top whorl drop spindleI’m new to spinning. Which spindle should I get?

We find a drop spindle with a hook is easiest for beginners. Of course, plenty of spinners have started with a supported spindle without any trouble. See our comprehensive article here.

I’d like to try support spindling. Which spindle would be a good one to start with?

tibetan support spindle style no. 1A Tibetan spindle in style no. 1 is our top pick for new support spindlers. They spin for a long time with a single flick, and they spin slower, giving you more time to concentrate on your fiber before too much twist travels up the yarn. Of course, as we say in our comprehensive article, choosing a spindle is a very personal decision.

Where do you get your wood? Is it sustainable?

At present, we source all our wood locally from Johnson Creek Hardwoods (there are a lot of creeks around here). They’re a small family-run mill and use sustainable practices. They love wood and their product shows it.

For John, going to their “Board Room” — where they keep all their prepared wood boards — to stock up on spindle wood is like a fiber addict going to a fiber show. Grain pattern, coloring, the way the wood reflects the light…it’s a sensational experience!

How do I care for my spindle?

Wood is awesome. It’s been providing us with spindles through the ages. But it does have its idiosyncrasies. It tends to get stressed over things like too much moisture, unnatural heat, too much direct sun, wide temperature swings, and the teeth of pets. But then again, who doesn’t get a little temperamental over such things?

Regarding storage, it’s best to store spindles upright. Over a long period of time, the shaft of a spindle that is stored flat may warp slightly. The spindle will continue to work, but it may get a little more wobbly than you’d like.

Beyond keeping your spindle comfortable and safe, it’s pretty low maintenance. If you’d like to give it a polish someday, use a gentle beeswax polish. Also, after many, many spinning hours, some spinners like to sharpen up the spinning tip. You can do this with a very fine grit sand paper. Lightly sand it in the direction of the grain, keeping the tip nicely centered. It takes a light hand.

What are rim-weighted and center-weighted and why do they matter?

Rim-weight and center-weight have to do with the physics of a spindle. A rim-weighted spindle has a whorl that is designed with most of the wood weight out towards the outer edge, or rim. A center-weighted spindle has most of the wood weight towards the shaft, or center of the spindle. In fact, a center-weighted spindle does not necessarily even have a whorl. A Russian spindle, for instance, is center-weighted by default; there is not a whorl to give it any rim-weight.

A rim-weighted spindle spins longer and slower than a center-weighted spindle. This is nice for many yarns. However, if you want to spin lace-weight yarn or short staple fibers, a center-weighted spindle that spins faster than a rim-weighted one is probably a better choice. While it won’t spin as long with each flick, its speed is essential to get the right twist in the yarn.

Can you make me…?

Probably. John takes custom orders, but is limited to the woods available from our supplier.

Have another question? Feel free to contact us.