Thursday, December 4, 2014

Spinning DIY: Bobbin Winder

After you spin your singles, they are usually plied into the final yarn.  Many advise putting about 10 feet between the kate your bobbins are sitting on and your spindle or wheel so that the twist in the singles can even out and create a more consistent yarn.  My studio isn’t arranged to be able to do that.  You can’t do that if you are ball plying.
However, I read several blogs that showed you could achieve the same thing if you transferred the singles from your bobbin to a spool and then plied from the spools.  That’s what I do.  I use the spools that weavers load into shuttle boats.   Especially on large projects, it's recommended that you spin all your singles and then mix up those singles so that the yarn is more consistent across the whole project. At 20$ per ten 6 inch spools, spools are much cheaper than using $35 bobbins!

My wheel is a Schacht Matchless, which can be rigged 3 ways, but I prefer Scotch tension.  I rigged my brake with a hook, so I merely unhook it and the bobbin spins freely.  I transfer the singles from bobbin to spool directly from the wheel.  It takes less than 5 minutes, then I rehook my brake and I am ready to go for the next singles.  I prefer to have each singles on its own spool and find for a two ply, 40 grams of fiber per spool will fill a bobbin after plying.  If I am doing a three ply, then I usually spin 25 to 30 grams per spool.  I find that if there are any issues with the singles, I can deal with them during spool winding and not during plying.  I think my yarns look and perform much better since I started transferring them to spools before plying.

When I looked for a bobbin winder, I was surprised how expensive they are – and they are manual to boot.  BUT with a variable speed drill and a dowel, you can make one for under 20$.  

What you need:
1) A variable speed, reversible drill with power cord.  There was consensus that a rechargeable doesn’t have the oomph and longevity to wind a whole spool.  I got mine at Harbor Freight for 18$. Since so many of my DIY projects require a drill, I can use this drill for those projects as well.  If you already own such a drill, then this project is going to cost you less than 5$! 
2) A 9 inch length of 3/8 inch dowel rod.  This is for a 6 inch spool, which fits in most kates.
3) A 2 inch length of metal tubing that fits over one end of the dowel rod.  An old ball point pen casing might work.  I used part of the screw on lid from a broken thermometer.  A hack saw will needed to cut this to length.
4) Epoxy.

How to make:
1) Sand one end of the dowel rod to a very slight taper so that your spool will slide on, but only until about ¼ to ½ inch of the dowel end sticks out.
2) Epoxy the tubing to the other end of the dowel.  Since dowel wood is soft, this protects it from the clamps in the drill.

Tapered dowel with epoxied metal end
How to use:
1) Make sure the bobbin can spin freely.  Depending on the kind of wheel you have or if you are using a spindle, you may need to mount it in a kate to do this.
2) Set the drill speed to the slowest setting.
3) Put the dowel into the drill and screw it in snugly.  Slide the bobbin over the dowel far enough to be snug.

4) Manually wrap about 1 foot of the singles onto the spindle.  Stand about 6 to 10 feet away and make sure that the singles runs perpendicularly off the bobbin and perpendicularly onto the spool.  Otherwise you will change the twist in your singles.
5) Hold the drill in one hand and start it slowly.  Use your other hand to guide the singles back and forth along the spool so that it is loading smoothly and evenly under slight tension.  Keep an eye on the bobbin to make sure it is spinning smoothly and to anticipate when it is empty.  

6)  When the spool ends look full, concentrate the singles around the middle so it looks football shaped.

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