Hand Spindles

A spindle sometimes called a drop spindle is a Spindle shaft weighted at one end with a circular whorl. It is used for spinning wool and other fibres into thread. Spindles or parts of them have been found in archaeological sites; they may represent one of Turkish spindlethe earliest pieces of technology available to humankind. There are several types of drop spindles available today, and a Turkish drop spindle, which features a double cross-arm instead of a circular Whorl is just one of them.

Top / High Whorl Spindle

Top whorl spindleA top-whorl spindle is also a suspended spindle and has the whorl at the top of the shaft and is usually lightweight. There is a hook on top of the spindle just above the whorl for catching the yarn. Top-whorl spindles rotate at a higher speed (high-whorl spindle), which makes them ideal for spinning thin yarn and fine fibres. It is believed that the top whorl spindle originated in the Middle East



Bottom / Low Whorl Spindle

This type of spindle is commonly referred to as the drop spindle. The whorl is located Bottam whorlat the bottom of the shaft and there is either a hook or a notch at the top of the shaft to catch the yarn. The spun yarn is wound onto the shaft directly above the whorl. The bottom-whorl spindle is a suspended spindle and is best suited for spinning thicker yarns and heavier fibres. With the weight at the bottom of the shaft, the spindle will spin slower (low-whorl spindle). Therefore, a bottom-whorl spindle is too heavy and too slow for spinning thin yarn and soft fibre. The spindle rotates freely suspended from the yarn leaving both hands free to hold and draft the fibre. The spun yarn is released from the notch of the spindle and wound onto the staff directly above the whorl.

Modern spindles are typically available in high-whorl or low-whorl types. In a high-whorl spindle, the whorl sits very close to the top of the shaft, which is anywhere from 15-45cm long. A hook is placed on the top of the shaft to secure the developing yarn, and the newly spun yarn is wound around the shaft underneath the whorl. In a low-whorl spindle, the whorl sits near the bottom of the shaft. The newly spun yarn is wound around the shaft just above the whorl. If there is a hook at the upper end of the shaft, the yarn is spiral-wound up the shaft and caught in the hook; if there is Top whorl spindleno hook at the top, then the yarn is spiral-wound up the shaft and secured with a half hitch or more, for slippery fibres at the top. Some low whorl spindles are notched at the top of the shaft to keep the half hitch secured, although this is not necessary. An alternate method of securing the yarn involves passing it down over the edge of the whorl, around the bottom end of the shaft, and back up over the whorl to be secured with a half hitch at the top of the shaft. Other forms of spindles include supported spindles, such as the large Navajo spindle and the tiny cotton spinning Tahkli. The spinning wheel is also used for the same purpose.         


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