A wonderful way to learn how to spin is to use a drop spindle. It is inexpensive, fun and portable. We carry several different spindles and learning kits. My favorite spindle to teach drop spindling is the Louet Top Whorl Drop Spindle. It is very sturdy and has good balance.
Drop Spindle Instructions
* A medium grade wool is the best fiber to learn to spin on as it is not as slippery as a fine wool or other fiber. Look for a rovingmade from 100% wool that has been carded by a mill into one long continuous strand. Check our wool page for Steam Valley's selection of wool rovings. Commercial wool roving has been machine carded into a denser roving than that by a smaller producer. Before starting to spin, split thick roving in half or quarters lengthwise, depending on the thickness. Divided too much and the roving will pull apart. Left too thick and it will be difficult to spin it. Tear off a foot long strip of thin roving & wrap it around your wrist. Hold one end in your hand.
Attaching Fiber to Spindle
* Slip the hook at the top of the spindle into the end of your piece of roving. Begin twisting the spindle clockwise. The fiber will begin to attach itself to the hook. Continue spinning the spindle clockwise while pulling back on the fiber to thin it out. This process is called drafting. A piece of yarn should begin to form out of your mass of fibers. Continue spinning and gently stretching the fiber until you have 8 - 12 inches of spun yarn. Take the yarn off the hook and tie it underneath the round whorl on the spindle. Bring the yarn up behind the hook and pass it from the right to the left side through the hook. The spindle should be able to hang from the yarn that you just created. Beware: Do not allow the spindle to backspin (spin counter clockwise) because your yarn will become untwisted and fall apart.
Spinning Yarn - Stop & Start Method
* Coordinating your hands to both draft the fiber and spin the spindle can be quite challenging at first. So begin with these easy steps. Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet on the ground.
* Step 1: Hold the fiber about an inch above the hook with one hand (left hand). Next spin the spindle clockwise with a good flick of the hook or stem with your index finger and thumb with the other hand (right hand). Let the spindle spin for 3 - 5 seconds then stop it by clasping it with your knees. Now use both hands to draft the fiber. The hand closest to the hook, prevents the twist from moving up the fiber until you release your grip. The upper hand pulls the fiber until it is drafted to the desired thickness. When the twist is released by the bottom hand, yarn is created. Draft with top hand (left hand), then release the twist with bottom hand (right hand). It does not matter which hand drafts and which pinches off the twist. Position your hands according to your natural inclination.
* Step 2: Continue this process until you have 2 - 3 feet of yarn. Unhook the yarn and wrap it clockwise around the stem, just below the whorl. Each time you wind the yarn onto the stem, build a cone shape that is thicker next to the whorl and thinner as it moves down the stem. The cone shape helps balance the spindle for more stable spinning. Repeat steps 1 & 2 until you can produce yarn with ease.
So This is Why it is called a Drop Spindle!
* Start the spindle spinning. Move one hand into the position to stop the twist from moving up the mass of fiber and the other in place to draft. You must work more quickly when drafting with the spindle spinning. Using the hand which starts the spindle spinning clockwise, quickly grip the yarn above the hook. The other hand moves up to gently hold the mass of fibers and begins drafting. After several inches are drafted the bottom hand quickly releases its grip just for a moment. You will see the twist move into the fiber you have just drafted. Repeat this process of drafting and releasing the twist until the spindle stops spinning. Give the spindle another spin and continue. When the spindle reaches the floor, discontinue drafting and wind the yarn around the stem in a cone shape. Oh no, the fiber pulled apart the and spindle fell on the floor! Thats why it is called a drop spindle! Ideally, the spindle lowers (drops) to the floor as you spin but the fiber doesnt break. If it does, this is what you do.
Fluff the end of the yarn that is attached to your spindle. Fluff the tip of the roving in your hand and overlap the fluffed out ends. Pinch firmly and flick your spindle to begin spinning. The twist will move into your fibers and hold them together creating a join. A join should be as strong as any other part of your yarn. Now just keep spinning!