I have been on a quest for a spinning spoon for a while now.
I frequently say the only disadvantage to supported spinning is you can’t walk (or stand) and spin at the same time. There’s nothing to hold the spindle up.
Unless you have a spoon.
Since Mike was busy making gorgeous spindles for his customers, I took it upon myself to devise a temporary solution for my spinning spoon dilemma. I found a likely candidate at a large chain retailer that specializes in selling items for beds. And baths. And beyond … like kitchens.
The intended spinning surface had a good start, but still caused friction with the spindle tip. It need some additional polishing for a better spin. While sipping coffee and discussing plans for the day, Mike smoothed out the spoon’s interior with sandpaper, followed by steel wool. The final step was to wax it with Wood Food. This improved the spindle’s momentum significantly.
The next challenge was actually holding the spoon steady enough for spinning. Just tucking it into the belt loop on my shorts was inadequate because it flopped around. I thought about tying in place with string, but then I would have a spoon stuck to my midriff – or have to constantly tie and untie it whenever I wanted to spin. A long, narrow scarf, in combination with the belt loop, seemed to be the answer.
Once lashed in place, the spoon sat just slightly lower than my waist. This is several inches above where my bowl normally rests, so I had to resort to spindles shorter than I typically use. I didn’t have any pocket bead spindles, but I dug up a pocket Tibetan from my collection for the experiment. This photo shows how much shorter a pocket Tibetan is compared to my preferred shaft length of 11.5 inches.
I tested out the spoon at the Great Frederick Fair on Friday. This was a practice run for the World Wide Spin in Public Day, which was Saturday. I already planned to be at the 4th Annual Pawpaw Festival at Long Creek Homestead, and if I was going to spin, I had to be mobile!
Problem number one: the shorts I wore didn’t have belt loops! The entire stability of the spoon had to be provided by the scarf. And stable it was not. Because the bowl was very shallow, every time the spoon shifted the spindle skipped off the edge and plummeted to the floor. I hurt my knees at least once diving for the poor Tibetan before someone could step on it.
Problem number two: Did I mention the ground at the fair was concrete and hard packed dirt? You can see the abuse the spindle tip suffered. (Luckily we all know how to fix this now, right?) Honestly it hit the pavement so often, I am surprised the whorl didn’t break off.
I primarily used a short draw to keep my hands as close to the spindle as possible. This also kept me from (accidentally) smacking passersby as I walked through crowds. (I confess, a few I wanted to smack on purpose.) I made my daughter walk in front of me, so if I ran into someone because I wasn’t looking, at least it was someone I knew!
Let me tell you, no matter how hard I worked to keep my hand close by the spindle shaft… when it decided to fall off the spoon I was NOT fast enough to grab it. I experimented with a half hitch at the top of the shaft so it would catch the spindle before it escaped from the spoon, but it interfered too much with my spinning flow. I mean, even more than periodically dropping the spindle. (If you can believe that!)
World Wide Spin in Public Day went much better. The shorts I wore did have belt loops – yes, this time I checked when deciding on my outfit! This significantly improved the stability of the spoon, which meant the spindle fell off less frequently. The ground was primarily grass or leaves rather than pavement, so when the spindle did fall off the spoon, at least it didn’t get smashed to bits by hard pavement. (Although I got a ton of vegetable matter in my white merino!) There were also fewer people, so I could pay more attention to my spinning rather than navigating a crowd.
All in all, I would call it a success!
So here is the list of design features I would want to see in a spoon engineered specifically for supported spinning.
First off, the “bowl” part of the spoon needs to be deeper, with more steeply curved sides. I think this was the primary reason, above all others, that the spindle kept taking that flying leap off the spoon.
Second: the handle of the kitchen spoon is flat in a plane parallel to the ground. Which means perpendicular to my body. Even some spoons I found online designed for spinning shared this major flaw. No matter how tightly I wrapped the scarf around the spoon handle, the spinning surface tended to tip away from my body. That exacerbated the issue with the spindle falling off the spoon. I think a round spoon handle might have been more stable; or (much harder to find) if the handle was flat in the same plane as my body, that would be ideal.
Unfortunately for Mike’s looming deadline for Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival, he actually listened to my list of “ideas” (read: complaints) about the spoon. And he could not resist the challenge. Now, I have SP-SP-Spoon (Spanish Peacock Spinning Spoon, of course)!
This new SP-SP-Spoon worked SO much better.
When the Spanish Peacock booth is set up at shows, I often tell people that the right tool makes all the difference in your success with fiber arts. Most of them think it is a sales pitch – I’m selling hand spindles, after all – but this whole experience was a perfect case in point. Yes, a kitchen spoon works. But in no world can it compare to a spoon designed for supported spinning by an artist who knows his way around wood.
Look out, world! Supported spinning has gone mobile!