• Amy

Basics of drop spindling - top whorl

Drop spindling is an ancient and wonderful craft - the Ancient Egyptians, Romans, Mayans.... and now you! They are portable and not expensive - all you need is a little patience and a little practice.....

Tie a 50cm or so length of yarn onto the spindle shaft below the whorl (with the whorl near the top). The whorl is the round disc on the spindle shaft. Take the yarn (leader) over the edge of the whorl and wind it a few times around the hook at the top. You now have a firmly fixed piece of yarn to which you will attach your fibre. Have a go at twisting your spindle, CLOCKWISE, with your lower hand twisting the spindle just like a spinning top, from below the whorl. This takes a little practice to make it a smooth motion. 

Take about 30 cm of prepared fibre. Split the fibre along its length, then 'draft' some of your fibre by gently pulling along the length of the fibre. You should then have a fluffy, elongated piece of fibre. Wrap the length of fibre loosely around your wrist like a bracelet. make a loop on the end of your leader yarn and pop the end of the fibre through and loop the fibre in half to enclose the leader. You are now ready to add twist.

Spin the spindle clockwise with your lower hand. When the loop of fibre begins to twist use your lower hand to gently draft (or pull) the fibre until you have a good thickness. Your top hand will stop the twist moving up into the rest of the fibre. ONLY SLIDE YOUR BOTTOM HAND UP THE DRAFTED FIBRE WHEN YOU ARE READY FOR THE TWIST TO TRAVEL UP THE YARN.  This is the most important bit..... if the twist flies up into the undrafted fibre BEFORE YOU HAVE SUFFICIENTLY DRAFTED THE FIBRE you won't be able to pull or draft the fibres and you will get a clump! 

The lower hand needs to turn the spindle and draft the fibre - one job below the whorl then above. It is best to slow this down by twisting then 'parking' the spindle between your knees, and THEN draft. Then spin again once you are happy with your drafting. 

So now you have a spindle on a long length of beautifully spun fibre (now yarn) .....your arm is getting too short to hold them... 

....Once you have made a short length of fibre into yarn by adding twist you need to untwist the yarn from the hook at the top and wrap the new yarn around the spindle, beneath the whorl, taking a length of it up over the whorl and twisting it around the hook as before. now you are ready to start again.

Remember - practice a little each day, don't lose heart and .... don't shout at the spindle - it can't hear you! 

Happy spinning!

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