The following is the continuation of an article written by Jill Holbrook for the Winter 2004 edition of SPIN OFF magazine.
I exchanged my smoking habit for a spinning habit. I had several wheels and my collection of support spindles, and then top whorl spindles intrigued me so I had to try them. My skill had improved—I wasn’t constantly dropping the spindle—so I began collecting drop spindles, too.
My friend Joan Ruane gave me several spindles when she closed her spinning and weaving shop in Tucson, Arizona. Among them was a top-whorl spindle with a carved notch instead of a hook. Another spinner from our local guild, Esther Hughes, had the spindle’s twin. She said Harry Linder, who published Hand Spinning Cotton , made hers, and it was her favorite for spinning cotton.
Following her lead, I tried my spindle with cotton—it instantly became my favorite spindle and cotton became my favorite fiber.
The spindle was light and well balanced and clearly handmade. In fact, it looked like something I could make. After all, I have made knitting needles and support spindles using dowels, skewer sticks, and glass and clay beads. With the help of another friend, Lura Moore, and her power tools we soon had several shafts with the carved notch top for these spindles.
Next I experimented with different materials for whorls. The original spindle has a 3-inch whorl and looks like a coaster. I looked at all kinds of coasters but could find nothing similar. I did find some carved wooden décor items, and while they were 4 inches in diameter,they did work.
In my whorl search I also found a roll of polymer clay with a flower design in the center. The roll is designed to be sliced into buttons, rolled into beads, or cut and applied like a mosaic to a flat surface. I sliced it and molded the slices together to form a spindle whorl with a 3-inch diameter. I like this spindle a lot because it
is very pretty and well balanced.
Jill’s article goes on to describe how she spun all of the cotton for a sweater that she designed the pattern for. Read all about it in All About Spinning Cotton