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Spinning with a Spindle

Hannah Fraza (NL)

Spinning yarn is the first step to creating cloth. There are multiple ways of spinning, you could, for example, also use a spinning wheel or a stick which you roll against your leg, but a spindle is one of the most basic and simple methods which can be used anywhere you go.

A spindle (a simple stick with a large bead attached to the bottom)
Wool, unwashed (Flax, hemp and other vegetable fibres can also be spun with a spindle but the technique is slightly different)
By spinning you twist all the separate hairs in the wool into a single strand, this makes a piece of yarn a lot stronger than just some loose hairs.

1. The first step is combing the wool, you don’t necessarily need a comb to do this, pulling at it with your hands will suffice. Take a handful of the wool and pull out some hairs with your other hand, continue doing this until all the wool is in your second hand. This makes sure the wool is not entangled and all the hairs are aligned to each other
2. When you start spinning on a spindle you have to make a beginning by hand. Hold the wool in your right hand and softly pull at it with your left. Don’t pull the hairs out all the way! When you have a thin strand, roll it up between your fingers until it looks like yarn. Continue pulling at the small piece of yarn and continue rolling it up between your fingers until the piece of yarn is about twice as long as the stick of your spindle. Tie the end of the yarn to the stick, just above the bead. Wind the yarn once around the stick below the bead and then fasten it with a loop at the top of the stick. If you hold the spindle high, does it turn left of right by itself? You should spin it the other way around. Your spindle is now ready for use.
3. Hold the tuft of wool loosely in your right hand, with your left hand you hold the wool at the point where the loose hairs are tied together and become the yarn. Note that the hairs between your fingers shouldn’t be twisted. Pull your left hand downwards, your right hand controls how many hairs you let escape by how loosely you hold the tuft of wool. Try to let go the same amount of wool every time so that your yarn will be even.
When you are satisfied with the strand between your hands you let go your left hand and the strand will twist itself into yarn. Repeat this and don’t forget to regularly give the spindle a spin.

When you reach your maximum length of yarn (this is determined by how high you can stretch your right arm above your head) you should wind the yarn between your right thumb and little finger, unfasten the loop at the top of your spindle and wind the yarn onto the stick of your spindle. Make your spindle ready for use again: Wind the yarn once around the stick below the bead and then fasten it with a loop at the top of the stick.

Video concerning some basics about spinning:


Positioning of hands