The Majacraft Blog The official blog of Majacraft

14Mar/140

Overdrives are shipping (and a video)

The first batch of Overdrives shipped yesterday! So long as we are not blown into the ocean by the terrible storm that is approaching for this weekend, I would suggest keeping an eye on your letterbox from Wednesday on next week. More Overdrives will go next week, the bobbins are backing up and everything is coming together nicely.

Suzy at Woolwench put together this short video of changing the Overdrive on an Aura. As you can see, it is pretty simple and anyone can take on this task with confidence.

 

Until next time

Andy

2Mar/143

The Overdrives are coming

It has been a bit of a mammoth effort to push the new Overdrive Heads into production but things are progressing well and nearly ready for shipping out to you. Here are the first ones in the final stages of building. Just so you know we are not eating donuts and drinking coffee!

Overdrive heads in progress

Overdrive heads in progress

 

Overdrive bobbins

Overdrive bobbins

Until next time

Andy

20Feb/142

Overdrive page is now live

I have just let the Overdrive Head page go live now.

Overdrive Head

Overdrive head with yarn

Overdrive head with yarn

 

Andrew

Filed under: Accessories, Wheels 2 Comments
19Feb/1411

Announcing the Overdrive Head

With great pleasure (and a little bit of pride!) I am delighted to announce the new Overdrive Head by Majacraft. This has been a collaborative project between Suzy Brown (Woolwench) and Majacraft over the last year and we have finally been able to finish it off.

Overdrive high capacity spinning head

Overdrive high capacity spinning head

 

The Overdrive Head will allow you to spin production volumes of yarn on the Aura, Rose or Suzie/Suzie Professional. It is based on the Aura double drive head but has a larger axle and much larger bobbin.

Overdrive high capacity spinning head

Overdrive high capacity spinning head

 

Andy

19Feb/142

Pat Old’s review of the Overdrive protoype

When the Overdrive head was in a prototype stage, we asked the best spinner we know - Pat Old - to test it and offer some feedback. This is her review of the prototype that was running on a Rose.

 

Mega test of the MAJACRAFT MEGA BOBBIN HEAD                                                                              5/11/2013                 Pat Old

 

Sometimes I have a hankering to spin a really thick “shaggy shepherd” type single, or ply a super duper coil, or a really thick multiple navajo yarn. And I want a BIG skein of yarn!

On a normal traditional bobbin head I just get started and the bobbin is full. With this system – Ha!

Key points of this big bobbin head.

  • Smooth take up using the differential double drive band system, even when the bobbin is nearly full.
  • The wheel remains stable even though the bobbin adds considerably to the weight , shifting  the centre of gravity of the system.
  • The pigtail “orifice” is ideal for a flyer designed to spin chunky yarn.
  • Ratios available 5.75:1;  7.25:1; 10.5:1
  • 2 take-up rate optionsI washed about 1.5 kgs of Romney fleece with the aim of spinning  shaggy shepherd type yarns. This I have spun before to knit up into chunky warm sleeveless jackets using very big knitting needles. I teased it out a little to make it more spinnable before placing it in a basket beside me.

Prototype Overdrive Head with a full bobbin on a Rose

  1. Sample 1 - plied shaggy shepherd yarn– Thick uneven shaggy single spiral plied with a fine boucle
    1. I set the wheel on a ratio of 7.25:1 with a moderate take-up(larger whorl option) , and treadled slowly as I normally do.  I spun a very thick and deliberately uneven single, sometimes with an even draft and sometimes drafting from the side to create a self coil effect and picking brown and white teased fleece at random. For this yarn I let any fleece tips and irregularities pop out and don’t smooth them down.
    2. I was able to fill the bobbin without changing the take-up except when the rough single  snagged along its path. The take-up is sensitive to any fibre catching in the pig-tail or at the base of the ceramic ring.
    3. With the bobbin full and the need to use it again for plying I made a lazy kate from a very large shoe box and a knitting needle and wound the single onto the largest capacity skein holder I have, the Majacraft free standing skeiner. As the guide on the skeiner was too constricting for the chunky single I fed it on from the side. I also wound elastic hair ties to the ends of the four prongs to increase the capacity. This was a super sized skein!
    4. I then set the skeiner at an angle on the floor beside my wheel and plied off it. My cone of fine boucle was set on the floor just in front of the treadles of the wheel.
    5. For plying I increased the ratio to 10.5:1 This arrangement increases plying speed. The take-up band stayed on the larger option and I tweaked the take-up knob until I was happy with the pull. I plied a spiral with enough tension on the fine single for the un-tensioned chunky single to wind around it. Plying presented no problems and once again after the initial adjustments I did not need to change the settings again.
    6. With the bobbin full I wound this off onto the skeiner, and plied what was left into another small skein.  (580gms + 160gms)
    7. Both skeins were then washed and “thwacked” a few times to full and set the twist. I don’t normally “thwack” my yarns but as this was rather too hairy and soft in places it did need light fulling to stabilise the loose fibres.              
      Total weight of the  2 skeins = 690gms   (580 +160gms)
                     Total length = 155 metres                                           (111+44 metres)
                     metres / kg  =   225  
Plying on the Overdrive Head

