Monday, August 16, 2010

Hummin' Along

We made good progress on the spinning wheel yesterday, and even got it to the point of taking up some test string! In the photo below, you can see the flyer we constructed. It's made out of maple for strength instead of the birch plywood we used for the other parts. The arms are just dowels glued and hammered into holes in the flyer.

After this photo, I bent a piece of brass rod into shape for a delta flyer. Dad drilled some pilot holes and I hammered it home. It looks and works quite a bit like this Majacraft flyer, which was my inspiration. I didn't want to have to thread an orifice hole if I didn't have to.


I realized yesterday that while working with my dad on a project, we move through several "stages".

Stage 1: Data Dump
This is where my dad unloads all the ideas he's had whizzing around in his head since the last time we worked together. I basically sit there and try to sift through what he's describing to see if any of it is actually usable. He often comes up with 3 or 4 different ways to do something. This stage can take up to the first hour of our time together and by the end, I'm itching to get something done.

Stage 2: Get Movin'
We're finally done talking and ready to get down to business. We've decided what tasks we're going to tackle and actually start hauling out equipment, tools and materials.

Stage 2.5
Move everything back into the garage because it's going to rain.

Stage 3: The Lull
At this point, we've gotten a few tasks completed and have usually come across a speed bump in either design or fabrication. Dad wanders off into the bowels of the garage, his mind whirling with possible solutions. I begin to wonder who, in fact, is building this wheel. After a while, I realize that there are other things to work on and try to make myself useful. It's about this time that my Dad returns from his expedition with the initial problem solved.

Stage 4: Dismay
We may have solved a problem in the previous stage, but another setback can quickly lead to stage 4. It's also usually about this time that we start getting tired, likely dehydrated and definitely hungry. I don't want to work on the project any more that day and think we'll never get it done. My brain can't process what needs to be done or how to fix the problem we've encountered. Luckily, this stage mostly affects just me and not my Dad.

Stage 5: Hope
With my Dad pulling me through stage 4, we manage to plow through problems and make some tangible progress. Perhaps even, as happened yesterday, one of us is struck with inspiration that makes things a lot easier. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and am excited again by the project. Unfortunately, this is also about the time I need to leave or am too tired to keep going.
The inspiration that lifted our (my) spirits at the end of the day yesterday was to affix the treadle to the front side of the wheel instead of going under the wheel and attaching it from the back. [If you're facing the spinning wheel, the drive wheel is mounted on the backside of the upright.] This simplified several things about the design and also helped to balance the drive wheel. We also were able to jury rig a quick treadle assembly and I could see what the finished wheel will look like.

For next time, to help move us through stages more quickly, I think I'll compile a list of what still needs to be done and come up with a plan of attack. Our disorganization is a big hindrance in moving forward with building this wheel. If I at least have an idea of what needs to be done in my head, I can keep my Dad on track too.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Over Engineered

Flyer CAD, originally uploaded by Camping Jason.
I think my Dad may be going a bit nuts about building this spinning wheel. I thought this was supposed to be a joint project. I'll have to get over there soon if I have any hope of building this myself.

That said, it's a pretty sweet design, eh?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Jumping in with Both Feet

I started dabbling with spinning almost two years ago with some roving and a couple drop spindles. It was fun to begin with, but not that comfortable and definitely not fast enough. One of the things I love about knitting is that you can get some results fairly quickly. Even though I started 2 years ago, I have yet to finish spinning any yarn with my drop spindles. Add in the discomfort (read: lack of muscle strength in certain areas of my arms and shoulders) and spinning on a drop spindle was not one of my first choices for a nighttime hobby. It's so much easier to just pick up my current project and knit.

I've been intrigued by spinning wheels and the production you can get from them. Seemingly every other blogger I follow is now spinning and posting photos of their beautiful hand-spun yarn. Last weekend my intrigue finally bowled over and I began researching spinning wheels and whether or not I could obtain one; plus I have $350 burning a hole in my pocket. I quickly found that most wheels are out of my price range currently. The few that I did find in my range (particularly these) planted the seed of what I am about to reveal.

I am building my own spinning wheel.

Spinning wheel base

So far I have the base built, plans drawn up and materials purchased for the wheel, flyer and bobbins, etc. The DIY Tools group on Ravelry has been a huge help in this venture. Quite a few people have made their own wheel and posted photos, suggestions and directions online. I've cobbled ideas from other manufacturer's wheels, DIY models and my own ideas. It's nothing that I'll be putting into mass production, but for an anticipated cost of around $35, it will be good enough for me to use.