Here’s one good way to start winding yarn onto a low whorl or bottom whorl spindle, shown with a dowel-and-a-drawer-pull make-it-yourself spindle:
With spindle on its side so it’s easy to control, just wrap the end of your yarn or leader around it in one direction:
Go several wraps up, tightly. You can hold the yarn on with one hand and wrap the yarn with your other hand, just to get started. You can also tie the yarn to the spindle, or make a half-hitch at the top of the shaft and slide it down, then twirl the spindle to get the yarn wound up the shaft a few times.
Once you’ve gone several wraps up — the exact number isn’t important — grasp the spindle in one hand and the yarn in the other. Hold the spindle upright, and twirl it — see how the yarn wants to wind on? If it doesn’t want to wind on and it’s slipping, you need to do the first wrapping bit more tightly.
Now, move the hand holding the yarn down, so the yarn that’s about to wind on the next time you twirl the spindle is aiming downwards at an angle.
Once you get to where the yarn is wrapping around the bottom of the shaft, by the top of the whorl, move the hand holding the yarn upwards, so the angle of the yarn winding on changes. Keep twirling, and let the yarn wind upwards.
Now you just keep doing this, twirling the spindle and moving the yarn-holding hand up and down, watching the angle of wind-on and making sure it keeps criss-crossing. For the initial example, I’ve shown it with a fairly steep angle so it’s easy to see; but you can wind it at a much shallower angle, especially once you’re started:
You’ll get the best results and most stable cop (the yarn wound onto your spindle) if you pile up yarn towards the bottom, and then later the middle, so that the narrowest part of your cop is towards the top. This is easy to achieve: just linger a little longer towards the bottom. It may seem to happen for you without you doing anything special.
When you get to where you have 1-2 feet of yarn left to wind on and that’s all, let your upward wind-on keep going all the way up the shaft.
At the top, secure it with a half hitch and you’re good to go, whether you’re plying or spinning. This works in whatever direction you wish to twirl the spindle — but bear in mind you’ll need to keep going the same direction throughout.
- How (and why) To Use a Half-Hitch on a Spindle With No Notch or Hook Also published in Spindlicity, Winter 2006
- Criss-Cross Wind-On Photo Gallery Larger photos, more photos