How to Use a Hand Spindle

Turn fiber into yarn with a simple top whorl spindle.

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A spindle provides the twist that turns fiber into yarn. When using a hand spindle, your hands let the fibers slide past each other and then let the twist catch them, a process known as "drafting." The size of the yarn is determined by how much fiber is caught in the twist.

Here's how to use a top whorl hand spindle:

1. Tie a starter yarn around the shaft of the spindle near the whorl on the side with the longest part of the shaft; the hook is on the other side. Pull the yarn up and over the whorl and place it through the hook.

2. Use your upper hand to hold the unspun fiber, gently prepare it to become yarn and keep the twist from moving into the fiber before you want it to. Feather out one end of the fiber and overlap it with the leader yarn.

3. Spin the spindle with your lower hand by flicking the top of the shaft or rolling the long part of the shaft up your leg. Pinch the fiber and yarn together with your lower hand. Your upper hand will be an inch or two from the point where the yarn is entering the fiber. The triangle that's formed is called the drafting zone.

4. Gently pull the fiber with your lower hand (the spindle should still be spinning in the direction in which it started) while allowing the fibers to gently pull through your upper hand. Continue in this manner and you're making yarn!

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