I’m not sure what the correct collective noun for spindles is. A twist perhaps? or a twirl? Given that they have a tendancy to breed like bunnies, they really should have their own term, not a ‘bunch’, as hubby dearest so cleverly suggested. Maybe a whorl of spindles…
My collection so far (7 months after starting)
As you can see there is a fair bit of variation even in my little beginners collection – after all, they are a tool that arose spontaneously all over the world – they were never going to all be the same. Spindle types can be broadly categorized into supported and suspended (or drop) spindles. Drop spindles are further categorised by the whorl placement – top/high, or bottom/low. Beyond that point styles are generally named by the region they originated from. Support spindles generally come from regions that traditionally spin short stapled fibres such as cotton or goat down, while drop spindles are more commonly from regions where the fibre is longer, such as most wools.
Clockwise starting from the little blue guy, we have:
– A tiny Turkish Spindle. Unlike most spindles where you wind the yarn either above or below the whorl, with a turkish you wind around the cross bars, which can then be removed to leave you with a ready-wound centre pull ball.
– My first spindle – from SpinningWoodie on ravelry (who does not have a shop but happily takes phone/email orders).
– A Greensleeves drop spindle.
– Two drop spindles by a local maker, technically mum’s and mostly ornamental as they are a tad heavy for me.
– Three spindles I made using parts from a coffee plunger, stone donuts, and chopsticks. One has been sharpened to use supported, the others are low whorls.
– Four more stone whorls.
– A Trindle.
– A Russian support spindle by Enid Ashcroft.
– A Twindle with red focal.
– A Tibetan style support spindle by SpinDizzyChick – Tibetans are destinct from Russians because of the whorl, although traditionally they are much bigger and heavier than this one.
– An antique Italian fuso handed down from my nonna when she found out I was spinning. She has no idea how many generations it goes back.
Now that Christmas and my birthday are out of the way that should theoretically be it until the Bendigo Wool and Sheep show in July, or possibly the Echuca fibre muster in April if I make it there… Theoretically.
There’s a science to how often one should blog. A delicate balance between spending more time blogging than actually producing anything, and giving occasional readers more than they care to troll though (TL,DR)*, and going so long between posts that too much has happened in the interim to recount. My current situation is most definitely the latter. Should I tell you about the yarn I just finished, or the one I just started? My current knitting endevour? The goings on at our monthly UFO (UnFinished Object) Day, or the machine pieced bags that mum and I made last week? How about the marvelous find at the op shop, and the research it sparked? Hmmm. Perhaps that last one. Sure, that’s as good a place to start as any!
Last Monday mum had a strange urge to visit the op shop. She felt that this was the day to check, something there was calling to her. So, with about 10 minutes up our sleeves, off we went. We immediately gravitated to the shelves at the back which house old plastic knitting needles, buttons, and bits of lace. Nothing worth while in the knitting needle tins, no surprise there! Then mum’s eye fell to an inch of nicely turned wood poking out of a basket filled with lace and knitting bric-a-brack. Thinking it might perhaps be a shawl pin or hand turned crotcheting hook, she pulled out this;
A drop spindle with nothing wrong with it other than a bent hook, easy enough to fix. The wood itself was in beautiful condition, and clearly well crafted. So, for the princely sum of $1, it came home with me, where I promptly fixed the hook and weighed it in at 40g/1.45oz – a little heavier than most of my collection and a good plying weight. The shaping on the end which had caught mum’s eye is not purely ornamental, but designed to make the top whorl spindle also usable as a low whorl, by providing a place to secure a half hitch.
Now time for some homework! As I said this was clearly crafted by a wood turner who knew his business, and if you know where to look you can find out alot about individual spindles. So I took some photos and hopped onto the forums and, in addition to sharing the find, inquired if anyone could place the maker or the woods. Multiple people came back saying it looked like a Greensleeves, and it certainly had their distinctive look about it, but the actual model was not on their website. Perhaps an older one then, so I emailed Greensleeves themselves to see if they could help. Then someone posted saying it looked like a Queen’s Sceptre, and posted this image:
Clearly this was it! A bit more digging showed that Queen’s Sceptres only come in 6 colourways, named for King Henry VIII’s 6 wives. From there it was pretty short work to determine that the only wood combination it could be was Anne Boleyn – Bloodwood and Redheart Burl. A couple of days later, the people from Greensleeves replyed to my email confirming what I had discovered, and adding that it was a mahogany shaft.
