The Majacraft Blog The official blog of Majacraft

10Jan/160

Michele Peddie: Tutor Profile!

Majacraft Camp is just around the corner, with just on four weeks to go till we all gather for much fiber fun! Preparations are well under way and I know Glynis has been super busy making up goodie bags, assembling equipment, and arranging important things like food, and coffee. And of course we have such a fantastic range of workshops to look forward to! In a previous blogpost we shared some information about the amazing Pat Old, who will be teaching some flax weaving at Camp, and this week we would like to introduce Michele Peddie, a VERY talented fiber artist, who will be guiding us thorugh the Journal making process that runs alongside the entire weekend. The idea of the journal is that we will be creating our own record of the weekend, this can include class notes, fiber and yarn samples, inspirations and visual journalling.. in fact it can be whatever you want to record of the weekend, all bound together in a specially made set of wooden covers which we will also decorate during the weekend!  We will be supported, inspired, and guided by Michele throughout this process.

Michele Peddie is a textile designer, fibre artist and graphic designer by trade. Having returned to university as a mature student to complete a Bachelor of Design - Textiles, she is now keen to impart and share some of that knowledge with fellow fibreholics. Michelle explains her vision for the Majacraft Camp Journal as follows:

"The journal is about how to collect your ideas, notes and experiments and record them in a visual journal, rather than scrapbooking which can be very neat and tidy with photos etc. My visual diaries tend to get stuffed with lots of 'things' in the creation process.  Instead of looking at an already created yarn and then trying to replicate it, I am hoping, along with Suzy, to show you a fresh way of coming up with ideas for colour and texture for your yarns and how to record these ideas so that they can be used over the weekend and in the future. This will be a fun exercise and I will be there to help throughout the weekend."

Michele shared this image with us, as an example of how she collects inspiration and ideas to add to her visual journal:

Here are some examples of Michelle's work to further inspire you!

We are sure you will enjoy Michele's passion and enthusiasm for the art of fibre, and the creation of your Majacraft Camp 2016 Journal!

 

 

 

 

2Dec/150

Tarndie

This time we would like to share a special place with you, a place called 'Tarndie',  somewhere all us fiber fanatics would enjoy visiting! Firstly we would like to congratulate them on their 175 years and six generations of the Dennis family, farming in this wonderful part of South West Victoria (Australia). This is how awesome it is, these are the people who, in the 1880's, developed the Polwarth breed of sheep! Australias first unique sheep breed and one of the most desired wool breeds for handspinners today. They achieved this by crossing Saxon Merino sheep from Tasmania, with Victorian Lincoln sheep. They then continued to breed with Merino until they reached a stabilised breed type that we now know as Polwarth. Their sheep are coated, and their top quality fleeces can reach a staple length of 13cm – 17cm, just fantastic for handspinners!

The homestead itself is beautiful, properly named Tarndwarncoort, it is a beautiful old bluestone heritage house which is currently used as a bed and breakfast (see we really  CAN all go there too!).

While visiting there you can see the flock they keep, and you can also purchase wool from the Tarndie onsite shop. They process their fleeces into yarns and combed top,  Glynis visited Tarndie herself when she took a group over to Australia on a fiber adventure, and she says their fiber is top quality, it is now on my wishlist!

Check out some photos from their website (which you really should take a look around too!)

And their products..

It is wonderful to see such a fantastic heritage in the sheep farming industry, one that has been instrumental in the development of breed and fiber and supporting handspinners for generations. If you can get there at all for a visit, annual shearing is in March and this would be an exciting time to be there, and of course there is the shop..  with supplies for spinning, knitting, weaving, felting, spinning wheels (including Majacraft!) looms and carders.. and anything to promote wool!

Till next time,

Suzy

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23Nov/150

Featuring: Pat Old

Since we have a little waiting to do before we can go and enjoy Majacraft Camp 2016, we thought it might be of interest to feature our tutors, so all those now signed up can get a little taste of what is to come at camp! We are excited about the classes!

To kick off we would like to share some of the amazing work of Pat Old.  We have the great pleasure of including Pat's class in our program for Camp, in this class we will be creating a 'Koha Kete' , which is a small basket made from our native flax, phormium tenax.  This will be a wonderful opportunity to try flax weaving and benefit from Pats deep knowledge of this traditional New Zealand craft.

