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Make An Awesome Drop Spindle

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 Drop spindles are an ancient tool for spinning fiber into yarn or thread. They've been around for a very long time and have changed little since their first invention. The first spindles weighted with whorls appeared as far back as the Neolithic era. A whorl is simply a weight that helps the spindle spin "better" before you have enough yarn on it to give it a little heft. 

These days you can buy a variety of types and styles in a range of prices and with a few notable exceptions they all work in essentially the same way. 

I learned to spin on bottom whorl spindle but tend to use top whorl spindles now. If you know the difference you'll also likely know what you like. This design can be used either way or can be switched between the two styles if you find you need one or the other. 

Spindles can be purchased in stores or online for anywhere from $15 or $20 on up to ...a lot. Especially if you want antique or custom "hand crafted" spindles. On the other end of the spectrum you can make them out of rubbish and free things for literally nothing but time. 

This will show you how to make a decent looking functional spindle for a few bucks. About $2.50 in this case. 


 
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ataylor6413 days ago
This was a good tutorial, but I think the disc needs to be thicker. Also, be careful with your spindle. Mine cracked in my bag and I ended up buying a wooden one.
Thank you

How do you determine if its dead center?
It doesn't really need to be dead center. You can use basic geometry http://www.makeitsolar.com/science-fair-ideas/90-find-circle-center.htm but if the weight isn't perfectly distributed it won't spin evenly anyway. Though, as I mentioned, it doesn't need to be dead center or spin perfectly. It just needs to spin to add twist to the fibers so eyeballing it is fine.
Thanks
What can you substitute clay?
Culturespy (author)  I Love Arts 1 year ago
Historically everything from wood and metal or stone has been used. Contemporary spinners sometimes use cardboard, old CDs or anything else that will make a good spinning weight. The idea is to use some object that has enough weight to keep spinning for a bit once you get it going. Some spindles have no whorl at all and are just a shaft heavy enough to spin on their own.
Mandyradd2 years ago
do you glue the whorl to the spindle or are they interchangable? they just stay on the stick??
Culturespy (author)  Mandyradd2 years ago
The ones I make use no glue. That's not to say you couldn't or shouldn't glue the whorl but I imagined them as interchangeable and then ended up making enough that it was a moot point. I've recently made a few with jade and granite whorls using Sugru to keep them in place, but you could use anything from Gorilla Glue to rubber bands or even just shim them with silicon tubing. They're about as simple as it gets.

The only thing that seems to really matter is that they are well balanced and spin evenly and that you pay attention to how much fiber you are drafting in relation to the weight of the drop spindle. I'd originally planned on making little sockets or depressions to hold coins so I could vary the weight as well but found I like the "pile o drop spindles" approach better.
Excellent thankyou I was just curious as to how they stay on , Very good tutorial it's EXACTLY what I was looking for , I'de really like to make one of these and start making my own yarn for my hat business. Cheers

GREAT!!! thank you for this instructable!! I have wanted to do clay... however whenever i do polymer It is not hard after baking but sort of slightly bendable..
which brand do you like best for hardness?

I am desperately looking for chopsticks, the nice black enamel kind
Or wood, Does anyone know an inexpensive source? I am in vermont.
smiles, grace who collects spindles like potato chips... I make most of them though..
all regular brands of polymer clay (sculpey, premo, fimo, kato) should be hard and not bend anymore after baking, if the piece is as thick as this whorl. if yours does, it's either a special clay you grabbed by accident (sculpey also makes bendable and eraser clays), or you didn't bake it long enough and/or at the right temperature. ovens are alas not as reliable as we assume, especially older ones. your oven might not actually reach the temperature that's on the dial, or it might fluctuate -- you'll need to check it with an oven thermometer.

you can re-bake polymer clay, so not all is lost if your first attempt resulted in a piece that's too bendy. just put it back in the oven after you figured out what temperature it actually bakes at and give it another 15 minutes.

for utilitarian stuff like this, i use super sculpey, which comes in 1 lb packs of a translucent pink-beige colour and is much cheaper per oz than the coloured stuff. that's not worth it though if you're just planning to make one whorl; i use it for sculpting, and inside of larger beads. it bakes very hard. otherwise i'd just use whatever is cheapest at your local craft store, it makes no difference for crafting a whorl.
kcls4 years ago
Nice job, and great pictures! How might one go about spinning a drop spindle?
I have a video on you tube as to the fiber preparation. I also have a video on using a spinning wheel.
While at myhttp:// www.youtube.com/halalsilks
site, I have a channel called FIBER JOYS and this has hundreds of videos that show spinning on a drop spindle and more.
I also have another channel called KNIT HELP, CROCHET IS TIMELESS and other ones to help others with fiber arts.
enjoy!
Grace
who is equally addicted to spinning
Culturespy (author)  kcls4 years ago
 Here you go! Even if you can't find wool, you can spin lots of other things. This is a great Instructable showing how to spin. Hoping to post one of my own soon but this will be a hard act to follow. 


www.instructables.com/id/spinning-yarn/


kcls Culturespy4 years ago
Thanks, but I wanted to know how to spin the drop spindle itself. You do spin it, right? Like a top?
Culturespy (author)  kcls4 years ago
 Some types do, they're usually called "supported spindles" but this one no, not without just going ahead and spinning wool. It's spins suspended from the yarn you are spinning. 

This type is either just spun by twisting it with your fingers or rolling the shaft along your leg. It's fairly straight forward as far as the spindle goes. It's handling the fiber that gets tricky. 

You could probably make one that would spin like a top if you used a much short shaft but this one probably wouldn't spin like that. 
kcls Culturespy4 years ago
Oh... now I see! I'm so dumb! I thought it was one of those things where you wrap some string around the top and pull and it spins around really fast like a top. Now I see that you use it to spin yarn. Sorry! The whole instructable makes a whole lot more sense now! :D
Culturespy (author)  kcls4 years ago
 You know, that does give me an idea for another project... maybe I'll make a top that can double as a spinning tool to teach little hands to spin yarn. 

I was recently schooled by a little guy, not quite four years old, who was able to point out how to correct a spinning problem I was having. A rare skill that truly transcends age groups. 
kcls Culturespy4 years ago
Ha! I'm glad I inspired you for another project. Good luck!
If you want to make a uniform thickness, tape 2 spacers (e.g., identically stacked rulers) slightly apart on the surface and use a rolling pin over the spacers and on top of the medium.  Then you can use a biscuit cutter for the circle.  I think that might be one of the useful lessons I took away from high school pottery.

Nice Instructable!
 
Culturespy (author)  AngryRedhead4 years ago
 Hey thanks! That's great tip. I'll be sure to try that soon. 
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