This new spinning wheel. Gentle readers, I tell you: I am in heaven.
I love how this wheel handles. I disassembled the treadle assembly and thoroughly saturated all the wood/metal friction points with white lithium grease, and there has been nary another chirp from it, which had been the only drawback to the first week. The wheel is easy to treadle, and although it works well enough if I just used the right treadle, I prefer using the double treadle. (Astute readers whose brains stubbornly hold on to ludicrously unimportant trivia will remember that I was angsty about investing in a double treadle wheel in case I didn’t like it. Borrowing Bonnie’s exquisite 30″ Schacht-Reeves Saxony wheel throughout October pretty much cured me of that, but there was always that small frisson of what-if.) It spins beautifully both clockwise and counter-clockwise. Taking a bobbin off is a bit more complicated that on my bobbin-led upright Louet, as it entails loosening the mother-of-all unit, removing the drive band from both the bobbin and the flyer whorl, removing the whole flyer assembly, but then unscrewing the flyer whorl, switching bobbins, screwing the flyer whorl back on again, then doing the rest in reverse order. It’s a bit fussier, that’s all. Because I’m using it in double drive, replacing the drive band on the two whorls and tightening the mother-of-all has been the trickiest part, because I”m never sure if my tension is the same as it was or not.
I love the double drive, as well. Double drive is supposed to be great for spinning really thin yarn. I am, perhaps, undermining this by using the largest bobbin whorl and flyer whorl to get used to the wheel, but I am loving how double drive uses the difference in ratio between those two whorls to wind yarn onto the bobbin and adjust take-up tension moderately. I should test the Scotch tension at some point, too, which means a single drive moving the flyer and a tensioned string running over the bobbin whorl to slow it down, enabling winding on when yarn lock is broken (in other words, when you release your firmer hold on the yarn you’re spinning and let it wind on)… but the double drive is just working so well for me right now that I’m probably going hold off for a while.
Plying was great. I ended up with a nicely balanced yarn (more on that below). I love the separate lazy kate; I love that can put it a few feet away to enable the twist o even out between the kate and the wheel; I love that it’s tensioned so my bobbins don’t spin madly when I get a good clip going.
I also love the wool/bamboo blend I chose to spin first on the wheel. I have no idea what the proportions are, but let’s just say I love it enough to be looking at buying a pound of 50% Merino/50% bamboo to dye on my own. It is soft, it is silky, it drafts incredibly well. It is everything spinning straight bamboo is not. And my, but it looked pretty on the new wheel. There are, alas, no pictures of that part, because I was so busy enjoying the spinning part that I forgot. Just trust me; the lovely soft green variegated fibre against the warm walnut of the wheel? Pretty.
Despite weighing the fibre and attempting to split it evenly for a two-ply yarn, I failed miserably and ended up with a bunch of extra single on one bobbin. In the past I have ruined lots of singles by trying to ply from a centre-pull ball, the basic way to divide the remaining single into a form from which you can pull both ends and ply them together. I have failed so utterly, in fact, that I avoid centre-pull balls and that’s why I taught myself to chain ply, and that became my default for everything. I was determined to get the last single into a two-ply yarn, though. So I wound it off onto the ball winder, and slipped it into a paper roll. I couldn’t figure out a way to get it on the arched lazy kate that wouldn’t tangle the two singles coming from either end of the ball, so I held it in my lap and plied from there.
Here is the key: My first wheel has a non-tensioned onboard lazy kate, angling up toward the flyer, onto which I’d slip my roll and the centre-pull ball on it, which didn’t have anywhere near enough weight to stay where they needed to be, and tangled and made huge messes. Holding the tube in my lap meant I could (a) hold it in place, and (b)manage the crossing that the two ends did as they unwound.
Readers, I plied from a centre-pull ball on a tube, and made real two-ply yarn. I wet-finished it for this photo:
The resulting two-ply yarn is so balanced that it doesn’t really twist back onto itself. As in, when I hang the freshly wound-off yarn from a finger or a hook, pre-finishing, it’s essentially straight. I am flabbergasted at this particular accomplishment. I have yet to wet-finish the two final skeins, as the week started and it’s been non-stop gogogo ever since. In the end, I have about 175 yards of two-ply yarn, of approximately light fingering weight.
Nixie took possession of a small test skein of half Falkland, half unknown blue wool I spun the first day. She’s been sleeping with it.
In non-fibrey news, the school bus strike is over as of last night (yay!). The boy hit 100 days of school last Friday, which was a big thing for all the kindergarteners. There are penguin projects happening at school which are student-led, so we went hunting over the weekend for purchased art supplies that the boy decided he needed in order to build a three-dimensional model of a penguin (in addition to a home-sourced granola bar box, two paper towel tubes, and some egg-shaped plastic balls); we got white feathers, foam balls, multicoloured pipe cleaners, but we could not find black feathers, so guess who dyed half a packet of white ones with her fibre dyes? (The boy helped, and it was actually a very interesting experiment to share.) Third-term report cards come home on Thursday.
I accepted a new copyediting gig this weekend and didn’t realise until afterward that this week’s workdays are cut in half by hospitals and clinics and a ped day on Friday, and all next week the boy is home for March break. Working at home when other people are here is rarely productive, but the boy and I are going to have to work something out. Perhaps mornings will be a PBS-fest for him while I get a half-day of work in, and the afternoons will be spent together.
Last night I had to cancel yet another regular thing that was soul-nourishing but consumed energy I needed to put elsewhere. Or rather, it’s been put on hold for the next six weeks at least; we’ll re-examine how things are at the beginning of April when winter is pretty much over and the cold and boots and coats no longer sap so much of my energy. Various family health issues continue to be stressful, and ramp up this week to a whole new level of eek. Some are out of our direct control and we can only be as supportive as we can be for those involved and stress on our own time, but on the personal front, I’m going into the hospital for tests on Wednesday morning and am on at least twenty-four hours of bed rest afterward. (Do not panic; I am mostly fine, and that is what the tests ought to confirm. We do have the rather unpleasant experience of waiting three to four weeks before we get those results, though, and this after waiting six weeks for the tests themselves.) I have the two new February-release Elizabeth Bear books to entertain me, my mother sent down her copy of A Red Herring Without Mustard so I could enjoy it right away, and if I get tired of reading I have three (yes, three!) spinning DVDs I have been hoarding that I can put on the TV or a laptop. I may sneak some work in there too, on the laptop. Maybe.