The spindle tales: Bottom whorl, the Turkish spindle

Bottom whorl drop spindles, as their name suggests, differ from the high or top whorl spindles by the fact that the whorl is situated in the lower part of the shaft, giving it a low centre of gravity. The yarn is then secured at the top of the shaft, either through a hook or with a half hitch.

IST Crafts Turkish spindle

The Turkish spindle is a variant on the bottom whorl spindle. On a Turkish, the whorl is not made of one piece, but of arms. The cop is not wound above the whorl but around it. Unlike other types of spindles, the Turkish spindle is made from independent parts and can be easily disassembled. The whorl consists of two pieces, which slide into each other to form four arms, and the shaft runs through both pieces, stabilising the whole. Mine, shown here, is a tiny beauty weighing just 10 grams, its shaft is ash and its whorl zebrano wood. It’s an IST Crafts creation and spins like a dream. I absolutely love it, and I’ve spun a lot of cobweb singles on it. Like all spindles, the Turkish spindles come in a variety of weights and shapes, so a heavier one will be more suited to thicker yarns.

Turkish spindle with the cop almost at full capacity

On a Turkish, the cop is built by wrapping the yarn around the arms. Once the spindle is full, which is when the cop almost reaches the ends of the arms, or once you have enough yarn, the cop can be removed by sliding the whorl and cop up and off the shaft, then pushing the arms out, thinnest one first. This presents one major advantage: as the arms are removed, the cop stands as a stable ball of yarn, meaning that it can be used straight away without having to wind it off the spindle, either to ply or to knit. By securing the start of the yarn onto the shaft before starting the cop it is apparently possible to use the ball from both ends. This is not something I’ve done yet, so please let me know if you have.

If you are a Ravelry user, there is a very interesting thread on building a cop on a Turkish spindle, with some beautiful images of cops being built with amazing regularity. I do realise that marveling at this makes me the ultimate spinning geek, but I can live with that. I also have to admit that I am far from being as systematic in my cop building as the Ravelers in question and rather tend to wind my cops any old way, following only the ‘under one arm and over two’ system, which helps keeping the base of the spindle relatively flat, and builds the cop mainly upward and outward. What I love most is the little star shape the yarn makes on the arms at the very start.

Isn't the star shaped cop at the base of the spindle cute?

Overall I find I spin on the Turkish spindle slightly slower than on some other of my spindles because I’m not as fast winding the cop on the Turkish as I am on my top whorls. And yet, I still use it a lot, because it’s such a joy to spin with. I thoroughly enjoy my teeny tiny Turkish: it’s my lightest and smallest spindle, so a favorite to carry around, and I just love being able to take the cop out, instantly freeing the spindle.

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2 responses to “The spindle tales: Bottom whorl, the Turkish spindle

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