It’s been a busy few weeks. Between graduate school interviews and the accompanying travel, not to mention work and more work, I haven’t exactly had time to update the blog. I have been getting some spinning in, however, especially on my supported spindles. Yes, plural. Technically I have three now, between the Grippingyarn Russian-style, the brass takhli, and now an antique Bulgarian number I got for a pittance on eBay:
(Somewhat diminished photo capabilities at the moment. My DIY lightbox, which consists of a cardboard box, tissue paper, and a sheet of Bristol board, suffered an attack by the small carnivores I keep in my house. It’ll be rebuilt soon.)
It’s pretty big, maybe as long as my hand and forearm, but surprisingly light. No idea what kind of wood it is, but like most Bulgarian spindles it has painted green, red, and blue stripes. I’m not sure if they serve a purpose other than decoration, but it’s possible they indicate how far to build up the cop of spun yarn. Interesting too is the little knob on the end:
Some supported spindles have grooves cut into the knob for the yarn to sit in as one spins, but not this one. It may still be a means of keeping the yarn in place as the spindle turns. I’m really starting to get the hang of supported spindling now, whereas before I really struggled with it. The epiphany moment was realizing I shouldn’t add so much twist before I begin drafting. With a short worsted draw on a drop spindle or a wheel, I might pack in a lot of twist at first, then let it into my drafted fiber a little at a time. The one-handed drafting needed for a support spindle doesn’t allow for this, and the fiber drafts much more easily if only a little twist is going into it at a time. Now I know to twirl the spindle a bit, draft a little, twirl some more, draft a bit more, etc.
Fiber preparation also matters a lot if you want a smooth yarn. Smooth prep equals a consistent yarn, anything yields lumps and slubs and thin spots. I really prefer prepping the fiber myself, but I’ve managed with a heavily predrafted commercial Coopworth roving:
All in all, I really enjoy supported spindling. Possibly even more than drop spindling. Perhaps a little more than spinning with a wheel!