Sunday, October 14, 2007
A better mousetrap for plying on a handspindle
I am often asked about plying on a handspindle. There are a number of possible techniques. One is to wind a center-pull ball and (with your thumb in the center to avoid tangles) pull from both ends. Another is to roll 2 balls, put them in mugs with the ends threaded through the handles (this technique is oddly fascinating to the cat).
A technique I have long used is to wind off the singles around a paperback book, put the resulting little skein around my left wrist and pull from the two ends, sliding each loop off my wrist as I ply. This works OK, but is pretty slow since there is a pause each time you pull another loop off the wrist, plus tangles do happen.
Andean plying is the next step up. The downside is that wrapping high-twist, fine-spun fiber around the middle finger can be pretty crippling as it cuts off the circulation. (There are additional issues with the resulting impolite gesture that can be inappropriate when spinning in public.)
Thanks to a little web-surfing, and a blogger named Rosemary, I now can recommend a better technique that involves a paperback book and a popsicle stick: Andean Plying Bracelet Simplified.
This works amazingly well. The singles slide easily and evenly out of the bracelet requiring no pauses for untangling. It didn't even tangle or come apart when there are only a few loops left around the wrist. It is easy to control the tension on the singles. And although the traditional Andean method requires no extra equipment, I seldom travel without a book. The only extra baggage is a single popsicle stick. As a librarian and general book-lover I can not recommend the double-pointed needle alternative or anything else that would damage the book. I didn't have a popsicle on hand, so I used the handle from an extinct rubber spatula. It made a fine popsicle stick stand-in. Henceforth there is no excuse not to spindle (and ply) at the drop of a ..um.. spindle.