Getting started

Before you start spinning it’s best to familiarise yourself with your spindle and learn the motions.

I’m right handed and I hold my spindle in my right hand, which produces a clockwise spin.  I’ll refer to my right hand as my ‘spindle hand’ and my left as my ‘distaff hand’ to avoid any confusion for those of you who prefer to spin left handed.

Take your spindle and, if you haven’t already, affix your whorl to it. Hold the shaft of the spindle between your third and fourth fingers on your spindle hand. Take the very tip of your shaft and rest it on your second finger, just behind the first joint and hold it there with the tip of your thumb.


Rest the spindle on a surface (inside a bowl or teacup works great, or even in the palm of your other hand). Practice spinning the spindle by flicking out with your thumb and in with your second finger. You’ll loosen the grip you have on the spindle with your third and fourth fingers to allow it to spin. This is the basic movement you’ll use when you’re spinning flax and during the first stage of spinning wool.

6 thoughts on “Getting started

  1. Pingback: How to spin 15th Century Style | Cathelina di Alessandri

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  4. see, I’m right handed. but I spin with my spindle in the left and and distaff in the right, and then spin z twist -always have…
    I don’t think I even can spin “right handed”

    • Do you spin with a wheel at all? I came across someone asking why the majority of medieval images showed people spinning left handed and why every great wheel ever made was designed to spin left handed on. What she termed “left handed” was manipulating the fibre supply withthe left hand because she’d learnt on a wheel and associated the hand with the fibre as the more ‘involved’ or active hand. So when she started with a spindle she took the spindle in the left and fibre in the right and called it ‘right handed’ spinning. Very interesting!

      I can’t spin at all with my spindle in my left hand (I’ve tried).
      Maybe I should change the “so” in “I’m right handed so I hold my spindle in my right hand” to “and” to account for right handers that spin the other way!

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