Posts Tagged ‘Ian Tait’

Greetings Fellow Spindlers!

I hope everyone enjoyed a warm fall; here, we are trying to eke out every last day Nature will gift us … I love to be outdoors.

I want to announce a SpindleTalk page, located under the top Navigation (the side bar updates blog posts, but not web-pages … and I’ve yet to find a solution)

Jason Riley, of Riley Wood and Fiber Art, was kind enough to grant me an interview; I’ve done my best to describe my experience when I ordered a spindle from him some time ago, as well as his work. For those that don’t know me quite well, “customer service” or just respect and kindness goes an awful long way with me.

For those who need or want a custom spindle, be it changing the length or width, or aiming for a target weight — whatever it be, if it’s possible, my bets on Mr. Riley! :)

And, if it’s not, in the short time (maybe 6 or so months since I stumbled into his shop) I’ve known him…I can say, with a degree of certainty, he will be honest; and, depending on your request, perhaps offer alternatives.

Please take time to read his “SpindleTalk” page and be sure to check the photos at the bottom or click on the links that will open up his Etsy shop in a new browser page!


Coming soon…

A few “new stuff” blogs:

  • new items conceived by makers that never cease to amaze me with his/her new ideas whether it be an amazing new spindle design, ergonomic tools that make fiber arts more accessible and enjoyable for those with and without limitations
  • new makers on the scene. Perhaps not all that “new,” but his/her work is now recognized on a growing if not larger scale!
  • If time (though I suspect I might need to put off until at least next month) some items and wood that have been floating around, yet always seem new to me each time I see a slight variation in design…or a new wood! The type of “new stuff” that makes you fall in love with a wood you thought you hated; or a spindle type that makes similar styles feel foreign; perhaps experiencing pure JOY from a go-to spindle, spinning for meditation or love versus production; or perhaps finding the perfect spinning surface (as I did, w/my friend Julie’s small spinning bowls she sells regularly in her Etsy shop — Willow Tree Pottery).
  • Maybe you have a “new stuff” experience, item, tool, spindle maker….oy! Anything you think fellow readers or one-time visitors can benefit from. Please contact me and, as long as it relates to fiber arts and it’s not an advert or plug…. I’ll include it (giving you credit, of course) in a “new stuff” blog. Can collect different responses OR just give you a post of your own (my approval of content). Perhaps, you just want to comment — comments are allowed, once approved…but ONLY in reference to the blog part of the website.
  • ~~~~
    From “new stuff” to “cool stuff!” :)

    A cool surprise from my father came when he offered to take me to Rhinebeck! Didn’t look like things were going to come together…then, everything fell in place!

    I was so proud to introduce my father to people I met last year including: Kevin & Beth Hansen, Steph from loop, Kimber Baldwin from Fiber Optics ; and some new friends: Janet from the Wheel-Thing and Michael & Sheila Ernst (fiber arts tools & fountain pens made of glass!!!! Cool people and creative tools on a nice autumn day…

    I intend to write about my experience this year, hopefully soon.


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    I try to keep up-to-date on different fiber arts tools, esp. new uber-cool spindle designs. Not easy of late, with so many new wood-turners sprouting up! However, I still keep watch on makers I am familiar with — those who made tools I either own or tried.

    In alphabetical order, Neal Brand, Joshua Lynch and Phil Powell all have new, note-worthy items that caught my eye in the sold section of each spindle-maker’s Etsy shop.

    ** correction: below, regarding Joshua’s new spindles **

    Neal Brand

    Known primarily for his Tibetans, Neal Brand’s unique Russians equal in design and spin. Over the past months, I’ve noticed slight changes in the shafts as well as different shapes in his Tibetan whorls.

    I’m not sure (and failed to ask) if this affects spin time or length…however, to me, even slight changes in the shapes of the whorls highlight the beauty of the various woods he chooses.

    Oy. I digress.

    With Neal’s permission, I included 2 spindles in this post — different from anything I’ve seen from him before:

    A brass-tip Tibetan, made of Maple (gold rings carefully painted on the whorl):


    And a hollow Tibetan whorl:


    Neal says we can expect similar spindles to appear in his shop in the future. Cool.

    Joshua Lynch

    Joshua Lynch of TexasJeans began to offer “mini” sized Russians and Tibetans (approximately 8″L give/take) a few months ago; blending boards; and, most recently, altered the design of his Tibetan — creating a leaner, faster spindle.

    Useful for travel, tossing in a purse or project bag, or for persons like myself who need a shorter spindle, “mini” Russians and Tibetans are an exciting addition to the TJ line-up. Like all wood-turners I admire, these shorties are not achieved by chopping a few inches off the top and leaving an acute shaft.

