How to Start Spinning on a Hand Spindle

To start spinning with a hand spindle, you must be standing up. This is because standing gives you a bit more time to draft out the fibers. When you become more experienced, you can sit and spin with a spindle.

1Take the end of the leader in your fiber hand.

Let the spindle hang free.

2Reach down with your spinning hand and twist the spindle with your fingers and thumb so that it turns to the right.

Practice this a few times before you add the fiber.

3Gather up your fiber and determine which direction pulls out most easily.

You may find that the spindle spins first to the right and then dramatically turns back to the left. This happens when the leader has so much twist in it that it cannot twist to the right any more. It also happens when you are spinning. Just let it unwind a bit by itself, and then give it another twist to the right.

4Tuck the fiber under your arm or wrap it around your wrist. Bring it through the palm of your hand.

The loose end should come over your first finger, and your thumb holds the fiber in place.

5Lay about 10 inches of the leader across the fiber.

It should pass over the roving and be held gently in place with your thumb. The spindle should be hanging free.

6Reach down and give the spindle a firm twist to the right. Then transfer the twist to the fiber.

You should feel—and see—the twist come up the leader. When it reaches the fiber, the fiber should start to twist.

7Tighten your thumb and finger on your spinning hand. Pull both the leader and the fiber forward (toward the spindle) together.

Do not let the twist enter the fiber until you have pulled out about 3 inches.

8Relax your spinning fingers slightly. Move them smoothly up the stretched-out fiber and leader, back toward your fiber hand.

Watch the twist follow your fingers up the thread.

9Tighten the fingers on your fiber hand so that the twist cannot get into the fibers that are not stretched out.

Remember to Relax the hand that is holding the fiber so that it can move smoothly.

10When your spinning hand reaches your fiber hand, tighten your spinning fingers and pull the fiber forward.

By now, you have moved from drafting out the leader and fiber to just drafting out the fiber. You are really spinning! Can you feel the rhythm now? One hand tightens, and the other loosens. Remember: The sequence is pinch, pull, slide, relax.