Monday, May 24, 2010

Projects and more Projects

So Denny made her way from Toronto this past weekend to talk about warping. I think the topic scared people because the class was very small but 2/3 of weaving is in the warping and knowing the tips and tricks of the process can make weaving so much more enjoyable. And Denny does know the tips and tricks. It was a fantastic class and I think those who came went home ready to tackle their looms again with a happy attitude.

I missed most of the class because the shop was very busy on Saturday. I got to talk about Navajo weaving, bast fibers, spinning wheels, raw wool and all the stuff I love.

On Sunday I did something I rarely do...I skipped church.

We went to the shop and started the warping of the Alpaca I had wound a few weeks ago.

7 yards. Of lace weight Alpaca. 32 wpi. It is pretty hairy and sticky. A job that should have been 15 minutes...

took 5 hours. The lease sticks wouldn't glide through because the yarn would stick and tangle and we had to undo each 3-4 inches by hand. 1000 ends of warp.
We stuck with it. I wanted to quit so many times but Denny reminded me of where the yarn cam from and how she suffered with cancer for so long and that I could manage this for a short time.
In the end we did it.
Now I will thread the heddles and sley the reed this week. Just a simple twill but in the end it will be worth it.
I've also been working on my first shawl design and it is coming right along. Looks better in person. When the triangle is finished I will choose some kind of lovely edging for it I think.
And finally, in November Maggie and I will be travelling to Peru for Tinkuy which will be a conference of North and South American textile artists. The above is Maggie's fortune she got from the Chinese take out the other day. We all got a kick out of it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


really. I started trying to lose weight in January....I'm up 6 pounds. I suck at this.

That. Is. All

Friday, May 07, 2010

Kromski Fantasia

On the same day that I got the Aura into the shop tow wheels arrived from Kromski. The new Kromski Fantasia. The one in the photo is the walnut one. There is also a version which is all clear finish with a walnut accent and you can also get it unfinished and make it a DIY project.
This wheel is a great wheel for new spinners because of the price point. Unfinished for $363! and finished for $478. Really great prices for a great looking wheel.

This wheel treadles smoothly, is Scotch Tension and has the Kromski price point without all of the turned bits that some people find too fancy.
Nice handle on the back for easy carrying and it weighs just 12.5 pounds.
The flyer has sliding hooks and also attaches magnetically which makes changing bobbins quick and easy.

The wheel comes with 3 bobbins and 1 whorl with ratios of 5 and 8:1. Two additional whorls are available with ratios of 10 and 14:1, and 18 and 20:1. Those ratios will take any spinner very far in their spinning life so this is not a wheel that will be outgrown quickly.

I like this wheel because of the smooth treadling and ease of use. The bobbins are the standard Kromski bobbins and so can be used with any of their wheels. It's got a small footprint and will fit with many decors because of the finish options.

There are only two little picky points I have about this wheel. I wish there was a way for the back to be more attractive - I told you it was picky. Also, the leather that holds the sliding hooks is great now but will it wear and become loose and not work? Also, kind of picky because if they get loose they can be easily and inexpensively replaced.

Two thumbs up for this wheel.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The New Majacraft Aura

Last week I came home from the Spring Retreat and came to work on Tuesday and found two new wheels waiting for me to assemble and play with. I'm starting with an overview of the new Majacraft Aura. I say overview because this wheel is so interesting that I think I will be playing with it and experimenting for a long time.

The assembly was pretty straight forward and since I've assembled many Majacraft wheels I caught on quick.
My first impression was that it's really pretty with clean lines and before I even took it for a spin I was telling Chelsea that this was going to be the shop's wheel and wasn't going anywhere. (Behind it is the new Kromski Fantasia which I will talk about in the next couple of days.)
The first thing I noticed was the unusual flyer and the huge bobbin which is the same size as the bulky flyer bobbins. It also has a double drive setup that is really smart. Some people have been doing a version of this on their traditional DD wheels but to adjust correctly.
This setup allows each band to be adjusted separately to give a way to the spinner to affect both the strength of pull and speed of pull onto the bobbin by adjusting the height of the head and also the tension on the bobbin drive string.
The knob on the right is the adjustment for the bobbin drive string and you can see the bolt in the center so that adjusting the head height is pretty easy.
Here's a closer view of the head and the two separate whorls. The green stretchy band drives the flyer.
This flyer and orifice are great. Thread as above for thicker yarns and yarns that have add ins or are lumpy such as core spun or thick coils.
Threaded this way takes away any thumping that may happen so the spinner can spin the finest of yarns without issue.
The bobbin has two holes drilled so it doesn't spin freely on the bobbin shaft.
This is a view of how the bobbin is seated on the shaft. You can see the sealed bearing that make the spinning very smooth.
Another new thing that I like, even though it is a tiny addition, is this bumper so when the wheel is folded for carrying it stops and the flyer doesn't touch the treadle.
This is a view of the head with the Suzie Whorl...the experimenting has begun.
The ratios available standard with the Aura are 4.1:1, 5.4:1 and 7.3:1. Not fast at all and definitely meant for thicker yarns.

I changed the standard whorl with the Suzie whorl. Since the wheel diameters are the same between the two wheels I can say that the new ratios where 4.4, 6.9, 10, 13.1, and 16:1
I tried the fasted whorl size and was not thrilled. The difference in size between the flyer whorl and bobbin whorl was too much and the take up could not be adjusted low enough to spin the gossamer yarn I wanted to spin. At the 13.1:1 ratio things got better and 10:1 was very easy.

I did 4 sample yarns and was able to do the whole spectrum. Of course the drafting was slower than my usual speed with the finest yarn but it was very easy.

This wheel treadles like you would expect from a Majacraft. The look is fantastic. The new tensioning system is genius and works like a dream for sock weight and higher yarns (though with more experimenting I could change my mind here to the finer yarns). I mostly did my experiments on the fine end of the yarn spectrum. Why, you say? Well, because I knew it was designed with the help of Lexi Boeger and so I was confident in its ability to do bumpy, thick, irregular and interesting yarns. I wanted to see if it could work for the yarns I love to spin.

To get little or no takeup, which I want with fine yarns, the whorl sizes have to be more similar in size but this slows the spinning due to the low ratios. The wheel comes with only 3 bobbins and no kate of any kind.

The price of the wheel in the US is $963 which is about $80 higher than the price of Rose. I definitely think it is worth the money and as time goes by and accessories are available to make lace spinning easier it will become even more attractive.

I like this wheel. It is interesting and easy to spin on. For fine yarns I will stick with my 30" Schacht-Reeves. But this new Aura will be in my collection right along side that wheel.