Back at the end of January in my blog post “Spinning Up A Storm” I mentioned that I had several new spindles on their way to me – and I showed pictures of my first Russian spindle that I acquired in a destash from a friend on Rav. I’m pleased to report, that as of Tuesday, all of my other news toys have arrived too!
The first one to arrive was my bottom whorl spindle from Michael Williams – a local woodturner who makes mathematically perfect spindles. He normally makes top whorls, but I asked him to make me a bottom whorl as I’d love one for plying thicker yarns where I can really pack the yardage on.
It’s exactly 35g and it spins forever:
You may have noticed the odd looking end on the shaft – I had initially said that I wanted it to be hookless and notchless, so that I could just secure it with a half-hitch knot, but Michael mentioned that he was working on a new design that allowed you to secure the yarn and not change the balance of the spindle. So I thought I’d give it a go. Here it is in more detail:
I’m really looking forward to using this to ply a yarn I’m working on at the moment.
My second spindle is a beautiful Rose spindle in Black Palm from the very lovely Grippingyarn. We had a lovely email convo where we discussed what I wanted and my skill level (zero!) and came up with ideas for what I wanted.
A Rose spindle is a hybrid spindle, which is French at the top and Russian at the bottom. It’s ideal for beginners as you have the spiral groove to help hold the yarn in place and and lip to help you with cop formation.
It also spins beautifully and will definitely not be my last. I plan to get at least two or three more from Lisa, along with wanting to try Russians and Tibetans from a number of other makers. It is a real experience, trying to learn a completely different style of spinning.
My final spindle to arrive was my semi-surprise Bosworth. It was to be a semi-surprise because I knew I had one coming and I knew that it was one of two options, but I had no idea which. I’d initially gone to Sheila to ask for a Maxi and sort-of decided on one in Sumac, only to ask about how long the waiting list for Kauri Midis was – to be told that I could have one right now if I wanted.
Only having the funds available for one, I asked Sheila to pick for me – which would I be most annoyed later on at not getting now? Which is the rarest or best looking? She promised to pick for me and get delivery sorted out.
So on Tuesday I got my paws on my spindle – which was hand-delivered to me by these lovely people (the sort-of special guests who I mentioned previously):
Jonathan and Sheila were in the UK for a holiday and magically I happened to be in London that morning for a work meeting (4:30am start that day, to get to my meeting for 9am!). They are such lovely people – and I was more than a little bit excited to be so close to spinning royalty, essentially. Their spindles are so collectible and are just perfect, in my mind.
They’ve had to put up with a lot of hassle recently, due to people getting angsty about orders – which has led to a shift in the way they operate waiting lists and take special requests (i.e. they now don’t, as it’s led to too many problems). What people forget, is that Jonathan is the only person turning, with no help in the workshop and Sheila is responsible for all testing, admin and shipping – alongside what she does for a day job. They’ve had a number of other issues to deal with recently that have impacted on spindle making – but some people seem very incapable of being understanding in these situations. People forget that you are in no way entitled to a spindle – there is no god-given right to be able to click your fingers and have a Bossie arrive at your door within a week designed to your exact specifications. They are collectors items, well up there in the list of top manufacturers (if not at THE top, for me) and as such they may be hard to get hold of.
Sorry for the mini-rant there. I am sometimes guilty of being a little impatient when I’ve waited a few weeks and I want to stamp my feet and have my spindle be here NOW and everybody understandably gets that way – but it’s the way you express it and deal with it, while being aware of what other people may be going through that’s the most important. Sometimes real life takes over and health problems, or having a house burn down takes a higher priority than filling spindle orders.
But now onto happier things and pictures of my spindle.
It is THE most gorgeous Sumac Maxi with a Walnut shaft. It weighs only 28g – which is dead on an ounce – extremely light. My last Maxi weighed 42g, which is deemed to be fairly light. I have a Moosie and 2 Minis which weigh only 1-4g less than this, despite being a fraction of the size, which says a lot about how light it is. It’s also lighter than my Zebrawood Midi, by SIX grams.
It’s also pin balanced – Sumac used to be a very difficult wood to get balanced whorls from – since Jonathan started to add pins to the underside to balance the whorls, they have a much higher success rate. And I’m very glad as I’ve wanted a Sumac spindle for a long time – right from the beginning when I was able to get hold of a Rosewood spindle during a one-off Stripy Spindle run where Sumac was also one of the options. I have a few stripy spindles now it seems – but then I do love things with an interesting wood grain.
This will be the best spindle for plying lots of lightweight singles, or being able to spin thick, low-twist yarns – as the spindle is large enough to have enough momentum, while being light enough to not pull too heavily on the yarn as it forms. I cannot wait to get around to using it.
And to end, a very cheesy picture (and fuzzy!) taken on the London Underground – where Jonathan and Sheila had to make their way to the British Museum and I was on my way to Kings Cross to come back to Leeds. I make no apologies for how mental I look in this photo – it had been a lovely hour or so!