Monday, 29 December 2014

A Small Collection of Spindles

It's the end of a year full of knitting and spinning adventures. While I did most of my spinning during the Tour de Fleece, it was all done on the wheel that I use far more often than my spindles. That said, I do love my spindles, but more physical effort goes into them than when I spin on a wheel.

I now have five spindles, each of which has its own advantages. I bought my first two spindles in August 2011 at Fibre Fest. It was my first ever wool fair and I loved it! It is still my favourite even though it never took place again, which is a real shame. The spindle I chose first of all was a tiny one made from purpleheart, weighing only 10 g. I had seen a friend from knit club use it before and was fascinated by its dainty size. This spindle is made in the Netherlands by Spintollen and is also sold by MandaCrafts from whom I purchased it.

I still love it and if I had to choose, it might actually be my most favourite of all, even though it is a very difficult choice. I started spinning on it even before I left Fibre Fest that day! A short time later I even made a video of my early spinning attempts.

The second spindle, also made from purpleheart, is from the same maker and seller, bought at the same event. It is much larger than the first, however, which makes it difficult for me to use. It is apparently a good size for beginners, but I find it hard to use probably because I started out with the dainty spindle. Still, I love the look of it, which is the only reason I haven't sold it. While I cannot spin well on it because I prefer to make very fine yarn, I do use it for plying. It works great that way.

And with these two purchases I was hooked on spinning. It took a long time till I bought another spindle, but I knew that I wanted to try out supported spinning sometime. At around that time I became aware of IST Crafts who make a variety of different spindles in a choice of wood. They are worth every Penny. In the end I got lucky and came across someone selling their Russian spindle made from Mexican rosewood on Ravelry.

The price was reasonable and I still enjoy spinning with it. It is quite a lot bigger than I expected and unfortunately the top end is a little bent to one side so that the spindle wobbles a little when in use. That does bother me a bit, but since I bought it for a good price and second hand, I'm okay with it. In order to use the spindle, it is best to have a spinning bowl of some kind. At first I made do with a little dip bowl, but more recently I found a pretty handmade bowl from the Bath Artisan Market that works nicely.

After three spindles, I was sure I had enough of them and wasn't looking for any new ones anymore. So when I visited Wonderwool in in 2012 and headed straight to MandaCrafts again for some fibre, I really did not expect to be so tempted by her new African bead spindles. They were only £10 so, of course, I had to get one.

The clay bead isn't glued on, but simply pushed onto the shaft where it stays. It spins well, too, and it is quite fast, which I like. I rarely use it as it is quite small and, sadly, the bead did fall of last time I used it. I may well glue it on at some point so it doesn't happen again. For now I have simply pushed it back into place. It is a nice little thing to have and good if you want to try supported spinning for the first time because it is inexpensive, but spins well.

I made my final spindle purchase only recently this year. This one, too, is an IST Crafts spindle like my Russian spindle. This was a spindle I wanted specifically because it is a Turkish one, a kind I hadn't tried before. Also, at a length of only 14 cm it is very tiny and light, similar to my first spindle. I agonised over the choice of wood because I just couldn't decide, but I am extremely happy with the English bog oak I chose. It is old with a history and it looks beautiful.

Spinning with this Turkish spindle is a slow and calming process. You just can't rush it. I tend to wind a cop of spun singles onto the shaft and when I have enough I finally wind the yarn into the tortoise shape you see above. It is not only a beautiful way to do it, but it saves you winding your singles into a ball because you can simply detach the parts of the spindle and remove them without disturbing the yarn.

What I have found is that I enjoy spindle spinning only when I want to do something relaxing. I spin for pleasure when I use spindles rather than for the result. If I want to spin something because I am keen on the resulting yarn, I tend to use my spinning wheel instead, which is faster and less physically demanding.

So what will 2015 bring? I hope I will get to make a dent in my fibre stash again, whether with the help of the wheel or my spindles. I am sure I will discover new indie dyers who make wonderful hand-dyed spinning fibre and let's just hope I do not come across another tempting spindle!

Whatever your plans for 2015, I hope you have a great New Year and stay safe and healthy. Here's to another year of woolly goodness!


  1. I hope you have an awesome New Year as well! (: I absolutely love your collection of spindles, I'm a knitting novice and this is the first time I've seen one that wasn't like the ones featured in "Sleeping Beauty". They are really gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. You're welcome, Kiera! Thanks for commenting. Spindles are beautiful things. Maybe you will be tempted to spin as well at some point!

  2. I have to be honest, spinning is a bit beyond my understanding, but it's so great to have a nice relaxing hobby you enjoy so much... Happy New Year!

    1. Happy New Year!
      This is definitely a pleasant hobby to have. I like how knitting can lead you down a slippery slope to spinning, weaving, felting and more!