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Using a Drop Spindle

Ever read Sleeping Beauty and wonder what the crap a spindle or distaff is? Yeah, me too. So I learned how to spin!

In my opinion, a drop spindle is the easiest to use, and cheapest. If you're going to spin whatever for the rest of your life, by all means buy a wheel...but if you're just curious or don't plan on spinning much, go with the spindle. It looks like this:

Yeah, I know it's a bad picture. Hopefully, you'll get the gist.

First! Have your wool clean and carded, and your rolags made. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read that page first, then come back.

Tie your leader to the base of the spindle shaft, and spin it a couple of times, until you've wrapped the line firmly around the shaft. Wrap the leader around the base knob once , then bring it up and around the shaft tip. Fan out the free end of the leader and the first rolag, overlap the two ends by about two inches, and hold them together with your thumb and index finger while you spin the spindle with your other hand. Make sure you spin it in the same direction as you wrapped the leader, and spin it in the same direction every time. Otherwise, you have a weak lumpy mess. For a visual, please take a look at my crappy visual aid.

When the rolag is firmly spun into the leader, shift your lower hand (the one spinning the spindle) up to hold the juncture. Use your top hand to smooth and reduce the size of the rolag.

Once you have an inch or so spun, start moving your lower hand up the line, and feed more fiber with your top hand. Maintain two inches of fiber between you hands, and do not allow the spin to move beyond the pinch point of your lower hand. Once the wool is spun as tightly as you like, move your hands up a bit more, wait until that segment is tight, and so on.

Keep pulling out fibers with your top hand, so that you don't spin too much all at once. You want thin, finely spun yarn, not lumpy, knobby stuff.

The spindle obeys the laws of physics, so you'll have to keep twisting it. Use your top hand rather than letting go with you pinching fingers. When you reach the end of your rolag, don't spin it unless you're done! You'll need to keep it fanned out so you can add the next rolag. Keep spinning until the spindle reaches all the way to the floor.

When you can spin no more, wrap your yarn in a figure eight around your fingers. Don't release your grip on the ends, or your work will unwind. When all of your spinning is wrapped around your hand, unwrap the yarn from the tip of the spindle and wind the handful onto the shaft, wrapping more at the base of the shaft to form a cone of yarn. When you're ready to spin more, use the end bit of your already spun wool to wind around the shaft (like you did the first time) and attatch to your new rolag. Ta daa!

Hopefully, you understood that. I hope it was clear...if not let me know.