Spinning with a Drop Spindle

Early Colonial Crafts for our Homeschool Handcrafts for our US History

We’ve just started our first history block of the year for US History. The block will cover early colonialization. To go along with this block, I’ve chosen a few early colonial skills needed to serve as our handcrafts. The first one is spinning fiber.

 I learned to spin with a drop spindle a number of years ago, but I still consider myself to be a novice. Even so, I have had a few people ask me to post more about spinning, so I’ve created a video below of how I spin.

The spindle that my daughter has been using is one that was given to me by a friend made by the company, You Can Learn Kits that makes a few kits for learning early colonial skills. It is a bottom whorl spindle and looks fairly simply made, and I suspect one could easily make a spindle with an eye-hook, wooden dowel, and wheel from Woodpecker Crafts for much less. When I priced it, the cost was around $3.00. You’ll definitely want finer wool roving than the one provided in the kits. The one my daughter is using is 9 inches long with a 2.5-inch wooden wheel on the bottom of the dowel. 

My spindle is a top whorl spindle, meaning the weighted round piece is near the top, rather than the bottom of my spindle. I purchased mine some time ago when first learning to spin. They both work similarly, but are positioned differently. I hold mine so the whorl is at the top; she holds hers so the whorl is at the bottom.

We are starting with wool roving because it is far easier to spin than cotton. Cotton fibers can be spun. However, its fibers are far shorter, making it slightly more difficult than wool to spin. 

Most yarn is at least two ply, and here we are only spinning one ply. To complete the yarn, we will spin another single ply of yarn, and then use our drop spindles to combine the two plies into one, making our yarn. The yarn will then need to be washed to set the plies.

In the video, I demonstrate the technique that I use to spin. One hand feeds the roving from the top, the other spins the spindle and guides the roving into the twist. The hand guiding the thread gently pulls on the roving, then runs the fingers up over the roving as it twists into yarn. This takes a bit of practice, and one can expect the yarn to break often in the beginning. One can also expect an inconsistent width of the yarn. Spinning in a way to have a consistent yarn width takes much practice. 


Just a note: I participate in Affiliates Programs. When you use some of the links above, your cost is the same, but I receive a very small commission from your purchase. For more information on my relationships see my Policies and Disclosures page.

Let's Chat