Glynis was able to attend the final exhibition of the students in the 2015 Raranga class at  Te Wananga o Aotearoa where Pats work is included:

Pat's work in this exhibition was stunning!

We are very much looking forward to Pats class at camp, she is a fantastic teacher with an incredible knowledge of all things fiber related. It is a real treat to be able to attend a class with Pat and have this opportunity to learn about one of our traditional New Zealand handcrafts!


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31Oct/155

Custom Wheels? Yes!

This week we were able to send out a gorgeous batch of customised wheels, just check these out, we love them!

One of the joys of being a small company hand crafting our products, is that it gives us a lot of freedom to really personalise what we do to suit each customer. We don't have a giant production line using pre-set machinery that can only build one thing with no variation. We don't have an unchangeable system that churns out mass produced items. We start with our hands and our materials, and we craft each wheel, each carder, each set of combs individually, and very often to order because we also do not have a giant storeroom full of pre-made stock to flick out as orders come in, The beauty of this is, not only do our customers receive an item that has been made just for them, with our own hands, but we can also pause during the process and make changes to the wheel, add a personal touch on request that will give the new owner of this wheel a unique piece of equipment that belongs to THEM, that fits their taste and personality, a one of a kind wheel for a one of a kind customer!

We can do this in a variety of ways. We can colour them differently as you can see in the picture above, and there are so many colours to choose from :) Check out this gorgeous purple!

And then of course there is the 'tattoo' we can add to the wheels, laser etched to your specifications, this really is the fun part! We have had many requests for wheel designs and it is always a pleasure to send these out to excited customers, it is such a great way to truly connect with a wheel, a visual treat each time you look at it and work with it. We only ever make one of each of these, so if you send us your design, you can be sure no one else will ever get 'your' wheel, it is just for you exclusively! Take a look at some of the unique wheels we have created in the past..

We can really get a lot of detail into these designs:

and we can add design touches on more than just the drive wheel too:

and one more example of where you can add design here with my (Suzy's) 'One Wheel' which Andrew covered in Elvish script for me :)

Are you feeling inspired? Just email us at support@majacraft.co.nz and share your dream wheel wishes with us! We can talk about design and pricing, and together we can help make your ideas come to life with a spinning wheel you will love to use! If you already have a Majacraft wheel that you love, but want something personalised for you, we can customise individual parts for you to swap around as you like! Contact us for pricing and possibilities :) Your ideas and designs are an inspiration to us!

4Oct/152

The Third and Final Circle Weave Along Tutorial!

And here we are! Thank you so much to everyone who has joined in with us on this fun project, we have LOVED seeing your beautiful weaving and knitting and have very much enjoyed the individual creative approaches you have each taken with this project. I am personally very excited to see the variety and variations on the theme and design as you have created and made it your own!  Now we know that not everyone has kept up with the weekly activity, but this is just fine, its like stretching our christmas over a longer period of time, and we hope to see people continue to post their finished projects and progress photos on the Circle Weave CWAL event page! https://www.facebook.com/events/548102112007017/

This week we just have the video to share, the final steps are fairly straight forward, involving joining the second woven circle to the knitted length of scarf and then adding the tassels. I hope you will enjoy this stage and the video!

Happy CWAL-ing!

Suzy

 

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27Sep/153

Circle Weave Along Tutorial Part 2!

Our Circle Weave Along project has been running for a week now! It has been super fun seeing people starting to post their progress photos on the Event page, here are a few really neat ones:

Simone Broersma is using some beautiful colours and a bulky yarn for the warp, this is going to look lovely!

 

Kate Winkler has made a wonderful theme of 'warm' and 'cold' colours for each end of the scarf:

 

Jacquie Chalmers has used a lovely spiral technique to make swirls for her scarf ends:

I am looking forward to seeing what the next week will bring! Here is part two of the tutorial, again we have the video plus the written tutorial, they really go together :) There is plenty of scope for your own creative flair to shine in this project

Here is the download of the written tutorial for Part 2 (click the image)

 

And here is the video to go with it. I hope you enjoy it!

Suzy

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20Sep/151

Circle Weave Along #1

This week is the start of the first of what we hope will become regular events, an online 'Along'. Wondering what that is? Well for this 'Along' we are going to Circle Weave a scarf! We would like to invite you to join us and follow along to make your own!

