Over the last few months, I’ve managed to convert my friend Choni (of Choni’s slouch hat) to spinning… mostly by ‘lending’ her spindles that I was willing to part with. Actually it wasn’t hard at all, she took to it straight away and have really been enjoying the meditative aspects of the craft… not to mention making some lovely yarn!
It was recently Choni’s birthday, and with Christmas coming up I decided that I wanted her to have a very special birthday/christmas/love you present. Now Choni quite a ‘goth’ style and I’d noticed that my favourite of spindle makers Malcolm Fielding had available black and red Dymondwood, perfectly goth (plus black and red are her favourite colours)!
Dymondwood is a composite material made from wood veneers which are layered together and then infused with resin under massive pressure and heat. The resin fills all of the air pockets that are left after wood has been dried for woodworking. It makes the wood extremely hard and inert, and resilient to any warping that would normally be cause by time and changes in humidity. Hence it’s perfect for spindle shafts, or in this case, the entire spindle. An added advantage is that the wood veneers can be dyed different colours before they’re layered together, resulting in beautiful pieces of engineered wood, in which the natural looking grain is composed of wonderful bright colours (it can also be left undyed for a more natural look).
And here’s the spindle Malcolm custom made for me. A rose Dymondwood shaft, black and red Dymondwood whorl with a charcoal Dymondwood trim. And to top it all off, a titanium tip!
Malcolm was amazing about making this spindle for me… and I think may have been rather amused by my request for a ‘goth spindle’. Dyavol show up quite regularly in his Etsy store. Custom makes can be requested on his Ravelry group, which is where my goth spindle came from. (There’s also his website, although it isn’t updated with all current designs.)
(Left to right: A Purse Tibetan, with a Dymondwood shaft, lace sheoak whorl, and charcoal Dymondwood trim. The Dyavol. A Dervish, with a Dymondwood shaft and lace sheoak whorl. A Pu Yok, also with a Dymondwood shaft and lace sheoak whorl. All on some of Malcolm’s amazing Tasmanian Corriedale fibre)
And here’s the goth spindle with my little family of MF spindles, before it goes off to its new home. I chose the Dyavol design for Choni for two main reasons. First, I thought that the unique angles of the whorl would complement the overall ‘goth’ look nicely. And second, Choni has so far been spinning on Russian style spindles (in which the whorl isn’t a separate piece of the spindle, but instead a widened section of the shaft towards the spindles base).
Russian spindles spin fast, they’re great for spinning very fine singles with short staple length fibres. But without a pronounced whorl, they tend to lack the stability of something like a Tibetan spindle (of which the first and last spindles in the photo above are varieties), so while they spin fast, they don’t spin as long (these two factors tend to be a trade off). Choni has been getting wonderfully consistent yarn through the predrafting technique, in which she drafts the fibre almost to the weight she wants her single to be, before adding the twist with the spindle… I wouldn’t have the patience for it! But I wanted to gift her a spindle that would have more stability than her Russians, making it easier for her to experiment with drafting as she works (or baring that, getting more of her predrafted fibre spun before the spindle gives up the spin).
However, she loves the Russians, and I wouldn’t want to gift something that isn’t going to be loved. Hence the Dyavol (Russian for devil), a spindle design that is intermediate between Russian and Tibetan, but leaning towards the Russian end of the spectrum. Malcolm has done a lot of work experimenting with the different traits of these two spindle types, creating designs that express the advantages of both (fast but steady). My Dervish spindle is another example of this, though it leans more towards the Tibetan end. (He also has a ‘Tasmanian Devil’, that looks to me like it might be between the Dyavol and the Dervish. It has a similar shape to the Dervish by the whorl is considerably narrower. Like the Dervish the whorl is hollowed, making it lighter and faster.)
And finally, after I’ve probably bored you with all my talk of spindle technicalities. Here’s the important thing, goth spindle finds its spinner and goes off to its new home. Much happy spinning is ahead of it xxx