Saturday, 18 June 2011

change of set-up

I have been thinking about doing something to my spinning wheel ever since Peter Teal wrote in the OLG about changing the brakes. and I finally did - change the brake system! I tried it first on the louet, old wheel, does look "used" by now, so that it wouldn't be terrible if it didn't work out. but it did! the main problem I had with the normal wheel brake system (piece of leather, adjustable with a plastic screw) was that I could never "mark" the position of the brake. if I'd spun part of a fibre, did something else and came back to the first one - I was never sure just how tight the brake had been. no way to measure it on any of the wheels I know! why not?? Peter Teal (the man is full of brilliant ideas about spinning, wheels and spindles etc. - just look at his articles in SpinOff!) had the idea to use some weights instead of a screw of any kind. so I looked around in the shed for something suitable and found simple metal washers. of course they are not exactly beautiful - but you could paint them with varnish or something:)) the first thing I did was to weigh them all - they are between 3.4 to 4.3 g each, mostly around 4 g. I jotted each weight down on the washer with a lasting felt pen. if I remember correctly Peter used a sort of metal hook to put the washers on - but I just couldn't find the right material for that. so I grabbed a crochet hook and some leftover cotton yarn (I am a textile fan after all, right?:)) and made a little sack for my washers. the diameter is slightly larger than the one of the washers, to make adding or taking out easy. I made it longer than it would need to be - I tried it out and when I put in all the washers it can carry, the brake is fully on and the bobbin/flyer is barely able to move....
no need to put in that many, I think so far I used between 7 and 10. it's easy to make a note on a card for each yarn you make, just calculate the weight - and if you need to go back to make the same - add the same amount of washers! of course there are other things that influence the yarn results, but at least you have one more thing you can measure in handspinning! you don't really destroy anything with that set-up either - you can change over to the old system just by taking the sack off and putting the screw back in!
I made the small hook by bending a larger nail - no shop bought suitable sizes were available:)
the one thing I did miss however after removing the screw was my "holder", where I could wind the yarn in process around to keep the twist, when not spinning. I used to wind it around the brake screw. winding it around the hook/bag wasn't great, because it was fiddly to take off again. so eventually I asked my husband to fix a small timber knob in front - this stays on permanently now - it works great and doesn't look terribly intrusive either.  
the brake system of the Lendrum upright works similarly, rubber band with string tied up to a timber knob - but not at the front; it's located at the back behind the flyer. the set-up would be the same though, just make a loop at the end of the brake "thread", hang the hook/bag with weights there and off you go. can be changed back again as well. I kept the timber knob, because it would be easier to use when travelling than a dangling sack full of washers:)
the normal spinning head of the Lendrum has the hook pushed through a small hole at the front. this is where I usually tie up my yarn in progress. when I started to work art yarns on the plying head though I discovered that there is no such hook on this! you don't need a hook to push your yarn through that orifice, because it is so large. but if you wanted to tie up your yarn the only place would be the brake knob - quite far away at the back! so now I am the proud owner of a Lendrum plying head - with an extra knob at the front:)) 
looks ok to me and is very practical! 
of course I didn't only "decorate" my spinning wheels, I did spin a lot on them, too. the black merino is finished and ready to be wound into balls. the other stuff on the lendrum is still in process - but I can show you pix very soon.

I did get a bit waylaid though, when I saw a batwing shawl pattern here. I liked the shape of the small shawl, so I went and dug out the wollmeise poison yarn I had problems with before. I started to knit following the pattern, but I had to change the needle size. and I don't really like garter stitch... and anyway I needed a few more stitches in the middle part. I do have 50 g more on that ball than is used in the pattern. eventually I decided to use needle 3 mm instead of 3.5. and knit stockinette instead of garter. and use 21 instead of 11 stitches in the middle. I worked 4 instead of 2 edge stitches in garter and to avoid rolling along the middle of the cast-on I attached an i-cord. because I wanted it to be a bit more interesting to knit I added the bat pattern of book 3 by B. Walker:)) essentially I changed everything apart from the base shape of the shawl.... when I started to knit the first bat I realized that I didn't think it quite through after all - because if I just followed the pattern, the bats would be upside down! and they don't usually hang like that with their wings spread out, do they? after a moment's hesitation I decided to just turn the book upside down and work the bat like that. of course it looks slightly different because the stitches don't "stack up" normally - but the bat is still visible even in non-blocked state, so I'll just keep on knitting until most of the yarn is used. I am not sure how far I can knit yet, either I'll finish with another i-cord - or maybe, if I have enough yarn left, I might add a narrow lace border at the bottom, too....
I am still not perfectly happy with the way the yarn colours work, but I'll finish it as it is now. the downside of many of the multicolour yarns is that a lot of the patterns don't work out too well. the skeins look fab - the knitted results don't always do!


Delighted Hands said...

Very clever to put the article to good use for your spinning wheels! I did find the article interesting, btw. I love your bat shawl! Yes, I would prefer the bats to be right side up, too! I love the way varigate yarn pools-this is very pretty! Nice work!

Jana said...

Die Form des Tüchleins gefällt mir auch sehr, Bettina. Und gegen auf dem Kopf fliegende Fledermäuse hätte ich persönlich auch nichts einzuwenden. Mag ich es doch, die Dinge mal auf den Kopf zu stellen. ;)
Herzliche Grüße

Corina said...

OOh, I love that shawl! great colour and fantastic bat design.

Anonymous said...

Loved the shawl and looked up the pattern but unfortunately was written in German. Do have a little German but not enough to follow the pattern sad to say. Wendy.

Ash said...

Busy lady!! My first ever wheel was a louet and I learned to work the brake system by the seat of my pants so to speak - thankfully most of my yarns come out on the better side of ok!! Might play around with the weight ideas though. Like you I have had problems with a great looking hank losing something in the knitting or crochet - A problem I've noticed with all these dyed yarns being sold out there - thats why I love spinning - I am learning to counter that and spin for the result of the knitting not how the skein looks. Keep busy! best wishes,

Woolly Bits said...

Cindy - thanks, I am nearly done with the 2nd batch of bats - I think I might even have enough for a 3rd full pattern! amazing, how long a lace yarn lasts..
Jana - ja, ich hab auch erst gedacht, ich lass es - aber dann war ich auch zu neugierig zu sehen, wie das ganze aussieht, wenn man das muster einfach auf den kopf stellt:)) anders - aber immer noch erkennbar.
Corina - thanks, but neither is mine, just following great ideas from others here:))nice knit though, not difficult, easy to do on the side...
Wendy - if you click on the link to ravelry, and then on the right of the two pdf file links, you'll get the english pattern! no idea, why the designer still calls it fledermaus instead of bat, but the pattern is translated!
Ash - I have had that problem with multicolour with nearly every skein I bought (not too many as a handspinner:)). it's ok for socks, because there isn't too much difference in the stitch numbers, but as soon as that changes, nearly all of those multis don't look so great! good thing, that we can change that ourselves as spinners/dyers:)) I just dug out my 1,5 m piece of gutter just for that:))
and yes, I know what you mean about the louet brake, I have been spinning without weights for a long time (anything from fine cotton to chunky wool) and it works, but I wanted a more repeatable system - and can always go back to the usual brake if I want to. no need to take of any parts of it....