Saturday, August 01, 2015

GW 2

These days, I do not keep a great wheel.  I do have 2 motor driven spindles and 2 spindles that fit onto my treadle wheel.  None of these are as impressive to look at as a GW, but they are faster. And, they all allow me more use of both hands for drafting true worsted.

The motor driven spindles are easy to pause or stop, but hard to reverse.  Therefore, I had to learn how to wind-on with the spindle going in the same direction as when spinning.  It can be done, the answer is "out there", and I have no interest in teaching driven spindle technique.

If one does not have to reverse the spindle, then one does not have to stop, or pause the spindle, and the spindle can rotate continuously in the same direction.  One CAN spin a entire hank of single on a great wheel without ever reversing the wheel to wind on.  This can be much faster/easier than reversing rotation to wind-on depending on the inertia of the rotating system.

Nevertheless, the spindle must be slowed at various points in the spinning/drafting/wind-on process. Even though the spindle/wheel always rotates in the same direction, the slowdown/speedup cycle wastes energy. And, the wind-on cycle slows production of yarn. 

A spindle on my treadle wheel can insert twist many times faster than the flyer/bobbin assembly,  but the DD flyer bobbin assembly will spin and wind-on much more yarn in a minute or an hour or a day.  One of the motor driven spindles can insert twist many times faster than either spindle on my treadle wheel, but net production of single is not much different. Net production of spun yarn by a spindle is limited by the nature of its cycle, rather than by its peak speed.

A DRS flyer/bobbin assembly is the fastest hand spinning device for most natural fibers. Ring spinning can be faster for silk, but that is a specialized application.  Yes, those old double drive spinning wheels were the fastest way to spin.  They used the two loops of the drive band to synchronize the rotation of the bobbin and flyer to insert just the right amount of twist as the yarn was wound in at just the correct rate for the inserted twist. They did not have the drive band slip that is built into modern double drive wheels.  The result is that a double drive wheel without drive band slip that can produce singles much faster than a great wheel.  This is a truth that you have heard before.  It is just that all  modern DD wheels do have drive band slip and thus, spin more slowly than a GW.   In fact, a DRS flyer/bobbin assembly can produce true worsted spun yarn 5 times faster than a great wheel.  Every sock knitter should think about that.

And, since DRS is faster, sock yarns of more and finer (true worsted spun)  plies are possible.  These are very nice yarns that are simply out of reach of even the best spinners using a GW.  The use of DRS opens up spinning true worsted 5-ply gansey or even 10-ply Aran yarns.  And, it makes spinning true worsted warp for the loom much more feasible.

 On the other hand, a DRS flyer/bobbin assembly requires real skill to setup and maintain. I have seen two old DRS double drive wheels where the original DRS ratios had been "repaired", and the wheel converted to  modern standards.   As a result of the repairs, they could spin lower grist yarns, but could only do so --- slowly. These had been true collector's items and the owners were very proud of how fast they could spin -- if they only know how fast those wheels had been originally designed to spin, they would have been agast!   The difference between these wheels as designed and these wheels as "repaired" was only millimeters, and yet it made a huge difference in their performance. If one can teach the basics of using a GW in a 4-day workshop, then I would say that one could teach the basics of using DRS in a 4-week workshop.

Yes, Holin, my old Ashford can spin/ply a 500 yd hank of sport weight, worsted spun, 5-ply (gansey yarn) in an easy day.  How long does it take your GW?  In less than 14 hours, I can spin/ply a 500 yd hank of  worsted spun, 3x2-ply cabled, 1,600 ypp "sock yarn".  How long does that take your GW?  Shall we set up a demonstration in front of a judge and jury?  I want spinners like Judith MacKenzie and Stephenie Gaustad who know, and appreciate,  worsted spun yarns involved.

I have only been spinning for 6 years. (And, I was sick with Lyme Disease for much of that time!)  How long have you been spinning?  What will I be spinning when I have spun as long as you have been spinning?


8 comments:

Holin Kennen said...

"These days I do not keep a great wheel." Impressive deflection there, Aaron. Have you ever kept a great wheel? If you have, did you use It? How often? There are many people who "keep" great wheels by the fireplace as a conversation piece. They don't know any more about spinning than I know about brain surgery, nor do they want to learn, but they "keep" a great wheel because it looks pretty. Perhaps you might have "kept" one for the same reason. Your lack of understanding about how great wheels work is ample evidence to support this conclusion.

Now, the question is, how much time have you spent spinning on a great wheel? If you had spent much time at it, you would know that you can't operate it the way you say it can be done. There is no "out there" to find. Even treadle wheels have to be stopped from time to time to move the yarn along the hooks. The momentary reversal of the wheel is the equivalent of moving the yarn along the hooks.

You don't teach GW spinning because you don't know how to use one. Please do the rest of us a favor and have the sense to remain silent when you don't have the experience to speak intelligently about a topic.

Holin Kennen said...

I've been spinning for over 30 years.

Nobody really cares what you will be spinning when you have spun for 30 years. At the rate you're going, though, I don't see that there will be much to show for your efforts beyond endless boasting.

Aaron said...

Spinning 40s, I have to move the yarn from heck to heck about every 40 yards/ 8 minutes. I want a pix video of you with a 40 yard make of 22,000 ypp worsted singles on your great wheel.

I had a great wheel in the house/garage long enough to establish its performance characteristics. Process engineering established that no amount of operator skill with a GW could produce singles as fast as a DD wheel. As it became clear that a DD wheel could be enormously faster, I recovered the space.

D Ross said...

How does DRS compare to something like a Hansen mini spinner? I'm thinking an electric spinner with Woolee Winder would be at the top of a list for efficiency, but I have no experience with DRS. I'm curious if you've made a comparison.

Aaron said...

Hansen is a Scotch Tension device. That allows easy change of grist. However, the spinner must control how much twist is inserted, and requires inch worm drafting to produce true worsted. With inch worm drafting, you are limited to about 100 yd/hr. Top speed of Hansen is ~ 1,600 rpm so it will spin 5,600 ypp woolen at ~300 yards per hour, or about as fast as a great wheel.

In contrast, with DRS changing grist is a miserable chore, but I can spin true worsted or true woolen 5,600 ypp singles at more than 560 yards per hour.

D Ross said...

Wow! That's crazy fast! Maybe someday I'll be that good. How long did it take you to master consistency at that speed? It seems like this DRS is evolved from the charkha with its accelerator wheel. It's quite ingenious.

Aaron said...

DRS evolved from the miniaturization of a room sized tool used by Italian silk workers in the 12th century.

Holin Kennen said...

"DRS evolved from the miniaturization of a room sized tool used by Italian silk workers in the 12th century."

Citations and proof, or it never happened.