Monthly Archives: January 2016

Recent Spinning

I’ve been so busy with work these past two weeks that my yarn-making has slowed to a standstill. Yesterday my cold was so bad that pretty much all I could do was sit on the chesterfield, so I dragged the wheel over, set up some BBC living history documentaries on the iPad (Victorian Pharmacy, only four episodes, but traces the evolution of sixty years of medical and general services offered by the local pharmacy; I loved it), and spun all afternoon.

The braid was destashed unidentified domestic wool, dyed in a great colourway I dubbed “All Hail the Mantis Shrimp.” My guess is Falkland, possibly a lower grade of Polwarth. It was a joy to spin. No splitting or predrafting, just end to end spinning across the top.

I’m chain-plying it; this is an earlier photo, it’s about three-quarters done now. I like the slight heathering that’s happening.

Just before this one, I was feeling pretty run down, which is typical of early January after the holidays. I needed something that was kind of a mindless spin, so I grabbed a packet of the KnitPicks fibre I’d ordered to try in the huge November sale. This was ridiculously easy to spin. No matting or felting, and while it’s not the absolute softest stuff I’ve ever spun, it’s softer than I expected it to be. (Apparently I am a bit more of a fibre snob than I’d thought.) 28 wpi singles yarn; no idea of the yardage, because I haven’t skeined it off yet (it’s my least favourite part of spinning). The colourway is “Tidepool,” and is a greeny-blue. It’s really hard to capture in photos.

The colour is closer to this picture:

Owlet: 52 Months!

Or, the December 4 post covering November 2015. I lose track, so I figure you do, too.

The big accomplishment this month was that Sparky taught her how to play video games, and now she pesters him to play Disney Infinity (we have the Avengers set, and she likes playing Hulk, which is hilarious) or Skylanders (which is on the way out popularity-wise in this house, thank goodness).

We finished reading Little House in the Big Woods, and have moved on to Little House on the Prairie. Or, as Owlet calls it, “Mary and Laura on the Prairie.” It pulls no punches as it begins. I forgot that their dog vanishes during the unexpectedly dangerous creek crossing and is assumed drowned; I had to reassure Owlet that the dog wasn’t actually dead. There was a long discussion about what actually happened and why Ma and Pa were so scared about the creek suddenly surging in a flood while they were fording it, because it’s never explicitly described in the text; you just get Laura’s version of how it felt and sounded from inside the floating wagon.

(Also, wow, my respect for Caroline Ingalls has deepened now that I’m rereading this series as a mother. Sure, Charles, let’s leave a perfectly good house and support system and travel west for weeks in a wagon while we have limited food, in unknown, unpopulated country, while dragging three young children with us. Different times, I know, but when she says “Whatever you think best, Charles” I hear “Nothing I say is going to change your fool mind, so I’m going to conserve my energy and focus on keeping myself and my children alive.” And then their new home turns out to be three miles into Indian Territory and they have to up stakes and move AGAIN within the year.)

Owlet’s been fussing about choosing music to fall asleep to, taking longer and longer to decide, so one evening I made an executive decision and put one of of my playlists for her to listen to. It’s called ‘Ethereal Elf,’ and it’s all the elf music drawn from the LOTR and Hobbit scores. She wanted to know what it was, so I told her.
“The music sounds sad,” she said.
“It is,” I told her. “It’s about a beautiful e!f called Arwen Undomiel, also called the Evenstar. She is sad because the world is changing, and because she misses someone she loves very much.”
“Who is that?”
“His name is Aragorn. Good night.”
“But Mummy, how is the world changing? Why is it changing?”
“Well, it’s the nature of life to change. Change often isn’t good or bad; it just is. Good night, sweetheart.”
“Is Aragorn dead? Is he an elf, too?”
“I am not summarizing the entire Aragorn and Arwen subplot from the LOTR Appendices. You can read it yourself when you are old enough. I love you; GOOD NIGHT.”

This month she drew this charming picture of Jiji, starting from a circle someone traced on the paper for her:

And I leave you with this delightful exchange, which occurred when Sparky tried to tell Owlet a joke at the end of the month:

Sparky: Hey, what has two humps and is at the North Pole?
Owlet: An envelope!!!
Sparky: No, a lost camel.

The joke totally lost all steam after her answer, because it was more out there than his punchline.

