Monday, January 16, 2012

First conceptual project

The start of the first conceptual project:  A Jersey

The yarn is 6-ply sport weight. The construction is cabled 3 X 2-ply.  Two plies are always gray Cotswold.  This gives a "silver sheen" to fabric. Then, two plies are white and two plies are brown. The brown accentuates the silver sheen.  Two plies are fine wool and two plies are "Shetland".  When the Shetland is white, then the brown is Rambouillet.  When the white is Cormo  then the brown is Jacob (very like Shetland). Thus, there are always 4 plies of  high luster wool in the yarn and 2 plies of finer, lower luster wool to contrast. Each yarn ball is ~ 2 oz. All plies are spun worsted.  About half of the plies are already spun.

The sweater will be knit in round, on 2.38 mm gansey needles. The fabric is smooth and dense but elastic. Garment will be a basic blouse, Plan 1 from Knitting in the Old Way. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Thunder and lighting

Alden Amos has "FIXED" my wheel.  Now it is 10 to 15% faster, with measured flier speed in the range of 2,500 rpm, the disagreeable vibration at 1,600 rpm is gone, and it is like WOW! This flier reduces the effort to spin 250 yards of  11,000 ypp worsted single per hour from "moderate" to "easy".  Treadle effort is less. All from a new flyer/bobbin assembly.  Production of threads in the 40,000 - 50,000 ypp range is 4 or 5 times faster than I could mange with the stock Ashford DD flier.

We did not even touch the Mother of All. We are still using standard Ashford flier bearnings.  Alden made three bobbins for this flier, with DRS set for grists of 6,000, 11,000 and 50,000 ypp.  The price and wait was reasonable for such custom work.

Flier/bobbin as made by Alden.
If I had this flier early on, I would not have spent so much time messing with drive bands.   Note that it was not the bearings that were the problem, it was the aerodynamics of the flier.  If you are going to spin at 1,000 rpm, you do not need to mess with all of this stuff (e.g., aerodynamics & drivebands), but it will take you all morning to spin 560 yards of  11,000 ypp worsted single.

 Single wound off  of a bobbin I made this morning.  
It is something of a pain in the neck,
 because it is a bit finer than the rest of the singles for this project.
The tachometer tells me the flier hit speed of 3,800 rpm while spinning this.

I out sourced the flier, because I cannot do dynamic balancing.  I can make a flier that will run at 1,000 rpm.  I cannot make a flier that runs this smooth, at these speeds. Flier/bobbin assemblies made by other wheel makers may be prettier and have fancier bearings, but they do not have the specific differential rotation speed (DRS) that I wanted. Alden Amos is the only wheel maker that I know, who really understands DRS.

Every design has compromises, and every designer weights those compromises differently.  Out of long experience with what people do to their spinning equipment, Alden's designs are conservative. Alden's designs always work, and they endure.  

Monday, January 09, 2012

Another video of spinning

Spinning a thicker, thread that can be seen more easily by the camera:

This is a Merdian Jacob fiber from a fleece I got in 2010.  I did a bunch of 2-ply jumper weight, and I am just spinning a bit more of what was on the bobbin, because it is thick enough to show on the camera.

The flier looks like it is going slowly, but that is a strobe effect from the camera shutter speed.  Actual flier speed is in the range of 400 to 500 rpm.

 DRS is 1.05 with a 5/8" bobbin core.

Again, this is spinning slowly for the camera.  Normally, I would be running the flier at more than 1,600 rpm

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

How I spin; A video

Here is a better video of how I spin. From over my left shoulder:

And from over my right shoulder:

The fiber is an indifferent prep of Shetland that somebody gave me, and I fixed.  The grist is in the 11,000 ypp range, and the flier rpm is ~500. Twist is in the range of 12 tpi. Twist and to a lesser extent, grist  is set by the DRS (~1.017 with a bobbin core of  ~5/8") of the flier/bobbin assembly.  Thus, I can switch bobbins, and bingo, I have right twist for 14,000 or 25,000, or 50,000 ypp.  All I have to do is make sure the grist is right for the twist. If I need other grists, I make other bobbins as in the last post.

