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Turkish Spindles - All Fiber Arts

A product review of turkish spindles - The unique design of a Turkish spindle creates a centre pull ball when finished

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Using a Turkish Spindle

  • To assemble the Turkish spindle, select 2 of the cross-bars that are the same size.
  • The cross-bars have square holes in them that will fit snugly on the spindle shaft to form the whorl.
  • Slide them down the shaft and place them perpendicular to each other.
  • Cut a length of yarn for a leader.
  • I used a commercially spun wool yarn and made it 4 x the length of the spindle shaft.
  • Fold the yarn in half and loop it around the bottom of the spindle.

  • Bring the yarn up and over the cross-pieces of the whorl and back down, wrapping it around.
  • Carry the yarn back up and over the cross-pieces, loop it around the spindle shaft and back down, forming an X.
  • This secures the cross-bars of the whorl into place.
  • Carry the yarn up the spindle shaft, and form a loop at the top.
  • The spindle is now ready to go.
I found it easiest to begin with a carded wool roving, rather than fleece. The yarn was clean, prepared and fairly easy to draft. To begin to spin, just as with the spinning wheel, I gave the whorl a spin, and let the twist build up on the leader yarn.
As the whorl stops spinning, it has a tendency to want to unspin itself. To prevent this, I used whatever props were available at the time - supported the spindle by placing it on the table beside me or on my lap, and firmly pinched the end of the yarn, to prevent it from unspinning.
Similarly to spinning on a wheel, I predrafted a bit of the roving, and placed the spun end of the leader yarn over the roving. Holding firmly onto the leader yarn and the roving, I gave the whorl a spin and let the roving attach to the leader. Before the whorl stopped spinning, I gave it another spin. I found it was easier to give the cross-pieces of the whorl a slight push rather than spin the spindle from the top of the shaft.
Before the spindle stopped spinning and started to unspin itself, I stopped it, and placed it on the table. I predrafted a bit more roving and then spun it again. Soon, I had about a yard of newly spun yarn. Before this had a chance to unspin and drop to the floor, I wound this yarn onto the spindle.
To wind onto the spindle, hold the spindle in your hand, release the tension on the yarn, and hook your thumb under the loop on the spindle shaft. Lift up and the loop is released from the shaft. Wind the yarn around the cross-bars of the whorl, in an X fashion. Run the yarn back up the shaft, make another loop around the top and you are ready to go again.
I decided that it was best to only spin a small length at a time (about 1 yard) and then wind it onto the spindle. Success comes in small increments. But those yards can add up quite quickly and soon you will have a ball of handspun.
This style of spindle is quite ingenious. To remove the yarn, pull the shaft out from the bottom of the whorl. Then pull out the cross-pieces, and you have a centre-pull ball.
The ball of yarn is now ready for plying. Reassemble your spindle. Then, take both ends of the yarn, from the centre and from the outside of the ball, and attach them to the leader yarn. Now spin in the opposite direction of what you were spinning earlier.
If you would like more info about these Turkish spindles, you can contact Kat Walton. Email:

I think it's pretty cool, what can be done with a bit of wool and a few sticks! Here's some more info on Turkish spindles and spinning.

Turkish Spindles - part 1
About Turkish spindles.

More about Handspinning:


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Handspinning Information

Underwater World of George Bass
John Hopkins Magazine

Archaeologists have found drop spindles on vessels that indicate that sailors would spin thread to repair their nets. Although spinning of flax was women's work, it was permissible for a man to spin using wool or goat's hair. An 85 year-old Turkish fisherman confirmed that women's hair was best, but hard to get and next was goat's hair, because it didn't absorb water like wool does.

Learn to Spin with a Drop Spindle
The Monroe Historical Society has an excellent illustrated guide to spinning on a drop spindle.

Sample 27
Gwen Powell provides samples of yarn that were spun using a Turkish drop spindle as part of her study for a Certificate of Excellence in Handspinning.

Intentional Spinner

Handspinning Books

Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning (Teach Yourself Visually Consumer) This visual guide shows you the basics, beginning with the tools and fibers, and takes you through spinning, plying, making novelty yarns, using exotic fibers, dyeing, and more. UK: Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning
The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers, from Animal to Spun Yarn This covers almost every sheep breed in the world from the longwool breeds of the United Kingdom to the Tasmanian merino, the Navajo churro, the northern European Faroese, and dozens and dozens more. It also includes goats, camelids (such as alpacas, llamas, and vicunas), bison, horses, musk oxen, rabbits, and even dogs. UK: Fleece and Fiber Source Book
The Whole Craft of Spinning: From the Raw Material to the Finished Yarn Everything you need to know from set-up to finished product in order to create distinctive yarns for use in knitting, weaving, crocheting, needlepoint, embroidery, and macrame. UK: Whole Craft of Spinning
In Sheep's Clothing A comprehensive look at the characteristics of wool of 100 breeds of sheep, this guide gives special attention to fleece characteristics, methods of preparation and spinning, and best end use. UK: In Sheep's Clothing
The Knitter's Book of Wool: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding, Using, and Loving this Most Fabulous Fiber The vast world of sheep and their wool into the language and context of knitting. UK: Knitters Book of Wool
The Intentional Spinner Offering a blend of technical knowledge, history, and easy-to-use tips, this inspiring collection of spinning wisdom deftly explores the three fundamental areas of yarn production: understanding fibers, managing yarn structure, and making yarns that precisely meet the spinner's needs. UK: Intentional Spinner
Spin Control Focusing at first on the spinning wheel, emphasis is placed on the importance of adjusting and customizing the wheel for best results. UK: Spin Control
Intertwined: The Art of Handspun Yarn, Modern Patterns, and Creative Spinning (Handspun Revolution) Experimental, handspun yarns, and includes recipes for handspun yarns, project ideas for knitters and crocheters, tips on how to use one-of-a-kind handspun yarns UK: Intertwined

Spindle Spinning

Productive Spindling A look at top whorl, bottom whorl and Turkish spindle methods to boost your techniques for efficiency and make productivity fun UK: Productive Spindling
Spinning in the Old Way A guide to readers in the fast-track, low-cost, high-quality approach to spinning. No spinning wheel required. UK: Spinning in the Old Way
Respect the Spindle UK: Respect the Spindle
Respect the Spindle With step-by-step instructions, this essential manual details the basic steps of spinning and then advances to the more complicated spinning wheel,
Learn to Spin Drop Spindle Kit - Dyed A drop spindle and spinning fiber, everything you need to get started with handspinning.
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