Her Handspun Habit: 3 Reasons to Choose Supported Spindles

When I want the richest experience from a rare or unusual fiber blend, I spin it using my spindles. How I decide whether to spin supported or suspended (drop spindle (affiliate link), Turkish, or bottom whorl), depends on the fiber content, its preparation, and what type of yarn I wish to create. Recently, when I decided to spin up a 50% yak/50% silk blend top, the decision was easy: I spun that baby using my favorite supported spindles.

Here are 3 reasons I prefer supported spindles for my most sumptuous fiber blends:

1. Lofty and Fine
My natural tendency, when using a supported spindle, is to spin with a woolen or semiwoolen draw, attenuate the fiber, and allow the twist to be added by bouncing the yarn off the shaft’s tip. With air spun into the yarn, yardage is maximized and even the thinnest of singles will retain a delightful bit of loft and life.

2. Boost Sheen
When I want to make the most of the luster from a fiber blend while still maintaining a lofty yarn, I spin from the fold. This method is well suited to supported-spindle spinning. The technique falls somewhere between woolen and worsted. Take a staple length of fiber, fold it in half over the index finger, and then draft with a long draw. Spinning from the fold creates a smooth yarn that reflects light but still has a soft hand.

drop spindles

When plying her yak/silk blend singles, Debbie matched colors with a few runs of random marling in between.

3. Enjoy the Color
My supported spindles allow me to slow down and appreciate the nuances of the colors running through my fingertips. I find myself more attentive to the hues winding onto the shaft—something I don’t ponder as deeply when spinning at the wheel. A supported spindle’s construction allows me to see the color changes in the cop, which makes it easier to manage those colors when I wind them off onto my storage bobbins or ply.

In my opinion, spinning on supported spindles is the easiest kind of spinning there is—no standing, no treadling, no fiddling, and no adjustments needed.

How do you select which spindle to use? Tell us in the comments below!


Featured Image: A few of Debbie Held’s favorite supported spindles. Photos by Deborah Held

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