Spinning spotlight: cross-arm spindle winding-on

In with a new category! This first “Spinning Spotlight” is on how I use my cross-arm spindles. It gives a few views into the simple word that I describe these photos with in my posts, the cop. Over the years, I have seen & read about how spinners approach this wind-on step. This is just one in what is a range of choices that we have.

How it starts & where we wind-up

The plum Aegean spindle is now full, and I started spinning with the sister Aegean in holly this morning.

Two Jenkins Aegean spindles are on a blue mosaic tile accent table.  The Holly spindle has a small starter cop of blue Targhee wool top, and the cop of the same fibre on the Plum has been wound to cover two-thirds of the spindle arms.

The Aegean spindle cross-arms sit fairly high on the shaft but are lower than a mid-whorl. The arms are as I said in my last post remarkably stable at the start of the spin compared to the other keyhole construction. Let’s look more closely at that start.

Over two arms; under one arm

The standard winding path of over two arms, under one is what I first learned from “Productive Spindling” by Amelia Garripoli from Ask the Bellwether. I have always seen this method attributed to Wanda Jenkins.

Jenkins Aegean spindle in holly has the start of a cop of Targhee wool top dyed in shades of blue placed in a white porcelain side plate with blue flower motif and gold edging.
Yarn path flies over 2 arms & under the third

As a stand-alone method it proved awkward for me in 2 ways:

  • empty cross-arms chatter. Arms set in the keyhole formation feel less stable until the cop is built. It is fine to push through but I was going for a smoother spin; and
  • wrapping under 1 arm each winding step builds down to the lower end of the spindle shaft. On a more bottom-whorl cross-arm spindle this affected my cop capacity.

In this & other learning curves, I took Amelia’s advice seriously. Here it meant thinking through how I wanted to wind-on both for the minimal movements as she suggested (ibid, p. 22) and these sticking points.

The expansion wind-on

Using both upper and lower arm space

Both challenges improved when I tried alternating with an under 2 arms; over 1 arm flight path for new makes. Here is what the cop building looks like on the Jenkins Lark with its long, curving cross-arms.

A Jenkins Lark cross-arm Turkish-style spindle in Tulipwood rests on a laptop with the underside winding of Zwartables wool shown.
Jenkins Lark’s undercarriage with expanded wind-on

The underside has a lovely diagonal path. Since the filling spindle is where I find a sweet spot, I tend to continue finding ways to even the wind-on. It is no mandala meditation but plain old enjoyment of a spin.

This was my first spinning of the Zwartables on the Lark.

The underside of a Jenkins Aegean spindle in plum is shown with a full cop of blue Targhee wool yarn spun by irieknit on a porcelain side plate.
Wind-on anatomy?

The leap from top-whorl drop-spindles to a knobbed low-whorl Jenkins Delight took getting used to. I am glad that I figured the flick start to be worth the extra effort. It was with BFL/silk by Sweet Georgia on rides into Toronto for appointments that I relaxed with the Delight spindle. I liked the carob wood, attention of the Go-train audience. Slowly I learned to slightly press the make during wind-on so that it moved the spindle around. This gave my wrists a break.

It may be worth noting that I only remove the shaft when clearing this style of spindle. The arms most likely can still come out if that’s your preference but I am not worried about that during my spinning. I wind balls from these as I would with any other spindle.

The yardage in these skeins

In the Zwartables project, I am now at around 796 yards. Two largest skeins were 165 yards for 38 g. The others are between 108 – 130 yards each. A Cheviot spin for socks on the Jenkins Delight did yield a single 190 yard skein but that was a bit of an outlier. I wonder how the Aegeans will compare?

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Lara is a spinner, knitter, natural dyer, weaver who also loves reading. Jamaican-Canadian; she/her in the Greater Toronto Area; Mom to a young 'un, and Spark is our Double Doodle. A spindle is usually close to hand!

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