I bought a whorl and made a spindle shaft

A Swedish ceramist, Lena Bergsman, who is also a spinner, made spindle whorls for sale in the Swedish FB group Spinnare. I bought two of them. Here’s one of them, now with a shaft I made:

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The wool i Grå Trøndersau, an extremely rare Norwegian breed that was thought to be extinct until a flock was found  in the 90s. The breed has very fine and soft wool. The sample I have is also short, 2-3 cm, so carding and spinning on a supported spindle is the best way to spin it. Long draw on a walking wheel or Saxony wheel would also work fine. I found the lovely spinning bowl in IST’s booth at Woolfest some years ago.

The woodworking process:

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First you go out and find a piece of wood in the fire wood shed. This is birch. It has been drying for a year.

Then you shape it with your knife and sandpaper:

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Then you test spin. I shortened the shaft to 27 cm, which is suitable for me as I’m a short person. I also made the shaft thinner. The result is a spindle I probably will use very much, as it spins very well. This is the first whorl formed like a cone in my spindle collection. I now understand why they have been so common in many places all over the world: they spin fast and long. My whorl weighs 35 grams, a good weight for the short and fine wools I often spin.

I bought the whorl here: Rostocks keramik. Lena doesn’t sell them in her net shop, but you can contact her to see if she has any in stock. The Swedish spinners were excited, so she sold a whole lot of whorls in a couple of days.

Cormo on top whorl spindle

I’ve had a few Cormo locks for some years. I gave up on them during a very busy period in my life. I found them again when I was looking for a fiber for my new top whorl spindle from LuxuryOverdose. The tips had been cut off already when I bought the wool, but carding wasn’t an option as there’s lanolin left. Opening the staples with a small dog brush was effortless, but spinning was still difficult. The staples are 8 cm long, and typical for Cormo, it’s very fine wool. The lanolin has stiffened during the years, so drafting is tricky.

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But my lovely top whorl proved to be perfect for this difficult fiber! The spindle rotates very fast, which so twist is building up in a second. But it also spins for a long time, which allows slow drafting. I can spin a fine, even thread because the spindle gives me time to draft.

The photo shows the supported spindle with fine short Finn, and the top whorl with the superfine Cormo, and plyback samples.

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Outside the trees are becoming green. A couple of days ago you could see a hint of the lovely light green colour that make people up here in the north a bit dizzy, and very happy. For many of us this is the loveliest time of the year. A view from the wood next to our house: these trees will soon be cut down, but that’s not a disaster. There will be new trees planted as soon as the forest machine has done the job.

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The perfect supported spindle

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Just when I thought I have all the spindles I need, I fell for a supported spindle that looked like it wanted to be spun by me. I had been looking for a spindle like that after having seen one quite similar in a Swedish spinning group on Facebook. Sturdy, robust, ordinary wood, no bling bling, just a tool made with care for the performance. So I bought it. It’s the one on the left.

I was quite surprised when I opened the package and found not only one spindle, but two. The maker had sent me a demo spindle as an extra bonus. It’s a top whorl with a kind of whorl I didn’t have earlier.

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Both spindles are short. The top whorl is 8″, the supported 9 1/2″. They weigh 27 and 25 grams, which is what I like in spindles I use for fine to medium wools. The woods are new to me: cypress and red oak in the supported, yellow box and red/white iron bark in the top whorl, all from Australia.

So how do they spin? They are – perfect. I have many good spindles from renowned makers. I like them all. But there are spindles I return to over and over again. My bossies. The Maggie spindle, also quite new, but immediately a favourite. My IST Russian spindles. Michael Williams top whorl. Jenkins Kuchulu. My light weight Comets from Wooly Designs. Two light weight square top whorl spindles from Spindlewood. A home made doughnut supported spindle. And a few more.

But this little supported spindle is amazing. The length is perfect for me. I sit down in my armchair when I spin, so long spindles are a bit uncomfortable even if I keep the bowl beside me instead of in my lap.

I still have to spin more on the top whorl, but I can already see I like it. If it’ll become a favourite I’ll know later. Right now I’m so fond of the supported little tornado that I don’t want to spin on anything else.

David Johnson from LuxuryOverdose made those two lovely tools. One of the things that make me happy about spindles is, that you very often know who made them. Turning spindles is not easy. It takes time, practise, and a deep interest to learn how to make a good spindle. I can feel the fine craftsmanship when I hold a good spindle in my hand, and sometimes I can see it in a photo without even trying it first. You can see the good craftsmanship in the wood, the grain, the form, the finish, the balance, the proportions.

Spinning short hand carded Finnsheep. Making a butterfly so I can rewind the temporary cop to the final cop. The bowl is from IST Woodemporium.

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Campanica

This was a nice new wool: Campanica from Portugal. The two wool samples I got were from the same sheep, and quite different in character. That is not unusual, in fact it’s what most sheep produce: different wools from different parts of the body. The site I linked to doesn’t mention other colours than white, but there are black/brown Campanicas also.

I prepared and spun a few samples, and then spun two different yarns:

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The smaller skein: coarser wool with kemp. Carded and spun woollen.

The bigger skein: softer wool with a small amount of kemp. Hand combed and spun worsted.

This was interesting wool to work with. It reminded me a bit of some crossbred wools I’ve spun, like Finn/Texel. Soft with a bounce, and not so little of the bounce either! There was yellow stain in the softer wool, which can be seen in the slightly yellow tone in the yarn. It would be a perfect wool for many kinds of sweaters, from rough outdoor to in-between sweaters for winter use, and thinner for summer. Socks, hats, mittens. In Portugal it’s used for blankets and rugs, mixed with other wools. The coarser yarn I would use just like that, in a blanket, bag, or carpet.

I just learned that there is a number of people trying to preserve the traditional Portuguese ways to prepare and spin wool. They have a group on fb called Cooperativa Oficina de Tecelagem de Mértola. Use the fb translator to see what they’re doing.

The beauty of crimp

 

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Crossbred Finn-Texel, acid dyed

Waves in water. Waves in sand. Waves in light. Waves in clouds, in sound, in earth, human hair, mountains, stone.

Waves in wool. The beauty of it. The energy you transfer into twist that makes yarn.