Friday, March 03, 2006

Spindle Notes

As I was saying to Paris Hilton the other day, don't you just adore the Internet?

You ask for suggestions about spinning on a drop spindle, you get suggestions for spinning on a drop spindle. You get many, many suggestions about spinning on a drop spindle. You get so many suggestions for spinning on a drop spindle that if you had a nickel for every suggestion, you could finally quit your day job and open a puppet theater just like you always wanted to.

I've decided that before I pick up (and drop) the spindle again it would be a good idea to write down the things I do remember about my first, brief attempts. It'll be fun (or painful) to come back and look at them later.
  1. Tall people have an unfair advantage in using a drop spindle. It's further to the floor. This must be their karmic trade-off for not fitting properly in standard airplane seats.
  2. The spindle is an inanimate object and does not respond to threats, coercion, foul language, diplomacy, prayers, or abject pleading.
  3. The process of spindling makes me wish I had four hands. Not for the first time, but for a very different reason.
  4. There's a fine line between "yarn" and "rope" and it's an easy one to cross.
  5. Crying never solved anything.
  6. A man in his mid-thirties should not have to repeatedly consult a real clock to remember which way is "clockwise."
  7. The nice lady in the "Joy of Handspinning" videos is an evil enchantress who sold her soul to the devil to make it look that easy. She enjoys taunting you.
  8. Selling your soul to the devil is not a option. You already signed it over in order to hang on to your waistline past age 30. Who's sorry now?
  9. Remember that roughly 25% of your ancestors actually raised sheep in the mountains of Lebanon. There's folk memory in there somewhere. Tap it.
  10. If all else fails, a wooden spindle makes a handsome desk toy, a striking drop earring, or a totally cool American Colonial Ninja throwing star.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for item #10--I have been looking for a use since my failed spinning attempt (Judy, I love you and the sheep, but NEVER again). I will also take comfort in the fact that I am short and struggle with that clockwise thing (from what perspective?).

Cindy in (un) Happy Valley said...

My family (way extended) still has a farm in the mountains of Lebanon. I don't know if they raise sheep, but I do know they have olives.

I still have no desire to learn to eating olives is a whole 'nother issue!

Mel said...

I'm not sure I should laugh that much just before bed (Yes, I DO know what time it is). I think the most important thing here is to remember that you can always pass it off as novelty yarn.

Also, you don't have to draft and spin at the same time. Pinch the twist, twirl the spindle to put more twist into it, then let the spindle rest or hold it between your legs or something while you draft back and allow the twist to travel up into the fiber. You don't have to be tall and you don't need eight arms. It can all be broken down into baby steps. Just remember to breathe. :-)

Hockey Mom said...

OK. I have to wipe the coffee off my screen on #8. No one told me about that option. Dammit.

I have a wheel and want to learn to spin on a spindle. Bassackwards, I am. I sit and stare at the nice lady on the Joy of Spinning. It's not right. How one person can make something look so effortless.

Thanks for the giggle this morning.

Sherry W said...

Don't feel bad-I actually bonked someone on the head with a spindle on my first attempt. If you work it out, I may try again. :)

Anonymous said...

You make me Martha would say, "it's a good thing".

CynCyn said...

I too, share the disadvantage of being vertically challenged. it usually doesn't bother me, but upon learning to spin using a drop spindle, the disadvantages were immediately apparent. How to solve such a problem? By spinning while standing on top of a chair, ottoman, couch, whatever.

A word of caution: The taller you are, the harder you fall upon your spindle. Remain cognizant of your precarious perch. (it's more difficult than it sounds)

Elisabeth said...

It's good to know I'm not alone with that whole fine line between yarn and rope thing.

So, if you sell your soul to the devil you get to keep your waistline past 30? Why didn't anyone tell me that before?! Here I've been bustin' my ass at Curves all this time. How do you get in touch with the devil? Would you look in the phone book under Lucifer or Satan? Does he have email? (

Anonymous said...

Stand up to spin? I rarely do. I often spin over the arm of the sofa; if you give it a slight thrutch along the right arm you get a nice controllable clockwise spin going. You can also flick the spindle between your thumb and forefinger. It's slower, but much more relaxing (and kinder to your spindle). As for rope--no worries. My problem with both spindle and wheel is drafting thickly enough.

Flossie in Stitches said...

HA HA! Love number 3!

Anonymous said...

If the devil has my soul in return for keeping my trim waist, the bugger is not keeping up his end of the bargain.

Anonymous said...

Is it safe to ask what else it was you wished you had 4 hands for?

dpaste said...

I will never regret holding on to my waist size.

Anonymous said...

