Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Rare Perfection

Spindles are much like sock yarn--there's always another one you have to try (at least for sock knitters) Other knitters might crave the next Noro colorway, brushed cashmere yarn, or the newest knitting needles fashioned from string beans. And non-knitters might yearn to acquire the complete works of Phillip Parker. As he has written over 200,000 books, that particular passion is even more profoundly time-consuming than spindle acquisition.

Anyway, having caught the spindle bug, I set out to test-drive spindles from a variety of craftspeople. I firmly believe that every quality spindle has a sweet spot in terms of fiber and yarn thickness. Some of my spindles are still in the drawer, awaiting their perfect mate. But of the eight spindles I now own, two spindles stand out as the epitome of perfection.

They are exquisitely made, perfectly balanced, beautiful to look at from all angles, and simply wonderful to use for a variety of different fibers.

And I shall tell you about them another time.

Just kidding.



These two stunning beauties are from Spindlewood. The left whorl is camphorwood (smells spicy!), and the right whorl is bloodwood. They both weigh about 18 grams. Now take a look at the lovely workmanship on the shafts.

The ebony shaft on top goes perfectly with the bloodwood; the flamewood shaft on the bottom makes a lovely foil for the camphorwood.

The camphorwood is now Number One in my Spindle Hall of Fame. Because of the perfect weight ratio between the shaft and the whorl, it feels much lighter than 18 grams and spins gossamer weight with grace.

Customer service is perfection too. During the creation process, Connie emailed me pictures of the whorls, then pictures of the shafts. When I asked for a darker shaft wood for the camphorwood, they graciously made me another spindle. And the spindle comes with a cover for the hook--a clever little touch.

And Then There Is The Golding...

The front of this spindle has a sweet and charming face made from a Russian brooch I found on eBay.


I sent it off to Tom Golding with a request that the spindle be made as light as possible. I also emailed, phoned, and lettered him about my personal dislike of walnut. No walnut. No walnut. Please, no walnut.



I eagerly opened the package to find a 22-gram black walnut whorl and a walnut shaft. Hmm. As soon as the yarn comes off the spindle, I will dye it black with a juicy permanent marker. This little fix was recommended on several woodworking sites. I tried it on another spindle--the ink is permanent and even shows the grain.

It must be me, because the whorl so overbalances the unadorned shaft that the spindle wobbles like a drunken Klingon (and spins about as well). It works perfectly fine for plying, however, so I didn't return it (Tom will give you a refund if you aren't happy). I am sure there will be some fiber in the future that will happily spin on this spindle, but for now, it remains a disappointment.

26 comments:

ThatLoganChick said...

Gorgeous Spindlewoods!

My spindle collection (cough - two dozen - cough) contains both winners and losers, with a lot of in betweens. Like you, my Spindlewoods are my absolute favorites. They're gorgeous to look at, extremely well balanced, spin forever, and the finish is like silk. Amazing. And Steve was so great to work with. He will get more of my business (and I expect he'll get more of your business, too).

You do a nice job of describing and reviewing spindles. And your spinning is coming along beautifully. So fine, and incredibly even. I aspire to spin as well some day.

Laritza said...

They are beautiful spindles but more so the yarn you are making with them.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see honest spindle reviews instead of just pretty pictures for a change. Keep up the good work.

Dave said...

I have a couple .. well, four ... Spindlewoods and they are wonderful. I'm still trying to get used to the bottom whorl without a hook thing, though. Perhaps I should have just gone with top whorls.

--Deb said...

Hmm, I might have to try a Spindlewood now! They're beautiful, and even better is that they spin well. My favorite spindle is my Kundert, and while I have two Goldings, one is just okay, while the other is downright disappointing in the spinning department. It's gorgeous to look at, but just doesn't have the stamina it should have. As you say, a disappointment.

sayingthings said...

I don't have a large top-whorl collection, but my favorites are my Greensleeves spindles.

I've been more interested in the inexpensive, low-whorl and supported spindles lately.

Thanks for the reviews.

adrienne said...

Ooooh, lovely. I am happy with my (fairly plain) Golding, but I have always wanted to try a Spindlewood. I've seen nothing but good reviews!

larascreations said...

OOOOHHHHHH, now why'd you have to go and post this, eh? :-)

Did I need another spindle supplier? hehehe

Those are truly gorgeous and I am (naturally) drooling. Lovely brooch, such a bummer about the disappointing result but soooo glad you came up with a workable solution.

Kitty Kitty said...

