Spindle Mania

Ed’s been making spindles for five years. During the first couple of years he worked to refine his design of the Standard Turkish spindles until he felt he had a good understanding of what makes for a well balanced, good spinning spindle. In the Spring of 2008 he designed what to us seemed like a mini Turkish spindle, our Turkish Delight. Around that time he also experimented with making a Ladakhi man’s spindle, the Skuru by using the proportions from a picture sent to us from Celtic Jo, who’d taken the picture while visiting in Ladakh, asking if Ed could make her one. He made a couple but wasn’t happy with the imperfect balance and seemingly cumbersome appearance.

I took one of his skuru’s  to Sock Summit 2009 as part of our display. A woman who saw it asked us if we’d be interested in seeing a Turkish spindle she’d picked up years ago while touring through Turkey. We arranged to meet at Oregon Flock and Fiber. Ed was fascinated with the spindle and he made a couple more sort of based on its size and shape which was very similar to the Ladakh skuru but this one had chip carving on it. And weighed almost 4 ounces! Surprisingly they spin half decently, it just takes more concentration and experience.

During that same time he began developing the wee Kuchulu which was released in October. From huge to tiny, both intriguing and fun to spin, especially the kuchulu which is like a little turbo of speed and energy spinning out cobweb and lace. We can hardly keep up with orders. It doesn’t help that he sands the skin off his fingers and needs to let them heal for at least a week before making another batch.
Somewhere along the way he dreamed of a sleek mid-whorl spindle and next thing I knew, he put one in my hands asking me to give it a test run. The elegant sweet spinning Lark which debuted this past Spring.

Imagine our surprise when hardly had the doors at Black Sheep Gathering opened when a woman zoomed straight to our table with a contagious air of excitement. She reached into her bag and plunked down a spindle much the size of our Larks. Fifteen years ago she was strolling through a marketplace in a small town in Greece when she saw this item and was totally captivated. She thought it was simply a child’s top. After learning to spin a year ago she was shocked to realize it was a real spindle.
Pictured on my book for size reference.

Dana placed it in Ed’s hands and asked if he could make her something like it.

A couple months have gone by with the Greek spindle never far from Ed’s thoughts. Meanwhile, Chrome64 (you must see her amazing sweater knit as she finished spinning fiber samples) accidentally let one of her kuchulus get to chummy with one of her Larks and she loved the resultant spin. She contacted Ed pleading with him to make this hybrid spindle for her.  Oh my, how these offspring of the Lark/Delight/Kuchulu fly! Other than Ed’s first seven prototypes, named Jay, he hasn’t yet made more, but that will soon be remedied. The other very very cool thing about the Jay is that if a person owns a Lark, Ed will made a Jay shaft to fit it so the Lark can be converted into a Jay.                                                                     Jenkins Jay on the left,  Jenkins Lark on the right

While all this new flurry is kicking up the sawdust around the home place yet another type of spindle has quietly made an appearance, known only to three of us.  Until now.

A couple weeks ago Dana of the Greek spindle contacted me and invited us to her house. Ed needed to work but I arranged to visit her last Friday. Thursday Ed came into the house from the shop and set two spindles on the kitchen table to be weighed and signed. Taken completely by surprise I held each in turn then ran and grabbed a bit of fiber to test spin them. Finally the weights were recorded and the spindles returned to the shop for the first coat of finish. Friday morning I applied Wood Beams as the final coat then tucked them in with the wool from last week’s post to take along to Dana’s.

While Dana’s back was turned I slipped the two spindles onto the table. Gobsmacked, she was. Simply gobsmacked.

She hardly knew which to pick up and spin first. We compared Ed’s with hers and declared them a decent match though hers has the wonderful patina of age. Then we set them up and tried spinning all three at once while running the camera. Hmm, still need to get that video on YouTube.

Cherry chip carved spindle left 18grams/0.64oz , Greek spindle middle, Pear chip-carved spindle  right 19 grams/0.67 oz. I have no idea when Ed plans to start making them to sell, or what we’ll be calling them. I’d love an easy to pronounce Greek word for some type of song bird.

Our daughter’s birthday is coming up and her handwarmers aren’t finished yet. (I’m a bit astonished that I got sidetracked into posting here tonight when my one focus was to be knitting!) One has only the final ribbing to finish, the other has the thumb to finish and the final ribbed edge. Here’s hoping I don’t get sidetracked to much in the next couple of days.


