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Pink Needles


Some of the author's collection of notchless spindles. The stand was made by the Cascade Spindle Company, but is no longer available.
We've all done it ... seen a fabulous spindle at a show, finally scored a collectible spindle on eBay, or received a painted toy wheel spindle as a gift...but, on closer inspection, we find it has no notch! And being a top-whorl spindle, that"s important.

Why? Because as the spindle fills, the new yarn starts to slip around the whorl without a notch to keep it in place. Argh! if there was only a notch, you could pack more yarn onto your spindle. What to do?

You can make a notch -- without harming your spindle.  Magic? maybe. Useful? Definitely.

It’s not an actual notch, (no cutting of your beautiful spindle required) it’s more like a stopper.

And, whether you use this tip or not, you won't need a leader again, either. It's a two-for-one deal, the best kind. Here's how to do it...

Ingredients: fluff to spin, top-whorl spindle with a hook.

Spindle inserted into fluffed out end of fiber.

Spindle is a Pele's Hair Spindle, 27 grams, by Glenn Grace of Hawaii. Fiber is CVM/silk/silk noil blend "Carnations from Steve" by Three Bags Full.-->

Step One.  Fluff out the end of your fiber, and draft a couple of inches out to the diameter you want to spin. Catch the hook of your spindle about half an inch in from the end of the fluff, and pinch the fiber around the hook. 

Start twirling the spindle with your fingers, not letting the spindle drop. Let twist build up just a little at the hook so the fiber around it will stay put.  Slide your fiber fingers back over the pre-drafted length, still twirling with the other hand, letting twist enter below your fingers, until you have made yarn from that first pre-drafted section.

Now you can give your spindle its usual twirl and spin off the hook, drafting and making yarn until you have spun approximately 2 feet of yarn.


Step Two. It's important to note that the initial length of yarn made by twirling directly on the hook will always stay on the hook -- don't remove it from the hook. Instead, slide it around and to the base of the hook, where it meets the spindle.

If you are spindling Z for clockwise singles, bring the yarn, still attached to the hook, down around the side of the whorl on the right-hand side of the hook (at 3:00), wrap it around the shaft a few times, and then bring it back up, next to that initial length of yarn and through the hook. Aim to have about 4-6 inches of already spun yarn remaining above the hook.

If you are spindling S for counter-clockwise singles, bring the yarn down around the whorl on the left-hand side of the hook (at 9:00), wrap it around the shaft a few times, and bring it back up next to the initial length. Aim to have 4-6 inches of yarn remaining above the hook.

Some hooks are self-centering no matter where the yarn comes up; in this case, bring the yarn down around the whorl and then back up where you like -- directly behind the hook at 6:00, or either side, as it suits you. You may find one position more stable than the others when you want to pile more on your spindle.

Do you see how your coming-back-up yarn rests against the initial length of yarn?  That initial length is your "notch". It acts as a brake, holding the upward yarn to keep it from slipping around the whorl. If notches were belly-buttons, this technique produces an outie.




Step Three. Now, you can spindle just like you always do, ignoring that initial length of yarn except for its notch-ness. Spin a new length, take it out from under the hook, wind it on the shaft, and come back up next to the "notch" with 4-6 inches above the hook. Repeat until the spindle is full.

Spindle on its way to filling up. Spindle is a Natalie Silk Spindle; fiber is Bombyx silk dyed by the author -->



Congratulations! Now you can buy more spindles without worrying if they're notched or not!

Amelia Garripoli fell into spinning when she purchased a house that came with two llamas. Since then, her spindle collection has taken over the bookcase! Amelia runs The Bellwether, wrote Spindling: The Basics, and teaches a variety of spinning and fiber classes.

She blogs as Ask The Bellwether and is askthebellwether on ravelry and other online forums.

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