Tuesday, August 19, 2014


I do not care if you are buying Italian designer suits or underwear at Target, the bulk of nice textiles are produced from thin yarns.  If you want to claim to be a spinner, you need to be able to produce thin yarns. And, if you want to be able to claim to be a spinner, you need to be able to produce a useful quantity of those yarns.

When I came to spinning 6 years ago the offered tools were various spindles, single drive wheels, and double drive wheels.  However, the whorl profile on the (commercially produced) DD  whorls had been corrupted, so that the DD wheels were actually single drive wheels in disguise.

There was a residual mythology about DD wheels being "better".  This was supported by the DD wheels with the corrupted whorl profiles being a few percent faster than single drive spinning wheels.  I was spinning 5-ply sport weight gansey yarn and the DD system was better.  Soon I was spinning those "lace weight" / 75 wpi singles at 150 yards per hour.

However, spinning finer was still difficult, and I went back to a Scotch Tension "Lace Flyer" to learn to spin 80s / 45,000 ypp / 200 wpi. Spinning those fine singles was slow and difficult.  Everything about it was hard.  Fiber preparation had to be perfect. Great care was required to prevent the single from burying itself. Mostly, it was slow - less than 100 yards per hour.

For the last couple of years, I have used double drive with differential rotation speed (DRS) exclusively.  DRS is the source of the myth that DD wheels are better. They are faster and allow spinning finer.

Now using DRS, I routinely spin the singles for gansey yarn at more than 500 yards per hour. A 500 yard hank of 5-ply is an easy day's task.  Last night while watching Pride and Prejudice, I spun an ounce/ 1,600 yards of shirting warp (22,000 ypp) from 60 count long wool.  And, I can spin 80s / 45,000 ypp / 200 wpi using fiber with only ordinary preparation. And, I do not have to worry about the single getting buried because, it is spun under much less tension. And it is faster.  My production rate with the Scotch Tension "Lace Flyer" is still less than 100 yards per hour, and my production rate with the DRS DD is about twice that.

DRS DD wheels are better for producing useful quantities of fine singles for high quality textiles.  Why DRS DD wheels are not sold is a mystery.  Why people do not learn to use such tools is a mystery.

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