Friday, January 23, 2009

The Spindolyn Arriveth!!


First of all, it is beautiful. Unfortunately the base it stands on is in a dark area, but if you look closely, you can see it. The size of the hook is rather ungraceful on first glance compared to the more delicate hooks on most drop spindles, but I see why it's useful at its size. There may come a point when I think I'd redesign its shape, but it works.

Spinning with this takes some practice, even for a more experienced spinner. However, there's just something about spinning with it that I know will be fun, if not comforting once I get the fluid motion and rhythm down. The stem piece that the spindle shaft fits into on this one seems to have been drilled and glued in a tad off center into the base, but it still spins well. I've sent an email to see if it makes a difference, because if so, I would want it right. That may not be a relevant concern if holding it in your lap, which is what it was designed to do. What I liked about it as a beginning spinner is that I don't have to worry about a drop spindle dropping or starting into a furious reverse spin if my attention gets captured by refining my drafting.

To learn on it, I'm spinning a very lovely, extremely soft pastel BFL that I bought from Erica who goes by the shop name, Squoosh at Etsy. Though my yarn is not as thin as I believe the Spindolyn prefers, it's thinner than I've spun before, and works pretty well on the Spindolyn. Though uneven, and some parts are thinner (a few thicker), an average length I checked came out to about 14wpi. That seems to keep being somewhere in the vicinity of my 'default spin' thickness. I'm now a little sorry that I didn't keep up with its much thinner start that both Jenny and I got when we first tried it because it would have been great practice to maintain that finer of a yarn. I'm also thinking that it's easier all the way around to spin finer than I tend to. That said, however, I'm getting a fairly consistent thickness, and probably shouldn't complain after a whopping 30 days of spinning anything, ON anything.

If you want to see the Spindolyn in action, because it's an intriguing little invention with great potential, its inventor and hand-crafted maker can be seen demonstrating it in her delightful video. Even if you weren't interested in spinning, her accompanying music will make you reailze how ridiculously complicated you've let your life become, and that simplifying whatever you can is a good thing. Catherine's original Spindolyn, which is what she used in the video, did not have the black rubber sleeve over the shaft; that was a re-model that she felt eliminated certain winding-on problems she said were inherent in the bare shaft original. Her video also shows a very gentle, and to me inviable, drafting technique. When I asked her for pointers, since I hold my fiber totally differently, she said to hold the fiber loosely, as though you were holding a baby hummingbird and didn't want to crush it. And to release into the drafting zone as though sowing teensy seeds thinly in a row, or letting fine sand through your fingers. It's hard to describe a motion with words, but that gets a 10 for transmitting a feel for something. You can see her video here.

The shaft does not hold as much yarn as a drop spindle, but they can't be compared. Each has its own purpose. I'm finding that I really like both, and I think the spindolyn is going to be a great tool for improving my drafting technique. The way I've been doing it actually works pretty well because I'm told that I'm getting amazingly even yarn for my experience, but I think that in the long term, I could eventually be able to have perhaps more control doing it the way Catherine does it. So I'm now in the process of trying to learn this different way of holding and releasing the fiber for comparison. There's something I like about the way it's coming naturally to me, and I've been working on improving that way with definite progress. But I'd like to learn her way as well, then have a choice of which I think will be best to refine. Maybe both!

Catherine mentions, on her website (knittinganyway.com) that you can sink the whole base of the spindolyn into a bean bag, enabling you to spin from a table top. I didn't have a bean bag handy, so I dumped a whole box of rice into a Ziplock bag with expandable (flat) bottom. It wasn't deep enough with rice to offer stability, so I rubberbanded the middle of the bag, forcing the rice to squish up higher in the bag. It worked, but the rice itself doesn't have the weight-to-volume that split peas might, so I'll try those next. In any event, the little that I did spin with it from tabletop, I liked because it enabled me to stand and get a much longer strand before having to wind on.

What I can't seem to master is how she spins her spun yarn onto the shaft cone without getting too loose of a cop. I think that would be a lot easier with the finer yarn.
I like this tool.


1 comment:

Jenny said...

I loooove it. I definitely think I'll need to have one when the purchasing embargo lifts. ;) Whenever that will be... What a great idea it is, seriously.