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As I mentioned in my previous post I’ve been doing more spinning lately.  I had a trip planned for January and I started to think about taking a spinning project with me.  As I thought about it I decided that I didn’t really want to risk any of my spindles breaking.  I used to take spindles with me everywhere, but a few of them were broken so I stopped and just took knitting when I traveled.  This time I wanted to find a good alternative to risking my pretty wooden spindles.

I’ve been enjoying being able to spin either supported or suspended, and remembered some really cute little spindles I’d been seeing at fiber shows at the TurtleMade booth.  It occurred to me that one of those might do the trick.

I’ve gotten some sock yarns from TurtleMade before, as they have some nice, fun, gradient sock yarns.  In fact, my current knitting project is a pair of socks from TurtleMade yarn.  While I had looked hard at their small 3D printed spindles I hadn’t yet gotten myself one.  However, something like that seemed like it might be perfect for traveling, as the spindles are small, light, and will break down into pieces for packing.  And, being some sort of plastic I figured they wouldn’t break like a wooden shaft can so easily do.

So I reached out, sending a private query about suitability as travel spindles, and options for supported spinning in tight quarters, like in a car or airplane seat.  I was concerned that the diameter of the Micro Turkish Supported Spindle arms would be a bit too wide for these tight quarters.

The folks at TurtleMade, Scott and Jen Kemery, are fantastic to work with.  Scott and I exchanged messages for several weeks (over the holidays!) as I learned more about their materials and narrowed down my choices based on my current needs and anticipated future wants.  As I wanted something that could handle travel, being able to endure being inside a hot car was an important feature in addition to durability and spinning functionality.

Most of their 3D printed items are from a material called PLA.  PLA is a plant based plastic.  It is environmentally friendly and can even be composted in industrial composting processes back to its original components. It is strong and durable, but very ridged.  PLA is available  in lots of beautiful colors.

They also sometimes use another material called ABS.  ABS is an oil based plastic which they use for molded shafts and special orders that want the higher heat resistance.  They have found that printed ABS shafts tend to get ridges in them from the material sinking during printing.  While this does not affect the spin it is something you can feel and see on the shaft.  In addition they have found that printed ABS shafts are not as durable as PLA shafts.  ABS is available in only a very few colors.

If you are interested in knowing more about these materials check out this article.

After much discussion I decided that I wanted to have a sort of mix and match set of whorls and spindle shafts.  For my needs I decided it didn’t matter if there were some ridges in an ABS printed shaft.  I’m more concerned about function, so as long as I was happy spinning on it minor things like a few ridges are not a problem in the least.

I decided on this for my custom order:

12″ Blue ABS spindle shaft with matching small Triquetra whorl (in a circle so it wouldn’t be stopped if a point touched my leg)

9″ Blue ABS spindle with matching small round custom whorl

5″ Transparent Purple Micro Turkish Supported Spindle shaft and matching arms

7″ Transparent blue shaft with matching standard Triquetra whorl

Blue ABS custom round whorl

Here is a photo of the spindle shaft & whorl sets.


The additional custom whorl is this  one shown on one of the ABS shafts.


As the working size of the shaft for all of these is essentially the same, any of these whorls/arm sets can be used with any of the shafts.  Of course the physics of the size and weight will affect performance, particularly for suspended spinning, so not all these whorls will work that well with every shaft for suspended spinning.  However, since several of these whorls I intend to use for supported spinning that won’t be a problem for me.  And if I decide I want to use the 12″ shaft for suspended spinning I’ll just use the standard Triquetra whorl with it.

As so often happens I didn’t do as much spinning on my trip as I had thought I might.  I selected some cashmere and the 9″ blue ABS spindle shaft with matching small blue Triquetra whorl as my travel spinning.  The length of the shaft was convenient to store in my backpack, and not too short for my aging eyes with bifocals to see reasonably easily.  The shaft length meant I could easily and quickly wind a temporary cop on the shaft then properly wind onto the main cop at intervals.

Cashmere on TurtleMade custom supported spindle

The small Triquetra whorl enclosed in a ring is pretty and the ring keeps the points of the Triquetra from stopping the spindle from spinning when it bumps against my legs as I spin.  This spindle has a nice spin time and I quite enjoyed being able to spin this on airplanes and while chatting with friends.

Cashmere on TurtleMade custom supported spindle

The longer, 12″ ABS shaft has a slight amount of bobble when spun supported which I believe is from a slight curvature.  I don’t have a problem with this, as the longer shaft gives me 2 things that I find very useful.  First, because of my very poor eyesight the longer shaft means that the drafting zone is easily in my optimal viewing range when spinning shorter lengths of yarn.  I want to spin shorter lengths to prevent large motions for both ergonomic and space reasons.  Second, the longer shaft gives me a large area on which to wind the in progress yarn into a temporary cop.

Purple Passion on TurtleMade custom supported spindle

Yes, I do like blue!  The fiber is called Purple Passion and is an angora/tussah silk/merino wool blend that I’ve had for a very long time.

This whorl is a nicely shaped disk.  It is flat on the bottom with a slightly concave top rising up along the shaft.

Purple Passion on TurtleMade custom supported spindle

Purple Passion on TurtleMade custom supported spindle

The only other of these new spindles that I’ve used thus far is the pretty transparent purple Micro Turkish Supported Spindle.

3/4 Targhee TurtleMade Micro Turkish Spindle

This spindle may be used either supported or suspended, and this yarn is a fine Targhee cross wool spun suspended.  The purple sure is pretty!

3/4 Targhee Micro TurtleMade Turkish spindle

This little Turkish spindle is extremely light and has a good spin time for that weight.  It is a delight to use.

I haven’t done more than briefly play with the other spindles, but they are very pretty, spin well for a reasonable length of time for the weights.