Sunday, July 27, 2014


I was a member of the ASQC and ASTM. And, I helped draft important technical standards for both groups.

I set standards of performance for my objects.  Successful objects meet their performance standards.  "Perfection" may well be the enemy of successful.  All "made" objects are a compromise of schedule, budget, and functionality.  A sweater that is not ready when one must go out in the cold is a schedule failure.  A sweater that is too expensive to buy or sell is is a failure for both the maker (not sold resulting in no income) and the potential user (not bought resulting in being cold).  A sweater produced on time, and on budget, but which is not warm enough is also a failure.

As I plan my yarns, I begin with the end in mind.  I plan my yarns so that the final object has the appropriate functionality and aesthetics.   That is "art" supported by craft.  Art does not happen without craft.

I plan my yarns so that the final object has the correct cost structure. If the yarn is not finished in time to knit the object, then the object fails, and the yarn fails.  (e.g., Xmas gifts must be finished on time and gifts to myself must be finished before they are needed.) For every craftsmen, speed of production is always an issue.

As a craftsman, I like multi-ply yarns.  In particular, I like 5-ply yarns.  They are warmer and more durable than 2-ply yarns of the same grist.  They have more drape and elasticity than 2-ply yarns of the same grist knit into fabric of the same gauge.  The problem is that they require about four times more twist per inch of finished yarn.

If I am a craftsman, can I afford to design yarns with the higher twist requirements?  If I run my spinning wheel 4 or 5 times faster, YES! In fact, there is no cost or schedule impact.  Yes, I do use more skills, but as a craftsman, I have those skills.   The the additional benefit of veggy material dropping out as fine singles are drafted is free.  Also, a spinning wheel running faster makes many kinds of spinning much easier.

Spinning short fibers such as cotton is MUCH easier with a high speed wheel.  Spinning fine singles is much easier with a high speed wheel.  And, there is a group of commercial wools that sometimes finds its way into the hand spinning supply stream that is much, much easier with faster wheel.

A couple of years ago, I got a big bin of commercial Jacob.  The fiber looked beautiful, but it was a pain to spin.  As my wheel got faster, this Jacob got easier and easier to spin.  At 700 rpm, it is still very difficult to spin.  However at 3,500 rpm, it was spinning so fast and easy that last week, I went out and made a bunch more plying bobbins to hold all the singles I was generating.

A high speed wheel makes a wide variety of yarns possible that simple are not practical with a slower wheel.

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