaxial loom (yes, that does mean weaving in three directions), learning to crochet, making a knitted bead necklace, and many, many more.

Participants are encouraged to bring projects they have completed at previous St. Distaff’s Days for display as well as yarn for the Stash Swap Table. You might want to tuck a wee bit of pin money into your pocket—during the breaks there will be Vendors present to help satisfy your craving for all things fibre.

Did I mention the “Sheep Thrills” competition? Bring your interpretation of what this phrase means to you and you may take home a prize!

Lunch will be provided by the Almonte Fair Home Craft Group.

Workshops, snacks, tea and coffee, lunch, shopping, a tea party, swaps, contests, and kindred spirits … how much does all this cost, you ask? Would you believe a mere $20 per person for the entire day? Talk about sheep thrills!

To receive the full course list or a registration package, please call Sandy at 613-256-2892 or email

Registration cut-off is 9 May. Don’t be sheepish; come on out and give it a whorl!

No comments:

Post a Comment