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Friday, October 30, 2009

Old Spinning Wheel Gets a Face Lift

I sold a spinning wheel last week and took in an old Louet S-10 as a trade. It worked well, and was made before Louet switched to cheaper parts. Heavy. Reliable. Slow. The customer warned me that the finish was bad, that she had bought it used in that condition, but since I'm now hooked on refinishing, I told her I didn't mind.

First photo you can see the disassembled wheel in its box. The stain had been slopped on in a very haphazard manner. There were drips and blobs, and some spots with no stain at all. Ewww.

First, I took all the hardware off and sanded. And sanded. And sanded. I couldn't get down past the bad spots of stain. I tried staining a sample area and the old stains showed through. Scratch that idea.

Majacraft paints its Suzie wheels with enamel paint and it's HARD. So I bought two colors of enamel and painted. First I primed each piece. Then I started layering on the paint. I sanded between coats, and even sanded after the final coat. Then I stenciled on the roses and put it all together.

The old girl spins like a dream! It will be a good wheel for spinning soft, low-twist singles. The wheel is so heavy that I'm not tempted to speed (treadling a Majacraft is like driving a race car - I MUST go FAST!). I'll keep it until someone falls in love with it, then I'll reluctantly let it go to a new home!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Addiction?

After years of perfecting my skills, I have discovered Instant Gratification Yarn Making. I also found a way to use up my scraps. YEEEEEE-HAW!

I ordered a Wild Flyer yesterday...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Variety in Spinning

My first session of spinning classes ended last Thursday and I realized something. During the entire four weeks, whenever everyone was busy spinning, I sat down to my Suzie and worked on...the same yarn.

Yes, I have spent over a month making 1600 yds of Dorset 3-ply. And it is white. (See photo.) It is WONDERFUL! It is springy, and VERY white (I'm going to dye it) and will make a beautiful sweater.

When I reeled off the last bobbin of white Dorset I decided I needed to do something different. So I threw together some "art yarn" i.e. scraps and dyed locks, leftovers, plied with green silk (also leftover). The art yarn took me two hours instead of a month. I am definitely going to make some more!

I am not sure what people do with art yarn. My daughter tells me some quilters use it for art quilts. People sell in on Etsy. Maybe I'll list it! Anyway, it is all part of the spinning adventure. One of the reasons I LOVE SPINNING is because there are always new things to try.

I'm off to spin some more!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Plying with Silk Thread

I have a cone of very fine two-ply silk thread and want to ply it with singles to make laceweight three-ply. The first thing I had to do was discover the direction of the thread's ply. It was plied S, counterclockwise. I used a 10x magnifying glass to get a good look at it - it was too fine to see otherwise.

Once I knew that the thread had been plied S, I wanted to see what would happen if I plied it with a single that had been spun Z (clockwise), plying them both together S (counterclockwise). Are you with me?

The rust-colored sample is the result. The fiber is an alpaca/Rambo blend. After finishing it bloomed all right, and is a very kinky, still-energized 3-ply.

The pale brown sample is CVM, spun S (counterclockwise) and plied with the silk thread Z (clockwise). The result is much smoother, even after finishing. There is no residual twist energy.

So - silk two-ply (plied S) plied S again with Z-spun single equals lumpy, bumpy, fluffy, twisty yarn.

Silk two-ply (plied S) plied again Z, with S-spun single, equals smoother, even three-ply with no residual twist energy.

If you understood this the first time through, give yourself an A+!!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Majacraft Wheels Size Comparison #2

Spinning Friend Kerry M. brought her Majacraft Rose over for a spin the other day. We lined up the girls and took a photo - so you can see the difference in the sizes.

From left to right: Suzie Alpaca, Rose, Little Gem, Pioneer.

Now all I need is a Millie!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ashford Traveller, Single Drive, Single Treadle

We did it! Marty and I put the little Traveller together last night. I told him what screw went where and he did the manly labor. I've filled one bobbin and have to say that switching to a single treadle was much less of a big deal than I thought. Perhaps my brain just knows "TREADLE" and doesn't care if there are one or two. That was a pleasant surprise. I was ready for lots of back treadling and frustration.

I've ordered a polycord stretchy drive band for it. I don't much like the string. Once I install the new belt I will do a comparison with my Pioneer, which is also an entry-level spinning wheel.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Spinning Wheel Anatomist

When I was shopping for my first spinning wheel I had absolutely no interest in a wheel that came as a "kit" or needed "assembling." I was horrified at the thought of having to "finish" the wheel, as well as put it all together. What kind of manufacturer would make customers do all that work? And what kind of crazy people would WANT to do all that work? Think of all those parts! Think of all the screws and bits.

Well, I have joined the crazies.

I found an Ashford Traveller on Ebay, single treadle, still in the box. Ashford doesn't make these anymore, and apparently it had sat in someone's craft room untouched. (See? if you buy a kit it MIGHT NOT turn into a wheel!) The wheel was part of an estate sale. The box was beat up but everything was intact except for a couple of washers and one screw. Not bad for a ten-year-old spinning wheel! And for some reason, now that I'm putting together Majacrafts all the time, the idea of finishing and assembling was kind of fun. I've been wanting some practice on a single treadle anyway, and then this came along.

I've spent all weekend finishing this wheel and I have to say it has really been FUN. The stain I chose is called "Red Chestnut". I had no idea staining a new piece of furniture was so easy! After two coats of stain I applied two coats of wipe-on polyurethane finish. I learned how to sand with steel wool! And I found a use for my collection of straight knitting needles, which I never use but couldn't throw out.

As I've been working I've learned what every part of this spinning wheel is, and what it is for. I've gone over in my head how it all fits together and when I'm ready to assemble it I don't think I'll have any trouble. The other day I assembled a Majacraft wheel for a customer - now I wish she'd had the chance to assemble it herself. Yeah, it would have been a bit of a hassle, but she would have learned valuable anatomical lessons, and she would also know how the wheel comes apart, as well as knowing how it went together.

I am now wholly in favor of spinning wheel kits, and of customers putting together their own wheels. It is satisfying AND educational. And it adds to the bond of spinner and wheel. I was thinking I'd finish this Ashford and sell it. Now I am not sure I'll be able to part with it.