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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!     




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  1. How awesome!

    (out of curiosity, did it get that 4.5:1 ratio after all?)

  2. This is VERY exciting. I have been considering getting an Aura for several years since taking a class with Lexi Boeger, but I have this problem. My “vintage” Lendrum from the mid 1980′s has this enormous capacity bobbin and flyer–not like the ones they sell now– and for super chunky yarn it is pretty critical if you want to have more than 10 yards. This overdrive thing look amazing! A little on the spendy side, but it might put me over the edge to finally buying my second wheel ever. Nice work.

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