My most-useful spinning tool after my spindles and wheel is my ballwinder! and a library card :-) if you're in a reasonably large town, they're likely to have at least some spinning books, and maybe really good ones. Mine has Paula Simmon's 'Spinning for Softness and Speed', and Connie Delaney's 'Spindle Spinning: From Novice to Expert'. Great resources! And they did get Aldon Amos' book once it came out, too. My favorite author is Mabel Ross, so most of her books (ok, all!) are on my bookshelf.
So, my ballwinder is my favorite tool, along with my niddy-noddy; then my swift. In a pinch I'll use a nostepinne -- the ballwinder is basically a nostepinne with a built-in crank. All that said, there are "human" or inexpensive equivalents. The thumb makes a great nostepinne (just don't wind too tight!), the fore-arm is about a 2-foot-skein niddy, and the lower leg (wind over your knee and under your foot -- shoes off! -- with knee bent, while sitting) is a 4-foot-skein niddy or there-abouts.
(posted by me on lj/spinningfiber, 15apr07)
So, what's your most useful spinning tool? Add it with a comment below.
Yay! Let's hear it for Mabel Ross! I love her books and video. I'd have to say that my favorite spinning tool is a simple dog comb. I use it at all stages of fleece preparation: It opens up dirty tips for washing, or after, it separates dual coated fleece easily, it's better than hand teasing before drum carding, it's easier on the knuckles than a flicker, and sometimes no other preparation before spinning. After that I'd agree about the ball winder. I've never tried a nostepinne though.
You know me and my "whatever's at hand" spinning, but my "nostepinne" (a bit of dowel with a hair elastic for holding the beginning yarn tail) is definitely my next-favorite tool Maybe someday I'll get a ballwinder, but for now handwinding isn't really a problem. Now a swift, _that_ would really come in handy!
I love Connie's book! It was the first spinning book I read and it was really awesome. I also got out "The Complete Spinning Book" by Candace Crockett the other day. It's a little old (published in the 70's) but gives a really great overview of spinning.
My leg is my favorite tool. Makes the perfect size skeins!
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