I think you're right--keep going and the memory will surface. I always tell people that the learning curve with spinning is extremely steep at first. But once you get over that first steep part, it's really quite gentle for a while. Well, until you start on a wheel. But don't worry, you'll be addicted enough by then that you won't care.

And nice deconstruction of the barely-hidden homophobia in that crazy-ass email. I'm 100% with you.

Michelle said...

Corollary to #6: A woman nearing her mid-thirties should not have to look down at her hands to see which one makes the "L" to determine left from right. And yet...

I don't have to actually look at a clock, but I *do* have to trace a circle in the air with my finger to get the clockwise thing.

Will Pillage For Yarn said...

Try sitting down and spinning since you're such a long tall drink of water. Let the spindle go between your knees. Also, like I said yesterday, park and draft. Park the spindle between your knees and draft up, then spin some more, then park and draft.

When you're spinning the spindle, remember that you control the twist by pinching the fiber - it will only move up the fiber when you let it. SO when that sucker is parked between your knees, don't just let go and let the twist travel up, pinch and draft until you get the hang of it.

Rana said...

I learned to spin counter-clockwise, and I never knew that this was wrong.

Well, it's not, but then you get into the weird complexities of Z vs S twists... not that this should bother the average spinner. Most fibers are forgiving of a "wrong" twist, and flax is _supposed_ to be spun counterclockwise. The main thing is to remember that if you spin the "wrong" way, you need to ply "wrong" too.

Also, the right spindle can make a _huge_ difference. I learned that the hard way too! Good luck!

Lloer said...

Knowing how much you liked the Mary Thomas books, I think that you would enjoy High Whorling by Priscilla Gibson Roberts. It's a book dedidcated to spinning with top whorl spindles.

Don't be upset if you don't take to spinning with a spindle. As a beginner I'm finding my Lendrum wheel much easier to spin with. I've just ordered some hand turned spindles to have another go at spindle spinning though.

Anonymous said...

Tricky, I noticed that the other day, but I forgot to mention it.

Anonymous said...

It brings all new meaning to the phrase, "Bend, fold, spindle, or mutilate," doesn't it?

I am looking for a spinning mentor, myself. Trying to learn how to spin by reading or looking at videos was making my brain leak out of my ears.

Liz said...

Damn, now why didn't I know about #8?

I eventually learned how to use my spindle. Spun a bunch of stuff, most of which I gave away or knitted into something, and then gave away. I eventually abandoned my spindles for other things and recently gave them all away to a couple of friends who are using them to teach others. Now someone can try using a drop spindle without shelling out their own dough and I have cut down on my clutter.

There should be a site somewhere for crafters to swap our stash of items/ objects that we will never use again but we don't have the heart to throw. But spindles as self defense is a fun option as well.

the fiddlin' fool said...

Speaking on behalf of tall people everywhere (do I qualify at 6'3"?), I would like to point out that being tall does not give you that much of an advantage in drop spindling. In fact, the stopping and winding up of the single is the main reason I'm seriously considering a spinning wheel. I enjoy the spinning bit, but the winding up bit is more of a chore.

Anonymous said...

You'll get it eventually; probably all at once, while wondering why you didn't get it 5 minutes ago!

For those of you looking for mentors, Interweave Press has a listing of spinning guilds on their website ( Just show up at your local guild's meeting and someone will be happy to help you.

the fiddlin' fool said...

By the way, there is some sort of South American technique you can employ to increase the length of your single before you have to wind. As you start spinning vertically and the single gets long, hook your thumb under the single and extend that arm outwards. Now you have two dimensions in which your single is going: sideways and vertically.

Anonymous said...

I am a woman in my thirties who has to look at her watch to tell her left hand from her right - I don't think I'll be attempting spindle spinning , even tho my mother referred to me as the spinster daughter for 29 years!!

Anonymous said...

Drop spindles work really great if you want to make twisted cords for something - I failed at the spinning thing too. I'm thinking of turning my spindle into a hood ornament.

Carrie K said...

I'm never going to spin (because I lack dexterity, patience, height & interest) but I feel I should let you know that just because its inanimate does NOT mean it won't respond to threats, coercion and foul language. Also, kicking.

Crying might not solve anything but it possibly saves lives. It's wrong to bottle emotions.

What a beautiful drop earring.

Cheryl:) said...

And you get VERY familiar with that CLUNK sound....

Sweazey said...