Plying on the Overdrive Head

  1. Sample 2 – Chunky auto-wrap. As this was not going to be plied I set the ratio at 5.75:1.     I started spinning well enough, letting the fine pink single wrap around the chunky yarn as I spun, but I soon aborted the idea as the fine single kept getting caught in the pig-tail system. Perhaps my yarn was just too fat for an auto-wrap. I tried tensioning the fine single by guiding it lightly with one finger, but the yarn was then too compressed. This sample yarn was aborted.
  2. Sample 3 – simple shaggy shepherd single, partially self coil .
    1. The challenge with this yarn is that it needs a soft twist to be successful as a yarn for knitting. Can the mega bobbin head deliver a soft enough twist? I set the ratio at the slowest option of 5.75:1with the fastest take-up I could set the wheel at, and treadled very slowly, spinning as I did for sample 1. This spun up very well with no problems.  I spun the remainder of the washed fleece, not quite filling the bobbin.
    2. As I was  concerned that there would be too much unresolved twist in the finished single I decided to “thwack” the yarn after washing. This worked, but to fully stabilise the twist I would have had to full the skein to a point where it would have become quite hard. The problem was too much twist.Weight of skein = 600gm                              Length of skein = 139 metres                              Metres / kg = 231Thoughts:The MEGA bobbin head is a great attachment!  It delivers!
  • It has a smooth take up using the differential double drive band system, even when the bobbin is nearly full.
  • The wheel remains stable even though the full bobbin adds considerably to the weight , shifting  the centre of gravity of the system.
  • The pigtail “orifice” is ideal for a flyer designed to spin chunky yarn.
  • It easily coped with a skein of 600gms+.Possible improvements?
  • I would have liked to have had the option of an extra  ratio of about 4.5:1. My 3rd sample yarn (thick single) has too much twist, even though I used the fastest take-up option and I treadled veryslowly. An extra slow ratio would also enable more finger manipulation before take-up, which would be very helpful when spinning  other yarns where there are a lot of things happening at one time in the construction.
  • An issue I had was that my thin auto-wrap yarn constantly got caught up in the pig tail system.  Would a slightly more acute angle at the end resolve this? Or was I just pushing the boundaries of practicality a bit too far? I didn’t use the back centre Z guide at all as my yarns were too thick and the Z guide too constricting. Perhaps that would have resolved the issue and I was expecting too much!Thanks, Andy and Glynis, for giving me the opportunity to try this great machine!     

 

 

 

Filed under: Accessories, Wheels 2 Comments
21Aug/132

The Majacraft blending board

We now produce a blending board! Yay!

Blending board with keel

Blending board with keel

 

The standard information you will firstly be interested in is the cloth. We have used 72 TPI cloth that measures 210mm (8.3") wide by 300mm long (11.8"). The kit comes with a blending board - of course! It has a removable keel, a brush and a pair of dowels for removing your rolags.

Blending board content

Blending board content

 

We have included a nice little touch of adding a Majacraft badge to the board. It also has a very nice metal handle that is comfortable to use and attractive. The thing I am most excited about is the way we have attached the cloth. Using special edges, we have a really tidy way of securing the cloth to the board that hides any rough cloth edges or frayed bits that you may have noticed on blending boards. It really does look great and I am very proud of this little trick we have come up.

