As a designer and artist, I have friends who do pretty much any kind of art you care to name - including handspinning and fiber arts, and I've found out that, when you hang out with knitters and spinners, you hear the darndest things. Like, for instance, how expensive most of the gear you need turns out to be, and how fragile some of it is. Like spindles.
A spindle is one of the oldest tools known. For most of human history, spindles were how you got thread and yarn, and thread and yarn were how you got cloth. Period. If you didn't spin, or if you didn't know someone who did, you went naked. The cool thing about the cloth made this way, though, is that it was usually more durable than what we get from the stores today. A spinner using something no more complicated than a rock and a stick can make better yarn and finer thread than anything you can get from the department stores.
Turns out, though, that, while you can make a spindle from a rock on a stick, it works a lot better with one made by someone who knows what they're doing. On the other hand, a good spindle can run you two or three hundred dollars these days ... and because it's still just a weight on a wooden stick, you can lose it. You can sit on it. Your dog can chew on it. You don't dare take it on an airplane, and if you aren't careful when you're around your younger relatives, you're going to find out that your expensive spindle can get used as a toddler-sized sword and wind up in fifteen pieces.
That ain't right, I thought. We should be able to have something between rock-on-a-stick and the British Crown Jewels. So I designed some.
I've designed three, each one intended to be more flexible to use, more durable, more repairable, just as pleasant to use, and much cheaper than the top of the line hand spindles out there. (We're not saying you can't make cheaper spindles - but these will kick the butt of any hardware-store-grade pine one you can make for less.)
All three spindles will be produced from durable ABS plastic - tough, resilient, and attractive, they should survive pretty much anything your life can throw at them. They're not meant to hold up pianos or stop speeding cars, but they're tough enough to survive a manic three-year-old. (Ask how we know.) Because they can be disassembled into three parts, they'll fit in places other spindles won't, like your pocket, your purse, or even your checked luggage.
- Sweet + Sour : One of the most fragile things on a spindle is the shaft. Rather than make one out of high-cost materials, the Sweet + Sour spindle is designed to use normal restaurant-grade chopsticks instead. Just over an ounce, the Sweet + Sour is a small, Turkish-style spindle (which means that, when you're finished spinning, you can pull the crossbars out and have a perfectly formed ball of yarn, ready for use, no ball-winder needed.
- Istanbul + Constantinople : A full-sized Turkish spindle, this comes with its own shaft, but you can still swap in a chopstick if you don't feel like carrying the full shaft around. One and three-quarter ounces, this spindle ought to hit the sweet spot for most spinners - it's light enough to handle some laceweight, but heavy enough to ply with.
- Nickel + Dime : For spinners who want to produce much heavier yarn, we have the Nickel + Dime, which is a Turkish spindle that you can add weight to; the rounded tips of the crossbars have holes the exact size of a stack of American nickel coins, and we'll provide an adapter that will let you use dimes instead. Instead of three or four spindles, just carry one and a pocket of change.
- Euro + Pence (Or Whatever) : We may not be the smartest needle in the project bag; when we started designing these, we forgot that there are spinners in Europe and elsewhere in the world. While we can't change the reward text now that the project is under way, if you're in another part of the world that doesn't have easy access to North American coinage, we'll be happy to print up an adapter for your local coins - just select the glow-in-the-dark option, and if you want, we'll send you an adapter for whichever coins you want to use (as long as they're the same size or smaller than American nickels.)
Because we're starting small, we'll be using 3D printers to handle the first set of spindles - you'll get a spindle fresh from the printer, with no seam lines, and with a slight surface texture that we're told actually helps with spinning. Each spindle will come with the crossbars, and the top two will come with their own custom shafts and a shaft adapter for chopstick use. We'll ship them as fast as we can make them - and the more people we get supporting us, the faster we can make 'em. On the other hand, if you already have a 3D printer, we'll be happy to send you the file or files instead of the knitting patterns.
We're not absolutely certain yet; red, blue, tan, and black will likely be offered, but the other two colors are still up in the air - we'd like to offer metallic silver and gold, but we haven't tested those plastics yet, so we don't want to promise something that won't hold up in day-to-day use. Stay tuned - we should know more in a couple of weeks.
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