• Spindle nest
• 3 ft. length of plied
dk to worsted weight yarn
begin spinning on your Navajo spindle all you essentially need are your
spindle and fiber. However, a few extra tools can make the business of
getting started go a little smoother. A section of scrap yarn provides
an easy and effective method of joining the fiber to the spindle to get
the whole process moving. A spindle nest will help keep your
spindle in place and reduce the risk of it rolling away and having to
chase it across the room.
the Spindle & Fiber
Begin by predrafting a length of
is preparing the fiber for spinning. Take a section of your fiber and
split it lengthwise (fig. 1). This should happen relatively easily as
the fiber naturally wants to be split in this direction. Pull the
fibers apart from each other to lengthen the section of roving (fig.
2). Set this aside for the moment.
Figures 1 & 2
Now cut a piece of scrap
approximately 3 feet in length. This yarn should be about dk to worsted
weight and must be plied. At one end of the yarn make a slip knot. Loop
this over the bottom end of the spindle and tighten under the whorl
(fig. 3). Take the long end of the yarn and bring it over the spindle.
Wrap it a few times at the shaft/spindle join before spiraling it up
the length of the shaft (fig. 4). At the end of the yarn tie another
knot (any old knot will work fine, this is just to keep the plies
together). Just below this knot, separate the plies of the yarn to
create a loop (fig. 5). Thread about 2 inches of predrafted fiber
through this loop and let plies of the scrap yarn close around the
fiber. Loop the 2 inches of fiber you just threaded into the yarn back
up on itself (fig. 6). You have now joined the fiber to your spindle
and are ready to get down to business.
Figures 3 & 4
start spinning you should be sitting with your spindle leaning against
your right knee. Place the metal tip into the spindle nest (fig. 7).
You will have to play around and adjust how you are seated and the
angle of the spindle until you find what suits your body type.
Generally speaking, the spindle should rest against your thigh at a
moderate angle with the top of the shaft a few inches higher than your
leg (fig. 8). Hold the fiber to be spun in your left hand and rest
your right hand gently on the spindle (fig. 9). Roll, or twirl, the
spindle up your leg, knee to thigh, making sure the spindle is fully
rotating. At the top of your leg lightly hold the spindle and bring it
back to your knee (fig. 10) and once again roll up. This motion should
glide and begin to feel natural. Always think up, up, up. As you spin
with your right hand, your left hand should be drawing away from the
spindle to gradually let more fiber be spun. When your left hand cannot
pull away any farther, unwind the yarn spiraling up the shaft (make
sure to keep some tension on the newly spun yarn). Rewind this yarn
around the base of the whorl/shaft join then once again up the length
of the spindle shaft. Continue in this manner and you’re spinning!
Figures 7 & 8
Figures 9 & 10
you need to join more batting, leave the end a bit fluffy. Blend in the
beginning of the next batt, pulling slightly to insert the new
piece. Spin carefully to make sure the join is strong.
is done by rolling the spindle down your leg, from thigh to knee—the
opposite direction from spinning. In a play on words, remember spin up,
For a detailed description on spinning and plying on a Navajo
spindle, read Spindle
Spinning: From Novice to Expert
Delaney. Another good resource for spinning, although it does not
highlight the Navajo spindle, is Spin to Knit: The Knitter’s
by Shannon Okey.