I wanted another tahkli spindle, but I didn't want to spend another $20-$25 for one- not that the little tornado spinners aren't worth it, they totally are. I just didn't want to spend the money. I have The Hub on the lookout for 1" diameter brass circles with or without a center hole (sometimes, it's handy to be married to a carpenter)(actually, it's alway handy) because I am certain that he could make some for me, but so far, he hasn't found anything. Then my friend Nancie of Badfaerie Designs, from whom I bought my beautiful handpainted spindle, made a throw-away comment on Facebook about needing a bead for her dpn, so she could spin the cotton from a pill jar at her desk.
I searched through my boxes of lampwork beads (note: I haven't fired up the torch for several years. I think I need to, I'm nearly out of beads), and came up with these three goofy center-hole beads. They're amateur, they're lopsided, and they're not really any good for any other project. Perfect for experimentation and improvisation.
And then I rummaged through my needle stash. The holes were the wrong size for any of my metal needles, but I was able to push some Size 2-3 Knitpicks Harmony dpns into place. Unfortunately, not enough of the point stuck through for my style of tahkli spinning (I support the spindle shaft at an angle in a small, squarish plastic tub- The Hub says that using a porcelain bowl makes too much noise... sigh), and there wasn't enough clearance for the little bead whorls (barely an inch across) to spin freely.
Again with The Handy Carpenter suggestion- The Hub said I should just sand the needles a bit. They were wooden, after all.
And Voila! It worked. I was able to sand just a tinch off the needles. Then I shoved the beads up good and tight. I gave one of them a test run, and as you can see, my new spindle works just fine- the bead isn't perfectly balanced (I am purely an amateur lampworker, and it shows), and the spindle itself doesn't spin as fast as a regular tahkli, but it's perfectly functional, and pretty to boot. I did find that the bead fell off during plying though (no worries- no snarl or disaster), so I will have to glue the shafts in place. But otherwise- 3 new spindles at the cost of a couple of extra knitting needles and some beads I had on hand. Woot!
I now have 4.2 ozs of tahkli spun natural cotton (plied with commercial cotton/wool), fingering weight. I didn't measure the yardage of the latest batch, but the first 2ozs added up to 180 yards, and the the rest is comparable in size, so I estimate that I have about 360 yards of yarn already- almost enough for a Hitchhiker Shawl.
I have a few more hanks of white to spin first (and several unfinished projects to get off the needles before I cast on something new). The above is not a great shot, but I think you can see the slight difference in the *white* yarns. The top hank is a Buffalo Fox Fibre white, and the bottom is Pima cotton. The difference is subtle, but it's there, and I like it. I'll spin a couple more hanks of both for the shawl.
And then I might spin some more. I'm sorta in cotton spinning mode at the moment.
Oh, if you have a hankering to build yourself a tahkli, I am pretty sure that you don't need a flat bead for the whorl- all it does is provide a bit of weight to keep the spindle going, and a stop so the yarn doesn't fall off the bottom. Round beads, square beads, probably any bead at all, as long as it has a little heft, should work.
If you make one, send me a pic- I want to see what you all come up with.