noun 1. a stick or spindle onto which wool or flax is wound for spinning.
YOUNG GIRL WITH A DISTAFF - JOSEPH BOUVIER (distaff is the cottony candy like item she's holding high - wool waiting to be spun)
Today marks the end of Christmas festivities (for those of you unawares, Twelfth Night was yesterday which is the last of all merrymaking). Today spinner maids return to their work, idle hands being a danger to us all, of course. Also sometimes called "Rock Day" from rocken - German for distaff. But watch yeselves, ladies, the ploughmen have until Monday before the must resume work and will be attempting pranks to taunt and tease.
Incidentally, spindle spinning was so intensely a woman's job that in many places (at least in the 14/15/1600s) the word distaff could also mean woman/women. I have read, but can find no notation, that in some places the term "distaff line" is still a legal title for a female or matriarchal line in a family.
My information has been gathered over time from books and such, but here is an informative essay from the UK you may enjoy.
Now to celebrate by getting back to my spindle!