You probably know that knitting is my favourite craft. Nevertheless, there are a lot of other crafts that I either enjoy doing or that I have a huge appreciation for. Some of them are related to knitting in an obvious way: crochet, sewing, spinning and dyeing. Others, less obviously. A friend of mine, Paul, is a excellent woodworker. Woodworking is a very beautiful craft: the way that you shape and construct things from raw materials is fascinating. Since the beginning of mankind we've used wood for our various purposes, making fire, houses ships etc. Its a material that is still vital in our society today. A little while ago, he showed that woodworking is related to knitting as well! Ask yourselves: who makes the tools that a knitter uses?
Spindles are ancient old tools.The usage of them date back at least since the neolithic times. Throughout history spindles have been extremely important. Up until the invention of the spinning wheel it was the only way to spin fibre into thread, essential for clothing, robes, sails etc. Their importance can still be seen in the prominent place spindles fulfil in art, stories and mythology. Even though spinning wheels have been around for a long time they've never been able to fully replace the spindle. In recent years the spindle has attracted lots of attention and new popularity.
|Plate of a Navajo woman spinning, from the Annual Report of the Department of Ethnology 1881, on Gutenberg.org|
This is a Navajo-spindle that Paul made for me. For the longest time I've wanted to try this type of spindle. However these type if spindles are particularly hard to find in the Netherlands. Actually no spindle apart from the standard whorl is easy to find, but the Navajo spindle, due to the cumbersome nature of it, is very hard to ship. The Navajo spindle is a supported spindle. The spinner sits on the floor or in a chair with the bottom part of the shaft resting on the ground and the top part on the thigh. The fibre is spun by rolling the spindle up the thigh.The end of the spindle sits in a small bowl to prevent it from sliding on the floor. Historically the Navajo spindle was used by by the Navajo and Pueblo Indian nations. So far I haven't been spinning miles on this spindle, not because I don't like it but because it is a totally different way of spinning than I'm used to. I've never spun on a supported spindle before, let alone such a big one. But a bit of practise goes a long way!
This Turkish spindle was the first spindle Paul made for me. Spinning on a Turkish spindle mostly resembles spinning on a regular low whorl spindle, which is the most commonly used spindle. The main difference with a regular one is that it's really easy to take the whorl off of the spindle, which gives the advantage that you can make a ball of your freshly spun yarn and take the whorl out easily.
Another tool that Paul made for me was a niddy-noddy. He made a travel version which you can take apart and reassemble in different sizes. A niddy-noddy is ideal for keeping freshly-spun yarn under tension, setting the twist and winding it into a skein. One very usefull aspect of the niddy-noddy is that you can measure how much yarn you've spun by counting the rotations you make while winding the skein.
These are really special gifts! Having your tools handmade by someone is always something special, but even more so when they are made by such a dear friend. Thank you Paul! They're wonderful and I'm sure these spindles and niddy-noddies will serve me well for many years to come!
By the way, did I mention Paul's birthday was last week? Happy birthday Paul, and thanks for all the help, always!