The main thing is that this is a continuous process that produces a true worsted single. Note the use of a distaff.  The distaff is necessary to keep the fibers just behind the drafting zone aligned and parallel.  The fibers are fully aligned as the twist enters them. Of course, these video sequences are much slower than I normally spin, but you can see there is minimal hand motion, so that my hands can keep up when spinning much faster. This technique is a very fast way to produce a true worsted yarn.

These singles will get cabled up  into 8-ply (fingering) for a sweater.  I insert some slubs so you can see the progress of the single.  In the second video, the twisted single is invisible at this resolution. Sorry about that.

First new tools of 2012

I started off the year by making some new bobbins:

The one in the flier is for singles in the range of 11,000 ypp (20s) and the one on top is for finer singles (20,000 + ypp, 40s; these numbers have changed as I use different fibers, different fiber prep, and made better measurements).  These bobbins are a little lighter and the wider whorls allowing slippage for spinning finer yarns than the DRS would suggest.  On the other hand, that slippage slows everything down, particularly as speed increases and the aerodynamics of the flier start to consume significant power.  I do need a more aerodynamic flier.  (The oil finish is drying on one right now!)

They look small, but they will both hold a little over an ounce of  singles.  An ounce of 20s is 700 yards.  An ounce of 40s is 1,400 yards. Thus, I have no problem winding off full hanks of 560 yards from these bobbins.

The physical flier ratio is 22:1.

They took about half a day to make.  I bored 5/8" maple dowel with a 9/16" hole on their axis by holding them in the wood lathe.  I enlarged the axis boring at each end by 3/8" x 7/16" to hold the brass bushing bearings.  For the ends, I cut a 2" square piece of 3/4" maple stock, trimed the corners to ease the start of turning, and on the drill press, bored a 5/8" hole through the center. On the band saw, I cut the ends apart, one ~ 1/4" thick and the other ~1/2" thick.  I glued the ends on the core.  A couple of hours later, on the wool lathe, I rough turned the thin end, and then the thick end.  Then I finish turned the thin end, making sure it cleared the flier. Then I finish turned the whorl using the scrapers that I made last year and posted below.
The bushing bearings were inserted, and held in place with a dab of silicon adhesive.  A bit of sanding, some Danish oil, and they got left on the rack to dry while I made dinner for my wife.

Normally, I would let the core/ends-blank glue-up dry overnight, but this time, I got away with only ~ 2 hour set time.  

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Favorite tools of 2011

We went to Yellowstone last summer and saw everything.  There was a lot of walking to the geyser basins and waiting, waiting, and waiting for the geysers to erupt. I was knitting boot socks from hand spun Romney.  I had the whole knitting bag with me but one knitting sheath became the choice :

As I look at pictures of sailing this fall, there it is, always with 9" long, 2.38 mm steel DPN.  I will say that on some of those sailing trips, the needles got doused with sea water, and rusted. Everything was wet for a couple of days.  Still a bit of crocus cloth brought the needles back to perfect conditions in minutes.

There was a lot of sampling of series of yarns.  Many of these were done on a very light weight knitting sheaths tucked into an elastic pant waist band:

This one was made from redwood.  The redwood is much too soft to support the small steel needles, and hence needs a hardwood adapter, maple in this case.  Moreover, the redwood is too weak to hold interchangeable adapters tightly, and thus the adapter must be glued, and it is not interchangeable.  Just the tool to knit yarn hot off the plying bobbin.

And the winner:
My Ashford flier with standard high speed whorl (22:1) and a bobbin with a 5/8" core and DRS of 1.017  for spinning singles in the range of  10,000 ypp.  This has been a good setup for spinning singles in the 9,000 to 15,000 ypp range.  It is simple, inexpensive, and it works!  This rig will spin 11,200 ypp singles, faster, easier, and more consistently than any of the mass produced spinning assemblies.  Only Alden Amos' flier assemblies are faster.