Wednesday, May 04, 2011

How to Make a Drop Spindle

I love teaching spinning - I love the moment when the light bulb goes on and the magic and wonder of wool is revealed in all its glory.  Wow... it's simply amazing.  People have been making yarn with spindles for thousands of years, so it's not rocket science, but there is a learning curve.

I'm off to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival on Friday - my ninth year to get to make my pilgrimage.  The main goal this year is to meet up with a bunch of new friends who want to learn how to make yarn with one of the oldest and simplest tools ever invented.

I thought I'd show you how I make spindles, which isn't new or original, but effective.  I make these by the dozens so I have it down to a science.

Gather your supplies:

  • Wooden dowel, 3/8" diameter, and at least a foot long.  14-16" is better.
  • Metal screw eye.  I buy them by the box - you can get individual ones at hardware stores.
  • 2 recycled CDs.   I find that the weight of 2 CDs is better than just one for beginners.  You can see that I've put a label on my recycled CD and used a clear cover CD over it to protect the label.  I've added teaching helps on the label so that we can remember the basic steps of the process.  You don't have to do this unless you prefer your own design to the one that came on the old AOL CD you fished out of the trash.
  • A rubber grommet to connect the CDs to the dowel.  Again, I buy in bulk online through McMaster-Carr, but a hardware store will sell you singles.  Get one that has an inside dimension of 3/8" and an outside dimension of 3/4"
  • Sand paper
  • Needle-nose pliers for opening up the screw eye.
Assemble your spindle:

  1. Cut your dowel to length with a circular saw or a hand saw.  I get 4 out of a 48" long dowel, or 3 out of a 36" dowel.
  2. Sand your dowel to smooth off rough spots and sticky spots from those blasted price tags.
  3. Drill a pilot hole in one end of your dowel to make it easy to screw in the screw eye.
  4. Open the screw eye so that it's more of a hook shape.
  5. Screw the screw eye into the end of the dowel.
  6. Stack your two CDs together and insert the grommet.  Takes a little elbow grease, but you want a pretty tight fit.
  7. Insert the dowel into the grommet and move it either to the "top whorl" or "bottom whorl" position, as you prefer.
  8. Spin some awesome yarn.
Just today I received an e-mail from Interweave Press/Spin Off Magazine - you can download a free e-book about spinning yarn on a drop spindle.  I recommend it - the price is right.  I also recommend Abby Franquemont's book, "Respect the Spindle" for beginners and long-time spinners as well - a helpful, fascinating read.

If you'll be in Maryland this weekend, I'll see you there.  If not, call me for a drop spindle lesson soon, and we'll get you started on a fascinating and satisfying leisure activity in no time.

Spin on!

6 comments:

  1. Cindy, what a timely post! I just got finished writing out an information sheet on a homeschool co-op class I'm offering to teach about spinning. I'd like it to be a sheep-to-shawl kind of class over the course of the year. Should be fun!
    Blessings,
    Lisa

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  2. Cindy, when is your meet-up? I want to be sure to blog about it tomorrow.

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  3. Hey Susie - I picked 2 PM on Saturday and 10 AM on Sunday but now I see that there are activities on the stage area at the same times. So we'll have to move a little bit down the hill to keep our activities separate. No biggie - it'll all work out when we get there.

    Can't wait to see you and catch up! xoxoxo

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  4. Cindy (and Lisa too), I discovered another spinning trick. Well...not spinning, but carding...

    I had some raw fiber, and I needed to card it. I got some dog slicker style brushes at Walmart for about $5 a pair. They are small, so you don't get a lot done at once, but they work great, especially if you are teaching kids...

    Just thought I'd share. :)

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  5. Awesome, Ashley - a lot of us started out with less expensive alternatives for tools. They work fine if you have the time. Great tip!

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  6. yippie! thanks, I had bought a cute one but I am interested on making this one!!! Thank you so much for taking time (to take the picture and to write tutorial) It sure is appreciated over here!!
    Have a beautiful weekend.

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