    The spindles are well received because they are miniature versions of their larger counterparts. Tips, whorls and shafts keep a similar ratio, which keeps the well-known spin attributes of a TJ spindle.

    Now, I don’t own one of these minis; however, Joshua is one of the kind makers who made short spindles for me to use easily whilst sitting in my wheelchair (actually, 2 Maples that spin as true as the day they arrived around a year ago) and a Tibetan last winter, also smaller. Photos of my spindles look exactly like any other spindle, which shows me the proportions must be similar.

    Whether well measured or Joshua’s natural eye, these exciting mini-spindles offer many possibilities for those leaving the house, spindle in hand!

    Mini spindles copied from Joshua’s sold items:



    Joshua also began making Blending Boards. I’ve never seen/used one, but it was humorously described to me as “the poor man’s drum carder” (of which I’ve never seen/used either!).

    Made of Maple and Walnut, with a strip of TPI cloth attached to the board; remove fiber with Walnut sticks, using a technique that allows you to form blended fiber into Rolags.

    Joshua makes a limited number of boards; to my understanding, custom made on a first-come basis of which he limits the amount per week. I will try to confirm this in the next week or two.

    Blending board:


    Finally, Joshua amended the process and design of his Tibetans as well as developed a new system for balancing each spindle.

    ** correction **

    Joshua pointed out that I misunderstood the new method of turning his Tibetans; best said by the maker himself, Joshua explained, “I don’t turn the shaft and whorl as a single piece. They are turned seperately and glued together after completely finished. I put the two pieces together without glue for balancing. Once that is done then I glue them up and have a finished spindle.” (Thank you for correcting me; the article continues as originally written below).

    Joshua announced (on Rav.) that the shafts are thinner, spindles seem to spin faster and new Tibetans are easily discerned from his “older” design with decorative lathe work above the whorl.

    Each spindle is individually balanced. If your spindle contains a small round “spot” on the bottom of the whorl, no worries — this is merely a slight adjustment assuring weight is distributed equally across the whorl.

    New Tibetans:



    note the design above the whorl, found in all new Tibetan designs.

    Phil Powell

    Many spindlers like myself look forward to Phil Powell’s OOAK fiber arts tools that show off the rare and beautiful woods of which he enjoys turning (see my niddy-noddy post). Also selling fiber arts tools on Etsy, you can find nostepinnes, darning eggs, metal-tipped Russians and…

    Russians with Swarovski crystals as points!

    Coined his “gem-collection,” as of now, Phil intends this to be a unique line of spindles.

    No worries to those of us who enjoy his faster-than-a-speeding-bullet metal-tipped spindles; and exciting for us collectors, amazed at the interaction between crystal and wood.

    Fine spinners, note that they might not spin as fast as metal — purely due to the difference in the friction that occurs between point and surface. That said, I heard one spinner thought it just as fast (second-hand info, so interpret as you wish)

    Without comparing the two, spinning on a Swarovski crystal…just plain cool.

    Each spindle in Phil’s gem-line will be inscribed “proto,” with a numeric identification and Phil’s customary signature — whether purchasing to spin, collect or both…the validity of each item will be clearly marked.

    With less than 15 made at this time, I am excited to post some of the earliest pieces from Phil Powell’s gem-collection — each spindle skillfully turned to highlight the beauty of an exotic wood that causes a carefully chosen/placed crystal to shine:




    Three talented spindle makers, keeping the world of spinning exciting and spindlers saving to expand his/her collections!

    PS: I don’t have any photos or specifications….however, Ian Tait (IST) has added Tahkli’s to his spindle line-up!! Whorls are either made by hand with brass or with coins — expect to see these on his website soon! Very cool.


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    Intros and descriptions that will lead into interviews (I know, I’ve been stuck…but taking a “fun” approach and words are flowing — just want to post all intros at once)

    New interviews: Shannon Shanks of Broken Pattern (etsy); Phil Powell of Custom Wood Designs (etsy) and Ian Tait of IST Crafts (http://thewoodemporium.co.uk) have all agreed to mini-interviews — all are very busy, but I’m excited to share work by each!!!

    And new items and designs in 2 shops (more info below); and my thoughts on bowls.

    Insights to upcoming mini-interviews:

    Shannon takes a very organic approach to wood-turning and my spindle-collaboration reminded me very much of the process used by artists and artisans I’ve known throughout my life. Broken Pattern contains a range of different fiber arts tools as well as a variety of hand-dyed and hand-spun fibers.

    Shannon created a spindle with a silk-like tulipwood whorl:
    20121211-043524.jpg20121211-043547.jpg (just lovely!) and uber-thin smooth birch shaft ideal for short staples (hoped for a wood spindle to use for cotton, but this works well for silks too!)


