Are you interested in trying out a drop spindle but overwhelmed by the options? This post will give you a brief idea of where to start for the least investment. A drop spindle really doesn't need to cost a ton. You can make one from a potato and a chopstick if you want! Buying one, however, is probably a more lasting idea and I suggest a simple spindle over a fancy carved or wood burnt one. You are gonna be dropping it a ton after all! You can get one for $15-$20. A local to me yarn shop in Seattle that caries them is The Fiber Gallery but Etsy and the Evil Empire Amazon both have many options. Companies I know and trust are Ashford and Louet. If you followed those links you will quickly see that there are LOTS of spindles and lots of styles to choose from. I hope this post can narrow down the choices.
~Look for a spindle that is 1-2 oz or 30-60 g.
~Top or bottom whorl? Honestly I suggest trying both. Look for a hi-lo spindle that will allow you to use it as either a top or bottom whorl spindle. Each type is better suited for different yarn qualities. (There is a whole blog post coming about the different kinds and why we would prefer one over the other for a specific project) Given that the bottom whorl spindle is more stable, if you must choose it may be an easier place to start.
~Hook or notch? Don't worry about that too much. Eventually you may prefer one over the other, but both work just fine.
~A first spindle should be simple. Remember what I said about dropping it a ton?
Thats about it for spindles. But what about fiber?!
Honestly there is no right fiber to begin with. I have learned that some are a bit easier to work with so to narrow down the options I'll share what I've learned from my own experience. Carded wool is easier to work with than combed top and undyed wool is less challenging to work with than dyed wool.
A whole post is coming about the differences between carded wool and combed top and why we would choose one or the other given the qualities we hope for in our yarn. For now lets simplify the whole thing as two different ways to process wool for spinning. Carded wool is "fluffier" and easier to draft. Combed top is much softer but the process creates fibers that are more parallel with each other and harder to draft because of that.
As much as those beautiful hand dyed braids of roving speak to our hearts, its easier to start with undyed fiber. The dye process can make the fiber more challenging to draft. It really is a question of how steep you want the learning curve to be. If that braid speaks to your heart, GO FOR IT.
Corriedale or Bluefaced Leicester are breeds of sheep that are often recommended for beginners. They are a more course, but while that means they are scratchier, it also means the fibers grab each other. That can be handy. Merino is great for learning to draft but the long smooth staples can be a bit slippery and want to pull apart with the weight of the spindle until we learn to add enough twist.
That is about it! Add this post to your Pinterist so you can be sure to find it again and leave a comment if you have a favorite indie spindle maker or dyer on Etsy or Insta you follow. I would love to look them up. Some indie dyers I'm in love with on Instagram are CreatedByElsieB, Hirschfeldhandknits, and NestFiber.