Support services

  
The art of spinning is not as simple as it may appear. There are an almost infinite number of different ways to put a little bit of twist into fibre to make yarn, well maybe that’s a slight overstatement but there are certainly a large number.

My latest spinning obsession is supported spindling; brought on by my desire to find a consistent way of spinning cotton.

  
After managing a couple of lumpy wheel spun skeins (of which I’m immensely proud!), I sought the advice of some other cotton spinners on Ravelry who suggested I tried using a tahkli.

These are tiny supported spindles usually made from a steel shaft and some kind of low whorl, like a coin or bead, that spin super-fast.

After a fairly disastrous attempt I worked out that maybe I should first learn to use a support spindle with fibre I’m a little more familiar with before moving onto the tahkli with cotton.

So off to Etsy I went with my PayPal password at the ready (btw I’ve had a huge falling out with them but that’s for another day maybe) and found the wonderful Kerryspindles. Run by a woman called Lynn who started making her own fibre tools after she couldn’t find any suitable ones, I found a sweet Tibetan (there are lots of different varieties of support spindle) spindle and placed my order.

Thinking it would be a breeze because I’m such an expert spinner already (please note the irony in that sentence), I set to with some top. But wait, there’s no hook. How do you get started? I managed to fix up a leader or piece of yarn to spin on to (nb not the way to do it!) and then got stumped. 

Thank heavens for YouTube. There is a wealth of videos showing idiots like me how to spin with a supported spindle and after a little practice I’m away. Granted, I’m at the first stage called ‘park and draft’, where I stop between spins to pull out the next piece of fibre but it’s a lovely, gentle way to spin with the focus on process rather than yardage.

  
Now this is my very first (I have a feeling there may be quite a few) Mirkwood Arts spindle; crafted by Tibor in the US, he makes spindles and names them after characters from Lord of the Rings. This little beauty is ‘My Precious’ and I snagged him via a destash on Ravelry. He is nestling in a home made batt of some merino/tussah silk/alpaca/angora from my stash. I’m trying to creatively use up some odds and ends before replacing it (!) with plant based fibre.

  
After a couple of evenings I ended up with this, a tiny 18g skein of 103m plied yarn of which I’m super proud!

The only pattern I can find for such a small amount is for a tiny lacy thong; Mr Weaving Heart will be in for a shock soon I think.

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