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Turkish spindle history

Turkish Spindles

Schacht Hi-Lo Spindles
  • To assemble the Turkish spindle, select 2 of the cross-bars that are the same size.
  • The cross-bars have square holes in them that will fit snugly on the spindle shaft to form the whorl.
  • Slide them down the shaft and place them perpendicular to each other.
  • Cut a length of yarn for a leader.
  • I used a commercially spun wool yarn and made it 4 x the length of the spindle shaft.
  • Fold the yarn in half and loop it around the bottom of the spindle.
  • Bring the yarn up and over the cross-pieces of the whorl and back down, wrapping it around.
  • Carry the yarn back up and over the cross-pieces, loop it around the spindle shaft and back down, forming an X.
  • This secures the cross-bars of the whorl into place.
  • Carry the yarn up the spindle shaft, and form a loop at the top.
  • The spindle is now ready to go.
I found it easiest to begin with a carded wool roving, rather than fleece. The yarn was clean, prepared and fairly easy to draft. To begin to spin, just as with the spinning wheel, I gave the whorl a spin, and let the twist build up on the leader yarn. As the whorl stops spinning, it has a tendency to want to unspin itself. To prevent this, I used whatever props were available at the time - supported the spindle by placing it on the table beside me or on my lap, and firmly pinched the end of the yarn, to prevent it from unspinning. Similarly to spinning on a wheel, I predrafted a bit of the roving, and placed the spun end of the leader yarn over the roving. Holding firmly onto the leader yarn and the roving, I gave the whorl a spin and let the roving attach to the leader. Before the whorl stopped spinning, I gave it another spin. I found it was easier to give the cross-pieces of the whorl a slight push rather than spin the spindle from the top of the shaft. Before the spindle stopped spinning and started to unspin itself, I stopped it, and placed it on the table. I predrafted a bit more roving and then spun it again. Soon, I had about a yard of newly spun yarn. Before this had a chance to unspin and drop to the floor, I wound this yarn onto the spindle. To wind onto the spindle, hold the spindle in your hand, release the tension on the yarn, and hook your thumb under the loop on the spindle shaft. Lift up and the loop is released from the shaft. Wind the yarn around the cross-bars of the whorl, in an X fashion. Run the yarn back up the shaft, make another loop around the top and you are ready to go again. I decided that it was best to only spin a small length at a time (about 1 yard) and then wind it onto the spindle. Success comes in small increments. But those yards can add up quite quickly and soon you will have a ball of handspun. This style of spindle is quite ingenious. To remove the yarn, pull the shaft out from the bottom of the whorl. Then pull out the cross-pieces, and you have a centre-pull ball. The ball of yarn is now ready for plying. Reassemble your spindle. Then, take both ends of the yarn, from the centre and from the outside of the ball, and attach them to the leader yarn. Now spin in the opposite direction of what you were spinning earlier. I think it's pretty cool, what can be done with a bit of wool and a few sticks! Here's some more info on Turkish spindles and spinning. Turkish Spindles - part 1
About Turkish spindles.

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