Spindling is a game changer if you are a textile artist, spinner or yarn enthusiast. The reasons are this:
It is portable. So although it may be slower by the hour than wheel spinning, (although more about that later, it is actually faster than you think) it is faster by the week. whilst your friends chat at the spinning group they have to get up and leave their spinning wheel. You on the other hand can wander about and take your spinning with you.
Many moons ago, I was taught spindling, backstrap weaving and Andean Braiding by a Canadian called Ed Franquemont. He is the father of Abby Franquemont, who is still spindling away and whom many of you will have heard of. Ed was a spindler through and through.
At one point, he and others fundraised to buy spinning wheels for the community they were working with. They returned there a year later to find no one was using the spinning wheels but were back to handspindles. Why? the spindles were ‘slower by the hour, faster by the week’. You could spindle whilst doing other things. You produced more and were not stuck at home on your own. And that is the essence of spindling.
Sadly, Ed is no longer with us but the time I spent learning with him will always be special. He was also an archaeologist and worked with communities in Peru. He gave me one of the Peruvian spindles made in a community he worked with. I still have it and treasure it greatly.
Being a keen spindler, I often spin a lot of yarn whilst on holiday, wating for trains, cooking, you name it. These Entrelac socks are made with spindle spun Blue Faced Leicester yarn. The toe, heel and strip around the ankle are made from commercial sock yarn (pink in photo). Partly to add durability but partly just because it needed using up.
The thigh roll, the kick and the wrist distaff
These amazing techniques are what make it possible to really get up speed on a hand spindle. There is a myth that you need a special gadget in order to kick a spindle. Well you heard it here, all you need is a pair of sensible shoes.
Simply grip the spindle between your feet at the widest point and flick the right foot back to kick the spindle clockwise. I do lots of free videos in our lovely Facebook group, Create With Fibre Community. Check out the spindling one here. You will have to join the group in order to access the videos, then click on the videos tab to see them all, or do a ‘search in group’ with the word ‘video’.
And here is a FREE excerpt about spindling from Janet’s book.
A summary – some tips for spindle spinning
- Practise pre-drafting fibre and then twirling the spindle with a piece of scrap yarn. Do each of step until you are confident before attempting the next one.
- If you struggle to join on the fibre, just tie a piece of yarn onto the spindle and tie this around a small amount of fibre, or make a loop, thread a small amount of fibre through it and double it back on itself. This can be done at any stage not just when joining fibre to start a new bobbin.
- Take your time. Pre-draft the fibre then spin the spindle to insert the twist. Then stop, sit down and wedge the spindle between your knees and draft some more rather than doing everything at once.
- If you get in a muddle or the spindle is spinning too fast for you, stop by lowering the spindle onto the floor. This will give you time to draft without the spindle spinning.
- If the yarn is getting over-twisted it is important to stop immediately or it will just get worse.
- To ply, wind two lots of singles yarn into a double stranded ball. Put this in your pocket and then ply from it.
- Remember to go clockwise when spinning and anticlockwise when plying.
- Refer to the section on plying yarn on a spinning wheel for some extra tips.
You can check out the book some more on the Create With Fibre website, and can also find out about Janet’s courses and retreats there.