Spinninglizzy's Weblog

Falling down the slippery fibre slope

Very Fast Flyer

Look what came in the mail!

No, it’s not the walnut Fast Flyer I’ve been waiting for since FEBRUARY, a special order placed for me by my LYS.  (Yes, I still plan getting it when it finally arrives.)  It’s a …(drumroll please)… Very Fast Flyer!

As I’m still commited to purchasing the Fast Flyer, I broke down and decided to order this even faster Lendrum Very Fast Flyer (in the walnut anniversary edition) from someplace online on a Monday, and received it, three days later.  I didn’t order one of these before because of the prohibitive expense; it’s costly because it comes with an entire new mother-of-all and maiden assembly, with several specialised machined metal parts designed for yarn stability.  The Very Fast Flyer was designed for very fine, thread-like yarn; and is not suitable for medium or larger thicknesses.

Closeup of the orifice:

Whoo Hoo! Such sssssssssspeed!  Thus far, I’ve only used the slowest ratio of 26:1, which is 2.6 times faster than the fastest ratio on my standard flyer (10:1).  I don’t know if I’m naturally a fast (some have said manic) treadler, or if I became that way to compensate for the slowness of the standard flyer.  But, I am having difficulty slowing my treaddling so I do not continually snap the thread apart.  Before, the standard flyer was too slow for my drafting.  Now, I need to increase my drafting speed just to keep up with the slowest ratio on this new flyer; I haven’t even tried any of the faster ratios yet.  I suppose I’ll eventually get to the point where I can spin without snapping the yarn every five minutes.  In the meantime, it’s very tedious to thread this this flyer, as all the points in the yarn path are teeny, teeny, tiny.  Look how tiny and flexible the new threading hook is!  The original threading hook is shown (top , shorter hook) as well; the crook of the new hook is so small, it’s nearly invisible.  I’m a tad disappointed that the new mother-of-all does not have an opening to store the new threading hook as did the original.  It is annoying to always be searching for where I last set it down.

And notice how small the bobbin capacity is!  Unless spinning a sewing thread’s thickness, this will fill up quickly.  (The larger core aids in yarn stability.)  I have only the one bobbin at this time, so my new bobbin-winder will come in handy!

Lucky for me that I decided to blog about this, since when taking pictures, I discovered a crack in the wood surrounding the orifice:

If not for the picture taking, I may never have noticed the flaw until too much time had passed.  I’ve contacted the store that sold it to me, and Mr. Lendrum will make me a replacement.  Until then, I have the use of this unit.

I have not put in any quality spinning time this past month because I was so bothered by the lack of speed; so I’m looking forward to spinning ramie (shown in the pics) to make loom tie-up cording soon.

Go, Speed Racer — Go, Speed Racer — Go, Go, Go!!!

25 September 2008 Posted by | Spinning | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Spinning, Spinning…The Need For Speed

My quill attachment for my Lendrum arrived last week.

I wanted to purchase one at least two months ago after following the Ravelry threads on it.  I kept delaying my purchase of one that was available, but when I was ready to shell out the money, the two that were available from different sites, were bought out from under me.  (Aaaarrrgggggghhhhhh!!!!!  Who dared buy my quill attachment???!!!)

I was feeling pretty moody last week (messy house/loom outside syndrome again), so of course I helped myself to another dose of misery by checking the sites again for the walnut quill attachment.  Yup, I confirmed they were still sold out. Then, for no reason other than sheer bull-headedness, I decided to call a small store in the mid-west whose site hinted at some walnut accessories.  Well: they had it, I bought it, they sent it, I got it.  Three days later.  The mailman was so proud of himself for delivering it.


As I took it out of the box, DS immediately commented “I like your new gun, Mama.”  One hour later as I rub my injuries: “What does it mean ‘impale’, Mama?”  Aha!  I know what Sleeping Beauty was spinning on!


Quill attachments, when made for spinning wheels, are usually for:
1) Spinning high-twist fibres like cotton, silk, and flax;
2) Spinning and plying bulky yarns that may have trouble fitting through a regular orifice; and
3) Getting a feel for a spindle before using a great wheel or charka.

I’ve seen some novelty yarns where one of the plies was threaded with beads.  I should note that a quill attachment is not a necessity for spinning cotton, silk, or flax; although it is a good substitute for a charka wheel.

Did I purchase a quill attachment for any of the valid reasons listed above?  Sadly, no.  Those are the reasons I’ve come up with after the fact, to justify my purchase.  No, I thought I had to have a quill because I’m a speed demon on my treadles and I have a need for speed that hasn’t been served by my current flyer ratios.

I’ve had a fast flyer on special order through my LYS (since I rarely purchase yarn, it really ought to my LSS — Local Spinning Store — or LWS — Weaving) since February.  My wheel is the limited edition walnut-coloured one made in 2001, so parts aren’t as readily available.  And because Mr. Lendrum has so many orders and does all the work himself,  the supposedly two-month waiting period is now at the half-year mark.  After I placed my order, I found several places online with the flyer in stock so I could have the flyer in my hands tomorrow by overnight express…  But my LSS didn’t require a deposit for the special order, and I’m loyal to them for that; so I’m still here, waiting. SIX. Months. Later.

