Spindle Stalker

I’ve become a stalker of spindles. I don’t know how this happened. For so long, I was perfectly content with the two that I had: a Golding beginner spindle and a Kundert that I used for my spinner’s study. I thought two must surely be enough and secretly scoffed at people who had entire bouquets of spindles in their possession.Β  What could they possibly need all those for, I thought***?

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Kundert and Golding, circa 2012.

Then, at Rhinebeck 2012, I met a lady at a function who was happily spinning away on an itty bitty spindle while we spoke. Just spinning the whole time, like it was no big deal, because her spindle was hardly bigger than a pencil and surprisingly unobtrusive. The next day I purchased a tiny Golding tsunami spindle of my very own.

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Golding tsunami

That’s when it really hit home: all spindles are not created equal. There is a world of difference between my 3″, 52 gram (1.86 oz)Β  Golding beginner spindle and my 2″, 14 gram (0.5 oz) Golding tsunami. Size, weight, wood density, whorl shape — all of these things affect the speed and length of the spindle’s spin and the weight and thickness of the spun yarn. Larger whorls with more weight around the rim, will have a longer spin. Smaller whorls or spindles with weight concentrated near the shaft, will have a faster spin. Faster spin means finer yarn. Also, lighter weight drop spindles can spin finer yarns than heavier weight drop spindles, which will break a yarn that is too thin.

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TexasJeans Tibetan, spinning angora

This brings us to supported spindles, which essentially have all of their weight concentrated at the shaft. This means they have a very short but very fast spin and are well-suited for fine fibers that need a lot of twist, especially since they are spun with their tips resting on a surface rather than suspended, so the weight of the spindle will not break the yarn. The Woodland Woodworking website has one of the best and most concise descriptions of the different kinds of support spindles that I have found. I currently own a Tibetan style spindle from TexasJeans on Etsy, and may have just ordered a Russian style to compare the two for myself.

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Jenkins Aegean, with my current spin-in-progress

About 6 months ago, I became curious about spinning on a Turkish style (bottom whorl) spindle. I really liked how neatly one could wind the cop and how the center pull ball formation eliminated the need to wind the yarn off the spindle before plying (one less step). I did some research and deduced that Jenkins Turkish spindles were among the best-of-the-best and the Fiasco kindly gave me a tiny Aegean for Valentine’s Day. I’m extremely glad he requested one when he did because 1) I love spinning with it and 2) Jenkins spindles are getting quite difficult to find! While I love my Aegean, it is tiny and lightweight (19 g) so it tends to spin a very fine yarn. I would like to obtain a larger Turkish spindle for spinning thicker yarns and for plying, as well.

And thus the stalking has begun. I’ve discovered many talented spindle-makers through the Spindle Candy and Spindlemania boards on Ravelry and now have a rather lengthy spindle wishlist, including:

Photo copyright Woodland Woodworking. Tried and failed to score one of these beauties last weekend…

Those groups are dangerous to your spindle sensibilities. I now have opinions about what types of woods I like (birdseye maple! purpleheart! holly!) and what weight of spindle I would like to obtain to fill in the gaps in my collection. The members of those Rav groups are a wealth of knowledge and of temptation… peruse at your own risk! Do you spin on spindles? Do you use just one, or many?

***Boy, was I ever wrong.

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21 thoughts on “Spindle Stalker

  1. Spindlelust…how delicious! I have only two at the moment, a maggie top whorl mid weight from the US and a light weight top whorl ITS spindle made with ancient bog oak from UK. The latter is my great love. But I do want a lace weight one. It is funny the expense we go to when spinners of the past just used simple clay whorls!

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    • The bog oak sounds lovely, such gorgeous history! Sometimes I feel guilty about the spindle lust, especially in light of how simple spindles can be, but modern ones are such works of art, I figure the spindle coveting is just another way to appreciate a different kind of beauty!

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  2. Once you discover that every spindle does a unique job, you are at high risk for Spindle Acquisition Disorder (SAD). I suffered from this affliction last year. Now, I am reducing the herd by selling the spindles that are not a good match for me. If you have not tried them, the very best drop spindles I have used are made my Tracey Eichheim of Woolly Designs. They spin and spin and spin and spin… until you have to stop the spin because its enough already.

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  3. Yep, there’s a spindle for every job and some specifically for plying. Also, turkish spindles are incredibly awesome. Especially Jenkins. I have a Swan so I know the wonderfulness well. Have fun collecting your wish list!

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  4. Those are some mighty lovely spindles! I sometimes forget just how varied the world of spindle-spinning actually is! Ever since I got my wheel, I can’t say I’ve picked up my drop spindle, which is clearly a shame!

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  5. I love your growing spindle collection. More beautiful than a bouquet of flowers, IMO! I started out with a Golding beginners model but now I prefer to spin with my turkish spindle. No pressure (ha!) but I hope that you get a large turkish spindle just so I can see the gorgeous thicker yarns you can spin using it.

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  6. Love this post. I never really thought about spindles any more than the fact that I own a heavy one and a light one. I guess I have a lot to learn! It sounds like your spindle adventure is just beginning and I cannot wait to hear more about it. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

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  7. You have some lovely spindles!
    I know exactly what you mean, the spinning bug has bitten me last December, and I now own *cough* more than twenty *cough* spindles of all kinds of types. I love them all. I don’t spin on all of them all the time, of course, and I do have favourites. I quickly found out that I mostly love the Turkish spindle.

    When I just started spinning on spindles, I purchased a lot of spindles from different spindle makers all over the world. I was so curious to try them all. Some were great, others were so-so. You cannot predict when you will fall in love.

    Last month I decided to sell quite a few that were underloved. I wish I had found your blog sooner, because I also sold my TTT turquoise medium spindle… I did purchase some new spindles as well, mostly supported spindles (which are awesome too). By the end of this month, my custom order from back in February from WoodlandWoodWorking will be finished… looking forward!

    I’m happy I found your website. I recognize a lot in your writings, like the eternal drive to obtain and distill information and write about it. The love for knitting and spinning. Designing knitwear. Nice to meet you!

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  8. I’ve had several spindles, but typically I’ll gift them when I’ve managed to convert someone to the dark side. I did wonder why anyone would have so many spindles, but you’ve answered the question quite thoroughly. Thanks for all the info!

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  9. Pingback: IS #73: Spindle-Spun | Woolen Diversions

  10. Welcome to the wonderful world of spindles! I am still falling down that rabbit hole :P. I loved reading about all the different types of spindles you’ve tried out and what is on your wishlist. For me, a Bosworth spindle (have you seen their Moose ones? On my wishlist!) was my first ever spindle and cemented my love of spindle spinning! I would love to try out a Goldings spindles just to see what it is like, but I am already afflicted with Spindle Acquistion Disorder and so it’ll have to wait. I agree that Woodland Woodworking has some of the most gorgeous supported spindles that I have ever seen!

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  11. I too am a fellow S.A.D. sufferer! I was taught to spin on a wheel over 25 years ago and was always a bit sniffy over spindles. But last year I thought I really ought to give it a try after watching a DVD showing the “park and draft” technique. So at a show last year I bought a lovely top whorl spindle and a small Turkish one. Needless to say I now own 18 spindles and next week I go to back to that fibre show. What’s the betting I buy another one!!! Happy spindling everyone!

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