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Posts Tagged ‘Russians’

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 **
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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):

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And a hollow Tibetan whorl:

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

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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:

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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:

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

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

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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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As sure as Mel Brooks failed to offer History of the World: Part II, this spindler has yet you bring you Rhinebeck: Part II; whilst not a sequel, health, family and life in general has resulted in more delays…frustrating, but out of my control.

The unfinished addendum focused on my time with Kevin and Beth Hansen and their electronic spinner. I learned a lot that day, my time with the Hansen’s a great finale to meeting so many interesting people and seeing the variety of items that make up the world of fiber arts.

Following a hands-on demonstration where I was able to practice using this well-made spinning machine, agreement from my friend and her sisters (whom all seemed impressed with The Hansen’s and their namesake device), I felt fully confident investing in the Hansen e-spinner.

Already, A++ for customer service; most recent: Kevin’s super-fast e-mail reply answering questions regarding battery recommendations. Once I knew I could easily operate the e-spinner home-alone, extra bobbins, a narrow orifice tube and quill attachment easily ordered from the Hansen website also arrived in super-fast speed.

A beautiful maple exterior, simple design, easy for me to pick up on (if you don’t recall, only mere hours earlier I saw a real life spinning wheel for the first time!) and the ability to use from bed, makes this another “tool” that allows me to spin on days I otherwise would not be able; I hope it will increase my production of finished yarn ready to knit or crochet, as it physically takes me longer and longer.

So, yes. I invested in an e-spinner.

Yes, me — self-proclaimed spindler that I am.

And, yes, I like using it.

Yet, it cannot replace my hand spindles.

I feel lost the mornings I am unable to spin in MY living room chair, which, BTW, is in the wrong spot! An issue I have struggled with for many years now. My mother, one of THE MOST caring, loving human beings I will ever know, decided “change is good” and moved MY chair over a year ago. I suggested we move HER chair, so she could reap the benefits of rearranging the living room, but no…she respectfully declined. Just like the only change in congress, the only change in our living room had no benefit to me.

In fact, the power of feng shui is dead in my world…a quick demise for a victim lost in the throes of a struggle in the name of change. Specifically, when it comes to moving MY favorite chair from it’s corner, where all MY favorite chairs spent their days from the time I was a young girl to the present, where I now live at home as an adult…change is NOT good.

I’m not bitter or upset though.

Nope.

So, I sit in front of the picture window, looking out toward the dining room (table’s in the wrong spot now too! oy.) with one of my three favorite spindles — 2 Russians and a Tibetan. Always, my morning meditation involves spinning one of Loop’s bumps — this particular one is only for mornings. I keep 2 spindles in the bag the fiber came in and grab an S-shaped “lap-bowl” Joshua Lynch designed so I could spin from the wheelchair. It easily works from anywhere — wheelchair, bed, car, LR chair in the wrong spot …

I used to do yoga. Starting off every morning centered, energized; ending my days in poses that drained away the stresses of the day. For awhile, I worked with someone on modified poses for home and sessions in her office, where ropes built into a wall supported and enabled many poses I thought no longer possible. This was pre-wheelchair and other health maladies.

I miss yoga. I miss it very much.

In it’s place, beginning my own meditation of sorts: spinning. Using one of two spindles special to me — in part, because the kindness of the talented individuals that made each; in part, because they are so beautiful; in part, because they bring me the most JOY.

We all have gems in our collections. The one made with your favorite wood. The one that seems to spin forever, effortlessly. The one that fits you hand just so, as if it were literally made for you. The one that came unexpected, that you had extra money to buy, that caught your eye, that has an OOAK property….

I enjoy spinning a great number of my spindles, but two more than all others.

(And, no, I won’t reveal which 2 they are!)

But these 2 spindles helped me accept an important change. (Not the mis-placement of MY chair.)

Maybe choice is a better word.

No longer able to do yoga left me 2 choices: lay in bed missing yoga or find a new way to start my days. I struggled with this for the longest time, until the second of the 2 spindles arrived.

I was lost in the act of spinning. Relaxed, loving the beauty of this new spindle and how soft it felt against my hand — a perfect fit! — watching it spin (it was/is so smooth and fast I sometimes can’t even tell it’s spinning until it slows down! I’ve experienced this with others since, but at that time….this spindle was, well, meant for ME, for my hands — how COOL is that?).

Like saying a mantra over and over, the act of flicking the thin shaft, drafting, another flick to allow the singles to wrap around the shaft just below my fingers. Over and over, like holding a pose to release the stress of the day in my muscles OR painting — brushes in each hand until, viscerally, I knew my work was done.

Singles butterflied onto an ever-growing cop — I knew I found a solution.

All kidding aside, every day I am able, I ask for help to sit in the (ill-positioned) chair and start my day spinning. Not a traditional meditation, but I’ve never been much for conventional ways — in my life, they seem to serve as a place of which to jump off. An understanding of the results of practices like meditation and yoga and an openness to discover I don’t need them to center myself.

Complicated? Never as much as I make it out to be.

Difficult? Yes, sometimes it is difficult when no longer able to do something I love. Something, like yoga, that I would never choose to let go.

Sad? No. Not if my life is defined by limits.

Limitations, like convention, can be a place to dive into the water, with open heart and mind to discover all that is possible.

I’m rambling; it’s late, I’m tired and still want to finish editing more content for the website and blog…but I cannot stop thinking about the importance of possibility. Of how, especially at first, the moment life changes, the moment we look down and no longer see the foundation of which we thought secure to stand upon…

What does one do without ground to stand on?

We fly in the air,
We dive into the water,
We call aweather the wind,
We recognize the earth below.

We realize our feet are never firmly planted in the ground,
They can’t be.
They never were; but —
We know we are OK.

Comfortable in the groundless-ness,
We can see possibility.

Maybe possibility isn’t yoga today; maybe not ever.
I remind myself THAT is OK.

And spin.
Starting over again, each day I am able, with a bag of fiber in the mornings and a spindle.

One of 2 that are so special to me; spin perfect, soft against my hand and bring such JOY — I become lost in the process…


(so lost, some days I forget…the chair on which I sit, is in the wrong spot)





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