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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Top-whorl Spindle Without Notch

Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts writes in "High Whorling" "Notches on the whorl are imperative in my opinion..." (page 33 in the 1998 edition). With all due respect to Gibson-Roberts, I do not agree.

The purpose of the notch is to stop the yarn from sliding along the whorl's rim. In my experience, the yarn only slides when the diameter of the cop (the wound-on yarn) approaches the diameter of the whorl. In other words, when the spindle gets rather full. Depending on the diameter of the whorl and the weight of the spindle, this may never happen!

Nearly full top-whorl spindle with yarn wound around shaft below cop If it does happen, it can be easily remedied: Spiral the yarn down the cop and wind it around the shaft below the cop, as shown in the photograph. With this method I manage to get the pictured spindle (one of Golding's Nepalese Mandala spindles) so full that its weight becomes too high for the thin yarn I am spinning.

Spindle Capacity

Every now and then people ask: "When is a spindle full?" As with other questions in spinning, the answer is an unequivocal "It depends."

It depends on the spindle's weight, the diameter of the whorl and the length of the shaft. And on the spinner's preferences and the amount of practice s/he's had. Sheila Bosworth once told me as a rule of thumb you could about double the empty spindle's weight. I. e. put one ounce of yarn on a one-ounce spindle. (That rule is for drop spindles, by the way - in the case of a supported spindle weight doesn't matter.)

I have to admit that so far I haven't managed to do that. I tend to spin as thin a yarn as the spindle weight allows and when I've added about two thirds of the spindle's weight to it, I feel that it is getting too heavy.

But really, the question is not all that important: Sooner or later you need to get the yarn off the spindle. As I prefer to ply on a wheel I wind the yarn off the spindle onto a bobbin (the bobbin being in the wheel). This makes it very easy to spin the ends of the yarns (the one that is alrealy on the bobbin and the one that's on the spindle now) together so that I end up with a bobbin full of continuous yarn. Spinning the ends together is easier if you leave both ends of the yarn on the spindle unspun for a few centimeters.

If you don't have a wheel, you can wind the yarn off the spindle into a ball and spin the ends together as well. Or you can spimply make smaller skeins - sewing the ends of the yarn together while knitting isn't a big deal either.

In any case, if you are going on holiday with one spindle and plenty of raw fibre, it pays to plan ahead for when the spindle is full.

Page updated: 16 July 2008