Sunday, June 12, 2011

Respect the Spindle

This is my drop spindle. You make yarn with it. I've been wanting to be able to be half way proficient with it because it's so darn portable. I've fiddled with it off and on for a while but fairly recently I decided to use some fiber I really like and really learn to use this thing. We got busy and i set it down for a while. Then Shannon gave me a gift certificate for Mom's Day for Amazon. I know she had Kindle books in mind when she gave it to me but I used it a little differently.

I also want to be better with my spinning wheel so I bought a DVD about learning to spin that is going to teach me the ins and out of spinning. I can do it but am not exactly sure what I'm doing. Well, I had the DVD on my order sheet and still had some credit on my gift card so I got a book called "Respect the Spindle". I sat down to look it over and was immediately entranced. So I began at the beginning and every chance I got I read a little further into the book.

It goes into the history of spinning. It turns out the spinning wheel is only hundreds of years old but spindles can be traced back almost as far as man is. It tells about how the politics of textiles contributed to the American Revolution. It talks about types of spindles and why they developed where they did. And the physics and ergonomics of spinning.

And of course, types of spindles and how to spin. The spindle you see in the above photo is my first and only spindle. The clunky mushroom thing is call the whorl. These can be on the top of your spindle or toward the bottom. And it turns out that how this whorl is weighted makes a big difference on how the thing spins. Mine is weighted toward the shaft which makes it spin faster. But a whorl weighted to the outside spins slower but longer. Then I read than top whorl spindles like mine tend to wobble, which mine does from time to time. Bottom whorl spindles are more stable. So now I'm thinking if I'm still learning and am pretty slow at drafting my fiber slower and longer would be better for me at this stage. And a bottom whorl would be more stable. So off to Etsy I go and find two bottom whorl spindles I want to try. They are much cheaper on Etsy than the fiber shows, that's for sure. You can get them for as little as $10. But my book shows you a pretty easy way to make a very stable one with a toy wooden wheel and a dowel.

I also learn that the yarn I've spun and wrapped around the shaft of my spindle is called "cop". I didn't know how much I can wind onto the shaft of my spindle. But the book says usually you can wrap yarn the weight of the spindle before it gets too unstable. So if your spindle weighs 2 oz. you can probably wrap 2 oz. of yarn on the shaft. I just started a second cop of that fiber in the photo. I learned that when you wind singles (unplied yarn) into a ball you need to wind a tight ball. I didn't know that either.

I am getting better with my spindle and will finish up the fiber I have on this spindle because I don't know what would happen should I try one of the new ones and I want the yarn to be somewhat consistent. I figure if I can master this skill to the point I'm not embarrassed to do it in public, it would be nice because the spindle is so darn portable and unlike knitting I don't feel I have to get to the end of the row or of the needle.

I am going to try my hand at making a couple drop spindles soon. I think I have a good idea how many of the really pretty ones are made and where to get the materials. If any of you spinners out there want to give a drop spindle a try I recommend you buy this book, "Respect the Spindle" as soon as you get your spinning supplies or before. It is a fascinating book.


  1. Sounds like an interesting book and your drop spindle spinning looks great.

  2. I love that yarn. It makes me want to go buy that ice cream cone of that color. I'm having a senior moment and can't remember the name of it. Something like creamsicle.

    Very pretty!

  3. Your spindle skills are coming along so nicely. Is that fibre from the store here? So pretty.

  4. That's so lovely. I have the same book. It's pretty good. It made my want to try other spindles besides high-whorls (though I haven't yet-still a beginner so sticking to the basics of the one spindle for now). For high whorl's only spinning there is another book called Spinning in the Old Way by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts.