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.

What is a captive ring? Does it affect spinning?

A captive ring is a portion of the wood that is carved away and spins freely around the base piece. It has no affect on hand spinning and is purely a decorative element. In the old days, woodworkers incorporated them in their work to essentially show off.

On a Chac-Chac, the captive ring clicks lightly with each flick. With practice, a spinner can find just the right touch to make the click repeated and louder. On spindles with a smaller diameter and ring, there may be a light tap, but more often a gentle whir or whisper.

Where do you get your wood?

At present, we source all our wood from several mills depending on who has what available. We stick to local species.

For John, going to the mill 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 suppliers.

Have another question? Feel free to contact us.