It’s Just A Lap Spindle, It Isn’t Broken

Confusion reigneth, and I am obliged to clarify a technical issue.

This is spinning. It isn’t Sleeping Beauty.

A Lap Spindle

Just a twig. Or a lathed stick. Or a dowel with a pointy top end, and a less pointy bottom end, and grooves top and bottom to anchor the fiber.

It has no whorl, because it is not dropped. It is twirled.

It is not a drop spindle, though it can work like one if you get a little spun thread or yarn on to weight it like a drop spindle.

This is a RESTFUL spindle, and you sit back comfortably, and you just twirl it. You do so casually, and if it hurts your hand, you stop, and wait until tomorrow. In about three weeks, it doesn’t hurt anymore if you keep it up.

There are technical issues for this that do not apply to a drop spindle in the same way.

The first, is ROLL RATIO.

A smaller diameter spindle will roll MORE TIMES on a single twirl than a large one. You roll it up your thumb when you twirl it, and a small one can roll 2-4 times, where a large one rolls 1/2 to 1 times.

The other issue is Spindle to Output Proportion.

Large yarns do best with a spindle that is 1/4″ or larger in diameter.

Small yarns and threads do best with a thin one. Thinner thread, thinner spindle.

There are TWO reasons for this, and the first is just ROLL RATIO, again. Small yarns take MORE TWISTS to spin them well. So you spend more time twisting. A finer spindle twists faster.

The second reason is that Large yarns don’t handle well with a small spindle. The spindle should be at least 2X the diameter of the finished yarn, or it just won’t roll well, your thumb kind of catches on the thickness of the yarn if it is the same diameter as the spindle.

Kind of hard to describe.

lapspindle

This is a large lap spindle, and the diameter of yarn would really be faster to spin with one about HALF this diameter.

You don’t HOLD THIS OUT to spin, like in the picture, you tuck it up and get comfortable with it.

The wool is Coopworth Locks, and it is a burgundy. One of my favorites because it feels soft and luxurious. I spin everything on lap spindles, and I have a whole collection of them, they look just like sticks.

There are a bunch of small differences.

You never have to hitch it to drop it. You just spin, and hold the spindle tucked at your side while you rove or draw out more fiber, and then you spin and spin and spin, and then do it again. No hitching, no leaning forward to drop.

It seems slower, but it isn’t. People who use this spin as fast as people who use a drop spindle, in part because what they lose in spin time, they gain in not hitching.

But it is an exercise in patience, and teaches you to just keep working, even when you are resting. No wasted time while you binge Netflix. See? I was working!

This is also the EASIEST spindle to get started. Just rove out some thin rove, twist the very end, and wrap it 4 times in the groove at the bottom (make sure you wrap it the correct direction or it will fall off). Then just SPIRAL the rove UP the spindle to the top, and then spin a length of rove off the end. When you have yarn off the end, unroll SOME of the spiraled rove, and it will twist. Repeat as many times as y9u need, to get the yarn spun all the way down to the bottom of the spindle. Then unwind the spiral, and spiral it up more tightly to begin spinning normally. It literally takes half a minute to get your spindle started and a good length spun and wound on, instead of fussing with it.

So you can make your own lap spindle.

Plum suckers make great lap spindles, you can find a nice straight one, and you can usually find long ones. Get one about TWICE the size that you need to end up with, because the bark accounts for about half.

Peel that sucker, and point the ends, and put some grooves in, bottom and top.

Elm seedlings and branches are another option, but they are never straight. They always curve, and when they dry they curve MORE. But some of them will work.

Apple, Lilac, Apricot, Pear, and other branches work well also, but BE WARNED, Apple branches have a brown dye on them that comes off on your hands until they are well worn, and it may stain your wool.

This is an ancient, and a primitive type of spinning spindle. It was around, and CALLED a Lap Spindle long before modern spinners tried to name something else by that name because they did not know what it was.

It has been lost, because nobody wants to explain how to use a thing y9u can make yourself, instead of having to buy it from them.

This is the spindle that freed me to be able to spin when I could not afford to do so.

One more note… If you have been taught to wrap the yarn onto the spindle, tight against the whorl, you won’t do well with a lap spindle. It will just compress down onto the spindle, and then expand upward and downward along the spindle, and fall off the bottom end. With a drop spindle, it can do this and PUSH THE WHORL right off!

The key is to SPIRAL the yarn up and down the shaft, instead of wrapping it close. This keeps it from pushing outward off the ends.

Give it a try. Because…

Anyone Can Spin

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