View Full Version : What is the best spindle weight to learn on?

05-22-2009, 09:12 PM
I've been playing with the idea of learning how to spin ever since I "discovered" it online recently- I thought it died out with the pioneers!

I want to buy my first spindle, but I notice that the spindles come in different weights.

Can someone break down what spindle weights give you what weight of yarn.

I'd like to spin something I'd actually knit with-so nothing too big. But what's the best spindle weight to learn on?

And also what's the best fiber to try first?


05-23-2009, 11:59 AM
Generally, the lighter the yarn you want to spin, the lighter the spindle. If you try spinning laceweight yarn on a heavy spindle, it will break. If you try to spin worsted on a heavy spindle, the spindle will stall.

A spindle just over an ounce (maybe 1.2 or 1.3 ounces) will give you a nice knittable DK weight. With some experience, you should also be able to spin worsted or laceweight on it.

A very light spindle -- .5 ounces or less -- will spin laceweight and silk, but is harder for a beginner to handle (those little babies are fast).

A heavier spindle -- over 2 ounces -- is best for thicker yarn and for plying.

The best learning fiber, IMO, is wool top -- either Columbia, Coopworth, Blue-Faced Leicester or a blend. (I love the names of the different sheep breeds!)

Suggestion: go to thebellwether.com and ask the owner, Amelia, for suggestions. Hers may be different from mine and they're likely to be excellent. She has a starter kit that contains a decent spindle, several good clumps of fiber, and the book she wrote for beginners. I can't stress enough the importance of having a good reference book on hand. It will answer questions you didn't even know to ask. In addition to Amelia's, there is Spindle Spinning:From Novice to Expert by Connie Delaney, Spinning in the Old Way by Priscilla Gibson Roberts, and Spin It by Lee Raven.

05-23-2009, 07:49 PM
Thanks so much, I'm so excited to get started!

05-27-2009, 10:04 AM
Great advice as always Knitasha, same thing you told me on another post recently. One question. The lady from Bellwether told me that your advice was wise about the weight for spinning sock weight yarn, but she also said that beginners can spin thicker yarn more easily, that it usually takes some practice to be able to do fingering weight yarn - but added that some do get the hang of spinning right off and can do the thinner yarn successfully at first. Do you agree? Should I get the lighter drop-spindle for thicker yarn first or just dive right in to the heavier one for fingering weight yarn?

05-27-2009, 10:09 AM
Should I get the lighter drop-spindle for thicker yarn first or just dive right in to the heavier one for fingering weight yarn?

I think maybe you've misunderstood-It looks like what knitasha is saying is that lighter spindles = lighter (thinner) weight yarn, heavier spindles= heavier (thicker) yarn

05-28-2009, 09:53 AM
You're right, thanks! I do still need to know what to start with, thin or thick yarn because I really am looking to do little spinning and get to using my yarn quick so I figured sock weight would be what I wanted.

How about you? What do you want to spin?

05-28-2009, 10:02 AM
Well it sounds like the thinner yarns are really difficult to do first, and you need a really light spindle to do it. I'm going to buy a kit from this seller on etsy:http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5223921 It weighs 1.6 oz, which is a medium weight spindle. She;s going to make me a custom listing for just 4oz of white wool and lower the price to $18.95 since I didn't love the hand dyed stuff she was offering.

I figured if that goes well, then I can invest in another lighter spindle (but I haven't found any inexpensive ones..they are like $40-$60!!)

05-28-2009, 10:04 AM
One more thing, the spindles don't come with notches, so I asked her to add 2 for me. She's going to let me know when it's ready.

She says not every spinner uses a notch, but all the tutorials I've watched online uses notches on the whorl so I decided I wanted one.

05-28-2009, 10:45 AM
The notches are the little hooks like on a regular spinning wheel? I haven't learned all the vocabulary yet. :D

05-28-2009, 10:46 AM
A notch is a little divit on the whorl itself, it helps hold the yarn in place as you are spinning apparently.

05-28-2009, 10:48 AM
FYI, here's my post (http://www.knittinghelp.com/forum/showthread.php?t=91532) about a week before yours in which Knitasha (thanks Knitasha! :muah:) was so helpful, including links to some spindles.

05-28-2009, 11:20 AM
I found it after I made my post, and read it. It was helpful.


05-28-2009, 08:10 PM
Sounds like a good plan. That's a nice manageable weight for a spindle and it's versatile -- you can do a lot with it. I think you were wise to get the notches. You can spin perfectly well without them but they do keep the yarn in place as you spin and as you wind the yarn onto the spindle shaft. One less thing to deal with.

05-28-2009, 08:19 PM
She's right. It's easier to spin thicker yarn at first (worsted, bulky -- nice stuff but hefty). Then what seems to happen to a lot of people is they start spinning thinner and thinner and have to learn the technique of spinning thicker yarn deliberately. (Not a problem, but a little strange.) Your first yarn is also likely to have thick-and-thin places instead of being perfectly even. Expect it and enjoy it -- think of it as the "art yarn" that stores charge a bundle for.

Ittybittypretty is right. Lighter spindles for lighter yarns. For a beginner, go a little heavier -- not a big boat anchor that hits your leg when you twirl it but in the vicinity of 1.5 - 2 oz.

05-28-2009, 09:37 PM
So I ordered the spindle today! My library has the spinning books you recommended in the other thread. So I'll check them out. Hopefully I'll have some pictures to post by the end of next week!

06-02-2009, 11:03 AM
I have seen and I do own a drop spindle that is ultra light that I can spin cotton on. But that spindle is the exception. And you would not choose a spindle with a weight of a half ounce to do a bulky wool yarn on.

I agree absolutely. In theory, you can spin any fiber on any spindle, but it can be frustrating and inefficient, so you try to match the staple length of your fiber and the yarn you want to produce with a compatible spindle. I can spin cotton (not easily or well) on a very light drop spindle, but the result is much better on a supported spindle or a charkha.

PS. Interesting site.

06-02-2009, 07:50 PM
I just started spinning a couple of days ago and started with an heavier spindle that came in a spinning kit. It is a low whorl spindle and I've already bought a better spindle lighter weight to work with. I got a Schacht Hi-Lo spindle that weighs 1.1 oz. The saleslady said that most people spin on high whorl spindles but that because I had started on the other that I might like to try this one and see which way I like better. It was only $20 and is a lot nicer than the kit one, but I did see a lot of fancier ones I might be looking at later.