There have been two new wheels in the house in the last couple of months. I will deal with one of them here today, and move onto the other soon.
I wanted a single treadle for myself that I don't have to take my ongoing project off when I teach (very indulgent with 6 wheels here already I know). The trads are absolutely lovely wheels, and I adore them, but I have a slight problem with my right leg/foot. I was in a car accident about 12 years ago, when someone ran me off the road and I ended up in a ditch. I braked hard when I realised what was happening and in doing so, had my right leg locked straight as the impact happened. For the first few years the pain was in my hip, but now it is more in my foot and ankle. This can cause problems sometimes with treadling with this foot, so I wanted a single treadle wheel.
Whilst treadling with one foot on the trad, I am slightly twisted, as the maiden and flyer are to the left of the treadle. This is ok for a while, but not long term, and sometimes I spin for days on end. Of course this is all a bit of an excuse to get a new wheel!
I fancied something really new, and a couple of students gave excellent reports on the Woolmakers Bliss wheel. When I looked, I liked that the single treadle was large and in the middle, so each foot could do the treadling separately if I wanted, or together. Also being white was so different and pretty. So I ordered one.
I have to say this is a wonderful wheel. It has near silent operation, and is very easy to spin. I love that I don't need an orifice threader (minor point I know) and the orifice has a small reducer if you are doing fine yarns. The scotch tension is very easy to use and again, small, but I love the hooks are coated - looks lovely and smooth to not catch yarn. I ordered the extra bobbins, so I have 6 bobbins in total, which will be enough for anything I want to do. The built in lazy kate down the side is really clever for keeping all the bobbins together.
I am not sure yet whether I will exclusively use the lazy kate for plying, as the singles are coming in at an unusual angle, or is it just not what I am used to and will be fine? Only time will tell. So far I have predominantly plyed from the side and it has been fine. Again, another lovely design element is that each bobbin has a centre pin which slots into the hole in the side of the wheel.
The flyer is another different feature that I am not used to. The front is magnetically attached, and just pulls off. It is so easy to change bobbins. The drive band even stays on when changing the bobbin as well, so there is a lot less fuss than I am used to. In fact, that would adequately describe how I find this wheel. Less fuss, more spin!
Now for the slightly negative bits.
It is a tiny bit light. I like a meaty wheel. I don't mean delicate - she doesn't feel like she will break - just not weighty. There are a good number of ratios on the wheel, but with the smaller ones, she doesn't feel quite comfortable doing it, so I don't use the fastest any more - bit too much vibration. Also, as Louet don't have time to develop this wheel further at the moment, there is no jumbo flyer. So for doing normal yarn, it is fine, but if you think you may want to do more than that, then there are no more bits for the time being. Now, I only spun "normal" yarn for years, and didn't need a jumbo flyer, but as we don't know when they will develop one, it is not totally future proofing at the moment. However, if you can afford two, and use this one as a main work horse, then I would still advise it.
Overall, it is the simplest, quietest, easiest wheel I have ever had the pleasure to spin on. I heartily recommend it, subject to the caveats above. She is called Grace.
On another note, I already have an Ashford drum carder, but how cute is the Hero drum carder by the same people. It is narrower than mine, but a girl can always make way for more. Just not at the moment....
Love and light
I have been asked to give a bit more detail of how I make batts. There are lots of videos on youtube that I think are very helpful, but everyone has their own method, so although I don't do youtube vids, here is a visual break down of how I make a batt.
First of all I get colour inspiration. Sometimes I use a colour app and play around until I have a combination I am happy with. This is the one used this time
Then I go to the colour store (where the fleece is kept) and choose as close to the colours as I can find.
This is what I came up with. They are all merino. (The colours in real life are a bit different - I never cease to be amazed at how different they look when photographed. These were in natural light as well!)
So next job is to weigh equal amounts of my colours. Sometimes I want a dominance of one colour or two over the others, in which case I just do a percentage calculation. With the colours above, it was equal, so I weighed 25g of each. I usually make 2 batts with the same ingredients, with a total weight of 100g.
Then I start making the batt. I lay out a layer of one colour and then a layer of another. In the combo above I chose to put the red and blue together in layers and the green and yellow in layers.
Then I take the next two colours and do the same. Sometimes I stripe them, but this time I layered. The reason I put a couple of layers on, is so that there is a base of wool to hold in the next funky stuff to be added.
Then I add whatever I fancy to make it a bit more interesting. I go to my goodies box. My daughter made this up for me originally. It contains cashmere nepps, sparkles by way of angelina, gold yarn and lurex, silk caps, odd bits of fibre, and my absolute favourite, sari silk fibre.
When using different fibres to add, especially sari silk fibre, the threads are short, so I always layer it between some fleece, so that it catches on properly.
I also add sparkles in a sandwich, as above, but add the silk directly to the big drum. The reason for this is that the silk threads are long and could tangle, so I wind the drum and as I am doing so, pull the silk cap fibres onto the drum. This is difficult to show in a picture, because you can barely see the silk.
And finally, the batt off the drum. As a lot of the interest is sandwiched, it is a bit hard to see what is going on, but if you could see all the colours and sparkles - well, it is lovely, even if I do say so myself.
So there you have it. A batt from first thoughts to finished. I love creating them. And then I adore spinning them.
Happy New Year by the way. May 2016 be an absolute cracker!