Spindle weight

I knew this a while ago, but I forgot. So I’m posting about spindle weights again to help me remember and maybe let you avoid making the same mistake.

Let’s say that you have one of these expensive, custom spindles that are hand turned and beautiful and have a great reputation. And let’s also say that it’s rim weighted but you still can’t get the damn thing to spin for an entire draw, even when you start by revving it up your leg. Maybe it slows down, or maybe it stops or starts untwisting before you’re ready to wind on.

If this happens, try spinning a thinner grist. That annoying backspinning spindle suddenly will perform beautifully.

I usually (almost always) consider the weight of a drop spindle when I am sampling a new yarn. First, I think of weight as roughly equivalent to tension, and the heavier a spindle, the greater the tug on the nascent single. This is particularly true if you spin using a real worsted style (ie, “inchworm” or “pinch and pull”), but I can still feel the influence when I spin using a long draw. Second, spindle weight affects the grist of the single because a too-thick single (for the weight of the spindle) may cause the spindle to slow down or stop before you are ready.

Before the naysayers cry out, I don’t think the second guideline is a hard-and-fast rule. With sufficient weight on only the edge of the whorl, you can overcome some problems and spin thicker than you otherwise might with a evenly thick whorl. If you have a relatively short draft, you might not notice a loss in velocity before you need to wind on. You also might prefer a slower speed at the end of your draw.


Random photo – Alain and his daughter Andrea, from a visit ~1 month ago. They made delicious noodles for dinner.

4 thoughts on “Spindle weight

  1. Thanks for the reminder! I spin on spindles so rarely that I always forget those rules of thumb. The Online Guild is working with spindles this month. Maybe I’ll finally get the hang of my support spindle.

  2. Another great information post. I learned this from Morgaine when Marnie and I visited Carolina Homespun last year. I purchased a spindle from her that had a terrible spin – but only because it was very light weight and I was spinning way to thickly on it. This spindle can spin thread. It’s incredible! What an eye opener.

  3. First, let me just say that your Peacock Feathers shawl is exquisite.

    Next, I have a question. I recently purchased a silk/cashmere blend that I am spinning on a Golding 2″ that weighs 0.9 ounces. At first the spinning was going pretty well, the spindle spun for most of the time before it hit the ground, and I was spinning fairly a pretty thin single with the exception of some spots. I am still getting the hang of drafting this fiber, so it isn’t as consistant as I want (thank goodness I got plenty). Well, now that I have some weight on the spindle it is not spinning for as long and quickly spins back on itself. Should I switch to an even lighter spindle? I am going for lace weight after plying. Any ideas?

  4. Just a comment. The only thing I can imagine more beautiful than Andrea (my nieces excepted of course) would be a child produced by you and Matt.

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