personal blog

my new spinning wheel
Chris and I visited my family in Pittsburgh this weekend with two ulterior motives: to build a spinning wheel and to find a TV to watch the Superbowl on. (OK, so we probably could have found a TV even if we stayed in Ithaca).

My dad had figured out a flywheel before we got there, and the night we arrived he was putting on the treadle. Here I am testing it out. Watch it go! Hear it squeak!
testing the treadle

Have I mentioned that I only used a wheel once before? That was at Rock Day, when I had just acquired a drop spindle, and a friendly spinner let me give her Louet wheel a try. I couldn't work the treadle and draft the wool at the same time, so she turned the wheel slowly with her hands. So when the wheel was ready to try out on Sunday (just after the STEELERS WON THE SUPERBOWL WOOOO GO STEELERS) I decided to try it out with kite string instead of wool - if the wheel worked, it would twist and wind the kite string into a snarled mass. We sanded all the parts, added a few hooks, and tried it out:
spinning assembly with string on it

It worked! I held the string with one hand and braked the flyer with my other hand. We used a bobbin drive, since it seems to work for Louet. Whenever we came to a question about the design, we just asked ourselves, "What Would Louet Do?". Of course, we also worked in a few things that Louet would never do, like the thumbtacks, the twist-ties, the elastic waistband, the PVC pipe, and so on. At the end of the day, though (really, the wee hours of the next day) I was able to spin some yarn! For fun, I included some Pete fuzz along with the wool - you can see it as the white slubs.
the finished spinning wheelthe first yarn I made

The dog fur yarn came out just like I had read it would - soft, fuzzy, like angora. (Hey, Pete's good for something after all! :) The challenge was that it doesn't stick together very well, so it was hard to control. Next time I will definitely card it together with the wool. (Did I mention my carders finally arrived in the mail?)

For my next spinning adventures, I want to try some other unusual fibers. I was thinking of fluffing up some cotton balls to try spinning cotton, or even try spinning some of that polyester fluff I use for stuffed animals. If any spinners are reading this, I'm curious: what household objects have you tried turning into yarn? Did you have any success?