Wednesday, March 9, 2011

On My Spirited Spindles... And How I Make My Spindles

I've spent the last week drawn to my spindle, and now spindles, rather than writing ... so let's catch up!

First, on Saturday I started experimenting. I took several (6) different colors of roving, and spun little tufts of each together to create a variegated single, and then 2-plied to get even more color combinations out of the single... I LOVED the result. The colors came together so beautifully.

I pondered what I could do with this little tiny skein of color to show it off best... And I decided that weaving would be the best craft for that purpose. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do much with that little skein ... but that's okay! I have plenty of roving where that came from, and, to accommodate all those beautiful ounces I've made a larger spindle (and a couple smaller ones, too)!

My plan is to make a slightly larger skein, warp it up on my backstrap loom, and use a single strung with beads to make a bracelet... And the rest? Well the rest of the yarn will go on Etsy, of course.

But before we get to the new additions to my spirited spindle family, because I'm addicted to spinning, I spun up the variegated blue roving from my stash. It's currently in its "single state," awaiting plying...

And now, the new babies ... oh, the new babies! Last night I brought out my spindle making stash of wooden dowels and toy wheels and cup hooks, and got busy putting them all together, and ended up with three new spindles...

The one on the right is my largest spindle. I made it this long because I'm planning to spin quite a larger than normal skein (for me, anyway), and wanted more length to accommodate the fiber.

The one on the left is smaller, and only has one large wooden wheel on it... I made it that way because that's what the materials told me to do. Can't quite explain it; I just knew.

And the one in the middle is tiny, and only has one small wooden wheel on it. I just used the part of the dowel that was leftover from the one on the left... It's perfect for spinning fine threads:)

Here is how I do it.

What you need:

1. Quarter-inch wooden dowel: This is just because the toy wheels I find have quarter-inch holes. I've gotten dowels from Home Depot and Joann's, but they ran 36-and-48-inches. Then I found a wood-craft section of Michaels where they have quarter-inch dowels 12-inches in length in bags of 10. Score!

2. Wooden toy wheels with quarter-inch holes (to accommodate the quarter-inch dowel): I like to use one large and one small wooden wheel together on the same spindle. I also get these at Michaels. Be particular as you're choosing your toy wheels; the actual size of the holes in these wheels vary quite a bit, and the quality of the wood in each wheel varies quite a bit as well... It works best if your larger wooden wheel has a slightly larger hole than your smaller wooden wheel.

3. Cup Hooks: I use the size that looks to be the right proportion for the quarter-inch dowel (also available at Michaels).

1. Masking Tape
2. Sand Paper (one coarse, one fine)
3. Optional: A hand-saw, if you like... a lot of times I just break the dowel with my hands, but that's less precise, of course, and results in some waste.
4. Optional: A little hand-drill, if you like (I didn't even know they made these until I saw it in the wood-craft section of Michaels...and man what a difference it makes when you're trying to get that cup hook screwed into the top of your spindle!!!)
5. Optional: A pencil sharpener.

How to do it:

1st, make the dowel the approximate total length you want the spindle to turn out. You do this first because if your dowel is going to split when you're cutting it down to size, you don't want to have wasted any more time on the other steps.

2nd, wrap some masking tape around the shaft of the spindle at the very top (at least twice), where you will be inserting the cup hook. You do this because as you're inserting the drill bit or cup hook, there's also a possibility of splitting the shaft of the spindle, and the tape keeps this from happening.

3rd, if you have a little hand drill, make a space for your cup hook, and then insert the cup hook to make sure it fits snugly. If you don't have a little hand drill, use a lot of patience and brute force to insert the cup hook into the top of the spindle - there's a little pain involved, but it can be done, I've done it. DO NOT REMOVE THE MASKING TAPE until you have completed this step entirely.

4th, remove the cup hook and the masking tape, and sand the edges of the top of the spindle to make sure they are nice and smooth. You don't want to snag your fiber as you're spinning:) If you choose to re-insert the cup hook at this point, careful that you screw it in just to the snug point, and not so much that you split the shaft of the spindle.

5th, If you're using only one wooden toy wheel, this is easy enough. Check to see that the wooden wheel fits on the shaft of the spindle snugly enough that it stays on the spindle and doesn't rotate around the shaft of the spindle, but not so snugly that you can't move it on and off of the spindle. If you can't get the wooden wheel on the spindle, sand the spindle shaft down until you can.

If you choose to use two wooden toy wheels as I usually do, then this part becomes a little tricky. Check to see if your wooden wheels fit onto the shaft of the spindle without sanding it down. Chances are there will be a little sanding required. The trick is to sand it down so that both the wooden toy wheels fit onto the shaft snugly, together, which is why I suggest that the larger wooden wheel have a slightly larger hole in it than the smaller wooden wheel - since I like to put the larger wooden wheel on the spindle first, and follow it with the smaller wooden wheel.

And, if you choose to do the next step, spindle sharpening, then I suggest you make sure the wheels fit a touch higher on the spindle (for a bottom whorl). If you're going for a top-whorl, well then you'll need them to fit closer to the cup-hook end, so keep sanding!

6th, If you like, use a pencil sharpener to sharpen the bottom of your spindle. Not too sharp! I don't want you to hurt yourself with that flying spindle later. But, this can help if you choose to spin your spindle in a supported fashion, or for a little wobble control later. Sand it down to make it smooth.

7th, Go over the whole spindle with the fine sand paper to smooth out any rough spots, making it feel lovely in your fingers.

8th, Insert your cup hook (carefully to the snug point, so as not to split the shaft of the spindle), fit on your wooden toy wheel(s), and get to spindle spinning!

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