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01/11/2013 / thriftomancer

Making a Spindle

For a long time now I’ve wanted to try spinning. specifically, spinning using yarn/roving reclaimed from unraveled/shredded thrift store sweaters. To do this, I needed a spindle. So I made one.

My materials:

Spindle supplies

  • 1 Tunisian crochet hook, size I (It’s nicked so the working surface is rough and catches fibers, making it useless for its original purpose, but great for this one.)
  • 1 Chunk of stiff leather
  • Cutting mat and rotary cutter
  • A sharpie and bowl to act as a template

I traced two circles onto the rough side of the leather.

Marked up

And cut them out with the rotary cutter.

Whorl halves

The thickness/toughness of the leather made it difficult to cut in the normal rotary cutter fashion (press down and forward in a smooth line). I ended up having to use the cutter like a rounded exacto knife-chisel hybrid, pressing straight down to make a series of small cuts around the circles’ perimeters.

Once the discs were free I took them downstairs to the basement workshop to put some holes in them. After marking the centerpoint of each disc, I used the hole punch of my grommeting kit and a dead blow hammer to knock a nice, big emptiness into each.

Hole-cutting supplies

The holes in the discs are just slightly larger than the shaft of the T- crochet hook.

Next I brought the discs back upstairs and cut a notch into each. (I like having a notch in the whorl so my yarn doesn’t have to travel all the way to the edge and back, it can just go straight through to the top/hook of the spindle. I’ve no idea if this makes any difference mechanically. I suspect it doesn’t, but it’s nice.)

After I got everything cut I whipped out the Elmer’s glue (it’s good enough for this), affixed the discs rough side to rough, slipped the whole thing into a food storage bag, and heaped books on it to act as a press/clamp. It spent a day under the combined mass of the Webster’s Delux Unabridged Dictionary, Gray’s Anatomy, Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, Taber’s Encyclopedic Medical Dictionary 18th edition, and the Merck Manual of Medical Information. Poor thing.

When I pulled it out, ’twas entirely dried and ready for service. I affixed the whorl with two rubber bands (high tech, I know), then tested it out on some hemp fiber I reclaimed from some old macramĂ© bracelets I had made in years past. The staple length on that stuff is about 5″ or 6″, so it’s really easy to spin and good for a test.

Spindle, reporting for duty!

You can do this with almost any sort of material as long as the whorl you make is heavy enough to act as a flywheel, yet light enough that it won’t pull the fibers you’re spinning apart. Several rounds of cardboard or stacked CD’s will do the job wonderfully. Go out and make a spindle.

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