My spindle technique is definitely improving. I still have a ways to go before I succeed in getting a truly consistent single, let alone a truly consistent twist in the plied yarn, but I'm getting better at it.
Among the tricks I've picked up while hanging out in the Spindlers Ravelry group, there's a neat video demonstrating a ply-on-the-fly technique. As far as I can tell, it's sort of a modified (?) Navajo plying technique that gives you a three-ply yarn without the necessity of fiddling with three spindles at once. Or four, counting the one doing the actual plying. It's still a little fiddly since you have to stop every so often, loop the yarn, ply it, then wind the plied yarn around the shaft before resuming with the single strand. It makes more sense if you watch the video, though. ;)
So that's what I've been trying to do after I did such a crummy job of spinning the mulberry silk. Poor silk. It deserved better treatment than being used to relearn the art of drop spindling. I've progressed, though, and have two spindles with fiber on them. The fire agate has some of SallyInWales's hand dyed BFL on it, and I'm finding out that having a notch in the whorl really does help. Even if I choose not to take advantage of it, having it there feels better--sort of like training wheels, I guess--because, if the single slips, the notch will probably keep it from getting away from me.
The cedar spindle does have a notch, and I've made more progress with it--it's starting to fill up, which means I'll have to figure out how to move the cop from the shaft to some other storage thingy before I can keep going. The Mountain Colors Targhee is really, really easy to spin (for some reason I'm finding the BFL a little more challenging.. go figure).
I've been considering expanding my collection and, after dithering, I picked a Dragoncraft spindle with gorgeous blue swirls and a moon embedded in it. It took a little wiggling to get the whorl really tightly in place, but I think I've got it on there well enough that it won't come off without a lot of abuse... which I certainly don't intend to dish out. This one weigh just a tiny bit less than the other two (the fire agate weighs 1.48 oz and the cedar weighs 1.44 oz) at 1.3 oz, but is still considered a mid-weight spindle. I've been operating under the assumption that lighter weights produce lighter yarns, but a number of people have suggested that this is false and that an experienced spinner could probably use any size spindle to make even very light yarns. I'm not sure that's true for, say, a 2 oz spindle, though, since some people recommend using heavier ones for plying. It's a puzzle. O.o
It was purely coincidental, I'm sure, that the package arrived on a day that, while also the day of New Year's Eve, falls on a blue moon. In view of the utter blueness of the day, I picked up the blue Corriedale/bamboo blend--I gave up after having been frustrated by its quirky, slubby nature--and took another stab at spinning it. It's going better than my initial attempt, which may well be due in part to my practice with the other two spindles. The picture doesn't do the spindle justice... or the fiber, for that matter.
There are all kinds of little white and brown hairs in the mix. It seems I wasn't as thorough about cleaning my cards as I thought I was, so there's a little bit of alpaca fluff still stuck in there, and it's giving the yarn an interesting texture.
All this fiber! Combined with the sock yarn mom gave me for Christmas, I may never surface except to blink blearily at the outside world and make Grinch-like comments before I disappear again. Now it looks like I really do need a bigger jar to stash my spindles in... *sigh!*