The first two spindles are out of this world. So sad about the Golding and them not respecting your request. Though I haven't been that impressed with there quality as of late.

Sigh... the Spindlewoods may have to be on my list to order soon. You are a bad influence. :)

ColetteS said...

Your Spindelwoods are beautiful. I have two custom Spindlewoods and just love them.

Have you tried Forrester spindles? All of his spindle have been winners for me.

KPiep said...

Again, I'm so sorry your Golding experience didn't work out! I myself just ordered (ahem) three more of them so that I have a full range of sizes and weights. (All of mine will be from his regular line.)

However, I am hoping to some day get to some fiber fests. so that I can try out other spindles. It would be nice to try something new!

LittleBerry said...

Spindles look lovely especially the camphorwood... I like the idea of the Russian brooch you found being used and it's a beautiful sppindle to look at, shame it doesn't spin as well as it looks...

EGunn said...

Lovely spindles! Too bad about the Golding, but sometimes the ugly duckling turns out to have its hidden charms. Hopefully you'll find some. (And how could you call that spindle ugly, anyway?)
=)

Ingrid in Sweden said...

I love love love Steve's spindles and my Goldings (older ones) are a disappointment to me as well. Do ckech your hook so it hasn't gotten a ding, that happened to a friend and after correcting the hook it spun better at least.
Tabachek is another of my favourites, as well as the Bosworths. Take a look at the Wheel thing's homepage for fun spindles, (not affiliated just a happy customer). Lately I've become enamoured with support spindles :) Steve makes truly nice ones as does Mt Tabachek.
Smiles from Ingrid in Sweden

Opal said...

lovely spindlewoods!

i'm so -sorry- the golding was a disappointment! in fact i'm mortified since i pushed so hard for you to get one! :(

Jane said...

I love those spindlewood spindles! My sister has several but I'm going to have to get a few of my own now that I have seen yours. Too bad about the Golding. At least it's good for plying. I know when I had Tom make me one that he only had a few woods he was willing to suggest if I wanted a light weight spindle so I'm not surprised you ended up with the Walnut. I hope the marking pen works out well.

Carol said...

Huh. And I have heard so much good about the Goldings. Not that I have time....my Lendrum wheel is sitting ignored....

Faina Letoutchaia said...

Dear Susan,
I sort of fell out of the face of the Earth. Sorry. YOur blog is fantastic, I am very happy to see you are doing well.

Your spinning is very good, they yarns you make are yammy! I love your spindle with an owm on it - just very, very touching for me for personal reasons.

YOur fish bag is to die for. Of course I want it! I keep fish tank at home and really ejoy my little wet ones...

Best,
Faina

vereteno said...

Dear Susan,
I sort of fell out of the face of the Earth. Sorry. YOur blog is fantastic, I am very happy to see you are doing well.

Your spinning is very good, they yarns you make are yammy! I love your spindle with an owm on it - just very, very touching for me for personal reasons.

YOur fish bag is to die for. Of course I want it! I keep fish tank at home and really ejoy my little wet ones...

Best,
Faina

vereteno said...

Dear Susan,
I sort of fell out of the face of the Earth. Sorry. YOur blog is fantastic, I am very happy to see you are doing well.

Your spinning is very good, they yarns you make are yammy! I love your spindle with an owm on it - just very, very touching for me for personal reasons.

YOur fish bag is to die for. Of course I want it! I keep fish tank at home and really ejoy my little wet ones...

Best,
Faina

vereteno said...

Dear Susan,
I sort of fell out of the face of the Earth. Sorry. YOur blog is fantastic, I am very happy to see you are doing well.

Your spinning is very good, they yarns you make are yammy! I love your spindle with an owm on it - just very, very touching for me for personal reasons.

YOur fish bag is to die for. Of course I want it! I keep fish tank at home and really ejoy my little wet ones...

Best,
Faina

vereteno said...

Oh, this thing decived me into posting my comment several times! Sorry.
Faina

Kathy Kathy Kathy said...

It sounds like Golding's business may have outpaced his quality control. I have used black magic marker to dye things with great success. I guess it must work fine on wood, or people would not have recommended it. But I would worry about it coming off on the yarn. Is there some way to do a test?

knittingdragonflies said...

Beautiful!! thanks for the photos and tempting me with more spindles
Vicki

heidi said...

it's looks very nice indeed, although it is in walnut:)

sorry to hear that you don't get along very well though. maybe in time you will sort it out maybe:)

Marcy said...

I have a Spindlewood spindle and I love it! I also have two Golding's which I love. It's a shame about your custom Golding.