It works like this:

Over the next three weeks we will use the Facebook Events page as our home base for the Weave Along project. The three weeks will look like this:

Week 1. Weaving the circles

Week 2: Attaching the first circle and knitting and or crocheting the scarf centre length

Week 3: Attaching the second circle, finishing (weaving in ends) and creating the tassles

Each week there will be a new Tutorial for that part of the project, the tutorial will include both a video and a downloadable set of instructions to go with it. I will also be available on the Event page on Facebook to answer any questions and help out as needed.

I hope you will also post your progress photos on the Event page!

The Scarf is a design I came up with specifically for this Weave Along, I wanted to share something that anyone could have a go at, and it covers the basics of warping and weaving in plain weave. I hope we can encourage some people to get started for the first time with their weaving! If you are a more advanced weaver you are very welcome to add your own design into this project, you might want to add embellishments, different weave patterns in the circles, and play around with textures. The same goes for knitters! I have made this very simple but please view it as a base, if you wish to add to the design in any way this is NOT a pattern that must be followed, rather it is a GUIDE from which you can grow your own unique scarf! With all this in mind, plus the possibility that we will all bring different yarns to the project, I have deliberately left it simple and un-patternlike, I will be providing you with techniques and measurements, as well as suggestions for things like, how to deal with different yarn sizes within the project.

Today I am posting the first Tutorial! Please follow the link to pick up your free download of instruction, it includes a warping pattern and information about materials and weaving your circle and is designed to go along with the video (below), these two things are integral to each other. please take the time to read over the document first and then watch the video.

Download the written part of the Tutorial by clicking on the cover:

Watch the Tutorial Video:


For more information and warping patterns don't forget there is also the Warp Speed booklet that Andrew and I created, there are plenty more patterns in there as well as a template for making your own mid size circles. Just in case you are inspired to do some more after this project is completed!

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24Aug/155

Choosing the Right Carding Cloth

For the Majacraft Fusion Engine Drum Carder 

Majacraft now has in stock both the 72tpi and the 128tpi carding cloth for the amazing new Fusion Engine Drum carder. This raises a few questions! The first, and most important one is, ‘which cloth doth suit me best?’ So we thought it might be useful to create a guide to help you with that decision. What follows is really a full tutorial about carding, with extra info and tips for getting the results you want from the cloth you choose. For a quick guide, scroll down to the two flowcharts to check which carding cloth works best with the fibres you plan to card!

A while ago I made a review of the carder, and also a video  to show some of the amazing things that are possible with it, and highlight some of the unique ways this carder is different from others currently on the market.

That video was made entirely on the 72TPI carder, and in it I showed how I made both a smooth blended batt and a textured art batt.  When I have time I will make a similar one with the 128TPI cloth! In the meantime however, I wanted to share some information that might make it easier to decide which carding cloth you want to start out with. Of course the upside is that the drums are interchangeable so you can also be confident that you are not going to be stuck with the ‘wrong’ carding cloth if your carding needs change in a year or two..

So here’s the thing, the important thing. Your carding cloth just needs to be matched up with the kind of fibre you are ‘mostly’ going to be carding. You can make a smooth batt or a textured batt on pretty much any carder, so long as you have a cloth that is appropriate to the fibre you are using. Generally speaking this means that if you have coarse fibre you need a coarse cloth, for example most of your carding is going to be Lincoln, or Leicester, then you would want to consider a coarse cloth in the 45-52TPI range. If the majority of your fibre is fine, such as Merino, Alpaca, or Cormo, then you need to look for a carding cloth in the ‘fine’ range, 92TPI and over. Majacraft is providing a very versatile 72TPI cloth that works great on most fibres, and for those wishing to focus on the finer fibres as the majority of their carding, the 128TPI cloth is wonderful!

This is how it works, ‘TPI’  stands for ‘Tines Per Inch’ and refers to the density of tines on the carding cloth. When you have a low TPI count, it means there is plenty of room between the tines to accommodate thicker fibres. A high TPI count gives you closer packed tines that are more efficient for carding fine fibres. If you were to ever try carding a fine fibre on a coarse carder you would quickly see that nepps begin to form as the fibres are at greater risk of breakage due to the coarser tines. If you try to card a very coarse fibre on a fine cloth you will have difficulty cranking the handle as the finer tines try to hang on to the larger fibres but are unable to penetrate them to open them up. And this is what a carder does, what it is made for, taking your washed locks and opening them up and smoothing them out, giving you an even blend of draft-able fibres ready to spin.

