Monday, July 14, 2014


Sometimes I speak of DRS as a device on the spinning wheel, but it is much more that that.  It is also a way of thinking.

It is clear from reader's comments that they are not very good with numbers for grist and twist.  They do not understand how fast their wheels insert twist (even with super fast whorls), compared to how fast my wheel goes.

Consider the 2009 spin contest at SOAR. I look at the results, and automatically do grist and twist  calculations.  Spinners with wheels tended to spin woolen, at grists on the order of 1,600 ypp.  And they spun just under 100 yards in 15 minutes for an average bobbin speed of just under 800 rpm.  The spindle spinners tended to spin woolen at a grist of 3,600 ypp and spun just under 50 yards in 15 minutes for an average spindle speed of just  under 1,200 rpm.  In comparison, I tend to spin much finer.  My finer yarns require more twist and I run my wheel at over 3,000 rpm, and on very good days, over 3,500 rpm.  That is four times as fast as the competitive wheels at SOAR, and  three times as fast as the competition spindles.

And at those speeds, it can be used to help maintain consistency.

A well known, "intuitive spinner" used a flyer, about the same size as my AA#0 flyer to spin 58 count carded wool at 19,000 ypp. This was reported as a good use of a single drive, bobbin lead wheel.  And,  it is.  That is about as fine as I can easily spin a 60 count wool on that flyer running it single drive, bobbin lead.  With care, I can spin, 34,000 ypp using that flyer in ST mode.  However, when I switch to DRS, I can spin 34,000 ypp on that flyer very easily, and more than twice as fast.

Thus, DRS is for spinning finer and faster.   Not by a little bit, but by a huge amount.  It gives me the extra twist to spin much finer.

To want such a device, or to make such a device, or to understand such a device, one must have a quantitative, mathematical model of  yarn. Such a model allows accurate prediction of yarn properties. Only with an ability to predict a particular yarn's properties can one plan and construct the right yarn for the job.

I came to DRS purely on a quest for speed.  I stay because it produces better yarn, and more importantly, it produces more predictable yarn. I spin because I want better fabrics.  To get those fabrics, I need better, and more predictable yarn.

DRS makes me pay for the speed and predictability by forcing me to have a suite of skills. It is suite of skills not taught in modern classes on spinning. DRS tools are not sold by modern spinning wheel manufacturers.  Today, DRS is not easy.  However, DRS provides productivity and predictability not available to the "intuitive" spinner.


Anonymous said...

If your wheel can insert twist so quickly, why is it that your yarn is under-plied?

How exactly are you defining 'better' yarn? You seem to be advancing the case that your spinning is superior to just about every other spinner out there (though these other spinners tend to take the form of straw men), but the yarn you've shown us doesn't back up this claim.

You can dismiss the observation that your yarn is thick and thin all you like, but the truth is that a proficient spinner does more than spin fine singles - he or she spins *consistent* singles.

Perhaps if you focused less on speed and more on quality, you'd get the 'better' yarn you devote so much blog space to. What's the point of making mediocre yarn more quickly?

Seems as though you may still have something to learn from the so-called 'boss cows', if only your ego didn't prevent you from doing so.

Aaron said...

I ply design the yarn to make the fabric that I want. It goes back to what I learned working with the old Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool, where the plies were tightly spun and the yarn lightly plied. It did certain things very well.

This ply structure must be steam blocked.

However, it will knit up into an absolutely weatherproof fabric with a soft hand and good drape.

It is better than mill spun.

Anonymous said...

And will bias as soon as it hits the water.

Aaron said...

Swatches knit from this series of yarns have been through a dozen wash cycles. Including:

Hot water
Cold water

Then bias is measured. (With a pair of wood working squares.)

All my woolens are washable!

Yarns that bias, get steam blocked prior to use.

Anonymous said...

And how many for your swatches felt?

Aaron said...

I have done thousands of swatches. By now, only the swatches/ objects that I want to felt, felt. The last objects that felted were socks for my niece from commercial yarn that accidentally went into the dryer.

One reason I like long wool is because it is less likely to felt. One reason that I like worsted spun is that it is less likely to felt. Yarns plied up from fine, high twist, worsted spun singles from long wool are unlikely to felt - one of the good things about well spun gansey yarn is that you can boil it to kill lice and etc.

I test every swatch for a tendency to felt, because I do not want to be in the back country somewhere and have something felt, shrink and be unable to wear it. I just know that if my sweater shrinks, the night will be cold, and I will freeze.