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Best drop spindle for beginners?

 
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Congratulations, Raven!  What a labour of love.  It's been years since I've spun, and when I picked up my old drop spindle, with a very lightweight whorl, it seemed very difficult to control.  For someone just about to get started with linen, what kind of whorl weight and spindle height do you recommend?  Thanks, and congrats again!
 
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I usually start people with a potato and a chopstick.  Failing that an apple and ... well you get the idea.  The absolutely BEST drop spindle is the one that gets you spinning.

From there, the BEST drop spindle is the one that keeps you spinning.  It is the one that gives you so much joy you just want to leap out of bed and start spinning in the morning.  Something with beauty to your eyes and a weight that makes the yarn you like - and the problem with this criteria is that you need to know a lot more about drop spindles to know how to get a drop spindle that does this.  Catch 22.

When I'm teaching, I teach on the Ashford Drop Spindle Classic.  I like this because it's good a good beginner weight.  The stick can be removed and we can use it as a twisty-stick (and yes, that is a technical term).  It's such a well-made spindle that it's a great place to start.  
 
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So one just sticks a potato on a tapered chop stick? How does one fasten the fiber. a split at the bottom/top?
 
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Here's the pdf for spinning yarn with a potato.

https://iowasheep.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/spin_with_potato_drop_spindle.pdf

And when I do a google search, I'm amazed there aren't any videos about simple drop spindles like this... hmmm....
 
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There seems to be a difference between two varieties of drop spindles - one with the whorl at the top and the other with the whorl at the bottom. Many videos on the web suggest learning on the "at the top" variety, but I happened to be given the "bottom" variety and I was starting to get the hang of it last spring when a shoulder injury stopped me in my tracks.

My biggest problem at that time seemed to be figuring out what sort of speed was best - any suggestions anyone?

I think it's time to give it another whorl... (OK, bad joke, but I will dig it out and give it another try!)
 
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Park and draft is your friend.  Flick/twirl the spindle.  park the spindle under an arm or between your legs.  draft out your fiber.   wind on  to spindle. repeat.
Park and draft is actually a good way to learn a new fiber, relearn after being laid up, etc.   I teach all my students to park and draft.  Once you have that down you will find that you gradually let the spindle spin longer and you let it hang longer as you learn the feel of the tension being built up in your unspun fiber.   NEVER be ashamed of grabbing a spindle and parking it if you think it is spinning too fast.  Sadly learning just the amount of flick is a matter of experience.  AND it has to be combined with learning a feel for your fiber.  Too much twist is difficult to draft too little and your single drifts apart.  

I actually like low whorls a lot. Does yours have a hook or do you need to half hitch it?  I find half hitching much easier then using a hook but know some who feel otherwise.

FYI my personal favorite for a simple beginners spindle is a Barebones (about 1.5 ounces) or Barebonsie(about 1 ounce) from Greensleeves spindles.  They are simple sturdy well balanced inexpensive wooden spindles made by a spindler and woodworker in Utah.  You can order straight from her or The Woolery and Bountiful  both carry them.    These are top whorls, sadly finding a nice wooden but not toy wheel low whorl that is inexpensive can be hard these days. When I first started to spindle it was the exact opposite.  If you don't mind 3D printed spindles Turtlemade has a nice rep for their printed turkish spindles (low whorls) and Snyders on Etsy has some nice fairly inexpensive spindles in all shapes and sizes both wood and 3D printed.
 
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Dorothy Pohorelow wrote:  NEVER be ashamed of grabbing a spindle and parking it if you think it is spinning too fast.  Sadly learning just the amount of flick is a matter of experience.  AND it has to be combined with learning a feel for your fiber.  Too much twist is difficult to draft too little and your single drifts apart.  



I had no idea you could spin too fast! I always just spun it as fast as I could so it would spin longer. But maybe this is why I often have a hard time drafting because it seems like it's trying to spin the roving I'm trying to draft. Now I'm going to experiment with different spinning speeds--thank you!
 
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That's why I don't like to teach with the whorl.

I teach with the twisty stick until they understand drafting and that they are in 100% control of the situation.  Not the tool.  Only then do we try with a whorl and it's park and spin.  park and spin.  spin the spindle to build up twist, park it between knees while drafting.

Draft
Add twist
stash yarn

Three steps don't have to happen at the same time.  
 
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Thanks so much!  I'll look into the Ashford...and may lose some time (and apples) experimenting with your other suggestion.  :)

r ranson wrote:I usually start people with a potato and a chopstick.  Failing that an apple and ... well you get the idea.  The absolutely BEST drop spindle is the one that gets you spinning.

From there, the BEST drop spindle is the one that keeps you spinning.  It is the one that gives you so much joy you just want to leap out of bed and start spinning in the morning.  Something with beauty to your eyes and a weight that makes the yarn you like - and the problem with this criteria is that you need to know a lot more about drop spindles to know how to get a drop spindle that does this.  Catch 22.

