Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to Make a Turkish Spindle on the cheap

I am a pretty new spinner. I started out with a CD spindle that my spinning mentor gave me. It is really easy to use; she teaches middle school students how to spin using them. As I started looking around on Ravelry at all the pretty spindles my friends had, I decided that I when I start collecting spinning tools, other than the wheel I want someday, I would like to have a Russian spindle (left) and a Turkish spindle.

Unfortunately I have the dilemma that a lot of people have when picking up a new craft: I only have money for the materials or the tools, not both. I choose the materials, because I can't make those (well, I keep looking at the cats and the cat comb, but that is a different story). What I can make are tools. Not lovely ones like in the pictures, but inexpensive, serviceable ones that I won't cry over if one of the children destroys them.

And now... A photo tutorial on how to make (and use) a Turkish Spindle.
You will need:
3 bamboo skewers
Something to cut them with (saw, utility knife... bread knife if you can't find a better cutter)
Sand paper (optional)
Scrap string
Some fiber to spin

Other than the fiber, this project is practically free. If you don't have skewers, you could probably use carryout chopsticks, old knitting needles/crochet hooks, some straight sticks from the backyard (as long as they don't flake bark). And if you mention to someone that you are thinking of taking up spinning, the fiber could be free, too. Or at least pretty cheap. Plus, for a first go you could try spinning scraps of yarn together.

Part 1: Prepping the sticks
Pull three skewers from your package. Set one aside. 
From the two remaining skewers, carefully use your cutter to remove the pointy ends. Cut these two pieces in half. If you would like, gently sand the ends of the skewers to remove any rough bumps. If I had sand paper, I would do it.
Lay the four short sticks two across the other two to make a cross (1). With your scrap string, wrap across the diagonal of the juncture one way (2) and then the other (3). With the point push the long skewer through the center of the wraps (4). Wrap the scrap yarn around the center a few more times, until it is only about 6 
inches longer than the part of the skewer that is sticking out. Use a half hitch knot to secure the yarn near the tip (5).

Part 2: I have a spindle! Now what?
This part is variable, but I will show you how I do it.
Find some fiber (6). In this example, I am using merino. I drafted out a short length to get the spinning started (7). Overlap your leader yarn (the piece that is sticking off the end of the spindle) a couple inches with your fiber (8). Fold the fiber over the leader yarn (9). Holding the join, pick up the spindle and spin clockwise. When the twist has traveled into the join (10), begin drafting and spinning the yarn. When you run out of arm,  watch this fantastic video my friend made to show how to neatly wrap onto a Turkish spindle. 

Part 3: My spindle is full!
Awesome. Now we have to take your new yarn off your spindle. This part is super easy.
Pull the long skewer out of the ball (11). Pull one set of arms out (12), and then the other (13). Turn the turtle onto its back (14). Pull out the leader yarn and remove it from the center of the yarn (15). Ta da, you now have a center pull ball perfect for plying!

Note: If you drop your spindle, be sure to move the arms of the spindle back up.


  1. I have bamboo skewers! And sandpaper!! And a cutting tool!!!



    1. Yay! I hope to be seeing your Turkish spindle in action soon!