Question: But isn't making yarn on a drop spindle incredibly slow and time-consuming?
Answer: Kind of. But consider this:
This morning I accompanied Mitchell to a meeting at a local coffee shop. It was a casual sort of meeting, not the kind where the meet-ee would look askance at someone playing with fibre while sipping back a dark roast.
While we waited for the meet-ee to show up, I pulled one of my two braids of beautiful caramel-coloured Fleece Artist BFL Sliver out of my bag and started separating it into long, thinnish, somewhat more manageable strips. Then I fluffed out the fibres on the first strip, since they had kind of clumped up a bit during storage; and then I pulled out my 1.6 oz Golding, spun myself a leader, and commenced turning that first big poofy braid into singles.
(Having previously played around with a few samples, I know that I'm making something that more or less resembles 12 wpi yarn; and I even kinda sorta have a pattern in mind: Love LexyLu's Foreign Correspondent's Scarf. Sorry, cannot find a non-Ravelry link for this one.)
I'm about halfway through the first braid of BFL now, and have a pretty decent-size cop. Tonight I'll start on the second half, and maybe do a bit of plying if I have time. By sometime tomorrow, I should have myself at least one skein of very knittable yarn. Hard to judge length exactly, but if I had to guess, I'd say each skein will hold about 100m of yarn. Considering that I'll have done the vast majority of the spinning during the interstices in my work day -- while at this morning's meeting, during lunch, while on the phone -- I think that's not a bad deal.
The spindle's portability means that I can easily pick it up and put it down, so I'm able to take advantage of the tiny slots of down-time that pop up throughout my day. Whereas if I had to spin the same yarn on a wheel, it might take me a fraction of the time to do the actual spinning, but I'd have to set up the wheel, then commit to spending a chunk of time in front of it, then put it away afterward...you get the idea.
It kind of struck me funny that this simplest of tools -- one that may predate the wheel, and that's pretty seriously low-tech -- gives me the flexibility and portability I need to actually get the job done.
I think there must be a lesson in there somewhere.