Tuesday, June 12, 2012

And then, silence.

The Goob has gone to the beach with her grandparents this week. Last week was a blur of finishing up school work and buying clothes - kid had another growth spurt without warning me first and had TWO pairs of shorts that still fit. And the shoes. And pajamas. And dresses. And beach coverups.

And she's now at an age where she's got an OPINION on clothes. May all the gods help us. At one point she told me a shirt "didn't fit her image" and a random stranger in the store about fell over, laughing.

But, we got her packed, and hugged, and gone, and I have a week to myself.

There were all these glorious plans I had, about unpacking The Pit (remember that? Still a mess) and painting the kitchen. All I've done is sleep over twelve hours a night and wallow on the back porch.

Yesterday afternoon the husbeast and I went to the movies (he saw Snow White and the Huntsman, I saw the Avengers again). Remember that weird coulda-been-a-seizure balance issue I had last time I went to the movies? Well, it was just a migraine aura. I know this, 'cause yesterday I got the regular migraine. Whee!

Yes, yes, I've got doctor's appointments, thank you.


So far, when I haven't been asleep or squinting through a migraine, I've been schpinningk.
The merino/cashmere/silk is finished. I couldn't remember whether I could fit four ounces of fiber onto one of the Kiwi bobbins: Apparently, the answer is yes.

I'm going for a two-ply lace weight with this stuff, and want to keep every possible inch of single. I'm going to wind it off the bobbin into a ball (with my regular ball winder, nothing arcane) and ply from both ends. It's been several years since I did that little trick; I'm hoping I won't have to cut myself loose.


Now, for some gory spinning detail. Some of you may want to look away. That's all right.

A friend of mine is buying her first spinning wheel, and we got into 'single' vs. 'double' and hit some confusion. Which is understandable, because until I read a book on the mechanics of spinning wheels (may the gods help me), I didn't quite get it either. Herewith, I will explain. (All photos not otherwise credited are from the Woolery web site. They are awesome and I always shop with them for big hunks of fiber equipment, including my loom, my wheel, and my swift.)

There are actually TWO things on a wheel to which the single/double term applies. The first, most obvious, and the one most people think, has to do with the treadles. And it DOES apply:

Single treadle:
Double treadle:
I used identical models (Lendrum Original) so you could really get it. This is about whether you use one foot or two to make the whole thing go. I suggest the double. It's more efficient. (Unless, of course, there's a reason you can't treadle with both feet, then obviously go with the single.

Then, there's the other one. The one most people don't understand, don't think of, or don't get: Single or double DRIVE. This is about how the force is transferred from the actual spinning wheel to the bobbin and flyer. Both the bobbin AND the flyer have to spin, to make yarn. And they have to spin at varying rates. "Drive" is determined by the drive band and what it does.

SINGLE DRIVE: This is what I have, on my Ashford Kiwi:
See the drive band, that is wrapped around the wheel? It goes up and wraps around a whorl, attached to the flyer. That's all it does. Wheel to whorl/flyer and back to wheel. It makes a SINGLE LOOP. You treadle, it turns the wheel, which turns the flyer. Bobbin tension is done by other means. The Kiwi uses "Scotch Tension" which I took a (bad) picture of, here:
See the drive band on the left? In the center is a spring, and a piece of string (in my case, fishing line, 'cause it's durable and I'm cool with new tech; traditionally it was a bit of cotton string or a hunk of yarn) goes up and over the bobbin to the other side, to a little knob. You tighten the knob, it tightens the string, and the bobbin is harder to make turn. Bobbin tension results in 'take up', or how hard the wheel pulls the fiber out of your hands.

There are several other types of bobbin tension for single drive wheels, which I'm not getting into because I don't understand them like I understand my own. But for single drive, the drive band from the wheel only controls the flyer. Bobbin tension is done by other means.

DOUBLE DRIVE: This is the older, more traditional spinning wheel setup.