When I'm teaching, I teach on the Ashford Drop Spindle Classic.  I like this because it's good a good beginner weight.  The stick can be removed and we can use it as a twisty-stick (and yes, that is a technical term).  It's such a well-made spindle that it's a great place to start.  

 
r ranson
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If you are in Canada, I can order in a drop spindle for my Etsy shop as I'm a Canadian Ashford Dealer.  https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/crowinghenfarm
 
Dian Hong
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Thanks Dorothy.  My spindle has a low whorl and no hook.  I'll go check out the Barebones.  Thanks for the recommendation!

Dorothy Pohorelow wrote:

I actually like low whorls a lot. Does yours have a hook or do you need to half hitch it?  I find half hitching much easier then using a hook but know some who feel otherwise.

FYI my personal favorite for a simple beginners spindle is a Barebones (about 1.5 ounces) or Barebonsie(about 1 ounce) from Greensleeves spindles.  They are simple sturdy well balanced inexpensive wooden spindles made by a spindler and woodworker in Utah.  You can order straight from her or The Woolery and Bountiful  both carry them.    These are top whorls, sadly finding a nice wooden but not toy wheel low whorl that is inexpensive can be hard these days. When I first started to spindle it was the exact opposite.  If you don't mind 3D printed spindles Turtlemade has a nice rep for their printed turkish spindles (low whorls) and Snyders on Etsy has some nice fairly inexpensive spindles in all shapes and sizes both wood and 3D printed.

 
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r ranson wrote:  The absolutely BEST drop spindle is the one that gets you spinning.

From there, the BEST drop spindle is the one that keeps you spinning.  It is the one that gives you so much joy you just want to leap out of bed and start spinning in the morning.    



I guess I really just need to DO IT! I so look forward to having this mentality to spinning; and I need to get some practice in prior to committing to large patches of plant fibers and the animals of protein fibers!! I've looked at a few plans on how to make my own, and get caught up in not having the raw material to spin. I'm sure there is a logical progression to the whole grow your own, spin your own, work your own in the fiber world. Trying to not put the donkey before the cart!!
 
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I like to order my roving from Weir Crafts. Their Romney wool is pretty affordable--you can get an ounce for $1.95. You do have to pay for shipping, but they don't charge any more than the USPS. And, if you get a few ounces, it's a lot cheaper than buying roving at the craft store (they're usually selling less than an ounce for $3).

Another place I found roving was at Michaels. They had quite a few ounces of sub-par black and white roving for pretty cheap. The wool had some bits of pine shavings in it, but it wasn't too bad, and it's definitely good enough to try spinning (or needle felting) with.

I've also seen some local homesteaders give away their raw wool because they never have time to process it. So, you might be interested in joining some local homesteader facebook groups and seeing if the opportunity ever arises.
 
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For those wanting to learn with no tools or fiber.  
Look in your stash of yarn for stuff you can UNSPIN.  If you can see plies and see how they are twisted together you can use them to play with.    To make a twisty stick you can look for a stick that has a straight part with a branch that comes off at an angle that makes a bit of a hook. OR if you have metal clothes hangers you can sacrifice one.  Clip it so you have a long straight piece with a hook on the end.  
You now have a twirly stick that you can use to spin yarn.  Or unspin both are legitimate uses for it.  Add that apple or potato or a round of wood cut out with a hole saw and you have a spindle with a whorl.  OR use a small rock, split the bottom of your stick and slip in the rock and tie in place.    

Fancy, well balanced drop spindles are nice but if you look up Russian spindles you will see a thin stick with a thick area on one end could work and those are used for cashmere like fibers...  Indians use a metal rod with coin shaped weights on one end and a bent hook on the other end to spin cotton.   Both those are used in small cups or bowls or even a section of a broken cup or bowl.   I know some folks who can't use drop spindles but make lovely thread on their supported spindles like a Russian or Tahkli (the metal Indian spindle)

Support spindles are fast because they are used for short fibers that need a lot of twist.  MOST drop spindles are slower as wool and other longer fibers.  The shape of the whorl on them actually affects how they spin.  The more weight there is near the center shaft  the faster they will spin but it will be for a shorter period of time.  The more weight at the edge the slower it will spin but it will spin for longer.  Most modern spindles are a compromise between those two laws of physics.  They will have a rim of weight near the shaft to make it spin faster AND a thicker rim to help increase the amount of time the spindle will spin.  

I had no idea you could spin too fast! I always just spun it as fast as I could so it would spin longer. But maybe this is why I often have a hard time drafting because it seems like it's trying to spin the roving I'm trying to draft. Now I'm going to experiment with different spinning speeds--thank you!



The faster your spindle goes the faster you have to draft.  AND the shape of the spindle whorl makes a bigger difference in how long it will spin then the UMPH of the flick you give it.  So ease up on the umph until you get drafting down and put up with having to flick it sooner.  As you get better it seems you just speed it up on your own...   Honestly it all ends up being a lovely rhythm of flick draft wind on flick
 
Dian Hong
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Beautiful fibres in your Etsy shop!

r ranson wrote:If you are in Canada, I can order in a drop spindle for my Etsy shop as I'm a Canadian Ashford Dealer.  https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/crowinghenfarm

 
Cindy Haskin
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Is there anyone here on Permies who makes and sells drop spindles? For relatively inexpensive?
 
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