Spindles for testing
A friend, who is a very experienced spinner with a large collection of good spinning equipment, "demanded" that I make her a better drop spindle. I thought that very odd as there are lots and lots of drop spindles on the market and this woman attends all the wool shows, and I was not really making drop spindles.
A little experimentation showed why she made her demand. Most drop spindles on the market are not really suitable for production spinning. In fact, I had assumed that it was not possible to make any useful amount of worsted spun 5-ply gansey yarn on a drop spindle. I thought that because drop spindle spinning was so slow, prior to around the year 1500 there would have been no worsted spun yarn. Fishermen (and others) would have had to rely on semi-worsted yarns spun on a great wheel. I had heard that the sails of Columbo's ships were woven form yarns that were drop spun. However, the reality that drop spinning could be "fast" never crossed my mind.
The problem is that when spinning became fashionable, spindles started being made to be pretty rather than functional. The other day, I had a student who owns 80 drop spindles. They are all beautiful. They are all jewelry - articles of personal adornment. Not one those spindles is particularly functional for rapidly spinning high quality yarn
Moreover, I hear spindle makers spouting all kinds of nonsense about their spindles and the new owners of those spindles reciting the same stupidity. As I get deeper into this, I even see silly statements by experts, who really should know better.
For example, a bottom whorl drop spindle can be spun with an elegant "Princess Twinkle" flick in the drawing room. Or, you can use a thigh roll with a bottom whorl spindle and it is is just as fast as any Egyptian drop spindle. Or, you can use a two-handed toss on your bottom whorl spindle and it will be faster than an Egyptian drop spindle. With a two-handed toss on your bottom whorl drop spindle, you can spin very fast. It is not elegant, but it is fast.
In short, it was perfectly feasible to spin worsted 5-ply yarn for fine knitting on drop spindles. It is even feasible to ply 5-ply with the proper drop spindle (and lazy kate with singles guides from LK to plier. In addition, you need a spindle that is made for doing that sort of thing, rather than a spindle design that is made to be easy (cheap) to produce, or a spindle design that is mostly for personal adornment.
And, Oh! yes, I like that spindle standing in front with the bit of white single on it. Does it look like any commercially produced spindle you have seen recently? Sadly, I think not.