Some years ago, before I purchased my spinning wheels, I tried my hand at spinning with a drop spindle. I didn’t know anybody who spun that way but I had exchanged emails with several spinners around the country who liked to spin on spindles. So I purchased a little Bosworth mini-spindle and got some merino fiber and gave it a go. It was a disaster!
I didn’t know anything about how the twist can run up into your fiber supply and make it impossible to do any drafting, which was exactly what was happening. And in an effort to avoid that happening, I wasn’t giving my fiber enough twist so it kept breaking on me, sending my little spindle flying across the room. I finally stuck it in a corner of the closet and moved on to other things.
Since that time, I’ve become better acquainted with the mechanics of spinning on a wheel which gives me a better idea of how to work with fiber but I still didn’t think I had it in me to spindle spin. Then along came Abby Franquemont and her excellent book, Respect the Spindle and after reading reviews of it up on Ravelry and Amazon and hearing all the great buzz about it, I decided to order it and give drop spindling another go.
Being the compulsive person I am, I had already joined several spindling groups up on Ravelry and gotten excited about all the neat spindles that are available. Some of these are absolute works of art. By golly, if I never were to spin a yard of yarn on a spindle, I could still enjoy owning quite a few just for the joy of owning a thing of beauty AND supporting craftspeople who take real pride in their workmanship. I ordered a spindle made by Steve Kundert with a walnut whorl and cherry shaft and it arrived about the same time that Abby’s book did.
I sat down and did a quick read through her book. Let me tell you that it is not only clearly written but has amazing pictures that clearly illustrate what the author is telling you. And I grabbed my Kundert and the fiber that the Bellwether folks had nicely provided when they shipped my spindle, tied on a leader and hooked it up with the fiber as Abby illustrates and started flicking, parking, and drafting. By golly, it was working this time. For one thing, this spindle is a wonderful weight, coming in at about 1.5 oz. as opposed to my Bossie, which weighs about .9 oz. I also decided to not try to draft the yarn so fine this time. I figure that will come later, as I develop more confidence. Then I can get out my Bosworth and the finer fibers and try again but for now, I’m happier and less frustrated just getting the basics of the movements down, giving my hands a chance to “memorize” the motions.
I’ll never give up my spinning wheels to do spindle spinning only but this is a nice alternative when I maybe just want to throw a spindle in my purse and some fiber and practice just about anywhere. Oh, and I have three more spindles on order……two Kunderts and one supported spindle designed for spinning while you’re riding in a car. Whee! And I have my sights set on a Tabachek spindle, among others.