Who is Kate and Why is She Lazy?

The “lazy kate” on my Louet S10 looks like this:

S10 Louet and the lazy kate with bobbins

Lazy kates come in all shapes and sizes, depending on the brand. Many spinners make their own lazy kates from dowels and plywood.  The lazy kate is simply a way to store bobbins holding spun yarn, or to help in plying the yarn.

Singles on bobbins held by lazy kate, ready for plying

So I am wondering what did Kate do to earn such a bad reputation?  But I can’t find much information in the Google searches I have done.  I did find a poem by a young British poet named Kirke White, writing in the early 1800’s, and who died tragically young. His poem,  “Description of A Summer’s Eve” depicts what various individuals might be doing on a summer night, and in the poem’s second section, he writes:

“…And little Tom and roughish Kate are swinging on the meadow gate…Now they chat of various things…”

“…The mistress sees that lazy Kate, the happing coal on kitchen grate has laid–”

These lines are the oldest references (1809) I can find to Lazy Kate–though it might be just that the rhyming of the vowel sounds in “lazy” and “kate” are all that was needed to create this persona–poor Kate!

If any of you spinners out there know any other history of how Kate came to be so lazy, let us know!

From "Description of A Summer's Eve" Kirke White, 1809

One thought on “Who is Kate and Why is She Lazy?

  1. What a delight! I know one Kate, and she is NOT lazy! I wonder if Lazy Kate and Lazy Susan were acquainted…

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