Video Wednesday- NiddyNoddy’s Medieval Spindle Stick Without a Notch.

This week I bring you the first review of my five new NiddyNoddy Spindles. This was the spindle I tried first but turned out to be my last favourite spindle (of the ones I bought from NiddyNoddy, it is far from being my least favourite spindle I own!). That said, it is still beautifully made and works well. I struggled on it with my 20 micron merino but did better spinning a bit thicker with the coarser wool that came as the packaging. A spindle choice is a very personal thing, and influenced by the spinner, their technique as well as the fibre they’re spinning and the end product they’re creating.  I’ve only spun a short time on this spindle, I’d like to sit down and do a spindle full of fibre then review it at that point also, but that would be some time away, so keep in mind these are my first thoughts with an empty- or almost empty spindle.

A few additional notes and information that I didn’t have for the video:
The wool in the packaging that I spun is Lleyn which is a welsh meat breed.
This spindle weighs 16 g which is a lot heavier than I am used to.


Video ‘Wednesday’- New Spindles!

How many spindles does a medieval lady need?

Answer, five more than she has!

Yes, I ordered a few (ok five) spindles from Niddy Noddy

When I first started spinning I couldn’t find many places selling medieval style spindles or spindle shafts, now I can find a lot. I think there is a lot more opportunity for small sellers to set up shop online these days. Maybe there are more people interested in spinning with appropriate tools at re-enactment events too? Whatever the reason, there are spindles out there that I don’t have and I thought I should change that.

I have a few other spindles on my wish list, but if you see anything you think I should buy… enable me!

One thing I find with my current spindles is that I buy the spindles and whorls separately (though both sellers sell whorls to match their spindles) and many of my whorls don’t fit my spindles as low as I would like.  Nothing wrong with the spindles, they are fantastic, but I do love my whorls too. So I talked to Neil first about my needs and he came up with a few ideas.

I bought two medieval spindle sticks (one with a spiral notch, one without), two medieval style spindle sticks which Neil shaped to my specifications (one with a spiral notch, one without) and a Dealgan just because I wanted to.

I’ve done a series of videos covering each spindle, but the below is just me chatting about the spindles I got and talking about what I got and why and how they fit my whorls.

I tried to upload this yesterday, but the internet was too slow, so I had to finish uploading it today, hence why video ‘Wednesday’ is on Thursday.

Video Wednesday- Drop spindle vs European Suspended Spinning.

Drop spindle spinning is the name we give to a type of suspended spinning that is very popular amongst modern crafters. We give it this name to differentiate it from other types of spinning. There are other ways to spin suspended. I don’t always spin suspended but when I do it’s different to the drop spindle spinning you might be familiar with. In this video I talk briefly about the difference.

Video Wednesday- How I Spin my Spindle

Today I share a close-up video of how I spin my spindle.

I have heard grasped spinning called many other things, including in-hand, in-the-hand, twiddling, suspended and supported. (yes, some people say it is suspended and others call it supported!) I’ve always called it grasped as I learnt that from Norman Kennedy who uses this technique. I was accused on ravelry of making up the term simply to confuse people, but sadly I can’t claim the term, it’s just what I use. I’ve have seen grasped spinning mentioned in a book from 1930—well before I was born!

Forgive the spinning is a little clumsy in this video, I was trying to move my fingers out of the way for the camera and was leaning at an odd angle to get my hand in view of the camera. Also, that’s not dirt under my nails, it’s cocoa. I was baking in between takes and cleaned my hands but missed my nails. Oops.

Video Wednesday – Spinning in Italy

Today I share this fantastif video of Luca Costigliolo spinning with a distaff and a suspended spindle. He explains that as the spindle needs to be continiously turned that the drafting is done with only one hand, the left. This keeps the left hand at the distaff and the right hand at the spindle.

Later he talkes about suspended vs grasped spindles. He mentions that his spindle has a bulb on top for holding the half hitch so it should be used as suspended and that spindles with points like that of a great wheel should be used grasped.

Also of interest is the sling around his neck to hold the distaff, rather than relying on having it in the crock of his arm like I do.

Hershey Fiber Arts Spindle


Today I thought I’d share a video of me spinning with a Hershey Fiber Arts Spindle

I love these spindles, they have really nice fine tips and she can do them with a spiral notch.  She does quite a few other types of spindles and other fibre equipment, such as whorls and distaffs, so make sure to have a look at the rest of her goodies.

