View Full Version : drop spindle questions

03-30-2009, 06:16 PM
I'm only two days into learning how to use this drop spindle. Between youtube and the book that came with it, I think I'm getting the idea, but I'm not doing nearly as good as I had hoped.

My big question is: when I unhook the spun fiber to wind it onto the stick, should it curl onto itself at all? I'm still at the stage where I spin, stop and then let it travel up. I can't let it spin while I work the twist up because it comes unhooked alot while it's spinning.

Also, I've divided my roving into what I think are small "strips", but it still looks pretty thick after it's spun. Are there any hints on how to know how much to use.

I'm feeling really frustrated at the moment. Hopefully someone will have some tips for me.


03-30-2009, 10:20 PM
I just purchased a Drop Spindle Kit last week. I saw it demonstrated at a Knit In and I thought I could do it. I'm waiting to take classes tho.

I wish I could help you out but I hope someone here will.

03-31-2009, 11:26 AM
Hang in there, it will come!

Yes, when you unhook the fiber to wrap on the spindle shaft, it should relax and twist back on itself. As long as you have tension on it, whether it's by the weight of the spindle or as it is wrapped on the spindle, it will remain straight.

If you're having trouble with yarn breaking when spinning by letting the spindle spin while you are drafting, you probably aren't putting enough twist in the yarn. More twists makes the yarn stronger. Try this... take a length of fiber (roving) about 20" long and about pencil width, or just use the fiber as it's on your drop spindle. Now, twist it by hand or using the spindle one or two times then try to pull it apart... comes apart easily. Now try again adding more twists (10-20)... doesn't come apart quite as easily, right? Now add more and more twists as you like and you will find that you can add so much strength to that length of fiber (which is now "yarn"!) that you can't break it by hand.

The secret to getting the yarn you want from your spinning is to find out how many twists you want in that length of yarn. If you want soft fluffy airy yarn, less twists are needed. If you want tight strong solid yarn, more twists are needed. You have quite a range of options with the same length of yarn with twist alone... you are the creator of the yarn, do what works for you and make the kind of yarn that you prefer!

You already found one neat trick you didn't even know about... When you relax the single spun strand, such as when you unhook to wind on the spindle shaft, it will twist back on itself, and you can use that as a guide to see what your finished plied yarn will look like! Spinning singles one direction and then plying them together in the opposite direction will create a nice balanced 2-ply yarn.

You can get very technical with how many twists per inch you need in the singles and then how many you need in the plied yarn, which is generally about two-thirds in the plied compared to what was in the single... but there are no "rules" to any of it... just spin what feels comfortable to you and what kind of yarn you like.

I hope this helps.

03-31-2009, 02:46 PM
Not much to add to what Sandi said, except wrap your yarn around the hook a couple times or use a half hitch.
I've been spindling 10 years and spinning on a wheel 7. I still use the park and spin with my drop spindle....

03-31-2009, 05:39 PM
Thanks for your replies and encouragement! I've finished one hank of 20 yards, wound it around the chair back, tied it in places, soaked it and now it's drying. But it is still curling in a lot of places. I was concerned about if it should be twisting back on itself while I was winding, because it's still twisting after I take it off. (I hope this makes sense).

This first hank will be a sampler I guess...soft/fluffy in spots, and tight/strong in other spots! :teehee:

I will also twist it twice around the hook. And practice, practice, practice.


04-01-2009, 04:12 PM
Just has too much twist, is all. You could ply it, that will take out some of the twist ....

have any pictures???

04-01-2009, 06:06 PM
I tried to spread it out in the picture so you can see how it's curling. I guess I could ply it with what I have on the spindle because they are about the same thickness. Only I haven't twisted the yarn on the spindle as much this time. I'm wondering if I was spinning the spindle too fast.

I can't remember how to attach the picture, so I'm going to post this text and put the picture in the next one after I go read how to do it.

04-01-2009, 06:17 PM
keep in mind this is my first attempt ever at spinning

04-02-2009, 10:16 AM
Looks perfectly fine to me! If it's a single, it's going to have twist... that's what we do when we spin, add twist to yarn.

