Take Your Spindle for a Stroll

Nov 9, 2015 - 5 min read

Take Your Spindle for a Stroll Primary Image

Patsy Zawistoski explores how eco-friendly materials like banana plants can create great fiber for spinning

  horizontal drafting
  Walking while spinning can offer a number of benefits! Photo by Ann Elizabeth Durham.

Spinning doesn't have to be a stationary activity! In today's post, Spinning Daily contributor Ann Elizabeth Durham "walks" us through strolling while spinning. Read on and you'll be outside carving your own path in no time! --Anne

Oh, the spinner's dilemma.  After a long day at work, you just want to unwind and do a little spinning.  On the other hand, you've been cooped up all day, probably sitting, and it would be really nice to go for a walk.  Decisions, decisions.  Which to choose?

How about doing both?  Grab your spindle and go for a walk!  "But I can't walk and spin at the same time," you protest.   Nonsense.  Thousands of people for thousands of years have walked and spun at the same time-going to market or tending the sheep.  Granted, they usually learned how to do this by the time they were five years old, so you may have some catching up to do, but all it takes is a little practice.
Start by using your spindle when you're standing up.  No problem, right?  Now try shifting your weight from one foot to the other. Easy enough?  You're almost there.  Just take a step when you shift your weight.  Now take another step when you shift your weight back.  You're walking!   At first you might feel more comfortable practicing in your living room or backyard, but you'll soon be ready for that walk.

  walking while spinning
  It might take some practice at first, but if you work at it, you'll be walking and spinning in no time. Photo by Ann Elizabeth Durham.
Some hints:
  • Don't use your favorite spindle--you don't want to worry about dropping it.  I prefer the toy-wheel-on-a-stick spindle for my walks.  I find it easier to reach down and give it an extra twirl if I use a low-whorl spindle, but I've also used high-whorl spindles--either will work.  
  • Chose a fiber that you're comfortable with and that drafts easily.  Accept that at first you won't be spinning your best yarns; there is a learning curve here.  This might be a good time for one of those funky multicolor multifiber batts that don't have to be spun perfectly.  
  • Use an easily-managed amount of fiber.  I experimented with various distaffs to hold a length of roving but have found it easier just to pull off a piece of roving 6-8" long (I carry a small pouch to hold my roving).  Or you can use a rolag.  
  • Use good spinning posture.  Don't hold your hands in front of your face to watch the drafting triangle.  Your shoulders will complain, and it will be hard to see where you're going.  Keep your shoulders down and your hands in front of you and draft horizontally between your hands.  When your spindle reaches the ground, wrap the yarn around your fingers (I do a figure 8) to bring it up, rather than lifting your hand high in the air.  
  • Most of all--enjoy the experience.  It's OK to stop walking to make a join (or pick up a dropped spindle).  It's OK to stop spinning if you want to admire some flowers.  And you'll probably find yourself talking about spinning to people who are fascinated by what you're doing. 

Happy strolling!

--Ann Elizabeth Durham