The drive band drives the flyer AND tensions the bobbin. It goes in TWO loops, from wheel to flyer, back to wheel, around again, to the bobbin, and back to the wheel. A buddy of mine, KnitWit, took a photo for  me, and you can get the gist of how it works. (You'll have to click for this one, kids.) ETA: But wait! She changed the privacy settings for me! (Thanks again, M!)
There's not much more for me to add to this one, because again, it's not one I use, so I don't have a solid working knowledge of it. It is said that double drives are better for lace spinning, because the 'takeup' is more controlled and can be dialed down to something more gentle than anything a single drive can do. (Takeup can litterally pull yarn apart as you spin it, if it's too strong.) They can have reputations as being more fussy, as well, but I am skeptical of that. Most people I know who complain about the fussiness of double drives have antique wheels and I am betting the fuss comes from it just being old. No one I know who has a modern double drive has every commented on any difficulties.

So there's your schpinningk babble for the day. I promise there isn't a test later.

I should go work on shoveling out The Pit now. It's trash night, and it'd be handy to send a couple bags of crap out, with it. But what I really wanna do is take a nap.


Knit Wit said...

I seem to be in the minority these days in strongly preferring single treadles.

Double treadle forces you to sit in basically the same position the entire time. You can shift a little but you're pretty much sitting square in front of the wheel. With a ST I can treadle with either foot, with 1 foot on a stool, sitting sideways, at either angle. It's a lot more comfortable for spinning longer.

Emily said...

You're back! You're back! Yay!

A friend of my daughter's got an entire lovely new wardrobe when she was a young adolescent...and promptly grew out of all of it. A month later the skirts that had been at her knees were near crotch height. Her poor, poor mother.

Mandy said...

When you go to ply your laceweight, you might want to try this method (which is the one I always use now): http://knitty.com/ISSUEwinter05/FEAThandyplying.html. I found this article a few years back, when I was teaching myself to ply from both ends, and it makes so much more sense than Andean plying! Plus, if you're careful, you don't have to ply the whole skein in one sitting - I've been known to take the "bracelet" off my wrist and hang it on the front maiden of my wheel (I have an Ashford Traditional), then come back later, put it back on my left wrist, and finish plying with no problems at all. Just a thought.

Donna Lee said...

I have an old double drive wheel which I love for its age. It's harder to adjust the tension but as you said, it's mostly age.

I also have the double treadle but single drive kiwi. It took me a bit to get used to the tension but I think it's easier to make fine adjustments.

Roxie said...

There is so very much to be said in favor of a nap that I'm surprised you even considered anything else. You may be one of those people whose brain runs too fast for their body - sort of badly adjusted double-drive tension. No wonder you short out with migraines.

All I've ever used is a single treadle, double drive wheel. I like my handspun yarn to LOOK handspun, so don't fuss with it too much.

Your silk, cashmere and merino looks freaking awesome. Lust!

Kate said...

I love your educational posts! And as the owner of a shiny new Kiwi, this one is especially useful to me. To be honest, I'm still not entirely sure how it is that loosening the scotch tension makes the bobbin take up yarn more slowly (I get that that's how it works, but I don't get WHY it works that way), but until I figure that out I'll just take it on faith (whoaaa... :-P).

Mandie's comment about double vs single treadles is interesting to me, too. My right treadle currently has an icky squeaking problem (despite plenty of oil in the hinges), so I've been treadling with my left foot only. Even though the Kiwi isn't designed to be treadled with just one foot, it won't hurt anything (or would it). So couldn't you make the argument that double treadle is more versatile, since you can choose to treadle with one foot or the other, or both?

I'm such a novice that that may be all kinds of wrong. Feel free to correct me :-D

Angela at Knit Luck said...

Why is it that the moment the kids are gone all one wants to do is take the world's longest nap? So much for that fantasy of getting a lot of stuff done.

Amy Lane said...

You-- yes you! Stop making me want another hobby that will take over my house! I'm on thin ice as it is! (Entertaining and informative as usual.) I've seen the Avengers twice (and we want a third time!) so mate and I saw Snow White. It wasn't bad--but Kristin Stewart needs to study somewhere other than the "exposing my two front teeth is winsome" school of acting.