Funny post, Franklin! As an ambidexterous, possibly dyslexic person, even reading the suggested hand position that shows an "L" with the thumb doesn't work for me! What I always did was wear a ring on my left hand and so I could tell "left and not-left"! Seriously, I learned from my Dad (also ambi)that you clockwise is an arrow that goes over the circle-top pointing to the right, therefore spin "right", and counterclockwise is an arrow over the top of the circle going backward, meaning to the left so you spin "left". This is more clear if you visualize a clock, or in my case its more clear visualizing turning a car steering wheel. When you turn "left" it is counterclockwise, etc. I'm glad I'm not the only one with that problem. Hey, I got spanked by my second grade teacher because I couldn't tell which way was "go to the right" in the dance "Bingo". People just can't believe that it is hard to tell left from right. Doesn't help if reading backwards looks exactly the same as forwards! But my head is spinning just thinking of this...maybe it will make yarn...!

Sweazey said...

By-the-by, Franklin, are you going to make a 2006 Knitting Olympics bag? Or T-shirt?

Lucia said...

I've had no recent trouble with left-right or clockwise-counterclockwise. I remain, however, utterly incompetent with a drop spindle.

I haven't seen the Joy of Spinning lady, but she is probably related to Martha Stewart.

Ashley said...

When I do use my drop spindle, I find myself standing on my toes, then on top of chairs just to gain some extra height and keep the spindle going... sad, I know. And it gets really funny when I fall off the chair.

Unknown said...

Oh, I have struggled with this. I got a drop spindle over Thanksgiving while we visited the "parental units" in Williamsburg, VA. I am terrified of giving one of the kids, or our wiener dog, a concussion...I think I might just lack that kind of coordination.

And now I keep picturing Paris trying to use a drop spindle...too funny.

FiberQat said...

Ok. Imagine yourself sitting on your chair, trying to spindle. Then a beautiful man comes up behind you and like "Ghost" gently guides your hands to draft and twist until your spindle sings. Before you know it, your spindle will be full....

Nannette said...

Try the park and draft method of spindling. Basically you twirl your spindle and let twist store up in your yarn. Don't draft or do anything. Just store twist. Once you have this twist built up, park your spindle (between the knees works pretty well) and THEN draft out your fibers. Continue drafting until you have used your stored twist. Wind onto your spindle and repeat the process. Once you and your hands learn the drafting process, try letting the spindle spin freely while you draft.

There are sites w/ videos for helping and has a great tutorial with still pictures

Pardon if these suggestions have been given already. I'm replying before I read all the comments.

Best of luck w/ your spinning. Don't give up!

Anonymous said...

Ah, diminutive directional Dyslexia, (Intarsia's little sister?) I know thee well... little post-it notes with arrows adorn my wheel and more than a few spindles.

Unknown said...

I'll swap you my 5'7" for your waistline.

Until I bought my Comet spindle, thanks to Ted, my spindling talents ran the gamut from A to B (apologies to Dorothy).

Good recommendation, High Whorling by Priscilla G-R.

I refuse to let a top-on-a-stick defeat me.

Unknown said...

First of all, you could never be too tall for drop spindling. Even if I was 7'9" (I'll let you decide where the 9" goes), I'd still be hitting the floor too quickly with the spindle.

That's why my lack of patience led me to a spinning wheel.

Maybe you should consider one?...hmmm?

Liz said...

The tallness doesn't help one bit in drop spindling. The problem is more one of knowing WTF you're doing. Which I still don't.

ditto on crazy-ass emails - whoa. Sometimes the internet sucks. Love your replies to them.

Nerdy Knitter said...

Franklin--I've just started learning to drop (spindles, that is), and haven't yet actually "dropped" the spindle. I just spin it against my thigh a bunch of times (double- and triple-checking the whole "clockwise" thing), then "park" the spindle on my legs. I think there's an official term for this set-up (park-and-spin feels right, but it also sounds like a ride at an amusement park, so I could be completely wrong).

Anyway, I love spinning this way and might never get to "dropping." We'll see.

Good luck to you with your spinning. If you ever look at my blog, you'll notice a distinct lack of mention of my's not quite fit for public discussion yet. Good for you for starting out in public!

--Judy, aka the Nerdy Knitter

Anonymous said...

The clunk sound is vastly reduced by using the proper weight for the proper level of draft. But what goes around comes around, as they say, so if you're not paying attention and your spindle starts to spin the other way and unspin what you just worked so hard to spin...clunk.

Damn, I wish we could meet for a lesson. I'm five feet tall, Franklin, and I spin laceweight, no trouble at all. In fact, it's easier for me to do this on a spindle than on a wheel. (Sorry, Joe :-))

In this particular case, size doesn't matter, unless we're talking spindle size. That matters. Height, bah...even little cuties like you can handle a drop spindle, no problem. Just takes a ton of practise and a rather obscene passion for the feel of fibre. You think yarn p*rn is bad, wait until you get into roving and batts...locks are worse....

Ahem. Sheep locks. You knew I meant sheep locks, right? ;-)

Unknown said...