One way to match up your cloth with your fibre is by paying attention to the micron counts (approximate) of your fleece. For our purposes, lets consider that anything between 18-24 micron is ‘fine’, that 24-32 Micron fibers are ‘medium’ and 33+ micron fibers are ‘coarse’.

Now its time to consider your requirements!

You may want to ‘mostly’ make smooth and well blended batts, and you may want to do this with your ready supply of medium micron Corriedale. In this case the Fusion Engine carder with a 72tpi cloth is going to be great! It will work wonderfully with medium fibres (such as Corriedale, BFL, Suffolk, Perendale etc), it will also handle the medium to coarse fibres well, so long as you are a little careful about their preparation before feeding them into the carder by making sure they are pre-opened. You do that by flicking the ends open with your flick carder (that comes with your drum carder) and hand-picking them to pull thick locks apart. So long as you are feeding in small amounts at a time you should be happy with the result you get using the 72TPI cloth with  most coarser fibres, and for your medium micron fibres the 72TPI will do a fantastic job of making beautiful blended batts.

You can also make textured art batts on this same 72 TPI carder. I will come back to this soon with some tips and tricks to keep the texture in your fibre despite putting it through a drum carder!

If you work mostly with fine fibres, you would definitely be wanting to look at the finer cloth, and the 128 TPI cloth that Majacraft supplies for the Fusion Engine is excellent for making thoroughly blended smooth batts with fine fibres such as Merino, Cormo, fine Alpaca, Shetland, Polwarth etc. You can be confident that your fibres will not be damaged when they are well prepared and gently carded on the Fusion Engine with the 128 cloth.

Here are a couple of charts that you might find useful when making your carding cloth choices! You can view them here or click the links to view them full size. The first is about making smooth blended batts on your drum carder with both kinds of cloth, and the second about Textured art batts. Click the image for a closer look and feel free to download and print if you would like to keep these as a reference. For troubleshooting please scroll to the end of the page!

In these charts you can see (hopefully) the steps for carding both a smooth and a textured batt, using either cloth. Just keep in mind that the 128tpi cloth is not the one you want to choose if you are planning on making mostly textured art batts, even if you have a lot of fine fibre to put in them. The job of the carder is primarily to open out and smooth the fibres you feed in, and the 128TPI does that very efficiently! There are ways to ‘trick’ the carder to leave some texture in, but if you are wanting to make more textured than smooth batts I would strongly suggest you choose the 72TPI cloth as it is more versatile in handling a range of fibres, you then only need to alter the ways you need to prepare and feed in fibre to get different kinds of batts from it. (As shown in the video above).

The 128TPI is really most suited to making well blended batts with fine fibres, which it does very efficiently, it is also fantastic for colour blending as the number of passes you need to make to get a good blend is less than on any lower ratio carders. If you want to keep colour variation as a feature of your batt you simply pre-card your individual colours and then put them together into your final batt for one pass, and you will get some distinct colours.

What follows is a photo series to give you some idea of the efficiency of this machine with the 128TPI cloth, and mixed fine fibres including some previously uncarded locks,  images taken during a colour blending session.

I started with a mix of kid mohair, silk, Polwarth hogget (young sheep) and some Angelina:

I fed on fairly thin layers, alternating the fibre type, to enhance the blending:

This is the result of the first pass, you can still see the individual fibres and colours, but it is all blended into an easy to draft from batt. You can still see defined curl and crimp texture too. If you spun this now it would give you a wonderful,  gently textured yarn.

The second pass yielded this result, smoother and with more blending visible. This would give you a smoother yarn with some distinct colour variations:

The third pass gave me this, and you can now see the colour getting more blended, the yarn from this will be a mostly evenly coloured with still some interesting colour variations:

And the fourth pass produces this wonderfully smoothly fluffy (remember the Mohair?!) pink batt: This will create a fairly evenly pink yarn and I plan to spin it quite fine.

So with this 128TPI cloth I created the batt I wanted from my mix of fine fibres, it is light, fluffy, has some sheen from the silk and mohair along with some bounce from the Polwarth. Four passes was all I needed for this!

Now to try the pre-carded roving and commercial top for a colour only blend! Here are my results:

One pass in which I layers the three colours (brown, grey, and white) in thin layers:

The white streaks are tencel which I 'painted' onto the main drum directly because I wanted blocks of bling in the batt. You do this by 'stroking' the fiber against the tines as you are cranking it.

