Saturday, 30 January 2010

Antique Spinning Wheel (part 3)

Just before Christmas the first prototype bobbin made by Mike Williams for my antique spinning wheel was ready to test.

We calculated the diameter for the flyer whorl based on information in Alden Amos's "Big Book of Handspinning" which is the only book on handspinning I have found which addresses the mechanics of how spinning wheel works. Mr Amos writes extensively on the subject of "Differential rotational speed", which is the difference between the speed between the flyer and the bobbin. We also had the aid of fellow Online Guild member and European spinning wheel historian, Sigrid Vogt, on the minimum difference between flyer whorl and bobbin whorl ratio that is necessary on a double drive wheel to ensure that yarn will wind on to the bobbin - this minimum ratio is 1:1.2.

There's the proof that the bobbin fits the flyer beautifully and spins well! It also looks right to my eye, nicely proportioned and the beech wood we chose has a warm tone that suits this wheel.

The heavy snows at Christmas and New Year led to road closures across the Peak District, and for several weeks I was unable to take the prototype and flyer back to Mike for him to make matching bobbins to fit. In the end, Mike made prepared the 3 extra bobbins and just waited for the original parts before turning the curved bobbin ends and reaming out the brass bearings to fit the flyer shaft (the shaft is a non-standard size).

Last week I got the flyer and bobbins to Mike, at the start of this week my bobbins were ready to collect. Here they are!

I tied green cotton leader threads on them, to match the emerald green feather I use for a threading hook. This tip from Shetland spinner and knitter Liz Lovick is very useful, as the orifice on this old spinning wheel at 7 mm is much smaller than modern wheels and using a hook would be fiddly.

Here are some close ups so you can see just how lovely the bobbins are.

Just a little note on another topic altogether -

When I started this blog, Thursday 6th July 2007 I nearly gave up before the first post was published when I discovered I could not upload photographs to Blogger. In determined desparation I saved my photos for the second post onto a floppy disk and went along to the local library to upload them for my second post (on dye plants).

Ever since, until today, all my photos have been uploaded at the local public library, which has been difficult as they open part time on odd mornings and afternoons.

Following a recent upgrade to our router software we were aware that there were some different firewall options and thought it was worth seeing if one of the settings could make a difference. As I didn't understand the settings, I went to the router manufacturer's home page to see if I could contact someone. I found a help forum, and there I found someone else asking about the exact same problem ... and the answer! It's a setting to block non-http connections. I still can't upload to Yahoo groups or Ravelry, that's because for a reason I haven't fathomed I can't download the latest Flash player for Linux, it causes my browser to hang.

For the first time I have composed a post for my blog, with photos, without having to wait for the library to open and booking one of their computers.

I'm sure I shall find other excuses to pop in and see the friendly library staff who I have got to know well as they also get a lot of books in for me (which I can request from the county library catalogue Online).

Will this mean more blog posts, more photos? I don't know, it's a new way of working, let's see....

Note for Meg: thanks very much for your help with hosting my scarf photo, I just uploaded it now so the link is no longer needed ;)

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Additional information about weaving a handspun scarf.

Deborahbee left a comment on my post Handwoven Scarf, from the wool to the finish that I think deserves a detailed response:

I want to use some 2 ply handspun but am nervous of holding the tension.I have 6 ends on the warping mill and then lost confidence. I am going to re read your posts seeking tips.

I think you are probably finding, just as I did, that handspun wool yarn feels different to the commercial yarns I am used to. My yarn was spun semi-worstead style, but still had significant bounce in it (although less than if I had used rolags and spun woollen style).

I found winding the warp interesting, because my yarn was springy I started off winding tight, stretching the yarn, then realised this might not be a good idea. Maybe this is the stage you are at, Deborahbee?

The consequence of this was that the first few bouts of warp were wound a bit tighter and ended up shorter than the the last couple.

The difference evened out as I wound the warp onto the loom, a light weight on the warp ends (two one pint milk cartons, one-third full, tied on with a piece of linen yarn and a simple slip knot) and lease sticks made sure of even tension on the beam and the slack collected in from of the lease sticks. (I had a similar experience of seeing the tension even out at the lease sticks when I wove with linen!).

For weaving, the tension on the loom was probably the loosest I've ever woven with, and I was interested to find that the edges did not draw in and for the first time I wove an even width without a temple.

There were slight variations in the width along the length of the finished scarf, I put this down to irregularities in the handspun wool.

So thoughts on winding a handspun wool warp:
  • concentrate carefully on just wrapping the wool around your warp board or warping mill without stretching it,
  • a gentle weight on the yarn as you wind on and using lease sticks should even out any differences,
  • the yarn is very forgiving, it is less important than with linen or cotton to have exactly even tension on all warp ends, as good as you can get it is going to be good enough, so don't fuss indefinitely,
  • give it a go!

Comments from other people's experiences of preparing a handspun warp will be most welcome!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Into a new year...

It is very wintery here, yet another day and night below freezing and a while to spring, however, the extra daylight is noticeable and the extra cold might mean less slugs about the garden in the springtime. I think it's time I thought about what plants to grow this year and got my seed order in. I need madder seed for starters. Madder doesn't like soggy ground, unfortunately the place where mine was battling to survive was so soggy last summer it grew something that looks like spagnum moss (that's the tall, bushy moss that grows on peat bogs). There wasn't much sign of the madder by autumn, so I think I shall have to start again and find somewhere better drained and sunnier.

Meanwhile, these are my photos of the stunning beautiful soft snow that fell just before Christmas. The first night of snow caught a few last rosebuds.

By the 23rd we had deep snow, and it fell steadily until late afternoon when I took a walk up the road with my camera, bringing these back for you -

Of course the Derbyshire Peak District where we live is beautiful all year around, but it is enchanting and a little mysterious in snow.

Here is our Christmas tree -

And - another heartwarming Christmas scene - in the middle of this photo you can see the bright eyes of the independent cat who stops in our greenhouse.

She has a wicker basket lined with wool filled cushions, and with her long fur fluffed up she's survived several freezing nights out there, with temperatures down to -5 centigrade. I've been giving her extra food, she eats something like three times as much as our indoor cats, especially as she goes next-door-but-one and gets 2 meals a day there too! She isn't getting fat, so must be burning it up to keep warm. Asking around we have found out she is probably about 12 years old.

Everytime I think she might be my cat, like when she started wanting fuss before eating, and when she first purred (last week!) she then vanishes for a day or so to establish that she is nobodies cat but her own, very independent! Nevertheless, very much at home around here.

All photos in this post (except the rose) can be seen larger if you click on the picture.