For those who know its power, a handspindle can change the course of an entire day—or even someone’s life. Unfortunately, bad memories of awkward first encounters keep many handspinners from sharing in the spindle love.
Odds are your first handspindle experience was with one roughly the size and weight of a boat anchor. Those giant, suspended spindles, usually labeled as “student,” can weigh anywhere from 2 to 3 oz, and that’s not just unwieldy—it’s a recipe for frustration. The singles you spun were probably prone to breakage from the weight of the spindle, and your arm tired easily.
Perhaps you’re among those who say, “I never took to the handspindle; I just never got the hang of it.” But, deep down, you secretly wish you had. If you can relate, it’s not too late! Here are a few ways to ignite your passion for spindles.
Indulge in a spindle upgrade. Initial fumbling is to be expected, but a lightweight, top-whorl spindle with a hook, notch in its whorl, and a shaft long and thin enough for comfortable flicking or thigh rolling makes learning with unsteady hands easier. Look for a spindle that weights about an ounce, pair it with some easy-to-draft fiber, and you’ll have a match made in spindle heaven!
Spice things up with a little variety.
Spindles made by different makers will have a unique feel, even when they’re the same weight. Try taking a mid-whorl, a bottom-whorl, or a supported spindle for a test spin. Have you been eyeing a certain Turkish (affiliate link), or cross-armed, spindle? Don’t hold back! It can be love at first flick. If you’re more of a rustic or thick yarn spinner, give a Navajo spindle (affiliate link) a whirl.
Practice your moves.
Make sure you spend a few minutes with a handspindle before you declare that it is somehow “all wrong” for you or “not your type.” Learn to appreciate its nuances. What may feel frustrating one day can evolve into a fling over time. Try out more than one fiber or preparation and give that spindle a fair flick before judging. The joy of the spindle comes from the practice of using it. Set the mood with beautiful fiber, light a candle, listen to an audiobook or music, and find a time of day (or night) in which you can gift yourself a precious 20 or 30 minutes (or longer!). Soon you will be looking forward to this special time as a personal meditation.
My spindle practice grounds me; it’s there for me no matter my energy level or time constraints. Spindles can do the same for you!
Featured Image: Pairing the right spindle with easy-to-draft fiber can lead to spindle love. Photo by Joe Coca