These captive ring spindles are meticulously hand-turned by master woodworkers in the Paucartambo region, between the highland city of Cusco and the tropical cloud forest that gives way to the rain forest and the Amazon basin.
Very occasionally, these coveted specialty spindles are turned from attractive cloud forest hardwoods, making them incredibly prized among the spinners of the high Andes. As I’ve learned in talking with the only vendor in the Cusco market who I have ever seen have these for sale, there’s pretty much just one guy who bothers to do it anymore, and it’s hard to talk him into making them. My spindle hookup says she can score these from him about twice a year, usually about a dozen at a time. Naturally, I begged and pleaded with her to beg and plead in turn, and this morning, with just days to spare before I’m bound for DFW Fiber Fest, she called me and said he had arrived, and she had the goods.
Oh, god, this sounds like a drug deal, doesn’t it? Welp. Anyway, she said she had a grand total of 44 dark hardwood, mostly chachacoma, spindles. Assorted sizes, assorted shapes, mostly the ones with the captive ring, just a few beautiful and ultralight ones without a ring.
What’s the deal with the captive ring? Well, for one thing, it’s cool. Spinners here love them, because it’s playful and they’re tricky to make (turned from a single piece of wood), so that speaks to the same aesthetic sense that makes the handspun, handwoven textiles here so special. But it’s not just that the captive ring spindles are cool — it’s also that they make a gentle whirring noise when the spindle is really humming along, and a soft rattling noise when things are slowing down. So they’re great for spinning when you can’t see, and for training your hands how to detect lots of things about the spindle’s action, because it’ll correspond with the sounds the captive ring makes.
You might notice there are only 43 here. Well. I might have kept one for myself, after hightailing it down to the market on the bus in a staggering downpour to make good on my promise that I’d buy every single one of these that she could talk her guy into making, and then bringing them back to my apartment to sort and photograph while snacking on freshly roasted cashews and sweet bread baked this morning. The market is full of nothing if not temptations, but I’m not kidding when I say these spindles are one of the rarest finds in it.
Tinies weigh about 10 grams, with the ultralights being under 10 grams. Mediums weigh 15-25, and larges weigh over 25 grams but not over 35.
You can order for delivery in person to DFW Fiber Fest (select local delivery), for shipment to the USA via USPS the second week in April, or SERPOST direct from Peru (usually 3-4 weeks to anywhere in the world, usually the cheapest option for anyone not in the USA). And if your order is in by the end of the day in Peru on 28 March 2019, I’ll throw in an adorable micro-spindle too.