The Girl Who Loved Fiber Tools (plus making your own drop spindle!)

The tools of our trade add to the delight of our craft. Spindle or needle, hook or wheel, I love them all. Yes: I am a tool gal. Bring on the pretty orifice hooks, the elegant top-whorls, the superbly balanced knitting needles, the wheel that sings to the eye as well as the heart. I love the fact that these tools, often so lovingly crafted by hand, are then in turn used to work more magic by hand.

I have a tiny spindle painted with tiny sheep roaming in a tiny painted pasture. (I squeal a tiny squeal every time I pick it up.) I have a lovely polymer clay spindle that I bought at the Estes Wool Market two years ago. I have, uh, "several" others. And still I lust after more.

I also hanker after ALL the knitting needles, particularly any that used to be part of a tree. I mean, how many size 2 wood dpns does a girl really need? (Several sets, in different woods and finishes and lengths, apparently.)

Hand spindles in particular fascinate me. They come in all shapes and sizes, are made of everything from clay to wood, and can be as simple as a stick pushed through a bead or as complex as a hand-carved beauty made from an exotic wood. I have to discipline myself not to become a spindle collector. I have been known to go up to a booth at a show just to pick up and admire every single spindle in a vase, and ignore all the rest of the glorious fibers and yarns for sale (forgive me, dear vendors…). When I am wandering through the latest issue of Spin-Off magazine, I make myself look away from those really gorgeously carved drop spindles in the full-color ads, because if I didn’t, then I’d be explaining to the dog why we were a little light on dog chewies this month.

“Walk a-WAY from the spindles,” I chant to myself, and turn the page.

But what if you really want to try spinning, and you do not have a hand spindle? (I’m pale at the very thought of this terrible situation.) Or, what if you wish to be sensible (go over to your yarn stash and ask yourself why you would want to start being sensible now) and not make a purchase of a hand spindle until you know you are going to enjoy spinning?

What if you find out that you hate spinning? (You won’t. You’ll get addicted, just like the rest of us.) What if you’re terrible at it? (Not possible. Five-year-old kids in the Middle Ages could spin, so why shouldn’t you be able to?) What if you can only spin really bad yarn? (What exactly is “really bad yarn”? Bumpy yarn with personality? Don’t some folks package that stuff up and sell it for $25 a skein? You bet they do, and it’s really pretty bumpy yarn.)

I understand that some folks possess much more self-control than I do; these paragons of virtue say it’s good to dip your toes in, just a little, at first anyway. That way, by the time you’ve discovered that you are getting to work a little bit late because you wanted to spin for “just five more minutes,” you’ll have a better idea of which spindle you want (because you’ve been drooling over the ads in Spin-Off), or you’ll have had time to save up for a Lendrum wheel (which is the one I bought a few weeks back—yes, in fact, it is my second wheel, anyone got a problem with that?).

The question then becomes: What can you use to spin on, just to get yourself started, just to give spinning a try?

A spindle made out of a dowel and a CD. Yup. I’m totally serious. Don’t believe me? Here are the instructions on how to make your own CD spindle, plus how to use it to spin real, actual yarn.

Don't get me wrong here: One cannot possibly compare the ease and joy of spinning on a REAL drop-spindle to that of spinning on a CD spindle. Hand-carved spindles are precisely balanced and wrought by experts in their craft; and many are really not all that expensive. However, a CD spindle is actually a pretty good starting place, if a real spindle is not in your budget.

Plus, I added in a free pattern for a lovely, chunky scarf specially designed to be knit out of your very first handspun to the end of the CD Spindle PDF. The lumpier and bumpier your first glorious yarn, the better!

Do you love the tools of our craft almost as much as the craft itself? What are some of your favorite tools? Have you knit something wonderful out of your handspun? Leave a comment, and then go off and knit something. (After all, it’s the weekend, right?)

Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's spinning wheel? Beautiful hand-dyed alpaca roving from SakinaNeedles, which I am spinning very fine, about 38 wraps per inch.

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