Troubleshooting: Spindle Hooks

Can any of you lovely spinners share some advice with me? I love spindle spinning–so easy to take with me–but I have yet to figure out a good way to remove the yarn from the shaft. My current method is to loosely hold the end of the shaft while I wind it off with a ball winder, but that has problems. How do you all do it?

One of the primary problems with that method drew my attention for a frequent flaw in good spindles: wimp-ass hooks. You know what I mean–the tiny thread of wire poked in there and bent into shape as if it’s not going to have to be reshaped every three days. So annoying. But here’s how you fix that problem: stick a better hook in it.

Step 1: Remove the old wire.

You can probably do this with no hands. Maybe get some pliers if it’s giving you trouble, but I have yet to meet the wire that wouldn’t just pop out. Most of those thin wire hooks that are so prone to bending do not have screw bases, but if it’s really giving you a fight, try lefty-loosey to get it moving.

Step 2: Buy a cup hook.

These 1/2″ brass cup hooks from Home Depot work pretty well. They have bigger sizes if you’re working with a large spindle, but for smaller, you’ll need to check out McMaster-Carr. They go down to 1/4″ and also have some interesting stainless steel options for 1/2″ hooks. The downside there is that you have to buy in high quantities, but they’re much cheaper per unit than Home Depot, and if you’re a big spinner, you might just go through them. Besides, I find cup hooks to be more broadly useful for house projects, so it probably doesn’t hurt to have too many lying around.

Step 3: Pre-drill the hole.

Seriously. Don’t just try to screw the hook into the wire’s hole. It’s not big enough and you’ll crack the shaft and then you’ll have to do Step Whoops-a-daisy, which adds time and work and materials. Use a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the screw post of your cup hook. You can wiggle it around if you need to make the hole bigger, but fixing a hole that’s too big is more of an issue, so stick with small. Most sets don’t have a bit small enough for the 1/2″ hook mentioned above, so take your hooks to Home Depot and compare the specialty bits to find the right one for your drill. As you drill, stop and test the hook carefully until you get the right size and depth.

Centering the hole is not the world’s easiest task, which is probably the reason for the super-light wires on so many spindles, but so far I have found using the center of an + drawn across the top of the shaft as the center point of the drill bit to keep my spin true enough, and doing that once has been, for me, easier and more accurate than futzing around with heating and bending those stupid wires into place every other day.

Step Whoops-a-Daisy: Fix that cracked shaft.

Didn’t read step 3 very carefully, did you? It’s okay. I did the same thing the first time I replaced a wire hook. The fix is simple enough. Grab your wood glue and dab it generously into the cracks. Clamp the shaft back together and wait 24 hours for the glue to set. Sand off any bumps of dried glue if necessary, then go back and do step 3 properly.

Step 4: Screw in the hook.

Do I really need to explain this more? Righty-tighty. If you hit resistance, back up and drill a bit more. Because spindle shifts are so small, they are very easy to accidentally crack, so don’t force the screw to keep turning.

Ta-da! That wasn’t so difficult, right? And now you don’t have to worry about bending the hook back into shape every time you (ahem) drop the spindle. Or bang it about trying to get the yarn off. Speaking of which, don’t forget to comment and save me from my own ineptness in getting the yarn off my spindles!