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Eve spinning, the spindle in her right hand: Hunterian Psalter, ca 1170 (Glasgow University Library)
A wooden drop spindle

A spindle (sometimes called a drop spindle) is a wooden spike (known as the shaft) used for spinning wool, flax, hemp, cotton, and other [[fibre]s into thread. It is commonly weighted at either the bottom middle or top, most commonly by a circular or spherical object called a whorl, and may also have a hook, groove or notch, though spindles without these are also common. Spindle whorls have been found in archaeological digs around the world.

Modern spindles are commonly available in high-whorl, low-whorl, centre whorl, or supported varieties. In a high-whorl spindle, the whorl sits very close to the top of the shaft. A hook is placed on the top of the shaft to secure the developing yarn, and the newly-spun yarn is wound around the shaft underneath the whorl. In a low-whorl spindle, the whorl sits near the bottom of the shaft. The newly spun yarn is wound around the shaft just above the whorl. If there is a hook at the upper end of the shaft, the yarn is spiral-wound up the shaft and caught in the hook; if there is no hook at the top, then the yarn is spiral-wound up the shaft and secured with a half hitch (or more, for slippery fibers) at the top. Some low whorl spindles are notched at the top of the shaft to keep the half hitch secured, although this is not necessary. An alternate method of securing the yarn involves passing it down over the edge of the whorl, around the bottom end of the shaft, and back up over the whorl to be secured with a half hitch at the top of the shaft.

Other forms of spindles include supported spindles, such as the large Navajo spindle and the tiny cotton-spinning tahkli. The spinning wheel is also used for the same purpose.

See also


Simple English

[[File:|thumb|Spindel with spike (b) and whorl (c)]] A spindle (sometimes called a drop spindle) is a wooden spike (or shaft) that has at one end a weight, mostly a circular whorl.

Sometimes it has a hook at either end of the spike. It is used for spinning wool and other fibres into thread. Spindles or parts of them have been found in very, very old archaeological sites; they may represent one of the earliest pieces of technology available to humankind.

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