Drop Spindles are neat little spinning devices you can carry with you and use wherever you are. One of the things to remember about drop spindles is that if they have a hook it will directly affect the spinning of the spindle. Correct adjustment of this hook is very important. First it must be adjusted so that the curve of the hook is directly over the center of the shaft, and also so that viewed from straight on to the hook it is also centered.
If a wobble is still in evidence, it will have to be "tweaked" just a little bit to correct the wobble. The wood, or stone can be denser on one side than the other, unbalancing the spindle, but be aware, once the hook is centered, this is a rare condition, and too much adjusting of the hook will, and can break it off. So do as little tweaking as you possibly can.
I like to work with a wood distaff to "corral" my fiber, one I can tuck under my arm or in my belt, but its not neccessary. I also like to use a nostepinde to wind off my spun yarn, but there are lots of different ways to do this. Just remember the ball will tangle if you don't use some means to keep it organized.
The above first picture is the spindle, and distaff, the second a nostepinde with the spindle for plying and balling. The third picture is the spindle I will be using. This spindle is weighted for finer spinning at 42 grams (1 1/2 ounces) and the shaft is 9 1/4 inches in length. For really fine spinning like lace weight or finer a lighter spindle would most likely be better, but this weight spins a nice fine yarn for me. This little spindle has a 40mm Tree Agate donut stone with a hand turned Macassar Ebony shaft. It spins very nicely. The donut is mounted on a "shoulder" hand turned on the shaft which means you must begin winding your yarn just below the shoulder swell and build up the cop till you can wind on against the stone. I started with some yarn already spun on this spindle so I will remove it from the spindle before I start this instructional. The following pictures show winding off the spindle onto the nostepinde, and removing the ball.
In order to begin spinning we need a leader. Place the hook into the fiber and begin to twist the spindle. This will cause the hook to grasp the fiber and begin the spinning process that will make a yarn.
Now be can begin drawing out a longer amount of fiber that will allow us to form a half hitch so we can secure the leader on the shaft of the spindle.
This is how the half hitch is placed on the spindle
Next the leader will be brought up to the hook and slipped around the hook to secure it from turning so the fiber can be spun.
Now you can begin to spin by either giving the spindle a flick with your fingers, or actually rolling it on your leg to give it the momentum it needs to begin the spinning process. It does not really matter what direction you spin the spindle in, but most do spin clockwise, and if you ply you must remember which direction you spun the fiber in since the plying is in the opposite direction. I like to roll the spindle up my leg, which is counter-clockwise, and backwards to how I spin on a wheel, so it makes it a bit harder for me. Park and draft is easier for a beginner since they have total control of the spindle at all times and can spin at a slower pace. Park and draft only means that you spin the spindle giving the fiber the twist it needs to spin into yarn, stopping the turning of the spindle and then drafting the fiber while the spindle is not spinning. It doesn't matter which you do, since as you learn to spin you will develop a technique that is best suited for you. If your spindle doesn't spin long enough it can be that the yarn you are spinning is either too heavy or too light for the spindle weight you are using, there is too much fiber on the cop (the fiber wound onto the shaft), and needs to be removed so you can start again. Inexperience also plays a part and practice makes perfect. Even those using a spinning wheel sometimes have trouble keeping the wheel going in the right direction at first, and practice will solve this in time.
However you put twist into the spindle you will have to begin to draft the fibers as the twist begins to travel up the fiber. Do not let the twist get into the web--which is the little fan shaped area that begins at the end of the length of fiber that has become yarn. You can not draft after the twist travels into the body of the fiber and you need to stop the spindle and let the twist unravel so you can begin drafting once more. If your fiber breaks, just place the two fuzzy ends together and begin to spin the spindle and start the twist into the fiber once more drafting as the twist travels up the fiber.
Once you have a length of fiber too long to draft further you will need to wind onto the shaft and begin to form the cop. Begin by holding the spindle where you can place your thumb on the half hitch you placed on the shaft for the leader, where the fiber can not slip around the shaft. Begin to turn the shaft of the spindle winding on the yarn. Begin below the swell of the shoulder the donut rests on and begin to build the cop up with a zig-zag motion as you turn the shaft around. Once the cop is level with the shoulder you can zig-zag up to the stone and down the shaft. Leave enough to come back up to the hook, and twist around the hook so that you can begin to spin more yarn. Take your time and if you become frustrated, stop and take a break.
Most important of all is to remember to have fun, and stop whenever you become frustrated. Take a break, and begin anew!