Blending board detail

Blending board detail

 

There are two free tutorials that you can download from the Resources area of the web site (these are relevant no matter what blending board you use so you are most welcome to enjoy these). I (Andy) wrote one and we were very lucky to have Woolwench write the second about making rolags. She has same very good information and extra special tips to help make even better rolags.

Blending board page

 

pdf_icon Using the blending board

pdf_icon Making rolags on the blending board

Until next time

Andy

Filed under: Accessories, Fibre 2 Comments
22Jun/103

Hackle-berry Finn

We now make hackles!

After quite a few requests for them we have found some space to build them. I am really pleased with how they turned out. We have again used Baz's great idea of bonding the pins into the hackle base using resin - it makes all the pins perfectly straight and aligned. They have an excellent cover to go over the pins so nothing gets pricked unnecessarily :-) . I am also very pleased with the new clamps we have made for the hackle. Using our 'Selection of Cleverness' again, we did things like drill the holes as slight angles so the hackle is held more firmly onto tables. The clamp block is covered with rubber that helps hold the hackle tighter while protecting your table. The hackle has tiny rubber feet for the same reason.

Double Row Hackle Set

Double Row Hackle Set

You might also notice the steps at the end of the hackle. They have been provided as a place to clamp the hackle with 'F' clamps if you prefer these to the Majacraft ones. As a nice little finishing touch, we laser engraved Majacraft on to the hackle base.

You can find the page on the main part of the web site here.

Until next time


Andy

Filed under: Accessories 3 Comments
24Mar/101

Here comes a blogtastic day

After working hard out in the workshop for the last ... forever, I am back in the computer seat and am planning on posting lots of content today. Rob is out taking photos so keep your eyes open for more Majacraft goodies.

The first thing I have been wanting to share with you is the evolution of our flyers. For a long time we have been aware that the shape of the flyers affect the spinning in a considerable way. A flat or square flyer spinning at high speed creates a deal of wind turbulence and this requires work on the part of the spinner. To reduce the work required, we have changed the shape of the flyer bar to be more aerodynamically efficient and are very happy with the results. In our testing, the turbulence produced from one of our new flyers is much lower than anything we have come across. We think this innovation is going to be great if you are spinning fine or fast over a long periods.

Majacraft aerodynamic flyer

Majacraft aerodynamic flyer

1Dec/090

Bobbins, bobbins, bobbins

Hi there,

I have been on bobbin duty today turning lace and jumbo bobbins. Since working at Majacraft I have had to learn wood turning which has been a fun and valuable skill. I had done a bit of metal turning both at school and at an engineers in my 20's (Talon Engineering in the UK - the factory was through the fence from Westland Helicopters so was a fun place to work for someone who liked aircraft and helicopters).

Anyway, back to the story... I think our fibreglass and wood bobbins are really neat and as I was working I was thinking about their history. Rob (my brother) and I had the opportunity to go to the Bendigo Show in Australia a couple of years back now which was our first international trip for Majacraft. We met Wendy Dennis (Wendy Dennis-Handspinning Wool)and Philip and Jenny Dunn (from Virginia Farm Woolworks)which was a great experience. We talked with the Dunn's about our bobbins while there which gave us some new ideas to improve them.While on the train from Bendigo down to Adelaide, Rob and I worked out the design and how to build the new fibreglass bobbins on scraps of paper.

So if you have some of our wooden bobbins, you now know that the idea for them was born in a train on a sunny day in Australia!

Andy

Filed under: Accessories No Comments
30Nov/092

The original Free Standing Skeiner

I thought you may have been interested in seeing some of the first prototypes of the wheels and tools we now build. While we do not have the prototypes for everything still (somehow they seem to get lost or canabilised), there are still quite a few in storage. I thought this one was "DONE" but when I put it to the others, they were not so keen on the design of the feet. It is still possible to see the evolution of where the skeiner ended up though. If you are interested in the wood, it is called 'Pacific Hardwood' which is actually resin injected pine. We experimented with Pacific Hardwood for quite a while as it had some great properties.

Prototype Free Standing Skeiner

Prototype Free Standing Skeiner

I have spotted another couple of prototype wheels about so if you are interested, drop in some feedback and I will dig out the camera again.

Andy

Filed under: Accessories 2 Comments