Now, if you want a balanced yarn, you'll have to ply it as I described before... but you don't have to. If you want a "straight" yarn with just your single ply, all you have to do is "set the twist." This is fairly easy. You just have to wet it and let it dry under tension. If you used a niddy noddy to make your skein, you can just leave the skein on that and let it dry there... or you can wet your skein, wring out as much of the moisture as you can, then hang it to dry with a weight on it. One method I've used is hang the skein from a plastic hanger over the shower curtain and then take a plastic grocery bag and tie it through the bottom of the skin and then put one or two cans of soup into the bag or rocks or anything to weight it down, adding just enough weight to straighten the skein without stretching it too much. When the skein dries, you will have a "straight" yarn.

Remember, wool has "memory" and it will remain the shape it is after it dries until it gets wet again and then it will go back to its original state. That's why you have to block a wool sweater every time you wash it. So you don't want to weight it down too much so you stretch the fibers a lot, just enough to take the kinks out.

Don't worry about twists in your singles... that's supposed to happen because that's what you did when you spun it. That's all spinning is... putting twist in lengths of fibers... actually a very simple concept, and once you break down what you're doing into remembering that that's all your doing, just twisting fibers, the process seems so much easier!

I had a hard time learning to spin at first because I thought the wheel and the fiber were supposed to "do" something, but once I realized that all I had to do to get yarn was twist the fibers, and use those tools to do it, it was like... Eureka!! And you can even spin without the use of a wheel or spindle, just take a length of fiber and twist it, wa-la... you made yarn with nothing but your hands!

So keep it simple... you control the fiber and you control the spindle... it will come.

Good luck to you... I hope this helps!

04-02-2009, 10:27 AM
One more thing about setting the twist... You don't have to wet the yarn to do it, that's just the fastest method. The twist will set in a yarn the longer it is left sitting under tension.... such as when you wind it on the spindle. If you spin a spindle-ful of singles and set it aside for a few months, the twist will set. The longer the yarn is under tension, the more the twist is set. If you spin a partial spindle and leave it set for a few weeks or months and then go back and add more to it and then take it off the spindle, you'll see that the portion you spun weeks before will have a lot less twist in it that what you just finished. The same goes for yarn on a bobbin on a wheel. Even just a few days under tension can make a very little difference, but the longer, the more noticeable.

So keep in mind when you are plying a yarn that may have been setting under tension for a while that you'll need to add a little more twist in your plies to achieve a balanced finished yarn because some of the original twist in the single is already set, but once you wash the plied skein, it'll balance out when the wool goes back to it's original state.

I hope this makes sense!

04-02-2009, 02:23 PM
Thanks Sandi and Cyndi! This is very helpful information. I will probably re-wet this and let it dry under tension because I don't think I'm ready to try plying yet. My book says to dry it under tension if you plan to weave with it, so I think the author expects you'll be plying it if not. But I want to get my spinning consistent before I try to ply.

04-02-2009, 02:40 PM
You're very welcome, glad I could help!

You don't have to set the twist (dry under tension) to knit or crochet with it either because you will be tensioning it through your fingers between the hook/needle and your fingers anyway, but you will find that all those kinks between the ball of yarn and your fingers will get rather frustrating to deal with and sometimes disastrous with knots, etc.

So I just find for me personally, I like to ply my yarn, not just for the added strength plying gives it, but because then I know it's a balanced yarn and I shouldn't have much trouble with shaping problems in my finished project.... and no tangles to deal with while knitting!

If you knit with singles, keep in mind the balance of the twist also... if you knit back and forth in rows, your yarn will tend to lean to the right in one row and to the left in the next row....////....\\\\, which will sort of balance out. But if you knit in the round, all rows will have the tendency to slant the same direction, so you may find that your stitches tend to "travel" in a spiral. How much twist you have in the yarn will affect this and it may not be as noticable in some circular knitting... I've had back and forth knitting spiral and circular knitting remain straight with single ply yarn, and vice versa with plied yarns, so there are no real "rules" as to how to avoid this, just try it and see for yourself. I haven't had a problem when the plied yarn was balanced, so it's usually determined by the amount of twist in the single or extra/lack of twist in the plied yarn when it isn't balanced.

Again, don't worry... this will all come later to you...just enjoy the spinning process.... it's all good no matter how the yarn turns out!