Thursday, 13 June 2013

Drop Spindle with Bone Whorl

This spindle was made as a gift for a spinner who is just getting into re-enactment. The background is a knitted hat which was also a gift for him, the lucky fellow. 

Techniques involved: boneworking, whittling
Materials used: the ball socket of a cow's thigh bone, 9mm oak dowel

Tools used: Opinel knife, junior hacksaw, drill, files, variety of sandpapers

References: I started with one reference for this, and it's one of those "based on a find" ones. I used the picture on this page to get the idea, and based proportions for the length and diameter on other drop spindles I already have. The spindle on Lodin's page is a bottom whorl, but the recipient prefers top whorl spindles so I made it a top whorl.

I recently downloaded a brilliant text by York Archaeological Trust entitled Textile Production at 16-22 Coppergate by Penelope Walton Rogers. On page 1762 there is a diagram of two bone spindle whorls matching the one on the above page. The most pertinent piece of text relating to these whorls is as follows:
Bone whorls made from cattle femur-heads were used over a wide period of time, but  seem to have been especially common in England in the late Anglo-Saxon and early Anglo-Norman period (e.g.Woodland.1990,217)
Queries: What wood was usually used for the shafts? Were viking spindles usually top or bottom whorls?
Summary: I'm quite chuffed with this spindle, especially as I now have a bit more evidence for it. Apparently it spins well too, and it's already received a lot of use. It also only cost about £2 to make which makes it an even more appealing item to add to your kit.

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