Calling all spinners! I'm in need of some advice...

I've decided it's time for me to delve into the wonderful world of spinning! I've never done it and I'm excited about narrowing the gap of my fiber/knitting continuum. I have an uncle who is a master wood craftsman who happens to be visiting this weekend from Atlanta. His work is amazing! I provided him with a ton of information and instruction on making drop spindles, and he has agreed to make me a bottom whirl. This will be a bartering arrangement. Do you think a pair of hand knit socks would be a comparable trade? Do you think I should knit him 2 pair?

Secondly, which fiber do you recommend for novice spinners using a drop spindle? Would a merino, long-staple roving be appropriate?

Thanks in advance for sharing your expertise!


Andy's picture

Yep, longer staples are easier for both spindles and wheels. As for the softness of the fibre, I personally find that the softer/finer they are, the more difficult they CAN be as they require more control of tension and speed. See if you can find a place that sells samples of various fibres, or perhaps a fellow spinner willing to donate a few.

Good luck and enjoy that spindling!

"Midnight shakes the memory as a madman shakes a dead geranium."

Crafty Andy's picture

Visit Crafty Andy's Blog
corriedale is very good and alpaca is superb, but for starting the corriedale is very acceptable.

Kenny's picture

you went over to the darkside!!!! no, i'm sorry that's crochet.

Arrghhh, I'm going to get so many hate mails from this. :)

MMario's picture

I thought it had been determined the "dark side" was lace....

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

goatboy's picture

Hi Millard,

Thanks for the welcome to MWK! Glad to hear you're ready to try your hand at spinning. It is very meditative and addictive, and the tools of spinning are quite lovely to collect, as well. Besides the spindle you shall be receiving, check out the Jenkin's Turkish spindles. They come in three sizes; Turkish Standard, Turkish Delight, and The Kuchulu. Ed Jenkin's makes the spindles, while his wife Wanda packs and sends. Wanda is always thoughtful enough to include a sample fiber to spin on your new spindle, and she also has a sampler pack of fibers that are easy to spin for newbies.

When you are ready to start spinning, check back with me, as I have taught a number of spindle spinning classes. I'll get you started off with some techniques that will help build your skills, and keep early frustrations to a minimum. Wanda also has some beginning spinning videos on the site.

Keep me posted, and let me know if I can help you in any way in your spinning endeavors.

Bleats to you,

John the GoatBoy



Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Welcome to spinning, Mill. It is a great way to relax. Your bottom whorl sounds great...please post pictures. My little Turkish spindle elicits envy every time I use it in company with other spinners. It is my favorite and there's not much more to say. A great book to learn spinning from is "Spinning and Dyeing the Natural Way" by Castino and Perkins. It is written for children but I recommend it a lot when working with new spinners. You may want to try various fibers but I think a premade top is a good starting point. I do want to say that I find spinning to be like knitting...once you find a way to make it work for you, it all seems to flow right along. Good luck and have fun. Just be patient with yourself if it feels a bit awkward at first. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Tallguy's picture

A good fibre to start spinning with is Corriedale. I don't favour the longer staple because most of them are smooth and don't have a lot of crimp. Merino is lovely, very soft, lots of crimp, but may be too expensive for a beginner. It wants to be spun very fine as well.

Rambouillet is very nice too for the beginner. Any fibre that is about 3-4 inches long, soft and fine, with a good crimp will work very well. Any shiny smooth fibre will need a lot of twist to hold together and is for the more experienced spinner. Anything short, like cotton, needs special attention as well.

You can easily make a spindle for yourself... there are many plans available on the net. Even a wooden spoon works, or a stick stuck into a potato. I've made spindles from wire coat hangers. It's not the tool that matters so much, as long as you understand how yarn is made.

Spinning is indeed very meditative. It's the only thing I turn to during times of stress. That's why I have so much yarn spun up now!!

Hi Mill
I posted a video I found on You Tube to my website on the basics of spinning. I think you would like that. Plus get the book "Visually Teach Your self to Spin". That's a good reference book. As for fibres for first timers I also say get some well prepared long staple wool. Welcome to the spinny side of life!