Kromski Mazurka Prototype Modification

I was recently asked on Ravelry about my modifications that turned a prototype Mazurka (with the wooden orifice cup, domed bobbin, single pulley/whorl, and small flyer) into one that accepts the current Kromski flyers, bobbins, and whorls, at which point I realized I hadn’t actually written up the process HRH and I went through one year ago. So I’m putting this here because it will probably help someone other than the people on Ravelry who own prototype Mazurkas and who can’t use them for whatever reason (broken flyers, bobbins, whatnot).

This was done just about a year ago, so my memory may be a bit off on some steps. I hope there’s enough info here to give you a decent concept of the process, however.

We didn’t attach the MOA extender permanently because I wanted to be able to reuse the original maiden and flyer. (I don’t know, historical value? I haven’t swapped the flyers out since this modification was done a year ago, so I may make the modification permanent.) If your flyer is broken, go ahead and make the MOA extender permanent by screwing/gluing it onto the original MOA. I suggest not doing the permanent thing until you’ve tested the new setup and know it works, though.

This concept uses the distaff bar as part of the support system, which you probably won’t need to do if you make the extender bar permanent. If you don’t have a distaff, don’t panic; you’ll be strapping the old and new MOA bars together anyhow.

Note that this mod reduces the amount of tensioning play you have, since the new flyer is wider than the original one included with the prototype, which reduces the amount of up-and-down adjustment you can make with the tensioning and support screws. I haven’t noticed a critical difference; I just made new drive bands.


New Minstrel flyer
New Minstrel front maiden
New Minstrel whorl(s) (NOTE: We’ve ascertained that the Symphony/Polonaise/Minstrel whorls are pretty much all the same; the ratios just change according to which drive wheel is being used)
Mazurka distaff support (optional; if you’re making the new MOA bar permanent, you won’t need it)
Hand saw
Metal saw (optional)
1×2″ lumber, length about 8″
Wood glue
Drill with large bits
Stain/wax (optional)
Velcro strap or small D-ring strap (cable ties would work, too)

New Minstrel flyer and front maiden. And more bobbins, because who doesn’t need more bobbins? Especially if you’re about to have a wheel that will be able to share your current bobbin stock?

1. Cut off the original all-wood maiden. Just the upright part; saw it off level with the MOA bar. Sand it down a bit to get rid of any scratchy bits.

Please use proper safety equipment and don’t cut toward your hand, as HRH is doing here. He is a trained professional and moved it after this shot. Also, respect your tools and just be extra safe while you work, okay? I don’t want to hear that anyone lost fingers doing this. That could negatively impact your spinning performance, after all.

(Optional: At this point, we inserted a wooden peg into the base of the original maiden, and drilled a corresponding hole in the MOA so I could insert the original wooden maiden and use the original flyer. This is beyond the capabilities of the average toolset, though, so I’m not going into it here.)

2. For the new MOA extender: Decide how long you want it to be. The rear end of my 6″ extender goes about halfway back along the original MOA bar, but an MOA extender that goes further back would probably provide more stability. Just give yourself enough clearance at the front to sink the new maiden into it. Hold your piece of lumber up next to the original MOA bar (making sure you leave about 2″ extending past the front of the existing MOA) and mark where the guide hole for the support screw should go. Measure the diameter of the support screw and drill a correspondingly-sized hole all the way through, at least 1″ from the end. It doesn’t need to be threaded, but it does need to be big enough for the support screw to fit through. Don’t make it too big, or it will rattle around a bit. (I know, I know, this is super imprecise. Drill small, because you can always enlarge a bit.)

(Look, HRH now has protective eyewear.)

Below you can see the MOA extender, well, extending way past the front end. We didn’t trim it down till later, because the new flyer is longer than the old, and we wanted to make sure we had enough structural integrity at the front end to support the hole for the new maiden. (Note also that this picture shows the front maiden is in; I’m putting it here to show the next step as well.)

3. Lay the new MOA extender against the current MOA bar. Take the new flyer with a whorl on it (important, as it changes the spacing) and insert the flyer shaft into the existing hole in the Mazurka’s back maiden. Slip/snap the new maiden onto the flyer orifice (you’ll probably have to hold it with your hand). Rest the bottom of the maiden screw on or against the new MOA extender and make sure it’s relatively vertical and straight, as well as centered on the extender bar. A level is helpful here. (You may need to play with the tension screw at the back that raises and lowers the Mazurka MOA in order to ensure the flyer has clearance. The bar is going to go under the existing MOA when it’s finished.) With a pencil, mark where the base of the new maiden has to go on the extender. Set aside the flyer and maiden.

