How to Make a DIY Yarn Swift, Drop Spindle & Yarn Balance

Handspinning naturally attracts DIYers. After all, if you can make your own yarn, why not make the tools to spin it with? You might be tempted to try to make a spinning wheel at home, but wheels generally require advanced woodworking expertise to run smoothly. Start with more straightforward handspinning tools and work your way up!

Handspinning tools such as a yarn balance, niddy-noddy, or swift involve a lot less work, and they’re important for efficient handspinning. The yarn balance discussed here will measure yardage for your handspun as well as commercial yarns. Our versions here use easy-to-find and inexpensive materials such as PVC pipes and yardsticks. More challenging projects in this collection are hand spindles. We’ve included two sets of directions here, one for drop spindles made with hand tools and a power drill and one for high-whorl spindles that will require a serious workshop.

Even if you never make your own spindles, you can learn more about what makes spindles work well as the authors talk about how they designed their earliest versions and how they adapted when they saw what else was needed. Add to your handmade repertoire with these DIY spinning tools, and remember, Spin.Off always has advice on using this equipment.


Learn how to make a drop spindle and many more essential spinning paraphernalia with this free tutorial!

What’s inside?

From fleece to yarn, follow our experts and dive into the art of spinning on a hand spindle. Learn the secrets to easily manage your yarn, learn the process of plying on a spindle, and learn how to tie a skein. Understanding the differences between spindles and whether you prefer a top whorl drop spindle or a bottom whorl drop spindle, is important. This free eBook does not only get you started on learning how to spin but it also explores several techniques and walks you through each step of the craft with beautiful photos and detailed instructions.

Learn how to make a DIY yarn swift

DIY Yarn Swift

By Marilyn Rishel Sult

"Umbrella swifts are wonderful tools—they are cleverly designed, tremendously helpful, both collapsible and portable. Without whining or complaining, they will hold a skein of yarn just where we want it with just the right tension while we wind yarn into balls, or onto bobbins. Many years ago I decided to challenge myself to make an umbrella swift. I didn’t have a swift to measure but I had several pictures. It turned out that making all the parts was fun and easy. The real challenge came when it was time to put the parts together.

With open eyes and a little bit of creativity, you can find construction materials everywhere. The most visible parts of my umbrella swift were made from yardsticks given away by local businesses as advertisements. I used wire from old Christmas tree lights—it’s covered with plastic insulation and will never rust. I found many of the remaining parts at a flea market.

Make this DIY yarn balance

Make Your Own Yarn Balance

to Identify Mystery Yarns

by Christina Hammel

So you have boxes of mystery yarn that came with the loom you just bought for a bargain price. And you’ve long been amassing unknown cones from guild auctions, yarn trades, and the occasional garage sale. How to use them? Many projects in Handwoven (and ideas of your own) call for using a variety of specific yarns you don’t have. Or, a project calls for a certain yarn in green, but you have an unknown green yarn—can you substitute? If only you knew the yards per pound of the yarn on your mystery cone! If you did, you’d also be able to figure out how many yards there are.

Make a DIY drop spindle with only a handful of pieces!

Make a DIY Drop Spindle

by David Reed Smith and Susan Z Douglas

With little cost and few tools, you can make your own drop spindle just the way you like it. Round or square, long or short, low whorl or high whorl: you’ll find just the instructions you need in these articles.

How to Make your own niddy noddy with supplies from the hardware store!

Make a Niddy Noddy with PVC Pipe

by Shannon Stoney

You won’t believe just how simple it is to make a niddy noddy that’s cheap, easy, and deconstructible so you can travel with it.

This DIY spinning tutorial download is an essential resource.

Along with this amazing resource, you’ll also receive a free membership to our Spinning Daily community. Your membership provides you access to our free projects library, our spinning community blogs, and our daily email newsletter!


Learn how to make a drop spindle and many more essential spinning paraphernalia with this free tutorial!