How to use a drop spindle in 7 easy steps

Some spinners feel that a drop spindle should be mastered before moving on to a spinning wheel. Here are seven easy steps to help you use a drop spindle in no time.

How to use a drop spindle in 7 easy steps

1. Getting started the right way

Begin by tying a leader (a scrap of previously spun yarn) to the base of the spindle shaft.

  • Wrap the leader around the base knob, then bring the leader up to and around the shaft tip of the spindle as shown.
  • Fan out the leader's end.

2. How to fan out the carded wool

  • Fan out the carded wool and lay the end of the leader to overlap it by four centimetres (1 3/4 inches).
  • Hold the ends between the thumb and forefinger of one hand as you start turning the spindle with the other hand.

3. Quickly draw out the fleece

  • As the wool twists around the leader, shift your lower hand up to hold the juncture of ends.
  • With your top hand, start drawing out the fleece until only a few fibres remain between your hands.

4. An easy way to twist the filaments

  • When the ends are joined, move your lower hand up again to pinch the fleece at a point just below your top hand.
  • The twist can now run further up the wool but not above the point where it is pinched.
  • Maintain the pinch until the filaments below your lower hand are twisted as tightly as you wish.

5. Thinning out the fibres

As you pinch, use your top hand to pull out more fibres.

  • The aim is to thin out the fibres so that the yarn will be as fine and even as desired.
  • Repeat steps four and five, pinching with one hand and pulling out fibres with the other.
  • As the whirling slows, reach down and twist the spindle shaft with your fingers.
  • Do not spin the carded wool all the way to its end. Instead, add new wool as in step two.

6. Keeping a tight grip

  • When the spindle reaches the floor, wrap the spun yarn in a figure-8 around the thumb and little finger of one hand.
  • Do not release your grip at the end of the spun yarn or it will untwist.

7. Finishing touches

  • Unwrap yarn from the tip of the spindle and wind it onto the shaft.
  • Wind more yarn at the shaft base and less above so the yarn will form a cone.
  • Rewrap the yarn as in step oneand continue to spin.

The drop spindle does make wheel spinning easier to learn; the principles of spinning are the same in both cases and a drop spindle is much less expensive to buy. However, it is a slower method of spinning and can be laborious if you are setting out to spin a lot of yarn. Keep these simple instructions in mind and try using a drop spindle today!

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