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November 22, 2008


Gillian Taylor

I think it looks as though she is respinning the yarn from the full spindle to the one she is using, to put more twist into the yarn or taking someout


Very interesting blog and picture. My neighbour has an old spindle that she brought to Canada from Europe and it is that shape. Until today I had never seen a spindle that shape before. You have answered one of life's puzzles for me as I was unsure that it really was a spindle ! Thanks for that.

Jane from Canada

I am in the wilds of Northern Ontario, Canada and read your blog regularly to view these wonderful pictures. Truly pan-fiberific Thank you. Jane


Pretty amazing. You have an incredible readership. Just as interesting as the pictures, actually.


Oh man - that looks like work. A lot of work. I'm surprised at the relatively recent date. I can't help but notice now thin both ladies are. Interesting nevertheless, but glad to live in a place and time when I can spindle for one. BTW, those are killer spindles.

dale-harriet in WI

I noticed her graceful posture - and the fact that it seems clear she's a master at whatEVER it is she's doing (practiced hands). It's lovely! I don't spin (except to look "right" at medieval events, and my resulting yarn's useless) but as a knitter I stand in awe of spinning.

Amelia G.

One thing I noticed -- the long empty spot below the full cop on the right spindle. It seemed perfect for a hand-rolling major twist. But how would the yarn stay put, unless there's some sort of hook on the top -- the way the yarn comes around the whorl it certainly looks stabilized by something at the top or near the top (or on the other side of the whorl). The left (empty) spindle seems to have an eye-hook at the top, and they are the same shape so I'd think the right (full) one does too.

I'd've thought perhaps she's evening out the twist in the yarn, as I can't see much difference between the yarns, but I'd also buy the wound-two-strands-on-plying-onto-another-spindle theory others have mentioned. It's a great technique, I'm sure Russian spindling isn't the only one to come up with it. We see a similar idea in the two-strand plying ball used in Peru (as described on Fiber Femmes by Abby Franquemont here: http://www.fiberfemmes.com/JanFeb2007/article1.htm ).

The use of her mouth -- well, when you need three hands, you have to get creative, right? And one hand is busy with spindle-and-thread, as is the other, so perhaps she's pulling out one of those crazy kinks with her mouth. I've done that before -- have you?

Sandra D

I remember that same fairy tale! It's the first thing I thought of when I saw the photo. Oh yeah, then I noticed the spindles.


by the way, you can see a picture of Ingrid plying from a hook in the winter 06 issue of spindlicity.


She is using her feet to "kick start" the spin for the plying, but the hook method is pretty efficient and allows you to ply a much longer length before winding on as well as even out the plying.


Well, I think she's definitely plying from the left spindle to the right and I think the yarn is going up and over a small beam above her to give her more distance to even out the ply as well as two hands to work the spindles. I would guess a hook above her, however the distance of the threads from each other coming down, suggests a smallish beam to me. I think with her mouth she may either be wetting flax or possibly spit splicing, but my guess is wetting flax or possibly cotton?. The spindles look like support spindles turned upside down for plying, and I am curious how she is keeping the right spindle from unraveling as it doesn't seem she is actually holding onto the spindle and I think hitching it over the "head" of the spindle would be really inefficient in this scenario. When I do an extreme closeup (very high quality photo by the way) it almost looks as if there are hooks on those spindles at the top (but really hard to tell) and the right one definitely looks plied. If you look at the way the yarn runs around the "head" of the right spindle, it seems consistent with something catching it at the top, like a hook or notch. Hooks would throw out my support spindle theory though and instead make these suspended spindles, however a notch on the side, like the ones on your old french spindles, would not interfere with the point if you used the spindle as a support spindle. On the other hand they might also have been used as hand spindles, a la french mode (mmmm now I want ice cream).

Oh, if only we could time travel! I would love to watch her and see what she is really doing.


Interesting. Manise' theory works pretty well if you consider how much easier it would be to handle both plies on one nostepine. Do you think that the Egyptian on the left is plying 4 together. I think I may try a plying hook.

dianna rubidge

I remember reading a fairy tale where the flax spinner had a fat lip from spinning flax. Your lip would develop a callus spinning like that!


Spindles? What spindles?


I do wish we could see what is going on over her head! She could be spinning with two spindles at once, from one fibre source, especially as one has less on it. (The Egyptians did this.) And, if it is flax, it is very white.
Fascinating. And, like, wow - those spindles!


Say, those are some amazing spindles! Did you notice those?


She looks as though she ought to have been painted by El Greco.

And those spindles are right out of Sleeping Beauty. Ouch!

Having spun like, twice now, I have no opinion about the techniques/fibers/anything relevant. But the spindles are way cool.


Maybe she's spit joining 2 ends? The right fuller cop looks plied. I think she wound 2 plies side by side by hand onto the left spindle kind of like a noste and then plied it onto the right one. Just my 2 cents worth. Great photo!

Tsarina of Tsocks

But... you forgot to mention the totally cool SPINDLES.

Also, the fact that she seems to be working with two of them at once?

Is it the rare and exotic Gossip Spindle, perhaps?

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