Sunday Stitch – How to Make and Use a Beaded Wrist Distaff


What’s a Distaff? Its a highly sophisticated precision instrument toy for handspinners. And it usually does not look like this.

A beaded wrist distaff for handspinners

Its usually looks more like this!

(a little graphic from Wikimedia Commons that pretty much says it all)

A distaff is a (usually) a staff that the spinner uses to hold fiber as she (sometimes he) spins. You can occasionally find these staves mounted on spinning wheels. Sometimes they have a base stand. But usually its a short staff that you have to hold onto in some way.

You see how the spinner in the image above has it cradled in the crook of her arm? That’s how I do it. Then I drop the distaff. Then I say a dirty word. Then I bend down to pick it up and I get my just-spun yarn all twisted up. Then I say more dirty words. Its probably fun for anyone who happens to be watching me but I don’t enjoy it much.

Which Is why I like the wrist distaff so much better. Its not a staff at all and everything just hangs off your wrist. No dropping. I’m not claiming that I never say dirty words when I spin with a wrist distaff but I say a lot fewer of them.

There are, of course, spinners that prefer the real thing. Like this lady here:

(from an old post on Habetrot, a blog I used to follow until she gave it up a few years ago)

I pretty sure that spinner never drops her distaff. Or says dirty words. Or thinks much of the younger generation.

A wrist distaff is a breeze to make. It will take you 15 minutes, tops. All you need is some yarn, some beads, and a crochet hook.

1) Cut multiple strands of any rough, grabby yarn you have. I cut mine to be approximately 8 feet long.

making a wrist distaff - step 1

2) Leave a nice long tail and begin making a crochet base chain.

making a wrist distaff - step 2

3) Continue until the crochet chain is about a foot and a half long. Leave a nice long tail at the other end.

making a wrist distaff - step 3Step 4) String beads onto those ends. They should be heavy beads, enough to weight down the ends.

making a wrist distaff - step 4

Step 5) Tie some knots to keep those beads in place.

making a wrist distaff - step 5

6) Loop it around your wrist.

making a wrist distaff - step 6

Told ya it was easy to make! Now grab some fiber and a spindle and we’ll get to spinning with our new toy high-precision instrument.

As I mention in the video, a wrist distaff is effective at keeping the in-use spinning fiber away from the Anti-Spinning Feline Overlord. That’s a very good thing in my home. I need every advantage I can get.

If you liked this and found it helpful than you should know I have more tutorials for knitters, crocheters and handspinners. You might like those too.

Have a great Sunday!

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5 Comments on "Sunday Stitch – How to Make and Use a Beaded Wrist Distaff"

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Those hippies were smarter than we give them credit for!

Happy to help. Happy to foster handspinning. happy to turn every single reader into an obsessed spinner with an out-of-control fiber stash!


I am picturing this as a High Fashion accessory trend, with models wearing wrist distaffs and big cotton-candy clouds of colored fiber on their wrists as they sashay down the catwalk. Can’t you see it?


Oh yes! That would be so pretty and so utterly impractical. High fashions seems to be both those things.

maybe we could work a drop spindle into the outfit too. Perhaps in their hairdos!

Diane Ziomek

I need to make one of these. I am forever dropping my roving on the floor. It would definitely make it more portable – I could spin while I go for a walk. Thank you for the tutorial and the humour. 🙂


Me too. need help not dropping the roving, especially when I’m using a drop spindle. I’ve never tried taking it for a walk though… 🙂