Saturday, March 15, 2008

DIY Drop Spindles

If you've never tried spinning your own yarn, an easy and inexpensive way to start is with a drop spindle. Drop spindles come in a variety of sizes and materials but the most common is the basic wooden spindle. The drop spindle can be either top whorl (whorl on the top, hook on the top) or bottom whorl (whorl on the bottom, hook on the top). Here is a very simple and inexpensive way to make your own drop spindle from common materials found at any craft, hobby or hardware store.
Materials
• 2 inch or larger wooden toy wheel with an 1/8 inch opening ($1.75) Michael's • 1/8 inch wide dowel rod (3 ft. for $.48) Michael's • 1/2 inch brass cup hook (6 for $.99) Hardware store • small saw, hammer, sand paper or emery board • carded fiber • 18 inch length of yarn Wherever you buy your wooden toy wheel, the store should have a selection of dowel rods. This will be your shaft. Depending on the size wheel you find, the center may or may not be 1/8" so take your little wheel to the dowel section and try out different sizes until you find a snug fit. Rods are sold in 3 foot lengths so you can make 3 spindles from 1 rod. You'll also have extra incase you split your wood. Instructions Cut your rod into (3) 12" lengths. Now you must decide if you'd like a top or bottom whorl spindle... a bottom whorl spindle spins slower and will produce a thicker chunky yarn. A top whorl spindle has a faster spin and is used for spinning a thin yarn with softer fibers. Top Whorl Drop Spindle

After you have the dowel rod cut to a 12" length, push it into the center hole of your wheel allowing about 1 inch to stick out of the bottom. You may need a hammer to tap it in. Use a bit of sand paper to smooth the cut edges (an emery board will do just fine too). The hook will be placed in the top of the rod closest to the wheel (the wheel is actually your whorl if you want to get technical). If you have a steady hand you can twist the little cup hook back and worth to start your hole and screw it in by hand, making sure to keep it centered. If it goes in on an angle your wood will split. When in doubt, drill a small starter hole in the center of the rod end, with your tiniest drill bit. Saw a slight notch on one side of your wheel and sand it smooth. Your yarn will pass through this so you don't want it to be rough. This notch is optional so you may try spinning without it and add it later if you like.

Start Top Whorl Spinning When your top whorl spindle is assembled and sanded, you are ready to start spinning. First you will need to add your "leader" yarn. You will need about 18 inches of yarn. With your hook pointing upwards, tie your leader yarn around the spindle just underneath the whorl. Wrap the yarn and tie a loop. Bring the looped end up over the whorl and wrap it a couple of times around the hook. Leave at least a 5" length to start spinning your fiber. As you spin your fiber, it will collect on the spindle in a cone shape below the whorl. Bottom Whorl Drop Spindle

After you have the dowel rod cut to a 12" length, push it into the center hole of your wheel allowing about 1 1/2 inches to stick out the bottom. You may need a hammer to tap it in. Stick the 1 1/2 inch end of the rod in an electric pencil sparpener to give it a dull flat point and sand the edges smooth. The point allows you to spin your spindle like a top on a flat surface. Use a bit of sand paper to smooth the cut edges (an emery board will do just fine too). The hook will be placed at the top of the rod, farthest from the wheel. If you have a steady hand you can twist the little cup hook back and worth to start your hole and screw it in by hand, making sure to keep it centered. If it goes in on an angle your wood will split. When in doubt, drill a small starter hole in the center of the rod end, with your tiniest drill bit.
Start Bottom Whorl Spinning
When your spindle is assembled and sanded, you are ready to start spinning. First you will need to add your "leader" yarn. With your hook facing upwards, tie about 18 inches of leader yarn to rod right below the wheel. Next take the leader yarn and wrap it once around the section of rod under the wheel and then bring it up to the top and loop it onto your hook. Leave at least a 5" length to start spinning your fiber.

Finishing

Add a creative touch to your new spindle by painting or staining the wood, or even burning your own designs onto the edges of the wheel. Have fun and give it a whorl! A few great books to get you started:

Spinning in the Old Way by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts

Spin It: Making Yarn from Scratch by Lee Raven

Hands On Spinning by Lee Raven

1 comments:

"alice" said...

i'll so excited to read this when my head is still. i've been wanting to figure out how to spin for a while now, as i have been collecting my angoras fur for the past 4 and half years. i've been felting it and making these interesting pads of solid angora. beautiful site you have here...i'll be back!

"alice"