Although one can draft out wool very quickly with a quill, it doesn’t meet my speed requirements BECAUSE I HAVE TO SPEND SO MUCH TIME WINDING ON THE YARN.  Sorry, I had to say that loud; because in all my research prior to purchasing the quill, that was not made clear to me.  In my defense, I have been considering the Rio Grande as a possible production wheel.  In the spinning video that I’ve seen where it was used, a nifty technique was used of pulling off the single and winding it back on without changing direction or stopping.  I tried it for a bit, but it doesn’t work too well for me, for at least three reasons:
1) I’m spinning a much finer, lace-weight single which breaks very easily when pulled off and back from the quill,
2) the treadle and quill placements are much more compressed on my upright wheel than on the larger Rio Grande, making my drafting length much shorter and treadling more cramped; and
3) the quill on the Lendrum is angled downward rather than horizontal.  If using a great wheel, winding on doesn’t take much more time or wasted motion because stopping and reversing the wheel direction is as fast as spinning, since turning the wheel is completely controlled by the hand.  On a foot-treadled, upright wheel, stopping to reverse and wind on takes up a lot of extra time (at least on my wheel) since it’s not easy to immediately stop and start up again.


All in all, I had fun trying out the quill; and it will be useful when I want to spin or ply bulky, novelty yarn.  Also, it’s cheaper than the plying head, although the two function differently.  (The only reason why I still want the bulky plying head is because it is perfect for spinning Judith MacKenzie’s Wolf Yarn – I’ll have to give it a try on the quill sometime.)  Also, the shock of being completely wrong about the quill has dampened (at least temporarily) my impatience for my fast flyer.   And I learned that the Rio Grande won’t be my first choice for a production wheel.   Still, there’s no need to delay work on my flyer, Mr. Lendrum!

6 August 2008 Posted by | General, Spinning | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FO: Purple Grapes Yarn

I decided to finish off the woolen (attenuated long-draw) started in class on Saturday.

Pictured above, the last of the rolags I had from class.  Shiori prepared them from dyed superwash merino top; it’s sooooooo dreamily soft.  Shiori makes exceptionally lovely, dense, and fluffy rolags.  She calls them “punags”.  (Punis are the dense preparations of cotton for spinning.)  Rolags are so fun and fast to spin, I had to force myself to stop spinning to take this picture before it was gone.

My singles wound onto three bobbins for plying.

The three-ply in progress on my spinning wheel.

This is the skeined yarn, pre-wash.  It’s a lot more twisted than I used to do.  I used to produce a more “balanced” yarn pre-wash.  I had read somewhere that this was something to aim for.  But Judith MacKenzie set me straight on that.  It’s actually better to be over-twisted, since you would lose about twenty percent of that twist in the washing/finishing stage.  Also, the way we handle yarn in knitting can also take twist out of the yarn.  I’ve experienced that before, especially when I’ve frogged a section more than once.  Lastly, it’s better to have more twist to give the yarn more strength if the end product is for weaving.

Still, I overdid the twist here, and will back down a bit in the future.  My theory is, a more “balanced” yarn plus a little extra for the handling during knitting in the pre-finished stage would be more wash-friendly in the final product.  If a lot of fulling, wuzzing, and whacking of the yarn is put into the finishing, I’m guessing that the knitted product would retain more of its pre-wash shape.  Anyway, just a theory.  I’ve only two knitted FO’s at this point, neither using my handspun.

Finished and re-skeined.  My son calls this colourway “purple grapes”.  I have to invest in a small plunger to full the yarn as Judith does.  I did the fulling by agitating the skein by hand in the hot wash, and I’m surprised this didn’t end up felted into a ball.  It’s 135 yards, 2.25 ounces, 23 wpi, superwash merino three-ply.

A closeup.

Judith says that a three-ply yarn should be our default.  Not only that, we should use three bobbins, and not Navajo ply for a better yarn.  I must say that it’s worth the extra work.  The finished yarn has a lovely, rounder shape.  Since it’s a woolen and quite springy, I think it’s better for weft than warp.  I’d spin worsted for warp.

From today’s mail:

I couldn’t resist; it was a bargain, and it came with two dozen cards.  I have an unused set of tablets and a pamplet I bought from Linda Hendrickson something like ten years ago at a Seattle Weavers’ Guild sale.  Now that I’m in the weaving groove, I believe they will see some use soon.

1 July 2008 Posted by | FOs, Spinning | , , , , | 3 Comments

Spinning Class

I took a class yesterday (Comprehensive Spinning) led by Shiori, of our Eastside Spinners’ Guild.  Although I heard about all the techniques from the class I took from Judith MacKenzie, today’s class with three instructors was very helpful in helping me understand and retain what I got from Judith.

I finally understand true worsted spinning!  By the end of class, I was able to spin true worsted, semi-worsted, semi-woolen, and woolen.  I also know the difference between a true English long-draw and an attenuated long-draw.

Here is my bobbin filled with class exercises.

An unexpected bonus at the end of class: Shiori put a mountain of stuff in the middle of the room and invited the students to take it all home.  We were very happy to relieve her of unwanted fibre!

Before heading home, I made a stop at the home of another weaver who sold me thirty-one cones and twenty-six skeins of yarn (the skeins include sixteen blue cotton novelty/bouclé and five cream cotton novelty).  Most of the cones are either silk, wool, mohair, or cotton.  Fifty dollars.

The huge light blue cone is two pounds of silk.  A mammoth moving box of all the cones is sitting in my house entryway.  I have no idea where I’m going to put it.

Someone once told me that we attract what we think about.  I’m going to suspend thoughts of “fibre” and start thinking “larger house“.

29 June 2008 Posted by | Spinning, Weaving | , , , , , , | 1 Comment