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looking for a "hand spinner",,,, one of those spinning top things. Figure that might be easy to start with. Any ideas where I can find one?

-- STAN (sopal@net-port.com), November 11, 2000


Stan - I just bought a wool spinning kit from a company called Kokovoko. Matter of fact, I found the ad in the current Countryside. For $30.00 you get a wood spindle, a how to book, 6 oz of prepared wool and instructions for a hat! The website is www.kokoweb.com. Hope this helps and have fun. - Kathy

-- Kathy (jubilant@ncweb.com), November 11, 2000.

Stan, I got one of the beginner kits from kokovoko too. It is a good thing to get started with but if you are like me once you get a taste you will want your own spinning wheel. I'm in the process of looking for a wheel now. Kokovoko will send you plenty of wool to learn on with their kit. I recommend them too.

-- Amanda S (aseley@townsqr.com), November 11, 2000.

Hey there,

I'm another guy who does handspinning. My wife and I make our own drop spindles. You can make one real easy with a dowel and a flat, smooth disk about 3" across. Sand away all the edges on the disk, drill a dowel-size hole, stick it through so that about 2" protrudes through one side and the rest sticks out the other, and glue it good. Then put a little hook in the top and bottom.

How long you want the dowel, how heavy you want the whorl (the disk part) is all up to you. Experiment. Really fine wool spun into fine thread might take a lighter spindle. I like a heavy spindle, so we make ancient Viking-style ones with soapstone whorls. Saw a discovery channel program about a Viking archhaeological dig and they pulled out soapstone whorls that looked just like ours! Way cool! Anyway, if you want to buy one of our stone ones, they're $30.00 plus $6.00 shipping. But you can get wooden ones for the same price all over the net - do a web search for "drop spindles".

Raven Kaldera

-- Raven Kaldera (cauldronfarm@hotmail.com), November 11, 2000.

When I started spinning, I wanted to make a spindle. Had a heck of a time finding a whorl. Here's what I do now.

1. Go to the craft shop and get yourself some wooden wheels, the two-inch ones work well for sock yarn. Get a 1/4-inch wooden dowel, or whatever size fits the wheel. Get a few very small, thin screw eyes.

2. Cut a nine-inch chunk of dowel and poke it through the wheel so the flat side of the wheel is flush with the top of the dowel. The flat part is the top of your spindle. Glue the dowel in place. Turn it on its top to dry, making sure the dowel is absolutely straight up and down.

3. Take some needlenose pliers and bend and move the loose end of one of the screw eyes sideways is so there is an opening, but the circle is not really any bigger (this is much easier to show than to tell). Use some cardboard or something else to protect the screw eye finish from the pliers, because any rough spots will snag your fiber.

4. When the spindle is dry, find the center, and put in the eye-hook. I use a thumbtack for a pilot hole to help keep the dowel from splitting.

5. Cut two notches at the outer edge of the wheel, one on each side of the screw eye.

6. The thing that will make your spindle a delight to work with is balance. It must spin true. To get it to do that, take a piece of thread and tie it around the dowel part. Bring it up over the notch and slip it into the screw eye. Hold the thread a few inches above the spindle and give the spindle a twist. If the thread moves side to side at the screw eye, it isn't balanced and won't spin very well. The highest point, the point where the thread actually breaks contact with the screw eye MUST be directly over the center of the spindle. Use your pliers to adjust it until it spins true.

7. Sharpen the far end of the dowel with a pencil sharpener, but not too sharp.

8. Sand the whole thing so it won't snag your fiber, and you're ready to spin.

It took me longer to type this than the amount of time I would actually put into making a spindle. The wheels, a few screw eyes, and dowel should be well under $6, and you'll have materials for several spindles.

You will be surprised at how much you can spin on a spindle once you get good at it. I have a wonderful wheel, but probably actually spin more on the spindles because they are so portable and I don't have time to sit around when I'm at home. I can spin in the car (unless I'm driving, of course), at the farmer's market, at friends' homes, at work on my lunch break, etc.

One word of advice: Start out with a few ounces of well-prepared wool. I would recommend combed top. This will give you a good feel for drafting and greatly reduce your frustration level. You can handle more challenging fiber situations after you get the basic spinning, drafting, and windin-on stuff down.

Here's one more thing (I know this has gotten way too long, but I'm pretty enthusiastic about spindles): After you can draft, and you want the spindle to go faster, try quickly rolling the shaft down your thigh and then off into the air. Easiest to learn when standing, but you can do it sitting down, too. You can really make that little devil hum doing that.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me.

OK, I'll shut up now. HAVE FUN!!!

Have fun!

-- Laura Jensen (lrjensen@nwlink.com), November 12, 2000.

Stan, give me a few days and I'll find mine from my spinning days. I'll send it to you for the postage. It is a lot of fun and very habitforming!( the spinning that is.) Ada

-- Aagje Franken (Backyardy2k@aol.com), November 12, 2000.

Stan, I had some info on a place called Delta's Spindle which also had lots of good hand spindles...I can't find the catalog right now but you may can find them on the web too!!! I haven't started spinning yet but hope to soon. we raise Angora rabbits!

-- Suzy in 'Bama (slgt@yahoo.com), November 13, 2000.

Stan... this will be the beginning of a new addiction for you !!!! tee hee. It was very kind of the person who offered to send you theirs. And all the ideas for building one is great! But the cheapest and simplest can be made from using a pencil and half of a potato. Cut a potato in half side to side, not lengthwise, so you have a shape somewhat like half a ball.Stick the pencil sharp point into the cut surface of the potatoe as close to the center as possible and push all the way through till you have 1 1/2 to 2 inches showing on the opposite side. Tie a leader cord of cotton to the pencil, bring the cord down around the bottom part of the pencil below the potatoe and come up near the eraser and half hitch it there. You should still have a few inches of cord remaining. Tie a loop in it and stick some clean washed and picked wool through the loop and spin the potato by twisting the pencil. Always go in the same direction. The twist will travel up the wool. Draw the wool out as you go to get what resembles yarn. Keep twisting the potato when it slows down. When you get enough yarn made so the potato is in fear of hitting the floor, just remove the half hitch near the eraser, and the yarn below the potato and wind onto the pencil. Remember to leave enough to go back around the pencil at bottom of potato and half hitch at eraser end. You are in business and didn't have to buy a thing!!

We do this with all the kids who want to spin like mom does!!!

Good luck and enjoy!!!

-- Starla (olystar@hotmail.com), November 17, 2000.

Hey Stan, I have been trying to email you and thank you for the candles. They are great and perfect for my pewter candleholders. This is my 5th try. The other four came back "undeliverable" Are you no longer on line? Hope you read this and thanks again! Ada

-- Aagje Franken (Backyardy2k@aol.com), November 29, 2000.

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