Monday, October 27, 2014

Preparing Spindle and Whorl

When you unite the spindle stick and removable whorl, you'll have to ponder where the whorl will fit best.  Many spindle sticks have their tapered ends at the bottom.  This is where the whorl will slide on.  I suggest using a tiny hair rubber band to fix below the whorl to 'encourage' the whorl to stay in place.

Whorls with tapered holes should be firmly jammed onto the bottom taper, but can still loosen in spinning mode. When they loosen they act rather like a curved ball, spinning out in a wide circle before they hit the floor, glass, dirt, rug, etc.  This makes them hard to locate and explains why many ancient whorls are found in widespread locations.

Once the whorl and just-in-case rubber band are in place, the singles 'leader' yarn can be put on.  See the pixs below for 3 different setups for the leader attachment
Method A & B: Bottom-weighted Spindle, aka drop spindle).
Method A.

How to Hitch a Singles Leader to a Bottom-Weighted Suspended Spindle (Method A.)

Method B.
This method is useful for heavy buildup of yarn in cop form.  As the spindle gets heavier, you can remove the whorl entirely and wrap the leader below the cop itself.  It is best not to half-hitch at the bottom of the whorl to save time.  The simple wrap is easier to release each time and can add stability to the yarn wrapping and whorl securing.

Method C.  Upending a Suspended Spindle to spin in Top-Weighted Mode

On many suspended spindles, it is possible to turn the spindle upside down and use TWO Half-
Hitches to secure the leader and whorl.  This only works is enough space is left at the former
top of the spindle to flick or thigh-roll the spindle to make twist.  Sometimes the space below the
whorl in bottom-weighted position is too sharply tapered to make this upside transformation

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Technology of the Whorl

While thousands, perhaps millions, of spindle whorls are found in archaeology digs, the modern spinster seldom experiences the Technology of the Removable whorl. 


Modern spindle sticks have glued-on whorls.  They are NOT removable, like those found in ancient times.  The modern spindle is very balanced when well turned on a wood lathe as a single, integral object.  Perfect balance and long spin is the Modern Holy Grail. 

But, what if you could change the whorls on the spindle sticks?  The spindle spinning experience when making 'singles' yarn changes significantly with the constantly changing build up of stored yarn on the spindle. The spindle becomes much heavier; spin time slows down.  With a glued-on whorl, the dynamics of weight and spin time cannot be altered.

  • CHANGE OF WEIGHT as spinning progresses 
Swopping out a removable whorl for one of different weight (lighter and lighter as the yarn stored increases from nothing to 1-3 ounces (28 grams - 84 grams or so), ending up at the higher weight with NO whorl in use at all, as the yarn cop itself functions as the whorl.
Top whorl weights generally need more weight for comparable revolutions compared to bottom whorl weights. One spindle shaft can sometimes be used in both configurations, but the whorls need to be different.
What if you  could change the shape of the whorl?  A spherical whorl riding close to the spindle shaft spins fast with a lot of quick twist delivery: Great for skinny yarns with high-twist needs.  A wide disc-shaped whorl twists more slowly, but for a longer time.  Better for heavier yarns or fiber preps that require more manipulation at the transition point from fiber to yarn.
Throughout history, various locations show preferences for different shapes of whorls.  The Curious Spinster wonders Why Why Why.

The Curious Spinster. The Spinster Encounters Etsy. The Terrified Spinster.

The Curious Spinster (May 27, 2014)

The archaeological world is packed full of spindle whorl finds: weights designed to make wooden spindle sticks turn well. But, these whorl finds have very little to whirl around, so to speak. Spindle stick finds are very very rare. They soon rot away over the centuries.
Before 1200 CE, those missing spindles created all the thread in the world.
That is what the curious spinster intends to explore.
This blog is about the missingspindle.

The Spinster Encounters Etsy (June 14th, 2014)
To spread medieval spindle technology, the Spinster made medieval spindle sticks and medieval whorls for her students.  But the time came to sell online with Etsy.  Becoming a small business was not a small thing.  But, after much hand-wringing and head scratching, the Etsy experience has begun. On June 14th, 2014, actually.

The Terrified Spinster (June 11, 2014)

The Spinster knew that removable spindle whorl ‘technology’ hasn’t been easily available. But jumping into the swirling waters of YouTube instruction was the most frightening experience. Even with the encouraging help of the intensely talented folks at, who painted her with makeup, insisted she bring all of her alternate Persona’s along, made her whirl the whorls, made her talk talk talk and appear in the Bookend, the Spinster was so terrified she couldn’t think, she couldn’t spindle spin her best. Painful but productive. The spindles spin, the whorls whirl on YouTube.