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. What could they possibly need all those for, I thought***?
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.
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) 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.
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.
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.
- Jenkins Egret Turkish in any light-colored wood
- Subterranean Woodworks large Turkish spindle in Turquoise
- Enid Ashcroft Midi Turkish (and maybe a mini)
- Hipstrings Cotton Takli Mistril
- Polka-dot top whorl from TexasJeans
- Bosworth Midi top whorl spindle (and maybe a featherweight)
- Last but not least, someday I’d like to get my hands on one of the freaking gorgeous handpainted Teacup supported spindles from Woodland Woodworking.
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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