Monday, February 01, 2010

Drop Spindles, Is it for you?

Spindles are tools of the trade, and my first spindle was the one I got during the first Men Fall Knitting Retreat of 2008. I did not understand spinning well, maybe we just got teased with a short time. One thing was for sure, I wanted to learn more about making my own yarn with a spindle. Last year I really got more interested in spinning, but I did not want a wheel. Nothing stood in my way of taking a class with my friend Mike Wade aka WonderMike at A Verb for Keeping Warm Store in Berkeley. The class was fantastic, the class was beyond my expectations. It was two days and we got a lot for the money. Lot of students present and all where very successful at spinning. Having someone experienced teaching you how to spin is a different story.

 If you are curious , you should get a beginners class with a drop spindle that is inexpensive, but get one from the place you are getting the class. There is no need to get an expensive spindle, the main thing is that it is balanced, not price, and that you are comfortable with the weight of your spindle. This spindle above was very inexpensive and from EBay for about 8 dollars . It works great for the angora that it is spun and wrapped around the shaft. It is said that you can spin anything in any spindle, but only very experienced people can do that and just for a limited amount of time. Eventually you learn how to distribute the yarn on your spindle so that the center of gravity helps you in your spinning and not against it. Your spindle will drop for many reasons; too much twist, too little yarn, not enough twist and so on. This other spindle above, was painted for me and even though is not my favorite it is OK for spinning silk. A spindle can be a simple stick. Spindles have been around for thousands of years and it is in your genetic code , just give yourself some time to remember.

The spindle with the thumbtacks is an experiment. If you have followed my blog for a while you know I like to make stuff and play with scientific notions. When I got the spindle above it was a bottom whorl spindle. I have made the spindle able to spin from the top or from the bottom , by adding another hook on the other side as you can see. The weight makes it a bit heavier and does make it spin nicer in my opinion.

Above you find four spindles, Avi Wasserman on the far left, the the on the far left, one from EBay with flower decorations, and a Kundert Spindle on the right. My favorite spindle is the Avi, the second favorite is the Kundert. All these spindles spin differently, but you can tell what a balance spindle is by the way it spins continuously and evenly as possible. You may make a home made spindle that is the finest tool there is on the world without spending more that 5 dollars. Nevertheless is Spinning for you? You have to find out, I find that spinning is a very Zen experience where I am connecting with a primitive part of myself. Spinning allows me to create yarn, so that I can create cloth and thus a garment of my own making. Spinning helps me listen to myself. A great book and Video is what follows for you. I am still reading this book and I find it to be a great tool and a bit of and adventure.
These mittens are the perfect example of what I meant. I dyed the fleece or roving, then I spun the yarn, and I made these mittens. These pair of mittens are my first real spun yarn project and it has a lot of personal meaning to me. You need to practice at least 15 minutes everyday and not worry about the yarn too much. Your first yarns are going to be funky, later on you will wonder how to make yarn like the one you used to make at the beginning. Practice makes perfect and with time and patience you will be able to create beautiful yarn for you , your friends and for sale. Time will teach you how you already knew how to make yarn, just remember to listen to your ancestors, the one that made yarn with a stick and a stone for a whorl.

Abby Franquemont is someone who is out there that I like, there are others you can read about spinning from, each person will give you part of their experience. Abby made spinning to me real and something to be done daily and as part of my human heritage. The video Respect The Spindle from Interweave, now that it is High Definition, is a great tool to add to this book and it allows you to visually see this lady in action. I am hoping that this motivates you to give it a try. Drop spindle is easier than what you think if you have the right teacher.  Thanks for stopping by.
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