The second pass gave me a more blended colour:

and the third and final pass gave me a very homogenous blend, in which the brown tone really warm up the grey, the white lightens it, while as a whole  it looks more like a single colour with some rich depth to it. If you wanted to blend it even further it would not harm the fibres on this 128TPI cloth to continue for another two or even three passes, the only consideration is not to crank it too quickly, especially with the 8-1 ratio of the Fusion Engine, you don't need to as all the gears do the work for you!

Troubleshooting:

Even if you have the right carding cloth for your fibre, you may still have the occasional carding problem. Here are a few tips that might help.

If  you are finding the nepps are still forming in your batt there are several reasons this could happen, even when your cloth and fibre are matched well. Nepps are formed by short pieces of fibre, either from short cuts from the shearing, or from broken fibres caused during carding. To remedy this you can: check that you have shaken out the fibre to remove short cuts, you will also see these as you open up your locks and pick through your fibre supply before you feed it into the carder. Make sure they are all out.

You should also check the strength of your fleece, 'tippy' fleeces, ones that have delicate tips (usually due to weathering) should have tips removed, you can either do that by cutting off the tips with scissors, or pulling your staple holding the tip in one hand and the cut end in the other, breakable tips will come off with a bit of a tug.

Another thing that can cause nepps, especially in very fine fleeces, is residue lanolin in the fleece, if there is still some greasiness in the fibre it will also snag it more and cause breaks which lead to nepps, so make sure your fleece is well washed.

If your colours and fibres are not blending as quickly as you would like, or you are finding large patches of colour that you wanted spread through the batt, you can try splitting your batt into smaller pieces for your subsequent passes, try 6 strips instead of three, and spread them the width of the feedtray to create really thin layers.

If you are hearing the tines meshing while you are carding you can make adjustments to the licker in position to find the optimal setting for your carding needs. Do not be scared to move this around, it is useful to change the distance between the licker in and the main drum to get different kinds of batts. In general you want it as close as possible to the main drum without the tines touching. If you want to create more textured batts with a bit less blending, you can move the licker in further away from the main drum to allow more fiber to transfer to the drum at once, reducing the 'carding' action - this is great for art batts.  You can see how to make this adjustment on our video HERE.

 

 

We hope you have gained some useful information about which carding cloth will most suit your fibre and batt making needs! But as always, please feel free to contact us for more information about the carders, the accessories, and delivery times, and contact me (Suzy)  directly if you need any help using your carder or in deciding which cloth you need! (suzy@woolwench.com)


 

 

 

 

 

8Aug/154

Majacraft Tutorial: Making Tweedie Yarn

Hi Everyone! This week I wanted to share a project with you that I have been having fun with recently! If you have been following our Facebook page you will have seen that I am currently playing with the new 128tpi cloth drum on my Fusion Engine Carder (its so great with my fine fibres!). If you are also feeling inclined to do a bit of carding and spin along with me, I have created a mini tutorial for you right here! We are going to make a Textured Tweed style yarn, and I think you will enjoy how easy and fun this is to make.

The first step is to choose the right fibers. Remember, preparation is everything! Choose your main fibre, I selected a dark colour (Charcoal)  because I wanted something contrasting in my final yarn, but you can make this any colour you like, it will be the primary colour of your yarn.

For the main fibre, select one with a medium to long staple length such as Corriedale, BFL, or even Merino is just fine for this, the important part is that the main fibre is much longer in staple length than your 'texture' fibre. Mine is a NZHalfbred blend with a staple length of about 7-8cm.

For your textured  fibre, select one that is very very short, such as Yak, Cashmere, neppy Camel down,  silk noil, or you could even save up and use the waste from your carding and combing! I used some beautiful soft but very neppy ultrafine Merino. You can see the difference in staple length in the photo, in fact the pale coloured fibre almost has no staples at all:

You will need more of your base colour fibre than of the short texture fibre. Your fibre proportions are entirely up to you however,  depending on the amount of tweedy texture you want in your fiber. You will see in your batt as you add the textured fibre if you are getting the effect and quantities you want. Because now is the time to card it together!

Carding and Blending
You will be blending this at least two times. For the first run through the carder start by puting a thin layer of your base colour on the drum first. Then you can start adding more fibre, I like to lay some of the short fibre on top of the longer and run them through the licker and onto the drum together, but you might like to add them in separately.

