A thousand years apart

I received my long-awaited package yesterday:

Bosworth

Two Bosworth midis, the top in maple (25 g/.81 oz) and the bottom in bocote (39 g/1.34 oz) and 500 g of BFL Humbug – a striated blend of three natural colours. I love them! I ordered from P&M Woolcraft, which I can heartily recommend (the delay in receiving spindles was not due to them, but to an earlier order with another firm, which fell through due to a backorder).

Bosworth 009

I started trying out my new spindles immediately, and I got to thinking about something. If a viking-era woman were to enter my home, chances are she would be completely mystified by it. Nothing we have would be recognisable to her (we don’t even have a fireplace) – except this little tool, with its tail of unspun, fluffy fibre. For some reason I like the feeling of having something, even so little as this, in common with my foremother. Spinning is a fairly obvious source of symbolism, and the Norse mythology is no exception. I was very fascinated with Norse mythology when I was younger, so you’ll have to excuse a little lecture:

In Norse mythology, the ash tree Yggdrasil is considered the centre of the earth, and its branches encircle the heavens. Its three roots run from three different well springs – one from Mime’s well, one from the Norse hell Helheim and one from the dwelling of the Norns (Urd’s well). The Norns are Urd, Verdande and Skuld (the past, the present and the future). They spin the life thread of every newborn baby as well as the gods (who are not considered immortal in Norse mythology). Skuld spins the thread (birth), Verdande plies it (life) and Urd cuts it (death). Considering that the Norse myths were mainly told by and for men, it is interesting to consider the power which was attributed to the Norns and their spinning. Were women and their activities considered mysterious and incomprehensible by the men at the time?

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