This was actually the second spindle to find its way into my hand that day, having received a belated Christmas present in the post that morning. This brings the total number of spindles in the house up to 16. So let this serve as a warning to anyone considering taking up spindles – they breed. No matter what budget you set yourself, they will call to you to come find them in the most unlikely of places.
* Too Long, Didn’t Read
Last night I finished my offering for the latest Spindlers’ challenge. The theme this month was “First Footers’. I had to look this up, but it turns out that ‘first footing’ is a primarily Scottish tradition regarding the first to cross a household’s threshold in the new year. Being a whopping 1/16th Scots myself (dinna let the darrk hair n tanned skin fool ye), I decided to spin my clan colours. It certainly didn’t hurt that MacKay colours are sererendipitously in my preferred colour pallette.
I made a 3 ply yarn using a small sample of a columbia/ corridale blend from Ashland Bay fibres for one ply, together with 2 ply of green wool from the local mills. Since the blue I was using was darker than the tartan blue, I didn’t bother with the black, as it seemed somewhat redundant.
Somehow that tiny sample of navy yielded 119m (130yards). The finished skein is approximately fingering-sport weight (I haven’t checked the WPI), and weighs in at 26g (just under an ounce).
The colours are a little deeper than the photos show, with the green actually being closer to the tartan green in the top pic. I’m really happy with how the shades tone together.
I hope my Hebridean Great Great grandfather would approve!
Before I start blogging about my current endevors, I thought I should bring you up to date with my spinning (and in the process, some of my knitting) so far. The first 6 months of spinning for me were mostly about learning new techniques, so I made several small skeins, often for monthly group challenges. In 2012 I plan to produce more skeins with decent yardage.
‘Evergreen’ – First attempt at thick singles (Default singles with most spindle spinners tends to be thin as this is what they are more suited for). Spun for the Spindlers’ forum December 2011 challenge theme “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
Sooner or later it all comes back to blogs. My last attempt at blogging petered out years ago, but things have changed a lot since then, so perhaps this time I will find things to blog about, and perhaps people will even choose to read about them.
All things must start somewhere. Perhaps a logical place for that is just a quick snap shot of things as they are.
So, hmm. Ok then. Well, for the past year my husband and I have been living in the Victorian bush with my mum, in an attempt to save rent money and build a nest egg for ourselves. This perhaps would be working out better if I wasn’t off work due to injuries.
Perhaps understandably, this situation had me going more than a little stir-crazy, and that’s where the love of fibre came in. Last July mum and I attended the Bendigo Wool and Sheep Show. Her mostly for the fibre, myself because it seemed as good a way as any to spend the day, and anything likely to involve angora goats and alpacas is ok in my book. How was I to know that day would completely alter the direction I was headed in?
While at the show, mum and I espied a man who arguably is the best dressed Viking in town
Ron (AKA SpinningWoodie) was in the process of demonstrating spinning with a drop spindle, something that had not previously crossed my radar. Mum had a quick go and then we wandered off to look at cute baby goats and while cuddling extreme cuteness, what I had seen churned round in my head. Could this finally be an artform that my injured wrists and shoulder could cope with? Certainly wheel spinning was belond my grasp. Hmmm, well,worth a shot! So we went back and asked Ron if he could show me what he was doing, and, bless him, he invited me behind the stall for a full half hour lesson to get me started, and helped me choose a spindle to suit my needs, an osage orange 28g top whorl.
My first effort was fairly overspun, and I dyed it with Landscapes Dyes to produce this gothic yarn.
Spinning soon led me to try knitting, although I can’t do this in extended bouts and find out very quickly when certain stitch combinations disagree with me. More recently I have branched out into supported spinning, with the assistence of the lovely fiestywench, and the lovely
ladies people over on Ravelry‘s “Spindlers” and “Support Spindlers” forums. In my experience the basics of spindling click in to place very quickly, but also the more you learn the more you find there is to learn.
Until next time