After the fibers, whether bast or animal, were cleaned and combed, they could be spun. Textual, iconographic, and ethnographic studies indicate that spinning has almost always been a woman’s task. For the most part, spinning is a mobile activity that can be performed anywhere; spinning can be put down and picked up without any setbacks. It was a skill imparted from mother to daughter. In many cases, spindle whorls have been found in a woman’s burial kit, indicating the strong association between the deceased woman and her skill as a spinner. The tools of the spinner are the spindle,primarily made of wood but on rare occasions of ivory or bone, and the flywheel or spindle whorl, made of worked stone, bone, ivory, glass, clay, or even wood. In addition, a distaff, usually a wooden staff with a V shape at the top, might be used to hold the unspun fibers. The spinning bowl or fiber wetting bowl, a bowl with clay loop-like handles inside its bottom, was used for dampening or wetting the bast fibers, making them easier to handle. The impetus for the development of this particular type of vessel seems to have come from Egypt, where flax was the principal bast fiber and most spinning bowls were made of stone. The Canaanite spinning bowls are all made of clay and elate to the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages, suggesting local production of linen and the introduction of the Egyptian style of wetting and plying flax.
Fibers can be spun in two different directions,known as S and Z spins, based on the direction of the first twist. Notably, the direction in which an individual spins thread appears to be culturally defined. Egyptian linens are S-spun, while in neighboring regions textiles are Z-spun.