Slightly OT (only slightly!) Spinning question...

I've had a distant desire to start spinning (a desire that comes with very little financial backing!) Any suggestions? I've considered a drop spindle but wonder if it's possible to do enough that way to actually make anything out of (is that a dumb question?!) There's the PVC wheels by Babe's Fiber Garden, but they're pricer than I can go for right now (let alone one of those wooden beauties that deserve a prime place in the living room!).

Those of you who do such things... what do you think?

Grace and Peace,


albert's picture

If you really want to get your hands into the wool without breaking the bank you can get a feel for spinning with a dop spindle. I haven't used one for a long time, but it was my first spinning experience. As to whether you can spin enough to make something, that of course depends on how much time you spend spinning! Once you develop a little skill at it you can spin rather efficiently. Also, consider a Navajo type spindle which is a large drop spindle settled into a bowl and twirled with the foot ( Google this for better info). You can easily and cheaply make your own spindle by going to Home Depot or Lowes and buying a round wooden disk ( in the area where they sell finishing wood) and a dowel. Simlply drill a hole in the disk and stick the dowel through it- voila! a drop spindle. Another possibility: Check out ebay- the last time I looked they had mucho spinning wheels on offer; maybe you can find something. Anyway, spinnning is very satisfying and you can create unique yarns. Dream a little, then give it a shot.


MMario's picture

well - a friend of mine spins using a drop spindle - in 3 days of spinning during workshops, etc at a conference we were at she spun enough lace weight for me to make a shawl. So I would say yes, you can spin enough with a drop spindle to make something. *grin*

MMario - ambiguity is cultivated, it doesn't happen in a vacuum!

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

SKHolt's picture

Spinning is my first love. I started with a drop spindle, and yes, you can find those relatively inexpensive. You can go to my friend Morgaine's website at and order her learn to spin kit. It's $40 and comes with a book and a shacht spindle that allows you to do both top and bottom whorl spindling. The kit has some roving with it too.

The thing about the drop spindle is that it really will help you learn the feel for spinning. You can learn the feel of the fibers. It took me nearly 3 months to "get it" but at some point, I realized I was working too hard.

I would encourage investing in a good little spindle. You can make them from a pencil and CD if you like, but I really like the weight of a nice spindle.

Parrot's picture

I, too, had a bit of interest in learning to spin. Being a member of a local fiber guild (visit ) and many members being expert spinners, my curiosity was aroused. Last year, I made an offer that the guild couldn't refuse :) Being a woodworker, and make of knitting needles, I offered to make everyone in the guild a drop spindle if they included teaching a workshop in the next year's workshop schedule. This past January, we had the workshop using the drop spindle (pics on the blog). Learning to spin was relatively easy, and I had wonderful comments on the quality of spin on the drop spindles, which made a big difference in the quick learning curve. Since then, I have continued to make the drop spindles and are sold in the LYS, by itself or in a kit with an excellent book and roving. Since the drop spindle experience, I have tried my hand at using a larger floor spindle. The experience of using the drop spindle to get the feel of the fiber, tension, etc.was a big help. And, a great way to get a feel for it at a very reasonable expense for the spindle (


BuduR's picture

I have a spinning wheel, but am seriously considering learning how to use the navajo spindle. I'm not going to be able to take my spinning wheel with me when I move, but would like to continue to spin. Alot of people told me I should learn on a drop spindle before a spinning wheel, I just can't seem to get the hang of the drop.

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Tallguy's picture

You don't need expensive equipment to spin. In fact, you don't need any equipment at all, as long as you have your hands and a lap. All you need is some roving, or even a few locks of a fleece. Draw it out into a small roving about the size of the yarn you want, and then just roll it along your thigh. There! You're spinning!

Now, of course, you want it to be longer, and this is the tricky part. That short length you just spun needs to be wound on something, to keep it in reserve, while you spin a bit more. The thing to remember is that one end must remain stationary, while the other end, the fleece, rotates to produce twist and make yarn.

The next step is some sort of tool. The simplest is a stick. Nothing fancy, but a smooth stick, which you also roll along your leg, and you can get more twist into your yarn this way. (I've used a small branch of a shrub outside my front door, or a piece of a wire coat hanger) Again, wind it around the stick, and continue rolling along your leg.

If you want to free up that thigh, and spin while standing, you make yourself a spindle. Thanks to the kindness of AOL (the only good thing they do), you put one or two CDs on that stick (secure them in place) and when you roll that stick along your leg, and let it hang... you have a spindle! I put a hook at the top and you're all set. Cost? Less than a 2 dollars, practically free if you can find a stick and cut a knotch at one end.

Can you make enough yarn this way to make something useful? Oh, my dear, of course! If you read my blog, you know that all last year, I used my CD spindle almost entirely, and I have skeins and skeins of 3-ply yarn! (a 3-ply yarn is rounder and nicer to knit with) I don't know where to store it anymore, and I have no idea what to do with it all. There is more coming, and I'm trying to use it up, but there still is a lot of handspun yarn.

There is a saying: The spindle is slower, but I can get more done in a week than you can with a wheel. I take it with me wherever I go, and in a few moments here and there, while waiting for something or someone, I can add a few more metres, and in a week, I've got a lot more than you can with your wheel at home. Think about that.

You know, I have an extra drop spindle. If you want it, you can have it just for the shipping price. Send me a message if interested.

PS...I grew up in Michigan!