You will start to see the effect very quickly as you card and your short fibres start to feed onto the drum:

 

When you have filled the drum as much as you want to and have achieved approximately the proportion of texture to base colour that you like, you can go ahead and remove the batt, split it into four lengths, and recard these, spreading them across the width of the feedtray to enhance the blending. You will see on the second pass that your short fibers are spreading through the batt.

If you are using one of our Fusion Engine Drum carders, with the very efficient carding ratio of 8-1, you are likely to find that just two passes is enough to get the tweedy effect you want. If you overcard this your little clumps of fibre and noils will get broken down too much and you are likely to lose some of the texture and contrast, so stop at the point where you feel you have a good distruction of texture versus base fibre, on some carders this may take three or four passes to get the effect you want. I liked this effect in my finished batt so I stopped at two passes:

And now we can spin the yarn! The idea with a tweed style yarn is that it should be light and textured, you can certainly spin this longdraw if you like, or you might like to spin it as I do simply by splitting the batts into strips and spinning it with a light forward draw in which I do not smooth the yarn down as I spin.

You will see you little clumps of texture fibre coming through as you draft, caught into the longer base fibres. Try not to smooth these down as you spin them in, they will get trapped into the twist and when we 'finish' the yarn will be quite stable.

I spun my yarn on my Little Gem, and created it as a simple balanced two ply, splitting my batt in half and spinning onto two bobbins. Here is how it looked freshly plied and on the bobbin:

The next step is very important!

Finishing and setting the yarn. This is particularly important for this yarn, because it not only sets the twist but it also fulls the yarn slightly, and this in turn helps to trap those short fibers into the final yarn, reducing the chance of them simply pilling up and pulling out. In this step you need to skein up your yarn, tie it well in four places, then immerse it into some hot water with a little wool soap. Let it sit five minutes. At this point I will give the yarn a little agitation, rough it up in the water a bit! And then take it out of the hot water and put it directly into cold water, swirl it around a bit more. Repeat this step several times. You should be able to 'feel' the fibre change its character a little and not only bloom but also become more (and this is the only word I can come up with to describe this) combined as the fibres start to grab onto each other.  Next press out the excess water. Once you have done that, and this is something I do not do to all my yarns but it works very well on this one, 'thwack' it against a hard surface. It feels mean and a little crazy, but its ok! It works to finish off that fulling process, it fluffs up your yarn somewhat, and remember this is a desirable character of tweed style yarns, and it further integrates your nepps and short fibers into the structure of the yarn.

This is how my finished yarn turned out: (to see them closer click the pic)


And here is another one I made using the same technique and the same texture yarn, only this time my base fibre was a soft grey NZ Arapawa.
And just in case you are wondering, this is how they look when they are knitted up!

I really love this effect, it can be subtle and create a gentle texture and colour variation in your yarn, or you can do this with many different colour and texture combinations to get more extreme yarns with pops of mega-textures. I love how easy it was to prepare the fibre for this yarn and the simple spinning that I enjoy when I want to just relax. For some other variations you could try plying this as a four ply cable yarn, or add an auto-wrap, or even coil your single instead of ply it! There are many possibilities for using this particular fibre prep, and  I hope you enjoy experimenting with this yarn too!

 

Till next time, happy spinning!
Suzy (WoolWench)

To create this yarn I used: the Fusion Engine Drum Carder with a 128tpi cloth drum, the Little Gem spinning wheel set on the medium size pulley and the standard delta flyer, and a mix of longer staple and very short staple fibres.


2Aug/151

All the Wheels!

The simple art of adding twist to fibers. Spinning. It doesnt seem too hard does it?! And yet for most of us, it is a continual learning curve, once started it seems our discovering is never 'finished'. For which I am very thankful! It amazes me that after all this time as a spinner I still find there is so much yet to learn and new things to find out. No wonder we are all hooked! Ours is a craft that continues to allow us to push boundaries, to practice traditions, and to combine a love of colour with a love of texture and play with the wonderful fibers that are available to us today.

And then there are the wheels.

The right wheel allows us to create the yarn we want. It becomes an extension of ourselves, the instrument with which we are so familiar we can almost instinctively create what we have in our heads. In fact the wheel becomes almost invisible in the process, if it is the right wheel,  you do not need to fight it, you don't need to pay it extra attention and it lets you you focus soley on the process of your creation, supporting your requirements by offering you ease of use and adjustment capabilities that let you stretch your own boundaries as you learn and grow as a spinner.  This is precisely why I have stuck with Majacraft tools for years now, because I know I can count on them to respond to my style of usage and give me the freedom to get the results I have already imagined in my head.

