Thursday, September 06, 2018

How fast did professional hand spinners spin?

My normal single is 5,600 ypp  (75 wpi  @ pack to refusal) semi-woolen. At 9 tpi, I use that grist of single for making 2-ply jumper yarn (2,500 ypp), 5-ply “gansey” yarn (1,000 ypp),  or 10-ply Aran yarn (500 ypp),  and at 12 tpi, I use it for weaving warp.  With my Ashford Traditional equipped with an Alden Amos flyer/bobbin assembly, somewhat modified by myself for DRS spinning as described in Alden’s Big Book of Handspinning pgs 390 et seq. 

I spin the knitting singles at more than a hank (560 yards) per hour (wound onto bobbins). I spin the weaving singles at about 450 yards per hour (wound onto bobbins). 

Thus, the actual spinning time is about 45 or 48 minutes.  2,400 ypp singles take less twist, but are thicker and have to be wound off more often, so I can spin them at ~400 yards per hour.  Finer singles require more twist, and thus are produced more slowly, until well prepped fiber for 70 or 80 count singles (e.g., 42,000 ypp, 200 wpi) require about 26 tpi and can be spun at about 150 yards per hour even though I can spin for days without winding off.  For this, I need an accelerator on the spinning wheel. 

(see AA’s big blue book, pg 185) I run the spinning bobbin at 3,000 to 4,000 rpm (by actual tachometer measure) and the flyer slow enough to allow the appropriate amount of twist to accumulate. The flyer rpm is between 330 and 150 rpm.  The DRS clock work controls the relative speeds of the bobbin and the flyer.  Mostly, this allows the bobbin to spin much faster, and thereby insert twist much faster, while the flyer to spins slower causing less drag, and reducing total effort.

Right now there is ~32,000 yards of 12 tpi singles on 320 bobbins on the warping rack beside the loom.  Upstairs there are bins and bins full of hand spun and hand plied gansey yarn and Aran yarn for knitting, containing about another 60,000 yards of singles. I know how many yards of  this single I can spin in an hour. 

And, I cannot spin that fast with any commercial e-spinner, no way, no how.

Traditional professional hand spinners with training and professional grade tools spun faster. 

The easy check on grist, is to look at the thread with a linen tester and see that there are 20 staples in the cross section of the thread. Or cut a ¼” inch piece of the thread, and drop it in a few drops of water in a saucer, and verify that there are 20 little pieces of wool fiber in the water.

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