January 7, Distaff Day, is the first free day after the 12 days of Christmas and the day when medieval women began their all-consuming task of spinning wool, cotton, and flax into thread suitable for weaving. Spinning was a tedious chore and a pound of wool could take a week to spin. The method had not changed in millennia and images from ancient Egypt show that culture using almost identical techniques.
Women of all classes would spin, from the Lady to the peasant, and spinster was the legal term for any unmarried woman. In fact the distaff became the symbol of womanhood in France where inheritance for sons was referred to as spear side and inheritance to daughters distaff side.
This image was donated into the public domain by its creator Pearson, Scott, Foresman Publishers.