The spindle tales: Top whorl

Top whorl drop spindle (Jarod)

This type of spindle belongs to the drop spindle category. The whorl is basically a weight, used to stabilise the spindle and give it more momentum. Top whorl spindles, sometimes also called high whorl, are given that name because the weight is on the upper part of the shaft, and the cop is wound underneath the whorl.

The placement of the whorl affects weight distribution on the spindle, and therefore results in different spinning properties. On a top whorl spindle, the centre of gravity is placed near the top, making it slightly more prone to wobble than a spindle in which the centre of gravity is lower on the shaft. However, the weight of the spindle is going to be further affected by the cop as it grows and gains in weight, changing the centre of gravity on the spindle.

Top whorl drop spindles are often the entry point into spindle spinning, partly because they make it easier to use the ‘park and draft’ method. In ‘park and draft’ the spindle is flicked into motion, twist is stored into the leader, the spindle is then ‘parked’ between the knees or under the arm, while more fibers are drafted. The twist is then released into that new section. Because the top whorl spindles have the long part of the shaft under the whorl, they are very easy to tuck between your knees or under your arm. They are also very easy to make as show the examples of the CD spindle, or that of the toy wheel spindle.

CD Spindle, courtesy of Historic Crafts

I love my top whorl spindles, especially since they make it so easy to navajo ply-on-the-fly, as Rosemary so brilliantly demonstrates in her video.  Her previous version of the video showed how to get started on this technique. If you’ve not tried it before, give it a go it’s such a great way to navajo ply on a spindle.

How about you? where does your preference lie? High or Low whorl? or maybe a middle whorl? That’s one I haven’t tried yet.

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3 responses to “The spindle tales: Top whorl

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