This tutorial uses a top (high) whorl drop spindle. A spindle has three main parts shaft, whorl, and hook. The shaft, running the length of the spindle, is where you grip the spindle to make it spin and where you wind the yarn for storage. The whorl is the round wood part on the shaft, it provides momentum, and has a notch to help guide the yarn from the shaft to the hook. The hook allows the spindle to hang from the yarn while spinning and keeps the spindle centered to prevent excessive wobble.
There are many different methods of spinning even for just this one style of spindle, no one way is best. So long as you are forming yarn that holds together, like the result, and are not hurting yourself keep spinning. Learning to spin is a bit like learning a sport or musical instrument; you have to build muscle memory and strength by repeated practice. Please watch your posture and pace yourself to prevent injury. Most beginners find practicing fifteen minutes every day works well. As you build strength and skill try longer spinning sessions gradually transitioning from park and draft to suspended, not parked, spinning as your confidence increases.
The park and draft method separates spinning into steps making them easier to manage and learn. It starts with setting the spindle in motion either by flicking your fingers on the shaft or quickly rolling the shaft along your thigh. Then the spindle spins freely building twist in the leader yarn (from hook to your hand) until it looks like a spring. As soon as the spindle stops spinning it needs to be caught. Then the spindle is parked between the knees or under the arm (your body holding the spindle shaft). Drafting involves pinching fibers you want in your yarn at the fiber supply and drawing (pulling aka drafting) them away from the supply, but not detached. Then let the twist form them into yarn.
To start you need a spindle and fiber prepared for spinning. You want to learn the staple length (average length of the fiber). Pull out and off just a few strands from your fiber to measure the length. However long this is (hopefully over an inch) is at least how much space needs to be between your hands in the drafting steps to come. Keeping your hands more than a staple length apart allows the fibers to slide past each other as you work with them rather than tugging on both ends of the same strand.
Important sometimes your fiber will not draft these are the solutions. Always keep your hands further apart than the staple length, twice it would be good. Sometimes even then you will have trouble getting the fiber to draft in that case twist is in your fiber supply turning it into one very thick yarn. To remove the twist you pinch at the last point that resembles the yarn thickness desired and let go of the fiber supply allowing it to spin until all the twist is gone, sometimes you have turn it with your hand to get the twist out.
We begin using park and draft to spin a leader. Start with the spindle parked.
For spinning the spindle you will need to pick one hand as your spindle hand and the other as the fiber hand. Spindle hand sets the spindle in motion and catches it when it stops spinning. Fiber hand holds the fiber supply, pinches at the top of the yarn, and the spindle hangs below it while in motion. My fiber hand is the left and spindle in the right.
* A note on direction, many spinners prefer clockwise for spinning a single, what you are doing. Constancy is critical to prevent undoing your work. Watching a clock as you spin may help.
Parking the spindle frees your spindle hand. Use it to take over the pinch from the fiber hand's fingers.
Single fiber drafted and bound by twist. It is yarn. It also can become one strand of a plied yarn.
Plied yarn is made of multiple singles bound by twist. Plying the act of making plied yarn by spinning in the opposite direction from how the singles were made.
Leader is the yarn from the hook to your hand, what the spindle hangs from while spinning.
Cop name for yarn that is wound on the spindle shaft.
What do you do when your single breaks?
First figure out why it broke. It either drifted apart from insufficient twist or snapped from too much twist. If it snapped the ends will look cut, often this happens in a thin area between two thicker sections of single. To fix take the snapped ends and untwist them with your fingers until they look fluffy. If it had drifted apart it already has fluffy ends. To rejoin you overlap the fluffy ends making sure to pinch with your fiber hand on the overlap closest to the hook. Then spin the spindle to get some twist, park, carefully using the spindle hand to help release the twist into the overlapped section. When it looks like yarn again pinch with your fiber hand above the join and give a gentle tug to make sure it is well attached. Now get your hands back in normal position and resume park and draft. If your single drifts apart often make sure you are catching the spindle as soon as it stops and have been spinning in the same direction each time. If it snaps often you may be forcing in more twist than the thin sections can hold, watch those areas and try not to draft quite so thin.
How do I add more fiber when I have used up my fiber supply?
Just like fixing a break. You pull off a new working fiber supply, draft the end of it thinner than you had been spinning, make sure the end of your single is fluffy and ideally thin. Then overlap and join following the directions above.
Can I set this project down?
Yes. You can stop at any point but may have a mess to sort out when you resume. To keep things tidy wind on all but a few inches. Bring the leader through the hook and wrap it around the hook an extra time. The fiber supply will then hang from the spindle and all your yarn won't get tangled. To resume you just unwrap enough yarn for a normal leader and continue.
How do I know when the spindle is full?
The spindle is full when any of the following happen, your cop keeps trying to slip off (actually caused by not winding on firm and tidy), you run out of space to wind on, it starts to feel heavy or uncomfortable to hold, or breaks become unusually frequent (as the cop has made the spindle too heavy for the yarn thickness).
Help! I bent my hook.
You can bend it back with your thumb. Directions and tips here.
See the other tutorials for more information or follow suggested links in contacts.
© Cynthia Haney 2019.