"The spindle, was always, when in use, accompanied by the distaff, as an indispensable part of the same apparatus. The wool, flax, or other material, haing been prepared for spinning, was rolled into a ball, which was however, sufficiently loose to allow the fibres to be easily drawn out by the hand of the spinner. The upper part of the distaff was then inserted into this mass of flax or wool, and the lower part was held under the left arm in such a position as was most convenient for conducting the operation. The fibres were drawn out, and at the same time spirally twisted, chiefly by the use of the fore-finger and thumb of the right hand; and the thread so produced was wound upon the spindle until the quantity was as great as it would carry." — Smith, 1873.