Monthly Archives: May 2016

Mirkwood Spindle Review

It has not been a tradition of this blog to post formal reviews of things like equipment and yarn but given that I’ve, ahem, a fair bit of both I thought it’s way beyond time I offer a few words with my opinions. 

Whenever I’m looking to buy something nowadays, especially if it involves spending more than a few pennies, one of the first things I do is google it to see if some helpful blogger has written anything about it. You can often find something somewhere and over the years I’ve found this enormously helpful. So to pay it back here I go…

As some of you may know I’ve recently (3 months or so ago) started spinning with support spindles and have discovered a whole world of different makers, styles and prices. From the highly sought after Glindles to make-your-own with a twig, there is a wide disparity in spinning qualities, weight and feel. As with everything in life, every spinner is different but by sharing my experience it may give you a little idea of whether or not a Mirkwood spindle would be right for you.

Made by Tibor in the U.S. and found here, most of the spindles are inspired by characters from ‘Lord of the Rings’. You are offered the option of either a crowned or flared tip, as far as know this is unique to Mirkwoods and a nice touch as you can choose a crystal for the crown.I have always worked with the ones with crowned tips and have not noticed any difference compared to other spindles.

Every Mirkwood spindle has a stainless steel ballbearing tip to allow the smallest point of contact with the spinning surface reducing friction regardless of the angle you spin at.

I will be writing about two that are my most recent additions to the spindle herd.

Firstly, ‘Balrog’, with a padauk whorl and maple shaft, it weighs in at the heavier end at 1.54oz. Mine has a red magma crystal, befitting for Balrog as the character is associated with fire and has ‘furnace eyes’.

All of my Mirkwoods are well balanced and this is no exception. The padauk whorl is stunning with a beautiful grain that is hard to do justice to by photo.

It is a relatively heavy and short spindle (10 3/4″) and I find when empty the length of spin isn’t that long. As you can see, the bottom of the whorl is quite ‘squat’ and flat so I need to use a spinning bowl that can accommodate this. Some spindles will spin on anything but Balrog needs to be spun as upright as possible on a shallow curved surface otherwise the edges of the whorl catch easily which was annoying at first until I’d adjusted for it. 

Once you begin to build up a cop Balrog comes into it’s own. It gains speed and length of spin and I imagine you could fit quite a large amount of fibre on there without compromising the spin or balance.

Overall, this isn’t my favourite spindle but is a proper workhorse and is of the exceptionally high quality associated with Mirkwood spindles.

Right onto the second review. This one is ‘Gandalf’, based on one of the best known characters from the trilogy.

This one has a black walnut whorl and maple shaft with a white opal crystal. I adore this spindle. As soon as I opened the box, I knew it would be a firm favourite. Whilst the wood isn’t quite as pretty as Balrog, the whorl is teardrop-shaped so spins brilliantly; fast, smooth and long. The part of the shaft below the crown feels more slender that Balrog making it easier, for me, to flick well. I almost have to make myself use my other spindles so they don’t feel ‘left out’! Empty or full, I can spin all day with Gandalf.

Overall one of the aspects I like about these spindles is that they feel sturdy. If I accidentally drop one, I’m not panicking it’ll break. Similarly, I’m happy to pop one into my handbag with worrying I’ll find it in splinters later in the day. There is a great Mirkwood group in Ravelry too where Tibor hosts Spin Alongs and donates very generous prizes which is always a bonus. 

Happy spinning and see you soon.
(the fibre in the photos is a batt called ‘Seaglass’ from Nunoco on Etsy)

Camping it up

It occurred to me that maybe a post is slightly overdue. I’m like the proverbial buses, you’ll most likely get three in the next 24 hours now.

Ok so here I am, here you are, what would you like to read about? The most recent weaving project? My latest additions to the spindle collection? Or perhaps our recent camping trip? Well seeing that that’s three ideas and I’ve decided on three blogs posts (maybe not in the next 24 hours) let’s start with the camping.

Now I do realise that other folks’ camping trips aren’t the most riveting reading so I’ll just tell you a little bit about it then leave you with some photos of that little corner of the Highlands that became Greece for two days.

As a way of having a break from the weaving we decided earlier in the year that a few more wee trips were needed with the emphasis being on spontaneity. So with a heatwave forecast and a house to view, we set off to the North West Coast.

The house was a no no (too cramped) but we came across a little place called Talmine, complete with golden sandy bay and campsite right next to said bay. The temperatures soared to 26 degrees and I had to buy some sun cream. This is unheard of and the first time my freckles have made an appearance in the six years we’ve lived in the Highlands.

We had no phone signal, walks, funny tasting cups of tea (like you do when your water comes out of plastic container) and a night drifting off to sleep to the sound of waves lapping the seashore (actually, truth be told, that’s really noisy at 4am). It was absolute bliss and the only kind of bliss that comes with the unintentional.