Friday, October 14, 2011

Hand Spinning: The Spindle

Georgia asked in a recent comment about "the spindle" and where that might be located on a spinning wheel. This is the very question that I wanted answered when I first took spinning lessons, because I had been brought up on those fairy tales where the heroine pricks her finger on a spindle. When I was a child I had no idea what that might be. I think now that I had wrongly pictured a distaff, which is the tool (often fastened to the spinning wheel) that holds the unspun fibers.

I'd like to answer Georgia by showing you all some visuals that demonstrate the evolution of the spindle. The first is a video showing a drop spindle and how it is used.

Here is a photo of my Navajo spindle, which is an elongated version of the drop spindle that is used while supported: The spinner sits in a chair or on the ground, the end of the long stick rests on the ground next to her while she rolls the other end across her thigh. Click here to see a photo of a Navajo woman spinning.

In this photo, we have turned the Navajo spindle sideways, so that you will see how such spindles eventually evolved into large walking wheels, where the fiber is spun off the end of the horizontal spindle, then walked back and wound on, as shown in the following very elegant video of a walking or great wheel in use.

Later spinning wheels were designed to enclose the spindle and surround it with a bobbin, which was fed through an orifice at the front of the wheel. I will show you more about that next week.

I hope this make things clearer. By the way, the carding of Kai's fleece is continuing and I am making great progress. Next week we spin!


Deb from WhatsInMyAttic said...

Should I admit that this is the first time I've ever seen this? Pretty amazing, and can't wait for more.

JC said...

That is just too cool. The things I learn from you ...