Thursday, July 05, 2012

A Fast Squirrel Cage Swift

Fine (lace) yarns in a skein want a squirrel cage swift because there is less rotational momentum, and the yarns are less likely to be stressed to the breaking point.

Yesterday, I knocked up this swift using Ashford Lace bobbins instead of making squirrel cages and it seems to work.  Since the bobbins are easily removable, they do not have to be dedicated to the swift - they can do double duty. 

The bobbin axles are grade 2, 1/4" hex bolts.  The axle for the movable bobbin goes through 2  wooden "T" s that together to  form a slider that holds the axle.  A second hole drilled though the slider contains a threaded insert in the front T, and  a bolt epoxied into a bit of dowel for a handle allows tightening the Ts together to hold the slider in position.

This swift takes skeins up 2 ft in diameter.  It was made from scrape wood and took a couple of hours.  Cost for bolts and inserts was less than $5.  This one is handy and compact, but I am going to need a bigger one real soon now.

The next day:

It is not a bad swift, but it is not a real squirrel cage swift. Real squirrel cages give more leverage and allow the yarn to be pulled around easier.  As in:

A hank (560 yard) of squirrelly 2-ply lace weight.  The skein was poorly prepared and is a mess.    The squirrel cages fit on the same 1/4 inch bolts as the Ashford bobbins.  As fa as aesthetics go, they are on the practical side.

A few minutes later there is a 2 oz cake of lace yarn.

It took all morning to make my first  3 squirrel cages.  They cost me about  $8 in wood, dowels & supplies. As I said, I need a bigger squirrel cage swift, real soon now.

Edited to add that a week later, I can see a multitude of  ways that I could make that swift better.  And, over time I will make it better.  And I need a second swift and it will be simpler to make.  However, I do not regret  making this swift in its crude way because I have had the use of it, and it is that use that allows me to refine the concept.  Buy spinning tools from folks that spin, not guys that make tools for people that spin.  One does not understand a tool unless one uses it at a very high level of proficiency.  Only by understanding a can one design a better tool.  This is why Alden Amos's tools are better than the tools made by wood workers who are not expert spinners. 

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