Beehive Cops on Spindles


Beehive Cops

While preparing for my Better, Happier Spindle Spinning Class, the topic of cop shapes came up. One of my favorite ways to fit a lot of yarn on a spindle is to use beehive cops.

The beehive shape allows the cop to grow out beyond the edge of the whorl. So rather than extending the cop down the spindle shaft as it grows, and getting in the way of thigh-rolling, I can wind the cop wider and out to the side instead.

The first two spindles above, moving left to right, show the cop before it gets its distinctive shape. On the next two spindles, you can see how the yarn is being built up a short distance from the whorl. A combination of horizontal and x-winding is used to create this shaping.


A beehive cop in the early stages.

A beehive cop in the early stages.

In the early stages, it doesn’t really look any different from any other cop. Once you have a small base cop to work with then the real shaping begins. Periodically, I wrap very snuggly around the shaft at the bottom of the cop, to keep the cop from slipping down on the spindle shaft as it gains more weight.


Beehive cop on spindle while plying

A beehive cop shaping up while plying on my Kundert spindle. I’m using a smooth, tapered Jaeger nostepinne to keep the middle of my Andean plying bracelet open.

Without using beehive shaping, I would never be able to fit 3-4 ounces of plied yarn on my spindle. Well, unless I had a spindle with a very long shaft, which isn’t very efficient to work with. The beehive cops give me much more freedom of motion, because I can work with shorter spindle shafts, but still fit a huge amount of yarn on my spindle.


Spindles - low whorl, high whorl, bead whorl, and turkish.

Just ignore the Turkish spindle in the photo. What I wanted to show you is the bead whorl spindle in the center, with all the white cotton on it.

Another spinning marvel brought to you by the beehive cop! The tiny bead whorl spindle above has a shaft that is approximately 7″ long over-all. But with careful application of the beehive cop shaping, Amy was able to make a cop twice as wide as the spindle’s whorl, and thereby pack A LOT of yarn on that little spindle. Since it is a supported spindle, what would normally be excessive weight (many times that of the whorl) doesn’t come into the equation at all.

So, if a photo is worth a thousand words, how much are dozens of photos worth? Don’t just take my word on this matter – here are three more expert spindlers, and a multitude of photos showing how they achieve this desirable cop shape, along with their thoughts on the matter:

How Abby Franquemont shapes her spindle cops.

The cop shaping of TChemGrrl

Laura Kanemori displays her cop building sequences.


Do you use beehive cops? If not, are you ready to give them a try now?

Happy spinning!

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