Monday, August 24, 2015

The Right Answer

A long time ago, I was Senior Scientist at the world's largest engineering firm.  It is a firm where the team is everything.  And, in that team work, is real power.  When there is a problem, a team goes to work on the problem.


I was on many such teams.  Typically there would be at least two solutions.  A standard, convention wisdom solution, and I would propose something else. Often, analysis would show that my solution was better, and my solution would be adopted.


Here, folks assume that because my solutions are different from the conventional wisdom, my research is bad and I must be dumb and unemployable.


For example, I like knitting sheaths.  They allow knitting faster with less stress on the wrists. They are the kind of thing that impartial analysis loves, and sentimentality hates.


For example, I like DRS flyer/bobbin assemblies.  DRS allows spinning much faster and make spinning finer easier.  It is the kind of thing that impartial analysis loves, and sentimentality hates.


For example, I like an accelerator on my spinning wheel.  It allows me to spin much faster and facilitates spinning finer.   It is the kind of thing that impartial analysis loves, and sentimentality hates.  Anybody that skims this blog is going to see that I go for what works rather than current fashion.


Oh, yes, I find better ways to do things.  In knitting and spinning, I did not invent anything, I simply seined history for better technologies that had been lost as a result of Victorian fashion. The fact that they work so well show that my research and analysis was excellent.


Citations are for people who want to cover their ass.  Citations are for people who do not trust their own analysis. Citations are for people that have not read extensively in the field.  And today, citations are for folks that never conquered Structured Query Language.  If I am just regurgitating what others said, then I am not adding value and I should go do something else.  People that want citations, are people that do not trust their analytical skills.  I trust my analytical skills because they brought me things like knitting sheaths, DRS, and accelerators. 


It was my analytical skills that let me build a system that allows me to spin much faster than others.  Is this ego?  No, it is being aware of how various people spin.  It is analysis. It is stepping back and not letting good ideas kill better ideas.  Those skills are still very valuable.


It does not matter how fast Holin spins, she adheres to the conventional (Victorian) spinning wisdom.    I know some of the best spinners in that school, and how fast they spin. It is not physically possible for Holin to spin significantly faster.  I wanted faster, and that was what drove me to find a faster way to spin. 

6 comments:

Holin Kennen said...

You have no idea what spinning "school" I went to, so do not presume to comment. And, in case you haven't caught up to the 21st Century, the Victorians are dead. All of them, including HRM Queen Victoria. You are fighting ghosts and tilting at windmills, but that makes it easy for you since your "opponents" are all long gone. But, by all means, do continue to churn out your crappy yarn at light speed and brag about it. I, on the other hand, will continue to take commissions for my quality yarn spun for each customer to their liking, and I will sell it to them at a reasonable price, and they will come back for more. Your fame is all in your head. The rest of us know better.

Gaby M said...

You know, Aaron, I tried to be straight-forward with you, and all I got for my troubles was a snarky comment to go learn calculus. Which, by the way, I already learned at University but rarely if ever use in my day-to-day job, and certainly not in my spinning.

However, I realize that your idol, Alden Amos in his “Big Book of Handspinning,” wastes pages and pages on mathematical calculations and descriptions of 18th century production technology.

The 18th century, by the way, is NOT the Victorian era; that would be the 19th century.

Curiously, even your idol Amos provides a bibliography, albeit not a particularly scholarly one. But even he, obviously, understands the value and importance of citing sources.

For example, you state that: “DRS allows spinning much faster and make spinning finer easier.” This is a very broad statement with nothing to support it. Did you read this someplace? Is this your own opinion that DRS allows [for] spinning much faster and making spinning fine easier? Is it your personal experience? If so, perhaps you can share with us how you determined it?

You don’t like to give citations, so what about sharing the data you collected to determine the statement above? What is the sigma level of your spinning? Did you apply the DMAIC improvement methodology to your initial spinning efforts? How did you determine the defects in your early spinning efforts? How did you characterize your Y metric and how did you identify the most likely Xs? How big is your “hidden factory,” i.e, COPQ (cost of poor quality). Did you run an ANOVA? A Chi-Square? What was your solution selection?

