Spinning With A Drop Spindle
When I was a teenager, I was very interested in learning how to spin my own yarn.
However, I wasn’t quite ready to take the plunge, and buy a spinning wheel until I knew whether I really enjoyed the process.
A wise older lady at a fiber festival advised me to start off with a drop spindle to begin learning how to spin.
I followed her advice, and after a little trial and error, and a bit of fine tuning, I was spinning beautiful wool yarn with my new drop spindle!
It is incredibly straightforward and easy to start spinning with a drop spindle.
Once you have washed and carded your wool, take a small section of wool and stretch it into a thin 12-15 inch length. Leave this length connected to your larger bunch of wool.
Use your fingers to twist the wool into a 12 inch (approximately) length of “yarn”. This is what you will use to connect the wool to the drop spindle. Don’t stress.This part doesn’t need to be perfect or pretty!
Use the twisted wool to tie onto the bottom shaft of the drop spindle.
Now that you have connected your wool to the shaft, run the twisted wool up through the notched side of the spindle, and through the hook.
You are ready to begin spinning!
Hold the twisted yarn in your left hand, and allow the spindle to dangle in the air. Using your right hand, spin the shaft in a clockwise direction. This will cause the wool to twist tightly all the way up to where the fingers of your left hand are holding it. While the spindle is still spinning, slowly feed out a little more wool, and allow it to twist.
*The thickness of the twisted yarn depends on how thick you want your finished yarn to be. When deciding thickness, remember that the finished yarn will be 2-3 times as thick as what you are spinning right now.
Repeat this until you have a long length of twisted wool.
You have created your first yarn!
This is what is called a “single ply” or a “single”.
Unhook the yarn, and wrap the excess length around the shaft of the drop spindle. Re-hook the yarn, and begin spinning again.
Repeat this sequence until you have the length of yarn you want, or until you fill the entire spindle with single ply yarn.
Wind the single ply yarn into a ball, and put aside.
Spin another spindle full of single ply yarn, then wind into a ball.
Now that you have two balls of single ply yarn, you are ready to ply them into one strand of tradition style “double ply” yarn.
This is exactly like spinning the wool, only you will be using the two strands of single ply yarn, and you will be spinning in the opposite direction!
Take the two balls of single ply, and tie them to the shaft of the drop spindle.
Feed the strands up through the notched side, and through the hook.
Spin the shaft *COUNTER clockwise* (This is very important!!) until the two strands of single ply twist together and form a traditional double ply yarn. Continue until you have plied the entire length of the single ply balls.
Now your yarn is complete!!*Note, to spin three ply yarn, use the same method with three balls of single ply yarn instead of two.
So, for a very small ($15-20) investment, you can create quality yarn, and hone your spinning skills!
From there, you can decide whether you want get a spinning wheel and move on to larger scale spinning.
Find a drop spindle here!
Want to see the rest of my series on processing wool?
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