I glare at those people who WALK and SPINDLE at the same time. As someone else already suggest...the park and draft is excellent. Once you get the hang of that, you can move on to spin and draft at the same time. Another thing...I don't know what fibre you're using but make sure the fibre is appropriate to the weight of your spindle. I like Romney to practice on.

I know you said don't mention "it" anymore but I love my medal and display proudly. Thanks for it!

Anonymous said...

Love your humor.Reading your blog
is a great way to start the day.

Anonymous said...

Check the fine print Franklin. If you sell your soul to keep a trim waist, the devil will most likely take it out on your ass. Then no pants will fit.

I refuse to be tempted by spinning (or weaving) until my knitting skills progress enough that I contemplate, swatch, complete and finish an entire project within one solar year.

The lack of sunshine and whisper of spring has me itching to order some dye and plain wool to play with.

Corbie said...

If you're trying to spin laceweight yarn, a light spindle makes all the difference. Most of the spindles sold seem to be made for spinning chunky yarn, so of course, when you try to use them for the fine stuff, the yarn breaks.

I've made my own smaller spindles using dowel rods and polymer clay -- the whorls do tend to get loose and slip off periodically, but that's nothing a bit of glue and string won't fix.

Anonymous said...

Spindles: Get a good tool. Have patience. Predrafting is a good thing. I'll give you a lesson if I get to Chicago, but by that time I expect you'll be doing fabulously.

Kris said...

you are not the only one to have failed at drop spindling. I have a beautiful one sitting next to my knitting basket, where it is doomed to remain. I'm just waiting until I can afford a wheel... Until then, I dream of wool in all it's forms.

Anonymous said...

And, BTW, stop thinking of it as a "drop spindle". Think of it as a "suspended spindle". Do you want it "dropping" or "suspending"? It's a little attitudinal difference that makes a huge difference in how you handle the tool, in many subtle but important ways.

Anonymous said...

I love 7, 8, and 9. You'll get it, I'm sure.

Carol said...

As I was saying to Nicole Ritchie the other day, when the [expletive deleted] is Franklin gonna update his blog?!

Nicole is dying for another Knittin Celebrity DeathMatch.

As am I.

Cheryl:) said...

I guess you are having to do some work the last few days instead of entertaining us!! Miss you Franklin!

knitsnspins said...

Franklin, I laughed out loud at your comments. As the name goes, I do both although knitting is my passion. I love drop spindling and it is so portable. I have a number of spindles and one or two just won't spin for love or money. I've sweet talked them and threatened to turn them in to match sticks but the little buggers just won't behave. I do have one that I bought years ago and that will spin forever. I'm only 5'6" and can keep the little darling going and going although I do find myself trying to stretch like the guy from the fantastic 4.

Tallguy said...

Oh, Franklin, the best advice to give you is "Preparation"! If you have well prepared fibre, it will all go smoothly. And take your time to do each step carefully and slowly. That's all there is to it! Check my blog for some basic steps.

It's just that easy!

Marla said...

I so understand this!! I get it on the wheel, but this drop spindling turns into dropped spindle for me, too! Thanks for your memories, which I need to remember.

jasa fotocopy jakarta said...

I really like the content on this website, jasa fotocopy murah all new things and new lesson for me. Greatly increase the knowledge becomes more widespread, thank you very much for the information provided

Obat Wasir said...

obat wasir alami obat wasir atau ambeien obat wasir racikan herbal cara mengatasi penyakit wasir obat wasir terampuh obat wasir herbal herbal denature

World Goverment said...

Obat Sipilis Bisa Di Beli Di Apotik
Obat Sipilis Beli Di Apotik
Obat Buat Sipilis
Obat Sipilis Dengan Bayam Duri
Obat Sipilis Yang Bagus
Obat Sipilis Di Batam
Obat Sipilis Di Bogor
cara mengobati kencing nanah pada pria
cari obat kencing nanah
obat china kencing nanah
cefadroxil obat kencing nanah
cara membuat obat kencing nanah
cara buat obat kencing nanah
cara mendapatkan obat kencing nanah
Obat kutil kelamin tanpa operasi
Pengobatan penyakit kutil kelamin wanita
Cara mengobati kutil kelamin tradisional
Obat kutil kelamin mujarab
Obat kutil kelamin medis
Mengobati kutil kelamin secara medis
Obat kutil kelamin paling murah
Jual obat kutil kelamin murah
Pengobatan wasir pada ibu hamil dan menysui
Pengobatan Alternatif Wasir Manjur
Pengobatan Wasir Buat Ibu Hamil
Pengobatan Wasir Bekasi
Pengobatan Wasir Bagi Ibu Hamil
Pengobatan Wasir Batam
Pengobatan Wasir Bogor
Obat Wasir Bengkak