Author: Wanda J

I never dreamed my life would be entangled with fiber and the tools used to produce fibery items. When I bought a boat shuttle used in weaving Ed looked at it, decided to make a better one and the rest is history. For a decade he made shuttles, crochet hooks, knitting needles, until his spindles became so popular that he had to devote his time to making them, as well as Walking Wheels. Free time is spent reading, trying to coax food from the ground, and playing in the creek near our place. I love long walks and camping far from crowds. Playing a fiddle beside a stream or with good friends brings sweetness to my soul. Sundays are set aside for worshiping God with our small Quaker meeting.

13 thoughts on “Spindle Mania”

  1. SQUEEE WEEE WOOOHOOO, Spectacularly awesome post Wanda!1 It was such a thrill to see this update in my inbox! Now, I’m off to cross post a link on my blog!

    And I guess you two know what comes next…

    I want one of those pretty Greek songbirds.

    Please please pretty please!

    Gorgeous! Ed, just when I think you have made the best spindle you will ever make, you go and prove me wrong!

  2. What a wonderful, intriguing post! I’m not quite sure I understand about the Jay; is it a Lark with a shorter shaft? How is it different, spin-wise? I do want a Lark; some day – some day. Will you be at OFFF?

    1. Replying here since I’ve been asked this multiple times the past couple of days.

      Yes, the Jay is essentially a Lark with the shaft is shorter than the Delight and the arms sits closer to the bottom of the shaft than with the mid-whorl Larks. The Jay spins faster than a Lark, though not as fast as a kuchulu. I think it’s about the perfect travel spindle (other than a kuchulu) because of the shorter shaft yet long arms with decent yarn capacity.

      We will not have a booth at OFFF. Herndon Creek Farms, The Bellwether, Carolina Homespun and Woodland Woolworks (if they’re not out) will have our standards and Delights. I plan to be hanging around the spinning circles and looking at livestock both days.

      1. The speed of the Jay sounds enticing! Will you have any of those – or any pretty Larks – tucked in your bag? I’ll be there Sunday!

  3. I guess I need to break down and squeeze the piggy bank and get one of the little spindle’s. I need a spindle that I can sit in a chair and use as my legs won’t allow me to do much standing and with the turkish one I have now it is to long to use sitting. Being on SS doesn’t allow for many frills but maybe, just maybe I’ll get some birthday money in October and send for one, Ed’s work is just beautiful my neice bought a hairpin lace loom a few weeks back from him and it truly is a work of art.

    Love reading yor blog not many spinners, knitters, and weavers in this part of MO. I’ve learned a lot from your writings.

  4. Wow! Those are amazing spindles! Ed’s work is going to go down in the annals of famous spindle making!

    I loved your post on the fleeces too. I miss getting raw fleeces to work with.

  5. Hi Wanda,

    love your post and love the piece of Jenkins spindle history! The Greek-ish spindle is gorgeous, guess I’ll buy one when they become available 😀
    By the way, what do you think of αηδόνι (ahdoni in our Latin alphabeth) for a name? It means nightingale… and it also sounds like Adonis which is used for “An extremely attractive, youthful male” (Wikipedia) and the spindle do look attractive to me 😀

  6. You keep adding such wonderful spindles to your collection! Not only are they so beautiful that they make me want them all, but they also have functional differences that make me feel like I can justifiably say I *need* them all – that’s pretty clever! 😉
    Seriously, I love your new additions. You could totally offer Lark/Jay combos; I know that’s what I’ll get when I get around to treating myself to another one of your fabulous spindles.

  7. You know, I’ve been itching to ask whether Ed would make carved spindles… I’m beginning to save right now so I can get one when you start selling them. The Jay looks fantastic too, I guess I’ll have to be extra good to justify treating myself to so many spindles ;-).

  8. I love hearing the history of spindles all in one place like that, a history of serendipity and curiosity and enthusiasm, all expressed in spindles — it’s wonderful!

  9. Wanda! I totally love the Ladakh skuru HUGE spindles. I spin primarily with spindles with 4″ whorls and even a 5″. I’d love to start with the big one, plus the video and book. Is Ed making the big one now?

    Looking so forward to my knitting needles!


    Maitri 🙂

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