Author Archives: DianaTwiss

Sweet Georgia Advent 2022 – Days 1 – 3

Below are some photos of the first three days of fibre from the Sweet Georgia Advent 2022. Each packet featured fibre from different breeds, (some dyed) probably a total of 10 different breeds. In addition to different colours, the variety of breeds allowed for some learning along the way. My original plan was to open each fibre packet, choose a spindle from my fleet, and spin it up that very day.

The photo below is day 1 and the spindle I chose is a TDF (Tour De Fleece) Mirkwood that I bought from a fellow guild member and support spindle enabler. It has a ball bearing tip, a gem stone at the end of the flicking tip, gem stones all around the whorl that sparkle as it spins, and it’s heavy. And, I love it.

The spindle on the right in the photo below is day two spun up on The Spindle Shop Dyavol style spindle. After a day of spinning with the Mirkwood, I was able to feel the difference that a heavy spindle makes, particularly when the fibre is on the medium/coarse side of things. The extra weight helps to get that twist into the fibres and keeps the momentum going. The Dyavol still performed well – spinning fast and long, with a long shaft for easy cop building and temporary cop storage.

I got to day three which was white Corriedale and decided it needed to add SOMETHING to it. White Corriedale is lovely, but so very, can we say it – plain. I added some silk/camel to it and made a smooth luxurious blend with it on my blending board.

For these rolags I chose my Allen Berry  Acorn and Oak spindle. This spindle is a beauty and brings me great joy when I spin with it. It too is on the heavy side, and despite the weight, it spins effortlessly and long.

And the final photo shoot of days 1 – 3. More to come.

Showing the fleet of spindles

Last Monday I had the pleasure of presenting some of my spindle collection to the Textiles students at Capilano University. I call the presentation “The Taxonomy of Spindles.”

In this presentation I show the different categories of spindles – suspended and supported, and talk about the differences within each larger category, such as top whorl, bottom whorl, cross-piece (AKA Turkish spindles).

It was fun to share my collection with eager students who know about fibre, spinning, and textile production.

After I did a bit of talk, I invited the students to gather around and try out some of the spindles. Nearly the entire class took me up on this offer. It was so delightful to support such interest in making yarn with a stick.

I know there are far more supported spindles than there are suspended spindles in this photo, but that’s where the fun and learning exist for me these days — figuring out the fibre preparation, fibres, and spinning techniques to get the yarn I want from support spindles.

Looking for the top twelve – two contenders

On this latest spin I used two spindles – a new-to-me Mirkwood – destashed by one of the best spindle enablers in our guild; and a Takhli style from The Spindle Shop. I’ll give my feedback one by one.

Mirkwood: (49g and 26cm long) it’s a lovely spindle and I would never have bought it if I just looked at it online. It looked very bottom heavy (which it is) and didn’t have a thin shaft, instead has a crystal at the top! It also has crystals around the bottom rim.

I was smitten from the first flick – the red crystals mesmerize and delight me. It has a ball bearing at the bottom tip which makes for a long and nearly friction-less spin. I use a wooden spinning bowl with it because I don’t like the sound of the ball bearing against my glass and ceramic bowls. In a Tibetan-style, it has a something to build your cop against. The shaft is smooth and slightly shaped to helped with cop building.

There is no sharp point on the end of the spindle. As noted, it has a ball bearing. My only frustration with this spindle is that the lack of point on the end makes it just that little bit more difficult to brace it against my thigh or waist to wind on a firm cop. Despite that, and largely for the crystals and weight, this spindle is in the running for my “top 12”.

The other spindle I used on this spin is a Takhli style (17g and 21cm long) by The Spindle Shop in Queensland, Australia, along with their spinning bowl. It’s light, short, and spins above its weight. Smooth shaft with a rim on the bottom, it is easy to build a stable cop on this spindle. From the first flick of this spindle, I knew it would make it to the top 12. And yes, it’s there too.

It is important to note my spinning style and practices. I mostly (nearly always) spin while in bed. I know that sounds odd, but I choose my support spindles for spinning as part of a meditative practice. Something to focus me in the morning (15 minutes) and again in the evening as I settle in for sleep. It is within this context that I judged/assessed these spindles for my use.

I prepared the fibre (polwarth/silk 70/30 or 80/20 – can’t recall) into light rolags using my blending board. My focus was on experimenting with each spindle – so for that I chose light rolags with silk and a fine wool. As I filled each spindle, I wound it onto a plying ball, splicing the yarn so it was one continuous thread. You can see it in the top right corner of the first photo. Once all the fibre had been spun, I had a fairly large (53g) ball of singles yarn. Using my ball winder, I wound it into a centre pull ball, and from that wound a two-strand plying ball.

I know that seems like a lot of work, but I have learned that making a two-strand plying ball prior to plying leads to a pleasant experience plying. When you get to the near end of the centre pull ball, sometimes (nearly EVERY time) the middle collapses and you need to untangle it. It happened this time and I ended up losing the last couple of grams of spun yarn. 🙁

It’s easier to untangle the mess if you are just winding a ball, and not when you are managing the twist on a wheel (or spindle) in motion.

I plied the yarn on my wheel (Majacraft Rose) and put extra ply twist into it. The result is a 177m of yarn – washed and ready to go.

Summary: both spindles are a delight to use. And I learned not to judge a spindle just by the look – argh! That means I have to try them all out? I’m doomed . I like that they are on the shorter side (26 cm or less) and have smooth shafts to build a cop on. I also love that they each have a bit of a base to build the cop against. Cop management is a big thing as a firm cop helps to keep the spinning going.

Stay tuned as I go through my collection and (try to) rank it to a top 12.