distaff

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distaff:

see spinningspinning,
the drawing out, twisting, and winding of fibers into a continuous thread or yarn. From antiquity until the Industrial Revolution, spinning was a household industry. The roughly carded fiber was at first held in one hand and drawn out and twisted by the other hand.
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distaff

the rod on which flax is wound preparatory to spinning
References in classic literature ?
To-morrow you shall spin, and every day Shall find you at your distaff.
I 'm rather fond of plum-cake," observed Tom, likening himself to Hercules with the distaff, and finding his employment pleasant, if not classical.
They may find they have more tow on their distaff than they know how to spin.