4. Now, you have a choice, and it may depend on the measurements of your particular wheel. (And this is where my memory goes murky, which doesn’t help.) The screw of the new maiden is too long, so you can’t just put the screw alone into the new MOA extender, or the orifice cup will be too high for the flyer to be level and still maintain room for the tension to be increased or decreased. You can (A) measure the depth of your MOA extender and cut down the wooden peg and screw (yes, the screw base goes a long way up into the maiden; if/when you cut it, you’ll need to use a saw that can cut metal) of the new maiden to that depth with a metal saw, or (B) leave the bottom of the wooden peg and/or the screw sticking through the bottom of the MOA extender. (As you can see in the photo above. You can cover it with something. A decorative wooden cube? Pipe cleaners? Plasticine? Felted fibre? I don’t know; you’re artistic, right?)

Measure the width of your maiden peg and drill a hole that size in the new MOA bar where you marked it in the previous step; sink the bottom of the wooden peg into it, and secure it with wood glue. Let it dry. (We cut the screw off, as we didn’t need it, and we needed nothing to be in the way of the distaff bar that was going to serve as lower support for the new MOA extender. And when I look at the bottom of the MOA extender, I can definitely see the base of the wooden peg as well, so we sank the entire base into the MOA extender.) You’ll probably need to do some filing or sanding down of the new maiden’s wooden peg to fit securely into the hole; we had to sand/file down the bottom set of turned rims so it would fit into the MOA extender. And before we set the peg, we also filed some of the wooden base away where it was fitting against the front of the original MOA to create a flatter surface to fit more snugly against it. (That last bit is also optional, if you plan to make this permanent.)

6. Unscrew the Minstrel’s front support screw. Twirl the distaff support bar down a couple of inches, but keep it on the support screw. Place the MOA extender against the bottom of the existing MOA bar and rescrew the support screw up through the hole in the back of the MOA extender. If the distaff support bonks into the MOA extender before the support screw hits the original MOA, twirl it down a bit more. Once the support screw reaches the original MOA, keep holding the extender against the bottom of the original MOA while you twirl the distaff support up the screw again until it’s snug against the extender bar. If you don’t have a distaff, that’s fine! Use a Velcro strap or cable tie to keep the MOA extender snug against the bottom of the original MOA bar. (I use a Velcro or a D-ring strap to keep all three bars centered and snug together, anyway.)

7. Play with the tension screw at the back until the new flyer is relatively level. I find the front tends to be a bit higher, since I have the distaff support bar tight against the MOAs.

Finishing touches!

Sand the square edges of the extender to round them a bit, and do the same to the front of the bar. HRH works in a woodworking shop, so he cut the MOA extender in a fancy rounded shape, using the distaff base as a guide.

Stain and/or wax your new MOA bar to match your Mazurka prototype’s finish (and the new flyer and maiden, if you got them unfinished), let it all dry, and reassemble it.

Want to make the extender bar permanent? Attach it to the original MOA with good wood glue, clamp it, and leave it to dry. (I’d sand the bottom of the original MOA first, to get rid of any finish or coating. And I’d probably screw the new MOA bar into it, too, because I’m nervous. Except HRH would probably drill holes and peg it in instead, using wood glue in those as well as on the matching surfaces.)

Want scotch tension? Place an eye screw at the back on either side of the original MOA roughly even with where the bobbin groove is (or on your MOA extender, if you made it long enough that it reaches all the way back there), then drill a hole for a tension peg in the new MOA extender on whichever side you prefer. Set the peg in the front hole, tie a string to it, run the string back through the eye screw on that side, over the bobbin groove, and down to the opposite eye screw. Watch out; a large spring or elastic will bonk into the flyer arms. You may want to fiddle with this. I’m still not a hundred percent happy with the placement of mine. My MOA extender doesn’t go far enough back to place the second eye screw in it in line with the bobbin groove, but you might be able to place a third eye screw in it toward the front and hook the screw or elastic onto that. (I just thought of that, and it’s not a bad idea. I should try it.)

This photo taken on the day show the temporary jigging of a scotch tension with keys hanging off a paper clip while I tested it out. I’m so classy.

I hope this helps! Feel free to ask me any questions; if I can answer them, I will.

Happy spinning!