Spinning On A Dime


You all know how much I love my toys.

But there are times when you really have to spin on a dime and this past couple weeks, I’ve been really stretching dollars till they holler. 🙂

For those of you who haven’t tried spinning yet because you don’t have the money or don’t know how to make one, just you hold up a sec…

Months ago, the Abby Franquemont, author of RESPECT THE SPINDLE (which I am quite happy to inform you is also in a kindle-ized version 🙂 ) , came to Greenbank Mills to show us all some basic and advanced spindle spinning techniques. Ms. Franquemont learned her spindle spinning techniques growing up in the Andes and I love reading about the tricks she shares that you can pick up from them.

We all bought standard spindles from her in order to be working with all the same equipment. What we got was basically dowels with toy wheels attached. For the top whorl, it also included a hook. For the bottom whorl, one end was tapered I think because it’s for stabbing into the ground to form an Andean 2-stranded plying ball. Of course, they may just ply right from there if they want, I suppose.


These are probably the cheapest spindles you could make. But look how effective they can be.



That yarn is pretty fine and it comes from a bottom whorl spindle which many find to be an inferior spindle for some reason. Granted, I think the high whorls tend to be more ornate, usually. But the bottom whorl spindles work just as well to me.

As for plying though, I don’t always go outside to make plying balls. I mean, I don’t really keep a lot of sheep (lol), so unless I feel like connecting in some way to that practice (it could happen), I find other ways to make that same ball if I want to spin on-the-go, or I use methods to just ply the yarn straight away if I can stay put for a bit. Again, lest you think that all of the instruments have to be pricey-or that all of the instruments that I have are pricey, I give you the humble shoe box. Spinners often use these for Lazy Kate’s.


Do I want a Golding Lazy Kate for my spindles? Of course! I got three Goldings in one shot just because I wanted to order this baby one day, lol. But for now, this does the trick and it only cost me the price of some shoes that my daughter needed anyway. With this, I can make the plying ball or skip it and go straight to plying.

Now, if I definitely wanted to make a 2-stranded plying ball first because I needed to take it with me-and can’t fit a shoebox where I’m going (not far-fetched), depending on the amount of singles I had, I would either wind an Andean plying bracelet and make it from there…Or I might use a nostepinne like this one I got from Enid Ashcroft. Or I could just use a paper towel roll rather than the noste. I could even use a ball winder, like I learned from the ladies at Greenbank Mills and then make it from there. Yup, it’s really that simple and can be that cheap.

If you look at the rods that are holding the cop that I took from those toy wheel spindles, they’re just knitting needles.


They’re the cheap aluminum kind that I don’t even like to use anyway because they give me wrist problems. Cheap and easy needles for plying.

Why do I need to review all these cost-effective spinning tools? Glad you asked!

At the school where I work, we did some scheduling changes which allowed all the specials teachers like me to start a club for our kids that replaces their recess. Now,we have a book club, a drum line, and an art club. Well, what do you think was the first thing the art clubbers wanted to learn? You got it. Spinning. Hence, my quest to figure out how to get approximately 14 possible kids spinning on a dime.

The first trip I took was to Lowe’s to get some basic supplies. I couldn’t find toy wheels though they are on their website. Sigh. I really like to get things in the store if I can. But they did have these square blocks and some dowels. Along with a cheap drill, that was enough to get started. I got some hooks and some glue for later though. All in all, for twelve dowels and twelve blocks though, I spent about $30. That’s about $2.50 per spindle. Not bad at all.


On the Friday I got these, I let the kids adulterate these with paint. Because it’s fun. 🙂

By the next week, I had gotten them some undyed fluff from an etsy shop called Sheepish Creations. I ordered it that same Friday and was so happy that the fluff got there in time for their next day with me on Tuesday. Pretty cool. I think it was about another $28 for 3 balls of fluff of different breeds to show them that all fluff is not the same. Again, with each ball being clean, drafting well and weighing in at about 3.5 ounces each, that’s not a bad deal either.

This was how far we got by Friday of this week.


About four of the ten that have joined the club have really taken off with park and draft…They’re the ultra-competitive type, lol. The others are doing pretty good too, though they started later than the four. Now, all of a sudden, I have a lot more applications for art club, lol!


We’ll see if we can’t get the new clubbers spinning on a dime too. 🙂


  1. Q- Love it! As a retired science and computer teacher, I totally relate to “on the dime” for dearly needed supplies. Great job recruiting young ones into spinning.

    • Thanks! This is not the easiest undertaking. I LOVE being able to spin with them at the end of a day, three days a week. BUT, dipping into my own funds at this time isn’t really all that easy. Good thing spinning can be done pretty cheaply. Makes the pill easier to swallow and they are having fun.

      • Q – Any connections at the mill who would be willing to donate to the Art Club? Tax write off for them.

      • You know, they probably would. Also, I’m hoping that I can talk some of the weavers into coming for a visit and showing them how to weave a little…maybe with the kids’ own yarn. Might be fun for them. Then, they can go for a visit at some point and see some sheep in Wilmington, lol.

      • Q – Perfect! I know our FFA teacher always had a spinner come in to show the high school students how yarn is spun. They all got to try spinning. A lot of them raised sheep so it was extra special for them.

  2. This is such a great idea!! How awesome that your kids want to learn to spin.

    • I know, right?! Well, in most cases, I have learned some kids just want to see if they can do something they find new. It will be interesting to see which of them actually make it any kind of true pursuit or continue to want to after they learn…which is why this has to stay on the cheap. Elementary attention spans can be fickle, lol!

  3. If you need to make more, let me know. I’d be willing to donate wooden wheels and dowels from AC Moore. Just need to find a source for fine-gauge cup hooks.
    P.S. If anyone can teach kids to love the fiber arts, it’s you, toots! ❤

    • I haven’t been there in a few. I know they have a wood section, but I didn’t know they had the wheels. They certainly didn’t come up when I googled for the wheels…But, definitely, if you have some, I’d love to take them off your hands! 🙂 Seems more of the kids want to at least try it even though they can’t be in the club (limited to 4th and 5th graders-and only 14 of them at that). It’d be nice to grow enough of a stash of sturdy beginner spindles for a class. There is a site called Donor’s Choice (or Donor’s Choose?-something like that) that I have heard about I’m going to look into as well. I can’t let this get too expensive. But, I’m too much of an enabler to pass up letting them try it, lol!

      • Derp! Nothing like leaving a comment and forgetting to check back. If I have my head screwed on firmly enough, I will bring da goodz on Monday night. 🙂

  4. Your lazy kate looks like mine! Brilliant way to teach the kids without going broke!

    • Lol!! I love that one for my short spindles. Eventually, I want to get one of those beautiful Golding Lazy Kates. But it’s definitely not a necessity. I’d probably get a spinning wheel or a spindle first…THAT’s a necessity, right? 😉 Yes, the kiddies must have all my knowledge before they leave me, lol.


  1. […] stash. My “using up” is going well and I don’t want to stop that momentum. This post shows how to make a spindle with a dowel and small block of wood. Then you purchase your wool […]

  2. […] you may have noticed in the comments on my last post about this that my friend, Laurel, offered some spindle supplies for my Art Club kids. Hi Laurel!! How sweet […]

Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: