How To Tie A Turkish Spindle Leader


In the last installment of my spinning misadventures, I was trying to decide what to spin from a lovely bump of Targhee wool. Since this is my first time working with Targhee, I decided to keep things simple and go with a solid 2-ply yarn. The fiber gets to lead the rest of the way and do its wooly thing. The spindle of choice - a 33g Jenkins Swan which I haven’t used anywhere near enough. Time to fix that.

Turkish spindles can be tricky to start without a hook to help the process and leaders knotted to the spindle can be finicky when there’s a few yards of new handspun wrapped around your hand. I came across a solution quite by accident after I had the used the same leader, a piece of yarn or thread that helps add twist to fiber at the very beginning of spinning, to start several different singles. 


Tying the leader is simple. I used craft thread because I had it at hand but you can use yarn, twine, or any string in your junk drawer. Take a piece of string at least 18” long - length can vary based on the size of your spindle - and put the ends together. Tie an overhand knot near the end and a second knot about 2” from the first. That‘s it.


When you’re ready to start spinning, slip the larger spindle arm through the space between the knots. Insert the smaller spindle arm through the notch and the open loop at the same time. 


Once the shaft is in place, the loop will be secure around the arms of the spindle. Wrap the leader around the shaft and tie a slip knot at the top. To add fiber, draft out a few inches from your top or roving  and put it through the loop hanging off the spindle. Fold the roving back on itself and start spinning. It’s the same process as starting without a leader when the spindle has a hook which you can check out in this tutorial.


When it’s time to wind the single on to the arms, just wrap 2 over, 1 under as usual. No special treatment required. Nothing special to do when taking the single off the arms either. Just slide everything apart since the single isn’t tied, just wrapped, around spindle. 


The Targhee and I are getting along well so far. I’m still learning a lot from spinning it though and looking forward to the rest of the process. Hey, I alway look forward to new yarn.