Thursday, 3 May 2012

Hand Spinning on a Spindle

Hand spindles are an economical alternative to a spinning wheel and can create a passion for spinning in their own right. With a small amount of practice, the twisting of the fibre can create a beautiful, hand spun yarn. As the spindle is so portable you can practice your handspinning very easily whenever you have a spare minute.

Tahkli Spindle
We offer a variety of spindles on the George Weil website, each offering the handspinner a different method of producing a yarn. The tiny Tahkli support spindle is used to spin short fibres, such as cotton, into a very fine yarn. This Tahkli has a brass shaft with a hook at the end and a hard maple pear-shaped whorl and weighs just 30g.

Low Whorl Spindle
With the Low Whorl spindle (also known as the Drop Spindle) the whorl sits near the bottom of the shaft and the spun yarn is wound around the shaft. The whorl on the High Whorl spindle (also known as Top Whorl Spindle) is attached to the top of the shaft and has a hook screwed into it which is used to secure the developing yarn. The yarn is then wound around the shaft.

High Whorl Spindle
The High or Low Whorl spindle can be used to spin most fibres and the thickness of the yarn will be determined by the weight of the spindle, the amount of twist and the feed of the fibre. Our Low Whorl spindle weighs 70g and produces a medium to thick yarn, while the High Whorl spindle, which spins slightly faster, weighs just 60g and produces a fine to medium yarn.

Turkish Drop Spindle
The 60g Turkish drop spindle is a fun and practical way to make a perfect ball of handspun yarn. As you spin, wind the spun yarn around the crossbars until you have a full ball and then simply slide away the crossbars to leave the ball of yarn intact.

Possibly the most fascinating of them all is the Navajo spindle which is traditionally used by Navajo and Pueblo indians. This spindle has been designed so that the spinner can sit and the bottom part of the shaft rests on the floor while the top is spun along the length of the thigh to create the twist in the fibre. This Navajo spindle has a 12cm diameter whorl and a 76cm long shaft.

Schacht Navajo Spindle

To learn more about hand spinning, there are a number of books on the website which provide step-by-step instruction and the Fibrecrafts Hand Spinning Explorer Pack provides a spindle, fibre and instruction to get you started.

The website for The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers provides links to information about local guilds, their Summer School, exhibitions and more. 

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