Saturday, November 7, 2009

My New Spindle

For no reason I can easily explain, I recently decided that I needed to own a drop spindle, preferably one with a soapstone whorl, like some of the Viking finds.

So I bought the spindle shown in the photo from a nice neopagan who trades as Mengloth's Market. I received the spindle on Friday. Upon opening the box, I saw that the spindle I had received both was and wasn't what I was hoping for. On the plus side, the soapstone whorl is beautiful in shape, and (so far as I can tell) has good balance and spin. But the minus side is that the spindle stick is an ordinary lacquered dowel with hooks screwed on both the top and the bottom. I don't have a problem with the two hooks, since I think it will be easier to learn to spin with the hooks present, and the fact that there are hooks on both top and bottom will let me experiment with both top and bottom whorl spinning. Moreover, I have discovered by careful experiment that I can simply remove the hooks by unscrewing them, if I want to cut notches in the stick at a later date. No, the disappointing part is that the whorl appears to be glued in place. So much for my buying a spindle stick from Katrin to use with it. :-( But for better or worse, I now own a spindle.

Now that I own a spindle, I need to learn how to spin. Since I can't imagine trying to learn this craft, which requires the continuous use of two hands, from a book (that would need to be held open, and have pages turned from time to time), I went looking on YouTube for good video tutorials. Of the video tutorials I've found so far, this one by Megan LaCore and this one by Abby Franquemont appear to be the clearest and easiest to understand. Though I also enjoyed this one, titled simply and anonymously "Spinning on a Drop spindle While Arguing With my mother"; it shows what the teenage spinner is doing almost as clearly as the videos intended to be tutorials.

When I actually obtain some roving, I will sit down with one of the videos one day when I have time and energy, and see what I can manage to learn. In the meantime, if any of my readers have any suggestions 1) for tutorials to look for; 2) sources of roving, or 3) any other advice. I'm always eager to listen!


  1. I would think it would be possible to remove the spindle sick from the whorl, even if it has been glued on. Some glues are water-soluble, or, if you just want a different stick, it would probably be possible to cut off the stick and then carefully use tools to clean out the wood/glue from the hole. However, soapstone is quite soft, so if you try that one lots of care not to scratch it will be needed. It might not even be an issue--some glues work themselves lose over time even when we want them to hold, so perhaps just spinning with it will cause it to loosen.

    Good luck with it, I've not yet learned to spin myself, but am aware that it is a skill I "should" have...

  2. I don't want to damage the dowel that is presently serving as a spindle stick, in case any contemplated substitute doesn't pan out (e.g., is too narrow to fit well). But the glue might be water-soluble, as you suggest; the smears I see around the hole do look like dried white glue. In any event, I'm not going to worry a lot about being able to remove the whorl until after I've learned to spin.

    I'm aware that soapstone is soft, and I intend to be careful to avoid breaking or chipping it. I also doubt that the careful way I plan to use it is will scratch it up very much. (Though a few scratches will not dismay me--it will make it look more authentic!)

    Thanks for stopping by.