Troubleshoot Your Tahkli Spindle

A tahkli spindle is an amazing travel companion. These small, supported spindles will fit in your coat pocket and can provide hours of blissful spinning. Often used for spinning cotton, tahkli spindles can be used to spin other fibers including yak, camel, cashmere, and other luxury downs.

Learning to use a tahkli spindle can feel like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at first, but practice can set you on the right path. Videos such as Amelia Garripoli’s Supported Spindle Spinning can be hugely helpful. Here are a few more tips to help troubleshoot your tahkli spindle practice using cotton sliver.

tahkli spindle

I like to hold my tahkli spindle in my right hand, flicking clockwise with my thumb and index finger. As the tahkli spins, it rests on my middle finger.

It’s so awkward!

Spend some time spinning the tahkli spindle without fiber to find a comfortable position and wrist angle. I like to hold my spindle in my dominant right hand. My spindle leans at an angle and rests in a shallow bowl. Try flicking the tip of the spindle with your thumb and index finger in both directions. Does one direction feel more natural? I prefer to spin the tahkli clockwise as my thumb moves toward my heart. As the spindle spins, it rests on my middle finger. Experiment with different bowls and dishes, as they can make a big difference. When I took my first tahkli spindle class with Stephenie Gaustad, we used spoons!

My cotton isn’t drafting.

Just like any type of spinning, the speed that the twist enters needs to be balanced with the speed that the fiber is attenuated. If you are twisting the tahkli like a pro but drafting slowly while you learn, twist can quickly build up and make drafting difficult. If your yarn is getting larger, has big slubs, or is hard to draft against, there are two likely culprits: you probably have too much twist, or you need to fine-tune the fiber prep. Try giving the tahkli spindle a slow spin, draft a few inches, and then repeat these two steps until the yarn length is a comfortable arm’s reach. Then, give the spindle a firm flick to add lots of twist.

If this doesn’t help, try spinning from the other end of the cotton sliver. One end will draft much easier than the other. You can also try changing the preparation.

My yarn keeps breaking.

This is probably the opposite problem as above. There isn’t enough twist for the drafting speed. Try drafting more slowly with your fiber hand and practice flicking the tahkli spindle faster to insert more twist. You might also be using a bowl that slows your spindle. Most tahkli spindles have a sharp tip that sometimes works best in a bowl that is ceramic or made of some other hard material.

tahkli spindle

Bowls for supported spindles can be purposefully made for the task or adapted for the job. Some spinners love the stability and height of a favorite mug!


Featured Image: Tahkli spindles are most often used to spin short fibers such as cotton, yak down, camel down, and cashmere. Photos by Kate Larson

Get spindling!


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