Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How to Make Your Own Drop Spindle

Yesterday we went to visit the mamas that gave us all of our wool and their new babies. This mama had triplets! It is common for sheep to have twins and not unusual for them to have triplets. Can you imagine?

The babies are not so gentle either.

We are thankful for the wool that the sheep so generously give with their annual shearing.

Our family has continued to wash, pick, and now card the wool using two dog brushes. We picked the kind of dog brush with metal bristles.

Three of our children and I have been enjoying our new handmade drop spindles. We ordered circular wooden disks (or large wheels) from this online shop ( They are 3 inches in diameter. Next we bought dowel and cup hooks from our local hardware store. When you order the large wheel, take note of the diameter of the hole because that is the diameter of the dowel you will need. In our case it was 1/4 inch dowel. For each spindle, you will need about 12 inches of dowel.

For the end hooks, buy cup hooks 1/2 inch.

Put some wood glue about three to four inches from the top of the dowel and then slide the wheel onto the dowel so it covers the glue. Some glue will ooze out - just wipe it with a rag. Screw the cup hook hook into the bottom of the dowel closest to the wheel.

Now if you have a coping saw or a small saw, you will need to make a notch in the wheel. Just saw into the wheel about 1/8 of an inch or so, this will guide the spun yarn.

Once the notch is made, make sure that the open end of the hook is spun in the opposite direction of the notch, this will prevent your yarn from slipping out.

That is it! Please ask questions if this isn't clear. I will show some pictures about how to use the drop spindle next.

Warm wishes, Tonya


  1. When I first tried to learn to spin, it was on a drop spindle. In my case, it was an accurate description! LOL I dropped more than I spun. I wish I could use it more accurately! It is very portable! I love the sheepies!

  2. Thank you for these directions! We'd love to make some for our 9 year old and 6 year old. In another year, I plan to get my own wheel, and our own sheep! :)
    What a beautiful mama ewe- is she nursing all 3 babies willingly? I had heard somewhere that sometimes if they have 3 they will reject one- is that true?

  3. Dear Tonya,
    Thank you so much for sharing these instructions for how to make a spindle! What a beautiful mama sheep with babes...

  4. She is nursing all three... I know that some ewes, on occasion, will reject their babies, whether there is one, two, or three.
    Warm wishes, Tonya

  5. Y'know ... I have no idea what a drop spindle is, much less how to use one, but I'm fascinated by this tutorial anyway -- thank you!

  6. Wow, this is AMAZING!! Thank you so much for sharing

  7. would love to try this! bookmarking this page! thanks.

  8. "Processing" the wool was one thing I was hoping to do while we're interning on the farm. We got to take part in the shearing but so far, the processing part just hasn't happened! I'm still not sure he knows what he'll do with it all!

  9. Thanks for sharing the photo of the triplets. I didn't realize it was somewhat common for that to happen.

  10. Awww...look at those beautiful sheep! What kind are they? My ewes always have twins....not any triplets yet. I love the drop spindles that you and your talented family have been crafting. What beautiful work you all do. My son tried spinning on my wheel the other day. He enjoyed it but thought it was very hard too. I hope you are having a nice weekend sure looks like you're having some beautiful weather.
    love from,

  11. Just created my own drop spindle thanks to this lovely tutorial -- thank you so much for sharing it!

  12. You could also try creating a Navajo spindle instead of a drop spindle. It is much larger, has a bottom whorl (the disk goes on the bottom of the spindle rather than the top), and I've been told that it's a bit easier to learn on since you don't have to worry about the roving breaking and the spindle falling. It's the same basic construction process, only you use a larger disc and a longer dowel, you sharpen both points, and you don't use a hook.

    I just got a Navajo spindle at a local sheep ranch a couple weeks ago, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it compares to my drop spindle. It's so big that it's hard to imagine spinning fine yarn on it!