Since you don’t appear to understand how simple it is to just place a ruler perpendicular to a piece of knitting and count across how many stitches per inch there are, then perhaps you would like to just put your Six Sigma study on production spinning out here for all of us to read. That is, if our poor, lame, addled, little ladybrains can cope with it. Mine could, since I have my Black Belt. I’d be glad to explain it other readers, but suspect at least several of them could also understand the methodology.

I was willing, initially, to give you the benefit of the doubt but, really, you blow a lot of smoke. I suspect you are just trolling everyone with your mumbo-jumbo and having a good laugh at your reader’s expense.

fiberlicious said...

I know you won't post this, but I also know that you will read it:

Your penchant for extrapolating "fact" from "incident" would be laughable if you weren't such an ass.

What you are describing, Mr. Science, is ANNECDOTAL EVIDENCE. The point of citations is this: In order to be FACTS, results must be replicable. Ergo, documentation of others performing the same task and getting the same result supports the replicability requirement.

I'm sorry your ego is so fragile.

Aaron said...

What I do can all be easily duplicated. The thing about science is that even when something seems silly we try to duplicate it.

The thing about modern spinning is that modern spinners do not try to duplicate what I do. Rather modern spinner sit in their circles and chat and titter. You have not even bothered to ask Stephenie Gaustad about all the drawings of accelerated wheels that she did for AA's Big Book of Handspinning.

A real spinner, trying to improve his craft, would have flipped through the book and wondered about all those drawings and then he would have investigated the topic. A real spinner would have wondered why AA put all that DRS math in the book and investigated. I did.

Look at the comment(s) recently posted here by my reader about that math. They NEVER went into the shop, engineered and made the devices and tested them.

One can do the math on a smart phone in 10 minutes and fabricate working devices in an afternoon. I did the math on my slide rule and had working devices in an afternoon. Four hours later, I was hooked. In a total of about 7 hours, I proved to myself that it worked. I did not go asking Alden for citations, I tested the concept for myself.

Second only to learning the assumptions under the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, it was the best investment of time that I ever made in my life.

Aaron said...

On line, one can find the results of spinning contests, and production data related to Spinzillia. One can go to lessons taught by folks like Stephenie Gaustad and Judith MacKenzie. And, one can look at demos on YouTube. Together, with some calculations, these provide a good estimate of how fast spinners can spin with say Scotch Tension technology. Been there, done that, and developed a baseline of how fast the best spinners could spin.

I had modified Asford DD flier whorls and was spinning faster than the above baseline when I went up to AA to have him make me faster fliers. A month after receiving the AA fliers, I was spinning much faster. A year of tweaking the DRS whorls resulted in even faster spinning. I though I was bumping up against the limits of the DRS technology.

Then I started thinking about an accelerator. The first accelerator took me perhaps an afternoon to make. It proved that it was a very powerful technology.

Anybody with access to a wood working can make those tools. Very effective versions can be made very inexpensively. I mean, I made a lot of parts out of firewood, but they work. They work damn well. Anybody that wants to can replicate everything I have done. It is not rocket science. Some of it requires good wood turning and sharp tools, but it does not does not require anything rare, exotic, expensive or difficult to obtain. People made spinning wheels by hand for hundreds of years. It is not that hard.

If you have not made a DRS flyer/bobbin assembly, it is because you do not have a real interest in spinning better. If you have not made an accelerator for your wheel, it is because you have no interest in spinning faster. Your lack of interest is not my problem. I am not selling such wheels. I am only providing a repository where people with interest can find such information.



Aaron said...

Holin,
If I could buy better yarn from you, I would stop spinning and buy your yarn.

However, you will not even state a price or delivery schedule for the yarn that I want. You do not seem to be acting like a professional craftsman. When professionals find a potential customer with a need and funds, they submit a proposal. You did not.

I know the grist, twist, and quality of yarn that I spin. I know when it will be ready. I know what my yarn will cost me (price of wool plus time and materials). I buy fleeces and sort/grade them, rather than buying fiber from a mill. My best guess is that regardless of your bluff and bravado, for my needs, I turn out a better yarn at a lower cost. If you disagree, send me a proposal with a sample of your 5,600 ypp worsted spun singles.