How do you unwind from an odd-shaped spindle?

By Amelia © May 20, 2010

Although round whorls are most common, these days a spindle whorl can have any shape at all -- square, triangle, even an irregular shape. If you usually put the spindle in a bowl, a round whorl will roll easily on the sides. But a spindle whorl that's square will not unwind as smoothly.

So, how do I deal with that? It depends on my mood ... I might slide the cop onto a straw and unwind from that, or put the spindle in a spindle kate to unwind from it. I have some "real" ones but I've also been known to cut key-holes on two sides of a shoe-box and use that. Keyholes are round holes about an inch or so from the top edge of the shoe-box with lines cut up to the top of the box. I can squeeze the spindle in by pushing down, and the lines stay closed while the spindle rides in the round holes below them -- if they fail, a bit of masking tape will hold them shut, and is easy to cut or remove once I'm done.

I've also been known to slide the first spindle-full off onto a straw and then put that cop and the second spindle-full, still on the spindle, on my bed to wind together into a plying ball.

When I'm winding off of the spindle after plying, I'll usually skein off by holding the spindle like a lollipop and rotating it in my fingers as I wind it around the niddy-noddy or body-noddy.

For an authentic Andean experience, you'd stick the bottom pointy end of your bottom whorl spindle in the ground or between your toes or feet, and then pull the yarn off the end. This does change the twist a little bit, like pulling up from the center of a center-pull ball, but unless your yarn is on the border of too loose to be yarn, the difference will be minor. Still, if you do not want to affect your amount of twist, you'll want to use one of the other methods above.


Can sheep spin?This post inspired by a question on the Spindlers Yahoo List.

Related articles:
Can you spin a sheep?
How do you wind a plying ball?
Does the ball-winder add twist?
How do you wind yarn on a niddy-noddy?
10 things I learned on my summer vacation
What is Andean spindling?

For more spindle-specific posts, see the Spindles topic.

For even more spindle management tips for top-whorl, bottom-whorl, and Turkish spindles, see my book, Productive Spindling.

© May 20, 2010 by Ask The Bellwether, posted at

1 comment:

FiberQat said...

I have a square top spindle (yours looks like a Spindlewood like mine) and use a shoebox for unwinding. To keep it from spinning itself out of the hole closest to the whorl I use a small bulldog clip (the kind with the wire handles that fold over) over the shaft at the end sticking out of the box side where the whorl is butted up against. I leave a little space to allow it to spin and have no problems with it spinning merrily away as I unwind the singles or yarn.