Introduction: Using a Supported Spindle With a Base to Spin Yarn
Using a supported spindle is a very portable method of spinning, requiring little space and just a few materials. These instructions will help you learn how to spin yarn using a supported spindle with a base. Mine is a Spindolyn. There are also supported spindles without bases which are rested on a disk or very small bowl as they are spun. I will be explaining the park and draft method of spinning which is particularly suited to the beginner. The fiber I am using here is wool. The supported spindle can be placed on a low table, on your lap or between your legs if you are seated, or beside you. You will quickly find your favorite way to place the spindle. I prefer mine to be on my lap.
When using a supported spindle, the fiber is not under as much tension as it would be when using a drop spindle so there is not as much breakage of the yarn when you are learning. You have much more control over the speed of the process as opposed to using a spinning wheel so this is a great way to learn to draft the fiber out. Once the park and draft method is learned on the supported spindle you can make it a more continuous process by drafting out the yarn while the spindle is still spinning. Just go at your own pace.
Step 1: Materials Needed
Supported spindle with a base
Clean and combed fleece
Step 2: Attach Fleece to Hook
Pull a small amount of the fleece forward from the prepared stock and attach it to the hook on the top of the spindle. You may have to double the end of the fiber over to get a strong piece attached to the hook.
Step 3: Pinch and Spin
Pinch the fiber about five inches away from the spindle with your non-dominant hand. Spin the spindle clockwise using the thumb and fingers of your dominant hand. Let the twist build up in the fiber while maintaining the pinch in the fiber.
Step 4: Park and Draft
Once the twist is built up in the fiber, stop the spindle. This is the "park" in the park and draft method. Move your dominant hand to the fiber where it is pinched and pinch it there with that hand. Release your non-dominant hand. Stretch the fiber out and pinch it a few inches away from the first pinched section. This is the "draft" in the park and draft method. Release the first pinched section now which will allow the twist to travel into the released section. If there is still too much twist you can move your pinching hand back slightly until the twist is sufficiently used. Hold the spindle as you stretch out the yarn so that the spindle stays in its base.
Step 5: Wind the Cop
Repeat this until you have an arm's length of fiber. While the spindle is stopped, remove the fiber from the hook at the top of the spindle. Wind it onto the shaft of the spindle near the bottom of the shaft above the whorl. The whorl is the flat piece near the bottom of the spindle and above the base. Start out winding with your hand, but once you have it started, spin the spindle and allow the yarn to wind onto the bottom of the shaft. This finished yarn wrapped around the spindle is called the "cop". You will want to keep it near the bottom but eventually wound into a cone shape as you continue adding to it. Save some of the yarn to wind upward to the hook and around the hook. Make sure all of the fiber coming back up to the top of the spindle is already twisted as you want to create a continuous piece of yarn. No twist will be added to any fiber below the hook of the spindle. Also make sure that the fiber is accumulating twist when you start again and the spindle is in motion. Occasionally the fiber will slip on the hook and not collect twist. Just adjust it and spin the spindle again.
Step 6: Complete and Remove the Cop
You can stop for a rest as needed and begin again where you left off with no problem. Continue until all of your fiber is twisted and wound onto the cop on the lower portion of the shaft of the spindle or until you feel the spindle is too full of yarn to add more. The spun yarn from the spindle can be wound onto a bobbin or into a ball. When you have at least two bobbins wound you can ply (twist) these together to make a thicker yarn.
Step 7: Conclusion
It is a great achievement to spin raw fiber into yarn. Be proud of your first efforts even if the yarn is not perfect. If there is extra twist in the yarn on the spindle, don't worry, just keep going. Your spinning ability will improve with practice. It will even out some while plying or twisting two or more single yarns together. The yarn was spun clockwise but the plying will be done counter-clockwise. Your first spun yarns may be thicker or thinner in some places. Again, just keep going. With practice your yarn will become more uniform.
In a very short time you will see great improvement in your spinning ability. Spin at home, spin in public, spin while riding in the car or on the bus. Comb out some more fiber and spin that, too!