Drop Spindle Spinning

on a spindle

Grab your spindle (with the yarn leader attached) and your fiber.

Tighten the leader and draw it up toward the hook.  You can use the notch in the whorl.  Wrap the leader around your hook a couple times.

Pinch a little bit of fiber to partially draw out a little bit from the bigger piece.  Don’t tear it away from the bigger piece.

Slip the piece of fiber through the leader loop.

Fold it up (like a closed V shape) toward the bigger fiber in your hand.  Pinch the folded pieces between your thumb and forefinger.

[insert picture]

Now the goal is to get twist up the leader and into the fiber.  At this point, one hand is holding the fiber (your fiber hand) and the other is holding the spindle (that is your spinning and drafting hand).  Place your fingers of your spinning hand at the bottom of the shaft, flick it gently so  your spindle moves in a clockwise turning motion.  Clockwise spinning is called Z direction.

Once your fiber has enough twist, it should be secured to the leader.  Do not let out any of the twist you just put in.  You can move your fingers away, but keep them within an inch or so of your twist. 


Spinning is all about the twist.  Always use your fingers to control the twist.  Spin a little at a time.  Feel free to stop the spindle at any point, to look at your twist.  Placing your spindle under your arm or between your knees to hold it is called Parking.

Quick note: Drafting zone – the V shape that forms where your twist ends and your fingers are holding the fiber.  In the picture, it’s the fuzzy part just below my fingers.

Holding your fiber just an inch to an inch and half above the new twisted fiber area (creating your drafting zone), get ready to put more twist in your fiber.  If you hold your fiber too far up from the drafting zone, your spindle will drop to the floor.  The twist you put in is holding everything together.  If you go too far away from it, there is nothing to keep that fiber together.  Refer to Things To Know page – Staple length.

When you are ready to give another spin to your spindle, be ready to feed your fiber downward (with your spinning/drafting hand) toward the spinning spindle.  Your aim is to get your spindle in motion, then start drafting within a second or two.  Don’t be worried about going too slow!  You can always back up a little by letting your spindle unwind if you get too much twist before you can draft your fiber. 

Drafting, use your spindle hand to pinch fiber strands right at the bottom of the drafting zone (where the twist stops) and pull down about one inch, then let go.  You will be able to see the twist going into your freshly drafted fiber.  Keep working until you have a length you are comfortable dangling.  It will probably be short to start, a foot or two.

Need to know:  The fiber hand should only be holding the fiber tight enough so it won’t slip out of your hand – that means a light gentle hold.  The fiber needs to be able to move out of your hand as you draft.  You cannot be holding onto the fiber for dear life.  You won’t be able to gently pull the fibers with one hand if your other hand has got a death grip on them.

Now, before you wind your freshly made yarn onto your spindle shaft you want to check your twist.  If you need to add twist, hold the fiber at the bottom of the drafting zone with your fiber hand (forefinger and thumb).  Your are keeping a hold in this point because you are only adding (or taking away) twist to the length you have.  You do not want twist getting into your fiber supply while you are working on the current section.  You are going to add a little more twist until you have a good twisty yarn ply.  —Hold it, spin your spindle.  Let the twist gather in the length for a few seconds.  Keep holding at the drafting zone.  Check the twist again.  If it’s good, wind on.–

Checking the twist:  Stop and park your spindle.  Scooch your forefinger and thumb down the yarn about an inch or so (into the part that has twist).  Pulling up several inches from below as if you are forming a loop.  Before you let go, pull that loop close to itself by pulling outward at the middle point and let both sides of the yarn twist around itself.  This is what your yarn will look like if it were a two ply.  You can gently pull this apart and either resume adding twist or wind on the shaft of your spindle.

[insert picture 1, holding fiber before test ply]

To wind on, unwrap the fiber from the hook, take it out of the notch, turn the spindle in a clockwise direction while wrapping the yarn around the shaft.  Leave about 5 inches so you can wrap back up the notch, around the hook and still have enough leeway to start spinning.  You will want a little space for the twist to start entering the fiber.  

[insert picture]

Last note:  At some point, your spindle will slow, make sure to give it another flick to keep it going in the same direction.  If left unchecked, it will eventually start spinning in the opposite direction.  This will undo your twist. Keep an eye on it.  Keep in mind thinner yarn takes more twist.  Thicker yarns less twist.

That’s it!  Keep practicing.  Keep spinning until you have build up a cop on your spindle shaft.  Don’t worry to much about what your first yarns look like.  It’s the motions that need practice right now – learn to flick your spindle consistently and learn the feel (the mechanics) of drafting your fiber.

Happy spinning!!