Category: Spindles

For Maggie

I have spindles of many kinds: top whorl, bottom whorl. Russian, Tibetan. Tahkli, Akha. Some are made by skilled spindle makers, others by myself. Some spindles are very dear to me. One such is my Maggie spindle from Magpie WoodWorks. It’s beautifully made, and it’s of course a very good tool. I wouldn’t be so fond of it it wasn’t, would I?

So I made a container for it. Tapestry crochet, commercial and handspun yarns, some dyed by me. Motives from the Korsnäs sweater, and the traditional birds from some Scandinavian knittings.

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I put a plastic bottle inside, and a blue cotton lining. Tassels. A crocheted wristaff.

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The warm glow of this perfectly turned wood…

I bought a whorl and made a spindle shaft

A Swedish ceramist, Lena Bergsman, who is also a spinner, made spindle whorls for sale in the Swedish FB group Spinnare. I bought two of them. Here’s one of them, now with a shaft I made:

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The wool i Grå Trøndersau, an extremely rare Norwegian breed that was thought to be extinct until a flock was found  in the 90s. The breed has very fine and soft wool. The sample I have is also short, 2-3 cm, so carding and spinning on a supported spindle is the best way to spin it. Long draw on a walking wheel or Saxony wheel would also work fine. I found the lovely spinning bowl in IST’s booth at Woolfest some years ago.

The woodworking process:

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First you go out and find a piece of wood in the fire wood shed. This is birch. It has been drying for a year.

Then you shape it with your knife and sandpaper:

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Then you test spin. I shortened the shaft to 27 cm, which is suitable for me as I’m a short person. I also made the shaft thinner. The result is a spindle I probably will use very much, as it spins very well. This is the first whorl formed like a cone in my spindle collection. I now understand why they have been so common in many places all over the world: they spin fast and long. My whorl weighs 35 grams, a good weight for the short and fine wools I often spin.

I bought the whorl here: Rostocks keramik. Lena doesn’t sell them in her net shop, but you can contact her to see if she has any in stock. The Swedish spinners were excited, so she sold a whole lot of whorls in a couple of days.

Cormo on top whorl spindle

I’ve had a few Cormo locks for some years. I gave up on them during a very busy period in my life. I found them again when I was looking for a fiber for my new top whorl spindle from LuxuryOverdose. The tips had been cut off already when I bought the wool, but carding wasn’t an option as there’s lanolin left. Opening the staples with a small dog brush was effortless, but spinning was still difficult. The staples are 8 cm long, and typical for Cormo, it’s very fine wool. The lanolin has stiffened during the years, so drafting is tricky.

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But my lovely top whorl proved to be perfect for this difficult fiber! The spindle rotates very fast, which so twist is building up in a second. But it also spins for a long time, which allows slow drafting. I can spin a fine, even thread because the spindle gives me time to draft.

The photo shows the supported spindle with fine short Finn, and the top whorl with the superfine Cormo, and plyback samples.

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Outside the trees are becoming green. A couple of days ago you could see a hint of the lovely light green colour that make people up here in the north a bit dizzy, and very happy. For many of us this is the loveliest time of the year. A view from the wood next to our house: these trees will soon be cut down, but that’s not a disaster. There will be new trees planted as soon as the forest machine has done the job.

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The perfect supported spindle

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Just when I thought I have all the spindles I need, I fell for a supported spindle that looked like it wanted to be spun by me. I had been looking for a spindle like that after having seen one quite similar in a Swedish spinning group on Facebook. Sturdy, robust, ordinary wood, no bling bling, just a tool made with care for the performance. So I bought it. It’s the one on the left.

I was quite surprised when I opened the package and found not only one spindle, but two. The maker had sent me a demo spindle as an extra bonus. It’s a top whorl with a kind of whorl I didn’t have earlier.

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Both spindles are short. The top whorl is 8″, the supported 9 1/2″. They weigh 27 and 25 grams, which is what I like in spindles I use for fine to medium wools. The woods are new to me: cypress and red oak in the supported, yellow box and red/white iron bark in the top whorl, all from Australia.

So how do they spin? They are – perfect. I have many good spindles from renowned makers. I like them all. But there are spindles I return to over and over again. My bossies. The Maggie spindle, also quite new, but immediately a favourite. My IST Russian spindles. Michael Williams top whorl. Jenkins Kuchulu. My light weight Comets from Wooly Designs. Two light weight square top whorl spindles from Spindlewood. A home made doughnut supported spindle. And a few more.

But this little supported spindle is amazing. The length is perfect for me. I sit down in my armchair when I spin, so long spindles are a bit uncomfortable even if I keep the bowl beside me instead of in my lap.

I still have to spin more on the top whorl, but I can already see I like it. If it’ll become a favourite I’ll know later. Right now I’m so fond of the supported little tornado that I don’t want to spin on anything else.

