Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Medieval glass bead spindle special tips

The other day, I had the good fortune to meet someone who had been gifted a glass bead spindle from my etsy shop. She had some questions about things that I had never thought about, so here are a few extra special tips to help modern gals learn about going Medieval with their spindle skills. And do remember to see my other spindle blogs, and the missing spindle blog and youtube channel about these for even more information! Each listing in my etsy shop tells about the weight, size and spin-ability of the whorls shown. That's a good place to start making an informed decision. These are all bottom weighted spindles meant to spin thin yarn. I have not tested them as top whorls.

First the oh-so-helpful o-rings and/or clear hair bands that will help keep your whorls from whirling away. Why do I recommend these and send them along with your order? Well, when I first began making these whorls and they were being tested by Lois, she came back and said something like~ 'these are really sturdy, they were rolling all over my concrete floor,' I looked at her and said- 'we've got to stop that!' A little thinking cap time revealed the o-ring solution. If the whorls go skidding across a hard floor too many times, they should not break, but they will get scuffed up. And it's annoying to have to go skittering after them all the time. You should be able to get more o-rings at your local hardware store in the section with all the little boxes of random hardware. I use the two smallest sizes available. The best place I've found for the clear hair bands (if you prefer those) is Sally Beauty Supply. 
(P.S.~ if your whorl does break, please tell me! They are guaranteed not to do that.)

Why are there two whorls? Well, for the weight! Use them both together when you begin, then as the cop grows you can remove the bottom whorl. As it grows even more, remove the top whorl and put the lower whorl back on. When your cop gets really heavy, you may even be able to take both whorls off and keep on spinning! The double whorl system came into being when my design partner (Lois of missingspindle fame) and I were trying to figure out a way to make the glass a bit more weighty. Since I am only able to make relatively round whorls up to a certain size & weight, we thought of adding a smaller whorl below. Et voila! The two whorl system was born. The smaller whorls can also be paired quite nicely to sit below a heavier pottery whorl~ this is mostly done for looks!

Which end of the stick is which? These sticks are tapered at each end and fatter in the center~ but one end is shorter beyond the wide bit than the other. The short end is for the whorls, while the long end is for spinning up your fiber. Please be sure there is no fiber under you whorl and that your cop is not so low that it is pushing on the whorl. It can push it right off the stick if it is.

What's with the tapered holes? My glass whorls are built on a special steel mandrel that is tapered; so the holes in the beads are not straight. Why? So they will fit on the spindle nicely; it also means there is a right and wrong way to place the whorls on the stick. To double check, put the whorl on and look up the stick to the base of the whorl. If there is a lot of 'wobble room', the whorl is likely on upside down. Flip it and check again. A small gap can often be remedied by pushing the o-ring up snugly under, or even partway into, the gap. A wobbly whorl will make for a wobbly spin. When you are checking whorl listings. be sure and read through the whole description~ if the whorls have a little wobble, I'll let you know. If they spin like the proverbial top, I'll tell you that too!

Do all whorls fit on all sticks the same way? Definitely not! Here's why. I make the whorls in my home studio, Caroline makes the sticks in Ohio, the mandrels for building the whorls were made by a glass tool maker in California. Everything is made by hand by the three of us. All my mandrels are not precisely the same size, with the same taper (I've got a couple of faves I normally use now, which helps). All of the sticks are not precisely the same size. This is one advantage to getting an entire set from me~ I have tested the whorls and paired them with the stick they fit and spin on the best! In some cases you may see that a set is only available all together. This is because the whorls have been particularly difficult to pair with a stick. In some cases I have tweaked the stick and sanded it to make sure everything works well. If you are considering buying a pair of whorls, check the photos to see how close together the two ride on the stick shown. This is a good gauge as to whether they will fit on just any old stick. If they are close together, the chances of them fitting on your stick are often a little smaller. You can also ask me if I feel they are tetchy or easy to pair up!

I hope this might answer some of the questions folks might have about all this. If you have questions, please let me know. You can visit my facebook fan page and send me a message, or message me through my etsy shop.