Table of Contents


Brief History of Spinning

Handspinning - Why?

Wool and Other Fibres for Handspinners

Preparing Wool for Handspinning

Thoughts on Learning to Spin

Basic Rules for Spinning with a Flyer Wheel

Spinning Wheels

How Flyer Wheels Work

Choosing a Spinning Wheel

Buying a Spinning Wheel

Indian Book or Box Charkha


Introduction to Handspindles

Spindle Reviews

Tips and Tricks for Spindle Spinning

Building Your Own


Lazy Kate

Knitting Needles





Links - Handspinning on the Web



Life on the Farm


Address and legal information

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Control Yarn
A piece of yarn that you let twist back on itself immediately after spinning. If you like it, break off a piece and wrap it around a file card. That way you will know how much twist you need for a balanced ply - even if you ply weeks later when the single's twist has set. The procedure is presented by Patsy Z. in her video Spinning Wool - Basics and Beyond.
Plying means letting two or more single threads twist together. You can easily try it out with a piece of yarn or string: Take one end in either hand and turn in such a way that the twist gets stronger. Then hold both ends in one hand and let the resulting loop twist together.
A two ply is a yarn consisting of two singles, a three-ply one of three singles, and so on. The more plies, the more regular the final yarn - probability is against all the thin or thick spots in your various singles coming together in the same place. But first you have to spin all those singles - and you need bobbins to store them on and to ply from.
On spinning wheels, ratio means the relationship between the drive wheel and the spindle or flyer. If on a charkha the spindle turns 80 times when you crank the drive wheel once the whole way round, the ratio is 1:80. If on a scotch-brake wheel the flyer turns 8 times when you treadle once (= one turn of the drive wheel), the wheel has a ratio of 1:8. You can either try the ratio out and count turns. Or you can measure the diameters of the whorls/drive wheels (IN the groove) and divide the bigger one through the smaller one. For the flyer to turn 8 times for each turn of the drive wheel, the flyer whorl must measure one eight of the drive wheel circumference.
In the case of a charkha, which is an accelerated wheel, things get more complicated: Let's say the big wheel has a circumference of 47 cm. The pulley on the accelerator wheel has a circumference of 6 cm. This gives a ratio of 1:7.8 between primary drive wheel and accelerator wheel. Then there's the circumference of the accelerator wheel: 28 cm. And the spindle pulley measures 2 cm. This gives a ratio of 1:14 between acclerator wheel and spindle. By multiplying the two ratios (14 times 7.8) you get the ratio you want, the one between primary drive wheel and spindle: 1:109 (by the way, these are the measurements of my box charkha).
Refers to fibre length, as in long-stapled or short-stapled fibre. What is considered long or short depends on the fibre: long-stapled cotton measures under 2 inches, long-stapled wool measures 6 to 12 inches.
Take-up means that the yarn is pulled through the orifice in the flyer and wound onto the bobbin.
On a flyer wheel a whorl is a disk with a groove in its edge, so that a drive-band can run in it. The whorl can be on the bobbin, the flyer, or both.
On a handspindle the whorl is the weight (in form of a disk, cup, cross, bead, etc.) - often manufactured separately from the shaft and attached to it - which keeps the spindle spinning. It can be attached near the upper end of the shaft (hi-whorl or top-whorl spindle) or near the lower end (bottom-whorl spindle).

Page updated: 07 April 2007