Show Notes · Stuff You Should Know

Episode 6: Spinning Tools

Hi everyone! If you haven’t listened to Episode 5 yet, you can listen here: Episode 5, All Things Spinning.

There was a small microphone malfunction in this episode, at about the 10 minute mark. Sorry, we’re still learning how to use our equipment!

The easiest way to get into spinning is with a drop spindle. There are a few different kinds: top whorl, bottom whorl, and turkish spindles. They can be relatively inexpensive (Sarah and I both recommend the Ashford drop spindles and Bosworth spindles), and of course the price goes up based on materials and craftsmanship. In general, the heavier the spindle, the thicker yarn you’re going to be spinning on it.

Turkish spindles are a little different in that they have two legs that can be removed from the shaft, and when you’re finished spinning your single you have a self-contained single to ply from. Here is a video demonstrating how the singles are wound onto the spindle.

Supported spindles have an incredibly high rate of spinning, and are ideal for short fibers. Here is a video demonstrating how to use a supported spindle.

If money is really a concern, there are some awesome resources online with instructions on how to make your own spindle! In the end, all a spindle consists of is a weight on a stick. Go out, experiment, and give it a whirl!

We’d like to recommend Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont – this is a fantastic resource that comes at drop spinning from every angle.

Lots of people start spinning with a wheel, and some people graduate to the wheel from a spindle. A good, solid wheel will probably cost you anywhere from $300-$500. Less expensive wheels exist, but we hesitate to recommend “build your own” or antique wheels for new spinners. Get something solid that won’t fight against you!

Here is a basic diagram of a spinning wheel:

There are bobbin led (Irish tension), Scotch tension, and double-drive wheels. We would recommend that you try out different types of wheels, and decide for yourself which tension system you prefer. Here is a basic diagram of the tension systems:

Here is an example of the typical wheel styles that you’ll find:

Saxony style wheels tend to spin faster, but also generally take up more space. Castle style wheels tend to have a smaller footprint. There are also folding wheels (such as the Schacht Sidekick and the Ashford Joy), and modern wheels that are intended for travel (such as the Pocket Wheel and the Hitchhiker).

To try wheels, we’d recommend visiting a fiber festival or local spinning guild, asking around at your local yarn shop, or finding a group on Ravelry. Think about where you’re going to keep your wheel, what sorts of yarn you’d like to spin, and what after-market accessories are available for your wheel (such as a Woolee Winder).

You can look online for used wheels too! Most wheels hold their value very well, and you may be able to find a used wheel with accessories available in your area. Just be careful buying a wheel from someone who doesn’t know exactly what they have – there were lots of Spinning Wheel Shaped Objects built in the 1950s and 1960s, which are decor pieces but are not functional wheels. Do your homework before buying a used wheel, and you can always find a thread on Ravelry to get help if you’ve found something that you’re unsure about.

Electric wheels are awesome too! I spin on an Ashford eSpinner 2, and Sarah has a Hansen miniSpinner. Electric wheels are amazing for people with limited space or limited mobility. If you have a hard time coordinating your feet and hands on a traditional wheel, an electric wheel might be a great choice for you.

One tip from Sarah – get yourself some nicely prepped fiber!! It will make your life much, much easier.

Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time we go Behind the Wool.

One thought on “Episode 6: Spinning Tools

  1. Really enjoyed this. I especially liked the talk about different tensioning systems on wheels. Thank you!

    Nit: “Graduate” was an unfortunate word choice. Plenty of people spin exclusively on spindles, and plenty on both. I don’t think it was your intent to present wheel spinning as the more “advanced” option but since this podcast is aimed at potential and beginning spinners, I felt this an important thing to point out.

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