I use support spindles. Yes it does take a much greater amount of time to finish a 4 oz skein of yarn using support spindles, but spinning isn’t exactly a race for the finish is it?
I experimented in the early days. I tried Some Neal Brand Tibetan and Russian spindles, Bristlecone Goddess Spindles, and Glasspin Spindles. I finally settled on Woodland Working spindles.
I had to find a spindle that worked with my right arm — many years ago I developed a problem called lateral epicondylitis in my right elbow and I have to be careful not to over work it. I needed a light spindle with a decent sustain, but more importantly lots of twirl.
I had heard about Bristlecone Glindles (a spindle with a hand blown glass whorl) from my friend Talia and wanted to try one out, but they are HARD to come by. So I tried another spindle maker which made Glass whorl spindles as well. I found that they were just too heavy for me. BUT I have to say, those glass whorls are pretty awesome. Since they are glass, there is virtually NO friction, so spin, spin, spin is what they do!
What was I Learning?
Weight IS a factor, but SHAPE also has something to do with the overall spinning experience. I gravitated to lighter spindles, so that when they filled up, they would not become unwieldy.
Then one day, while toodling around on Ravelry, I came across Woodland Woodworking. I asked my friend Talia about them and wondered where I could buy one — Woodland Woodworking is SO popular that Carl (the spindle maker) has a weekly update and turns ON the shop at a specific time — within about 5 minutes — WHOOSH they are all taken! Talia took pity on me and sold me one of her wand style spindles — I was immediately in love.
I started looking for used Woodland Woodworking spindles on Ravelry and bought quite a few (4 bead spindles, 3 or so teacup spindles and a wand spindle) I took careful measurements of these spindles and started working with them.
I try to keep the weight around 20 grams. One or two of my spindles are over 20, but they are what I call a pendulum style wand — the extra weight makes them spin better for a longer period – so as the spindle fills up with yarn, there is very little affect to the quality of spinning. I only have a few spindles that are not wand spindles — They are lighter in weight (under 20 g) and have a low whorl to shaft ratio (1 or less) so they spin pretty much like the wand spindles.
Carl uses Walnut, Maple (mostly) Purpleheart, Cocobolo, Flame Birch, Padauk, Holly, Ebony, Rosewood … and many other woods. He carves, does pyrography, dyes shafts, and even paints small figures/shapes on his spindles. As you can see below, they are something to behold. Most IMPORTANTLY — they all spin well!
What kind of yarn do I make — well — very thin, but not just thin, The yarn has an airy quality, like feathers. There is enough twist to hold everything together, but the fibers are a little more loose, the result is a yarn that is ethereal, light, feathery — just a pleasure to touch and to look at.
It takes around 8 spindles to produce a skein of yarn. I put around 0.5 oz of fiber on each spindle. I could put more, but the extra weight on the spindle affects the twist, so I leave well enough alone and grab another spindle.
Why did I settle on Woodland Woodworking?
There were several reasons. The tools are exceptionally well made and perfectly balanced. I spend a lot of time spinning and balance is the key to a comfortable, issue-free spinning session. These spindles are ALL wood, just wood, no polymer infusion to prevent warping — just the pure wood. The maker chooses good stock and is a true artist. If you EVER have any issue with his spindles, just email him and send them back (if necessary) — Carl will make it right. How cool is that? I love buying from one man shops – in this high tech, commercially controlled world — a single person, making a great product is well worth supporting.
It takes me a couple of weeks — spinning in 1 – 2 hour sessions to complete a skein of yarn. It is a labor of love and it makes a fabulous skein of Lace to Cobweb weight yarn. Sunflower (above) has 1536 yards — my highest to date. I usually have a spindle spinning project running concurrently with other wheel based spinning projects. It’s important to change up what you do with your body, to avoid repetitive stress injuries.
Explore spindle spinning — especially Support Spindles — the lack of gravity on the spinning single will give you a product that will astonish you!
Many know me as Dakota Skipper -- that's my Cowboy alias. I LIKE to write and I like to share. Please enjoy reading about my frolicking fiber adventures!