It’s Alive!!!

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Well not really, but my e-spinner has been revamped and it’s AWESOME!

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This is the spinner as it was. In the housing there is a micro motor running the pulley on the front. On the top of the housing is the on-switch, a direction toggle and a speed dial. I made the uprights from doweling, the drive band from some thin elastic superglued into a loop. The flyer unit and bobbins are from my Ashford Traditional wheel. They were replaced with the jumbo version later. There was nothing wrong with this design except that this type of motor can only be used for 15 out of every 60 minutes or it burns out… Yeah, I went through 4 motors pretty quickly.

My interest in yarn spinning was recently rekindled as the Fibre East event neared. It was held last Saturday and Sunday. By Monday, after a successful Sunday at the event, I was desperate to get back to spinning.

Ashford Traditional WheelI have an Ashford Traditional (above) but find it a little awkward to use. I can’t find a sitting position that doesn’t either twist my body or leaves me with very tense muscles between waist and knee.

I also have a rare Louet hatbox wheel (above). It’s a travellers wheel and as much as I love it, it has very small bobbins and I like to spin all of a fibre onto one bobbin rather than having it split between several. Though it’s been out of production for about 20 years, they are planning to release an updated version for the company’s anniversary.

These are both excellent wheels and it is only my personal preferences that keep me from using them more.

So, yeah. I came home from Fibre East with a renewed fervour for handspinning and handspun yarn, and several additions to my fibre stash. So many beautiful yarns, fibres and spinning wheels! I was very restrained.

Commercially made e-spinners are expensive (£350+) and if you want something other than the Ashford e-spinner, your out of luck in the UK unless you fancy paying for shipping and customs on something coming from the States. I’m sure the Ashford is lovely but I don’t like how clunky it looks and I just can’t afford it. I’d buy a regular spinning wheel if I had that sort of money available. After some research into home made e-spinners (again), I came across several blog posts that showed others who had successfully made their own and directed my technical advisor (my husband) to have a look. We’d already discussed the possibility of using a sewing machine motor and had sort of discarded it but some of these blogs better described what they had done.

Garrulous story telling made shorter – we did it!

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(Yes, that is the stripped sewing machine on the right).

This is not a complicated solution. You need to be careful with the electrics of course, but it is just a motor with a drive band attached to a store-bought flyer unit. There is no direction control on this version but putting a twist in the driveband switches the direction of the flyer. We replaced the foot pedal with a light dimmer switch partly because I wanted a hand control but mostly because the foot pedal is not a good way to get consistent speed. You can keep the foot pedal if you like but I found it infuriatingly difficult to use. Also, keeping the pedal braced for any length of time caused cramping in my calf.

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And this is the first yarn completed with it!

It’s a 2-ply yarn about the same thickness as a commercial 4-ply/sock yarn. It needs to be washed to set the twist but at the moment it is about 410m long. I can make a small shawl with that!

Our next project will be making a device like this to measure yarn length.

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This is the yardage counter by Schact. Need to investigate a few parts before we make anything though. Once we work out the counter, it should be fairly straight forward.

*** I totally forgot to tell you all that I have decided to Brave The Shave and shave my head in August to raise money for Macmillan cancer support. They are an excellent organisation and in greater demand than ever. If you can donate, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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Day 140

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Ugh! Just found a dead fly in my drink…. Almost spat that mouthful all over the blanket. Didn’t though. Yay me, I guess.

The blanket didn’t get a mouthful of hot chocolate but it did get a pink trapezoid. I confess that sometimes I don’t like knitting the trapezoids but I do love how they look when finished and how pretty the sloped joining looks.

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It’s been a distracted day for me. Again. I’m pretty sure I need to go back to seeing a psychologist. I’m already on the recommended  dosage of my meds and while I won’t refuse an increase if that’s what is decided, I would prefer to avoid it. I know I need the medication but I do t have to like taking it. And by ‘need’, I mean that I do not much like the person I am without the medication, and I am even less capable of being a functioning human. It’s not much fun being on that high speed , emotional roller coaster. At least with the medication, the ride is less dynamic – fewer and less intense ups and downs, and a little more time between them. Still not sure I can be classed as functioning though.

I spent some of the day using my e-spinner to spin some very lovely blue-faced Leicester wool in a natural mid-brown colour that I bought at Fibre-East last year from Adelaide Walker. I think I’m about halfway through the batch and have been thinking about putting beads into the plied yarn. I’m thinking gold, although light blue might work too.

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I kinda love marching bands. Not so much that I seek them out but I enjoy them when I get the chance to see/hear/watch one. I am utterly lacking in the coordination to participate in one. I can’t even coordinate my hands to play both parts of a piano piece and that doesn’t even require forward momentum! I also kinda love Fleetwood Mac. Again, don’t usually seek them out but don’t change the radio station if they’re on.

This is a tidied up copy of the video for Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Tusk’. It wasn’t particularly great in the first place but the song is good.

Fleetwood Mac – Tusk

Day 28

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In honour of my son arriving tomorrow for school holidays, here is his theme song (with video courtesy of a World of Warcraft player).

Wasn’t sure if I’d get this post done before the clocks ticked over to tomorrow. I’ve had several ideas for shawls swirling through my thoughts for much of the last week and today i couldn’t put them off any longer. Nothing to show you yet of those I’m afraid but i have a shawl i’m knitting with some yarn I spun myself that I can show you a picture of….

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The fibre was dyed by Blue Moon Fiber Arts, a ‘Sheep to Shoe’ kit which is a superwash wool with instructions for how to spin it to produce yarn to knit socks with. The colourway is called ‘Fire on the Mountain’ and I love it! The pattern is called ‘Baktus’ but I can’t leave a pattern alone so I have tweaked it pattern. It’s supposed to be a long, shallow triangle but I like large equilateral triangle shawls so I’ve  changed the frequency of  increases, from increasing on 1 out of every 4 rows to 1 out of every 2.

I’ve planned a corner with two trapezoids today partly because I wanted to see if i could and partly cause i thought it would look nice. And it does but I cannot get it to look quite right.

of course, when i drew up the plan, i hadn’t considered that adding a trapezoid from the short side would involve a new pattern. And of course it’s one that ‘m not happy with yet. I shall continue working on it and will have 2 pieces for you tomorrow.