Spin In!

The drop spindle is one of the oldest tools known to mankind – it has been in use since an estimated 25,000 – 35,000 years ago. But what on earth is it, and why would anyone want to use one? (And why is Ingebretsen’s having a demo/drop-in participation day for it?)

Spindle Class

In its most simple form, a drop spindle is a stick stuck through the center of a weight, which aids a spinner in making thread or yarn. What that weight does is provide momentum to allow a single movement to keep the spindle turning and adding twist to the fibers, which is necessary to hold them together and allow them to become a thinner, stronger form of fiber. It’s up to the spinner to draft out (pull apart) the fibers consistently to make a yarn that is good for knitting or weaving.

Brown Mix Spinning Yarn

Why would anyone go to that kind of trouble to make yarn? For most spinners, the act of spinning itself is appealing. I personally find it to be almost meditative – a morning that starts with 15 or 20 minutes of spinning is often a much calmer day than one that starts with checking my e-mail. Handspun yarn is often described as “livelier” than commercially spun yarn is, and you can often find more interesting fibers and colors at a price that is less expensive than mill spun yarn. Of course, it comes “some assembly required”.

Blue-Green Spinning Yarn

–Laurie Olson Williams