I recently went on a 2-week vacation, first to Tucson and then to LA. It was a truly special time with my family. We did tons of stuff (which I’ve been sharing over on my personal blog, Diary of a Smart Chick, if you’re interested in it.) Mostly I wasn’t focused on my crochet. I love crochet but I do craft daily, blog about crochet, talk about crochet constantly so I thought it would be healthy for this vacation to not have a crochet focus. I couldn’t help but notice when I saw crochet somewhere, though, when I was out and about and I took some photos to share that with you here. Plus I also had the chance to meet a man who makes beautiful drop spindles and that’s encouraging me to take up a new craft to supplement my crochet. Check out the things I saw first and then read further to learn all about my terrific experience learning about Ken Ledbetter’s spindles.

Crochet Around Town

Here’s the crochet I spotted while I was doing various things in Tucson and Los Angeles:

Crochet clothing spotted in Santee Alley, Fashion District of LA

Bookman’s, a large used bookstore in Tucson, has expanded to also offer various thrift store style items and they had quite a few crochet purses, including the one in the back there made of plarn.

Crochet covered pillows at Cafe Mimosa in Topanga Canyon, LA

And this isn’t crochet but it tells you how yarn obessed I am … when we were at Huntington Gardens there was a display showing sheep, racoon and coyote fur and my immediate thought was, “well you can make yarn from sheep so can you make racoon and coyote yarn, too?!”

And this one is cotton growing at the gardens, which also made me think of yarn. I love yarn.

Drop Spindles

Figured Wood

I may have mentioned before that my father is a custom woodworker. He also does urban harvesting of reclaimed wood, traveling to Ohio each summer to gather the wood where he works with the Amish to get it milled and brings it back to buyers in Arizona. He specializes in really unique woods that have fascinating figures in them. One of his buyers especially seeks out that special wood; his name is Ken Ledbetter and he’s an artist whose focus for the past few years has been on making truly exquisite spindles for spinning yarn. (He also makes yarn bowls, shuttles and other related items).

Ken and my dad in the shop

I wanted to talk to Ken because my dad had mentioned that he goes to a lot of different fiber events and I’m trying to learn how to get my book represented at events like that. He had some great suggestions of who I should talk to but mostly I just really enjoyed talking about the fiber arts community, how he got into the work and just the joy of our craft. I met him at my dad’s workshop but he invited us to come up the next day and visit his studio so we did that. I got to see a little bit of how he works, check out some drop spindles in various stages of being put together and talk more about the craft. It was terrific. Ken is really nice, really knowledgeable about this area of the craft and very talented in doing this work.

Spindles in the making

Ken starts with a creative piece of wood (sometimes wood from my father). He uses his tools to shape that into spindles of various sizes. (In addition to the drop spindles, which are what interested me, and he also makes Russian spindles and Tibetan spindles.) He then adds in a unique decorative item to enhance the natural appeal of the wood. The item might be an abalone shell, a creative button, ceramics or a piece he’s made himself with leftover wood. The result is a really beautiful work of art. And of course it’s designed to be functional as well; Ken offers a guarantee on his products so if for some reason the item fails to work properly (which is unlikely) he’ll work with you. Visit Ken’s store, KCL Woods, online to see all of his beautiful work.

Drop spindles ready to go

Ken susprised my sister and I while we were there by gifting us each with a drop spindle. I have been saying for awhile that I want to get into the next stage of my yarn craft by learning to both dye and spin yarn. I love the idea of “slow crochet” where you do as many of the steps as you can by yourself, from raising the fiber animals to spinning and dyeing the yarn, to crocheting the piece. I can’t own my own animals right now but there’s no reason I can’t learn to dye and spin. I’ve been saying it and saying it but I’ve taken no steps to actually make it happen. This gift of the drop spindle really encourages me to start learning this new part of the craft! My only concern is where the heck I’m going to store roving when I’ve already filled my house with yarn! :)

My new drop spindle!

Do any of you spin? How about dyeing?


San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!


  1. I love the crocheted tops – they’re very pretty. And the drop spindles look very nice too – have fun playing with your new one. :)

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @dlyrs Thanks … I always have my eye out for crochet stuff everywhere I go :)

  2. undergroundcrafter Reply

    Wow, those spindles are amazing! I don’t spin but I’m trying to learn :).

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @undergroundcrafter Ken does truly great work! Maybe you and I can encourage each other in this new area of our craft!

      • undergroundcrafter Reply

        @CrochetBlogger That sounds like a great idea! I need encouragement after my sad first attempt ;).

        • CrochetBlogger Reply

          @undergroundcrafter I haven’t actually tried it yet. I stopped into the LYS closest to me today to buy roving but it turns out they don’t sell roving so I have to do some shopping before I can give it a try.

  3. StitchStory Reply

    @CrochetBlogger I have recently learned to spin and bought 1 of Ken’s spindles. I love it! It really spins beautifully, he is a master!

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