David Johnson from LuxuryOverdose made those two lovely tools. One of the things that make me happy about spindles is, that you very often know who made them. Turning spindles is not easy. It takes time, practise, and a deep interest to learn how to make a good spindle. I can feel the fine craftsmanship when I hold a good spindle in my hand, and sometimes I can see it in a photo without even trying it first. You can see the good craftsmanship in the wood, the grain, the form, the finish, the balance, the proportions.

Spinning short hand carded Finnsheep. Making a butterfly so I can rewind the temporary cop to the final cop. The bowl is from IST Woodemporium.

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“Spin like an Ancient”

A comment to my earlier post about the supported spindle I made took me here: Spin like an Ancient and this: Spin in the Wilderland. Beautiful, aren’t they? I love the photos – and the tool 🙂

This time we live in. Despite all the bad that happens all over the world, there are also good things that connect us. Thank you Rebecca! Your posts made me so happy!

I made a supported spindle…

…all by myself! Well, hubby split a piece of firewood for me, to be honest 🙂

First you need to search your house: is there a suitable stone hidden somewhere? When you’ve found one, try to figure out how to start working. I chose to make the hole first, because without a hole it wouldn’t be much of a spindle. The hole also needs to be exactly in the center, and I thought it would be easier to work around the hole than to try to find the center of a circle, if you see what I mean. So my nice Swiss multipurpose tool, a crafter’s best friend by the way, came in handy once again.

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It’s soapstone I’m working with. Easy to carve with a knife and finish with a rasp or sandpaper. I used both. I also used the miniature saw blade to cut off the ends of the stone:

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Then I took my coarsest sandpaper and a rasp and worked on the corners to make a somewhat circular shape, and also thinned out the thicker parts of the stone. It doesn’t matter if the whorl isn’t perfectly circular, as it’s a supported spindle.

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Then it was time for the shaft. I wanted a Russian style shaft. So off to see what I could find in the firewood supply. I found birch, which is what to expect here where I live. Not hard enough, but will do. I can always make a new shaft when the old one is worn out. I used the biggest knife blade and the same coarse sandpaper, as I have found that very smooth shafts don’t give you the best grip because they’re slippery. I test spun cotton, and the spindle was good!

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I’m satisfied with the result. The spindle rotates quite fast. The whorl + shaft weighs 23 grams and it’s 25 cm long. I may try other types of shafts later, but for now I feel like I shouldn’t do any more woodwork. Wood is one of the materials that may swallow me, and I really don’t have time for that!

Maggie spindle

New spindle! I’ve wanted a Magpie Woodworks Maggie spindle for many years. No I have one, and I don’t regret purchasing it. This must be one of the very best top whorl spindles in the world. And I do have a few to compare with… I started with Merino dyed by me. The spindle weighs 21 grams, and the wood is cherry. Enjoy the perfect wood work!

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For two perfect spindles

I have this obsession with taking spindles with me when travelling. I have loads of purses, but these two spindles with big whorls haven’t had any earlier. Now they have one!

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Square spindle from Michael Williams, Comet from Woolly Designs.  Both are perfectly balanced with long and fast spin.

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Tapestry crochet, yarn Sandnes Garn Mandarin Petit. Lining polyester, I think. Card woven strap in Mandarin Petit. Old rag rug gifted by a kind neighbour.

I have been spinning also. I started this yarn at a training camp on Ravelry before Tour de Fleece, and finished it a few days ago. Spun on three different light weight spindles and Louet Victoria. Sock yarn, 4-ply, 697 meters, 200 grams, merino and silk. I think for needles 2 mm, but still have to swatch.

Spunnet på bossie, liten spindlewood, victoria. Merino, silke.

Nalbinding and card weaving

These are two techniques I’d like to learn properly. I’ve nalbinded every now and then for years, but I seem to land in the same stitch every time. I don’t know the name of it, but it’s a thumb stitch. I used a handspun yarn (Värmland sheep) to bind a purse for the “stone age” spindle I bought at Shetland Museum in Lerwick. I use this spindle supported, but it can be used as a drop spindle also. It’s a favourite.

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The band is one of my first card woven bands. The pattern is from a Finnish book, “Lautanauhat” by Maikki Karisto. The teal yarn is handspun (British Longwool blends, commercial top), the white is handspun silk (brick), and the lilac is a commercial wool blend yarn. The little sheep button is a gift from someone. I’ve forgotten from whom I got it, so if you see this, please shout! I think I’ll add a tassel to the bottom of the purse also.

I spun the yarn on the Lerwick spindle. It’s Åland sheep, from one of the sheep I showed in an earlier post. The wool is very soft with almost no guard hair, and as I spun it lofty and quite thick, the yarn is super soft. I’ll use it in nalbinding that I will felt. Maybe mittens? A hat?