How do you spin long-draw on a drop spindle?

If you want to do a "real" long draw on a drop spindle (top or bottom whorl would both work), you'll need to start each new length ahka-style so there's no pull on the unspun fiber at the start of the draw. Once the yarn hangs together, you can "drop" the spindle and spin it normally.

That said, I've spun really fine fibers on a top-whorl spindle in the standard drop-spindle mode -- either with alot of fast inch-worming, or by having alot of twist ready to move into the unspun, drafted section so it's yarn-enough to take the weight of the spindle. It takes a fair amount of practice, though (or, it did me!)

You can also mimic a long-draw style on a drop spindle by spinning a more woolen yarn -- do not compress continuously along the length, but pinch-and-release to let twist into the unspun portion all at once, then move your pinching hand up to the unspun roving, and draft more above it before allowing twist in.

Now, there are plenty of great spindles designed for long draw spinning: the ahka, a great walking support spindle; the tahkli, a great fine-spinning support spindle; the Russian spindle, a traditional cashmere support spindle; and the Navajo spindle, a wonderful support spindle for anything from lofty singles to strong singles for Navajo plying.

I also ran across a wonderful description of Anasazi cotton spinning on a Hohokum style spindle -- this is a smaller-than-Navajo style spindle used to both spin and ply cotton.

(based on a posting by me on spindlers, this day)

2 comments:

iceyicons said...

Dear Bellwether,
I was reading your post on info on spinning cashmere, but I am too much of a beginner to understand the terminology. I have created a device to ply 2 yarns or singles together before, though, out of a hanging coat hanger from the ceiling that twisted yarn from across the room. My little daughter loved it, especially when we figured out that it could powered by her in a rocking chair.
I have been interested for a long time in what spinning device the Mother of God is holding in icons of the Annunciation. The iconographic tradition records the color and type of yarn, and that spinning and weaving were her occupation when she lived as a virgin in the temple before she married Joseph. In fact, she was chosen by lot to spin and weave one of the colors of the new temple veil after she married, and that was what she was doing when the angel appeared. I was wondering what type of spindle she would have used historically, as well as what kind is portrayed in the icons. Possibly it would be a Byzantine or Russian model. I am thinking of the Kiev Annunciation in particular. I would like to try that type of spindle. ---Ksenia

Lorrac spins said...

A belated answer to iceyicons: I believe this is a long and slender hand-spindle, which was held just beneath the hand and twirled with the fingers. If this was a drop-spindle it would have been shown lower down the thread. Except for ancient Greece, most depictions of spindles in the oldest European art show hand spindles. They're like long tapered wands, thicker in the middle. Many antique examples are available on eBay.