Friday, 4 January 2008

Pirn winding

I had prepared photos for a post about how I wind my pirns before I received this query from Kim:

"Dorothy, having just received one of these from my dear husband for Christmas, it would be wonderful if you could discuss using an end feed shuttle. Do I wind the pirn differently then I would a bobbin on a boat shuttle? How do I trouble shoot my weaving using the end feed shuttle?"

As a fairly new weaver I'm not the very best source of information, but I'm happy to share what I know - and then advise looking at any of the books listed at the end of this post.

For a description in words: you start need to start winding near the wide end of the pirn. I will cover the first couple of inches with one layer of thread, then I work backwards and forwards to build it up, and gradually move down the pirn, building up the yarn in a wedge shape. You don't want to fill all the space available in the shuttle or the yarn will jam, so your "yarn package" is going to need to fit comfortably within the shuttle.

Aside: I'd like to give you a diagram or a photo about how to fill the pirn with yarn, but I can't do that for the time being. Anyone reading my blog when I started out may remember I discovered I can't load pictures from my home computer. I still have to make a booking when the local library is open so I can use one of their computers to upload pictures.

It's important to wind tight, making a firm "yarn package", so the yarn only only unwinds when it is pulled from the shuttle, and so it pulls out evenly. When you get close to the tip of the pirn it is even more important that the layers are built up firm and even, so there is no danger of the yarn slipping of the end of the pirn(!). I use wooden pirns that came with my shuttles, and have not had problems with the yarn slipping, I don't know if the plastic pirns behave differently?

Although I've used medium to fine weight yarns with my shuttles without problems, they aren't suited to all yarns. Mine will not take thick yarns and I think most fancy yarns would catch in the tensioner - I've got a Schacht boat shuttle and various rug shuttles (the ski type is my favourite) for other types of yarn.

From my recent experience, the tension needs tightening if the yarn pulls out without effort. If you just pick up the shuttle and pull on the yarn, you should feel a resistence and it should slow and stop as you stop pulling. Watch as you weave a header, when it's right you should easily feel in total control of the way the weft lies through the warp.

I always have to remember a little rhyme my Dad taught me when adjusting the screw "right is tight, left is loose" (right being clockwise).

I started winding pirns with a quill spindle attatchment for my Ashford Traditional spinning wheel. When I sold that wheel, I had to come up with a homemade adaptation for my new wheel, a 2nd hand Timbertops Leicester. I used a piece of dowel which I shaped with a knife to make it fit the orifice of the spinning wheel and my pirns (which are of two different sizes). It clips in place with a little spring made from a paper clip, as you can just about see on the right of the first photo.

The second photo shows a pirn in place for winding, and although there is not much yarn wound you can see how I have avoided the very top of the pirn and just started to build up an even yarn package with a bulge at the top tailing off down the pirn. Peggy Ostercamp (see below) advises that a much steeper angle on the yarn is best for good tension.

The third and last photo shows off my beautiful spinning wheel.

What I really like about using the spinning wheel for winding pirns is that I have both hands free, making it easy to guide the thread. It is also very easy to control the speed the pirn is turning, so I feel in good control of the process.

The best books I have found for instructions for using end feed shuttles are:
Peggy Ostercamp, Weaving and Drafting Your Own Cloth (several pages of good information & diagrams) (buy from Peggy direct, or all good weaving suppliers).
Rachel Brown, The Weaving Spinning and Dyeing Book, (available from Fibrecrafts in UK, see below, also Amazon in UK and US).
Allen A Fannin, Handloom Weaving Technology (all editions very useful, the latest is available from in the U.S, Fibrecrafts in the UK).


Peg in South Carolina said...

A very good post on winding end-feed shuttles. I use an electric bobbin winder abd a tensioning device that keeps the yarn tight as it winds on. It also keeps the yarn from burning my fingers! Even so, I sometimes have trouble not getting the yarn on tightly enough. I'm improving! I love your new-to-you wheel! I'm drooling rather slobbily here..........

Dorothy said...

Thanks for the feed back Peg, I was a bit nervous about whether I knew enough about these shuttles to be a source of information! I haven't burnt my fingers on the yarn yet, possibly because I wind them at a speed that I find comfortable and can easily speed up or slow down.

The spinning wheel as at least as beautiful in real life as the photo suggests. I also have a double treadle version, it is less elegant and graceful in appearance and in action, but a superb wheel to work with. More about that another time!

SpinningLizzy said...

I've been enjoying your posts on end-feed shuttles. It's because of you I am purchasing on a payment plan! I haven't wanted to possibly scratch my spinning quill attachment by using it to wind the pirns, but I'm re-thinking that after reading your note about control.

Congratulations on the Timbertops wheel! It's so lovely, and what a coup!