The ancient rock spindle was used with the addition of a fine bone from a bird or peacock which was laid across the top part of a rock, and attached by wrapping from the front to back several times with a previously spun thread around the bone and rock together.
The thread was then X-wrapped forward over to the back of the right side of the bone, and then over behind the left side of the bone and repeated several times to hold the bone in place. The rock was lifted up by the thread, given a twirl to the right, fibers drafted and spinning began immediately. This rock spindle weighs more than 5 oz. allowing you to spin thicker yarns while the kicker spindle weighs only 2 oz. and will produce very fine yarns.
To make a kicker spindle, attach a small cup hook to the center of a 3 x 4 inch piece of pine wood. I would suggest sanding it so that your yarn will not become caught by any area that has not been sanded and it is also nicer on the hands. You can use heavier woods for thicker yarns but I would not recommend anything over 5 oz.
Attach your fibers to the hook and push with the open palm of your left hand at the left corner of the kicker which will set the spindle in motion. I particularly like to fold split carded roving over my forefinger to spin as it drafts and spins out very smoothly.
As long as you can reach the kicker to add additional spin, continue to push with your open palm at the left corner of the kicker. Once it reaches beyond your knees you can slightly kick the right corner of the kicker with the front part of your foot, pushing to the left, and it will create additional spin. Just before the spindle reaches the floor, jerk the spun thread upward and you can catch the Kicker in your hand. There is no need to try and catch the spindle when you need to stop spinning though - just lower it to the floor and it will stop immediately.
Unhook the yarn and begin wrapping it in a figure-8 arrangement over your right two fingers (thumb & forefinger) until you have reached the end of the spun yarn. Wind the spun yarn onto the Kicker on either side of the hook in a forward wrap - two wraps on left side of hook and two wraps on right side of hook, etc. This forward wrap direction insures the yarn will not untwist while being wrapped. I use the Andean method for plying the yarn, and what can I say…its mobile, its light and it does have a nice even spin. Kids like working with it and IF IT DOES FALL – it will fall flat and nothing will break.
I know it’s a CD spindle world today but it is so easy just to screw in a cup hook and I very much like the idea of using an ancient method of spinning. The Bedouins would follow behind their flock of sheep, collecting fallen fibers along the way and spinning on a small piece of wood. Chinese peasants during 1100-1300s would use a mallet type spindle and a bone spindle with an iron hook or hooked stick placed in the center of the bone spindle for best fiber yarn spinning.
Spinning with the kicker is really easy. Teach your kids a little hand drafting before starting and then show them the hand and foot motions. They may really like it and then again, YOU MAY TOO.