Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tips and Tricks - Spinning edition

I have two spinning wheels, a Lendrum and a HansenCrafts miniSpinner. The miniSpinner is an electric spinner - with a motor that spins the flyer for you, eliminating treadling. I like it because it allows you to focus on your drafting and hand movements. The miniSpinner also provides more consistency, since it has a dial that controls the spin speed (ie, the treadling). While doing larger quantities of spinning, you can keep the speed consistent from bobbin to bobbin by keeping the dial in the same position.

But this isn't about my wheels. As with my knitting, startitis is a bit of a problem. You know - that urge to start a new knitting project or start spinning with a new bit of fluffy, pretty roving. I'm constantly tempted to try the next fiber and see how it spins up. This leads to another problem - lack of bobbins. Kind of like lack of the right size needles with knitting startitis. (Which explains why I have about 5 sets of 4mm needles stuck in various WIPs)

One of my missions at the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival (aka, Rhinebeck) was to obtain some weaving bobbins to help solve my problem. I've read a few blogs and posts on Ravelry which described using a cocktail stirrer or drill and weaving bobbin to wind the singles off of a spinning wheel bobbin and onto a weaving bobbin.

I was intrigued by the possibilities for freeing up spinning bobbins to enable my startitis! I had to try this. And I was justified in my thoughts after watching Judith MacKenzie's The Gentle Art of Plying video (wait for one of their digital download sales to save money!). She recommends reloading singles onto bobbins to even out the singles and to make for a better plying experience. Plus, this allowed me to save money by not buying more Woolee Winder bobbins for my Lendrum ($45 each!)

So, I thought about it a bit and looked at my 2 spinning wheels with their Woolee Winders. And this is what I came up with:

On the left, I had my "full" Lendrum bobbin. It doesn't matter that this is a Woolee Winder bobbin (except when it comes to cost). I'm calling it full because I'm doing 3 ply sock yarn in this photo and this is one of the 34g singles.

On the right is my jury-rigged winding system. I put some electrical tape around the end of a Bic pen to make it fit snuggly into the orifice of the miniSpinner. Then I slid the weaving bobbin over the end of the Bic pen - an excellent, though not quite perfect fit. Then I took the end of the single from the Lendrum bobbin and tied it around the weaving bobbin. I recommend a bit of tape; it holds the yarn fast once the bobbin starts turning.

Then I turned on the miniSpinner and used my fingers as a guide, moving the yarn from side to side to ensure it wound onto the weaving bobbin evenly. Had I not done so, it would have just piled up in one spot.

I was a bit worried about damaging the motor on the miniSpinner, but I kept the speed lower (around 10:00 on the dial) and ensured it turned freely.

The result? One nicely wound bobbin full of my sock yarn single, waiting to be plied. The weaving bobbins fit nicely over the metal rods of my lazy kates.

Things to keep in mind:
  • You don't need to go from wheel to wheel. Just take a full spinning bobbin and put it on a lazy kate if you like.
  • You don't need to use a pen - it's just what happened to be handy and close to the right size.
  • Anything that spins can be used as the winder. An electric cocktail stirrer. A cordless (or corded) screwdriver or drill. Use whatever you have around the house. Ingenuity is the key.
  • Weaving bobbins are pretty inexpensive. I got my 6" Schacht bobbins for $2 each. I bought 15 of them.
  • I noticed that the weaving bobbin wobbled a bit at the far end. So I held the tip of a knitting needle in the free end of the bobbin to steady it a bit. So now my left hand guides the yarn evenly onto the bobbin and my right hand holds the knitting needle in the end of the bobbin to stabilize it.
  • You can load the bobbins higher than the diameter of the ridges at the end. You'll just have to do it carefully.
  • Make sure the weaving bobbins fit on your lazy kate!

1 comment :

  1. When winding my 4" shuttle bobbins for weaving, I use my cordless drill. I wrap the bit with enough paper to hold the bobbin on firmly.