Mythbusting Monday

Grasped spinning is slow, therefore it would never have been used when production spinning was needed, such as in the middle ages.
If grasped spinning is slow or not is objective. People learned how to spin grasped from a very young age, they would have found it faster than a modern person who has spun using a different style for, say, ten years, pick up grasped spinning, try it once and find it slow.

Many people say Continental knitting is faster than English, however some of the world’s fastest knitters knit English style and English style knitting has been used for many years. All my cardigans as a small child were knit English style and my mother had to knitt them or I went cold. If only the fastest method was used in situations where people had to produce or go cold then why did my mother not use Continental or my Nana’s knitting machine?

If speed was the only factor, why was the wheel not embraced more readily? The wheel was considered to produce thread of poorer quality and it was hundreds of years after it’s introduction before it really gained hold.

New Spindle Sticks!

Those of you who follow my blog know I’m a HUGE fan of these spindle sticks.


They are ‘just a stick’ but brilliant in their simplicity. You can see what another blogger thinks of them here.

Well, now we have a new spindle stick to choose from, baby spindle sticks which you can read about at here.

If any one gets a baby one (or several) I’d love to know what you think!

Spindle sticks and spindle whorls

When I started I was using a carved wooden dowel with a bunch of hairties as a whorl.

What am I using these days?

I’m using spindle sticks from here.  They are fantastic! I’m not too good at making my own so these are perfect. They have a tapered end so with each twirl of my fingers the spindle turns several times. Also when I spin it I can get a nice fast spin. I have seven and I’m buying more (so I have plenty to let others use and have a try at spinning at living history events. No, seven is not enough to do that with. Factor two to spin wool spindles with and one to ply them onto and the same for flax only gives me one spare.)


You can see the spindle stick here with three whorls. The right (top) of the spindle stick is darker because its absorbed the oil from my fingers as I’ve been using it. The corners on the top are starting to round and the stripe just above the whorl is where my handmade whorl sits. I tend to swap from my heavy whorl to my lightest to no whorl at all as I build up the cop.


My whorls. The top left is one I bought from flaming gargoyle pottery at a medieval tournament. I was so busy at the event I didn’t get time to go shopping but one of our newer members told me they saw some whorls for sale and so on the last day when I went to get my first real coffee for three days right when the stalls were packing up (in the rain) I ran and found the stall. I bought three, their biggest, their smallest and one in between. The one pictured is the smallest.

The top right I’ve made myself and is significantly thicker in the middle and quite thin at the edges. This is my lightest whorl.

The bottom is from the reproduction spindle at The Woolery. It comes with a notched stick that I find useless. You can’t hold it out to the side of your distaff as the thread doesn’t stay in the horizontal notch and the top is so fat that every turn of your fingers only turns the spindle once. It works great as a drop spindle but the whorl spins it short and FAST. Like, REAL fast. Like, I couldn’t even start drafting before it went into backspin fast.

But for the style of spinning I’m doing the whorl works fantastic. Not surprising as it was based on medieval whorls and I’m trying to reproduce medieval spinning. This whorl is my heaviest. Unfortunatly, as fantastic as it is, because there is very little (almost no) taper in the hole it doesn’t stay too well on my spindle. I can wedge it on with a splinter of wood or wrap some yarn around the base of it to keep it on. It’s new so I haven’t experemented with it much yet.
Costs? Spindle sticks are seven euro.

The Flaming Gargoyle whorl was three for $10 (they were $4 each but they only asked $10 for the three without me even bartering. 🙂 )

My whorl was essentially free as I’ve had the clay lying around for years. Can’t remember how much the clay was but you can make a LOT of whorls from it so even factoring the cost of the clay into account it would by FAR be the cheapest.

The whorl from the Woolery was $17 plus postage from America (postage from America always seems more expensive than postage from anywhere else and often takes twice as long to arrive). Yes, that was for a complete spindle but as I said, I can’t use the stick.

My go-to whorl is the one from Flaming Gargoyle. I use my homemade one when the cop gets heavier then I just take the whorl off when I no longer need it. As I said, I haven’t had the one from the woolery long enough to do much spinning with but I wouldn’t want to use it walking around a reenactment event as I can see it slipping off and getting lost (and being dug up by archaeologists in years to come, lol).

What I really want is a whorl just like the one from the woolery, without the stick (I have perfect ones already) that has a tapered hole. Anyone got any sources?

So that’s what I’m spinning with now days.