There are so many spinning wheels choose from though! It can be very daunting to a beginner spinner: single or double treadle? Scotch or Irish tension, or Double Drive? What size bobbins, and what on earth are 'ratios' anyway?!

And for the more advanced spinner, often moving from one wheel to another as their spinning needs change, decisions  come down to what kind of yarn they want to spin, bobbin capacity requirements, even just that a wheel is 'pretty' can be enough reason to add to the wheel collection :)  But again, it always takes some research into what wheels are available, and matching that up with what you anticipate you will most likely want to spin the most of. A big consideration in choosing a new wheel is being able to find one that will grow with you and not restrict your spinning to just one style as you expand your interests and skills.

Of course, if you are like me, you will not know exactly what you will always want to spin in advance, OR you will know that actually, you want to be able to spin absolutely anything! One solution to this is to have multiple wheels, but another is to have one wheel with multiple accessories that allow you to specialise in more than one spinning style. Majacraft offers us, as spinners, this second option beautifully.

We can go from this lace spinning set up:

to this art yarn or production spinning on the Overdrive:

and everything in between, and all on the one wheel!

All the important parts like flyers, bobbins, and different pulley sizes, are interchangeable between most of the Majacraft Wheels.

I have my One Wheel, the Aura, which suits my spinning style perfectly. I can spin anything on it. I use my Overdrive for giant yarns in large quantities, also for spinning multiple batts in one session. I have fit 5 batts on one bobbin with barely a pause between, and it removes any possibility of not quite having enough room on my bobbin to finish plying those last ten yards of single from a one off batt.

I can also spin fine on this self same wheel, using the lace bobbin and flyer. As an example of the really stunning possibilities check out the wonderful lace spinning of Evanita Montalvo, spun on her Aura using the Aura Lace Kit with the Flyer, Lace Bobbin, and lace whorl/pulley.

This is one of the greatest strengths of Majacraft spinning wheels, they have so many accessories and interchangeable parts that one wheel is often all you need even when your spinning requirements change (which of course they do over time).

So here is my big tip if you are wondering which wheel you should buy. Think about your current spinning needs, rather than trying to predict what you will be spinning in two years time.

Do you want to spin a LOT of lace weight and fine yarns? But you think you might want to do an occasional bulky yarn? You could consider a Rose, which will spin wonderful fine traditional yarns out of the box. You can add a laceweight flyer head to that for your big projects and save yourself some treadling with the high ratios it offers you. And later you can even add the Wild Flyer and Jumbo bobbins for your bigger yarns. Then if you really get extreme one day, most Rose wheels will also fit the amazing Overdrive head with its 32oz bobbins! All this on one wheel :)

If you are primarily interested in big yarns, art yarns, and experimental spinning, you might choose the Aura, with its fine adjustments and double drive, it gives you a huge range of spinning possibilities on any kind of yarn. It comes standard with the Jumbo bobbins and has the amazing and unique 'pigtail' orifice that keeps your yarn steady while still being totally bypassable when necessary. But you can spin traditional yarn on this wheel too! It gives you a total set and forget adjustment because the double drive system maintains the same flyer-bobbin ratio from start to finish, unlike other tension systems that require multiple adjustments as your bobbin fills. Add a Lace kit for fine and an Overdrive for giant, keep the Jumbo bobbins for your 'everyday' spinning.

If you need a travel wheel then the Little Gem (my other baby) is perfect, because it will also fit your lace bobbins and flyer as well as your jumbo and wild flyer combinations! It comes with the standard bobbins too so you have a full range even with your travel wheel. It could also be your only wheel and you could still spin anything with the right accessories.

So when it comes to choosing your wheel - plan for the short term. You know what you want to spin now, and be confident that with a Majacraft wheel, the wide range of  interchangeable accessories and extra spinning heads will allow you to expand your  future spinning without needing to buy an entire new wheel.

You can check out the wheels and accessories on the website right here: http://www.majacraft.co.nz/wheels.php  And remember you can contact me (Suzy@woolwench.com) any time if you would like some extra help to choose the right wheel for you!

Till next time

Happy Spinning!