    Phil Powell has a shop filled with exciting fiber arts tools, with rare woods and unique designs — nostepinnes, darning eggs like this recent beautifully figured black/white ebony beauty:

    20121211-043153.jpg 20121211-043317.jpg

    He makes beautiful drops and recently developed a design for metal tipped Russians — and they are FAST!!!

    Cocobolo and Burmese Blackwood spindles — my first 2 metal-tips! — with 2 different preps of DebsFibers (etsy); preferring sushi batts over nests (though both are prepared with the care of a friend and eye of an artist):


    I’ve since experimented plying Deb’s fiber — traditional 2-ply and my first N-ply (Navajo or 3-ply) spun/plied on the Hansen.


    **NOTE: Metal points have the potential to ruin wood bowls, esp. softer woods.

    I personally use stoneware (over regular ceramic) surfaces in the form of spoon-rests or small spinning bowls. The ones in the photos below were made by Julie Cavender at Willow Tree Pottery (etsy). Her spoon-rests are the perfect size to slip in your purse or project bag and these small spinning bowls contain a smooth thumb-sized divot in the center perfect for support spinning. She was able to make a mini-version to fit inside me S-shaped “lap bowl” Joshua (texasjeans) designed so that I could spin sitting in my wheelchair (my goal was to spin outside, his creation works everywhere for me; and, now with Julie’s help, I can use any spindle anywhere too!)



    This last bowl, much larger than the others, was a recent gift from my mother. She brought it back from a trip she made to Argentina when my Grandmother was reunited with her sister after 40 years! They were born in Sicily and immigrated to two different countries to marry; my Grandmother never saw other members if her family. A beautiful bowl from such a significant trip! :)

    I only store fauxlogs and small nests of fiber of projects I spin from bed — I'd never risk using this for spinning!


    Ian Tait started out making tapestry and lace bobbins, but soon started selling drop spindles. Concerned about the environmental impact of using certain woods, he tops a sycamore base with a thin slice of exotic wood — his way to offer the best of both worlds. He also makes Russians (with or without metal tips), Turks — with the option of brass weights in the wings to elongate spin and, most recently, added a Tibetan, with a tulip-shaped whorl:


    Sycamore bowls w/a trim to match the wood of the Tibetan are also available.

    I started spinning an AWESOME Merino/SeaCell blend prepared in easy to spin pencil roving by Kimber at Fiber Optics — Once the stock is replenished, I recommend no-one purchase any….until I have enough time to buy more for myself! LOL

    I seriously recommend giving this blend a go…I’m not often blown away by new things, but colors, prep, package…the team at Fiber Optics is very talented. Here is my attempt at a “neat” turtle with this super cool roving, spun on an IST Turk with bog oak wings, ash shaft and a reinforce tip for spinning semi-supported in the wheelchair Ian was kind enough to add for me:



    So, I rarely make shop updates listed on Ravelry — even if I do, most items fly off virtual shelves too fast; if a 30 second window exists…well, most spindles are too long or heavy for me to just outright purchase.

    Yet, I still look at recently sold items and try to keep up on different trends and styles.

    First, I must say Enid Ashcroft seems especially inspired in her work over the past few months. I admire her as an artist and person; and certain designs of late…well, the wood, the attention to detail, the courage (Paduak Russians with sap wood! How is that possible?!), new designs — beehives in almost every style, and, although not a new item, Enid has included drop spindles (made in the Blossom and Pagoda styles that give her other spindles a unique artsy flair and, most recent to appear, a beehive drop) in her shop almost every week.


    Art. Functional art.

    And, No Worries — she hasn’t stopped making the lovely spindles that first caught the eye of spindlers like myself; as seen here with 2 spindles gifted to me — a sheoak Russian with matching bowl and a mini-Turk, with a purpleheart shaft (not as purple as photo suggests) serving as a backdrop to Yew wings:


    (yew is so very cool; fiber optics pencil roving — closest for my first test spin!)
    And, last but not least, Joshua Lynch of TexasJeans (etsy) has added 2 new spindles to his line-up: Tibetan and Victorian Lace Spindles!!

    His Tibetans are made with the same thin flick many of us enjoy using, with attention to speed, balance and longevity — and they spin impressively long! Shafts are maple, curly maple, walnut and cherry, with 2 styles of whorls in a variety of wood choices.

    A few examples from his sold items:


    Made ideal for me to spin in bed, car or my wheelchair, Joshua made a custom Tibetan with a curly maple shaft and maple burl whorl — completely “wowed” and grateful for the care he took in creating this spindle for me, I fear my photos do not do justice:



    Stay tuned for these and other updates coming soon to a blog near you!

    And, thank you to everyone for your patience — although out of my control, I hope things will start moving along quickly…

    Feel free to leave a (kind) reply below.

    Suggestions are always welcome as are guest writers — feel free to e-mail me at spindlers_musings@earthlink.net


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