Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Tour de Fleece 2013 - stage five

I think Ashford had a really good idea when they came up with interchangeable flyer assemblies and motherofalls.  The arms with the hooks that spin around the bobbins are called the flyer, and bobbin and flyer together are called flyer assembly.  The two posts that hold up the flyer assembly are called the maidens.  Altogether, maidens, flyer, bobbin and the platform they rest on are called the motherofall.

With some wheels (and it's not just Asford that do this) you can buy kits with interchangeable flyer assemblies and motherofalls.  There are some for lace, some for jumbo fat yarn and some flyer assemblies that specialize in novelty yarn.

Silk and bamboo hand dyed laceweight 

This is the lace flyer assembly kit plus maidens that fits on my Ashford Traditional wheel.  It transforms what is a good all purpose spinning wheel into something more suited for cobweb and laceweight.  It has a smaller orifice (hole for yarn) and smaller whorls (place where drive band goes) for faster spinning.  It also has twice the number of hooks for more even distribution of yarn on the bobbin.

On the whole I think they do a decent job.  It's a darn site more affordable than buying a new wheel and it really broadens the range of what you can accomplish on the Traditional.  It's easy enough to swap back and forth, just requires a screwdriver and a few minutes.  However, it's not as nice as spinning on a wheel build specifically for fine yarns like my antique, double drive Canadian Production Wheel.

The Ashford lace flyer assembly takes more advance skill to use than a casual spinner might have.  You have to make minute adjustments to the bobbin tension band and drive band tension, as it is very sensitive to atmospherics and even the amount of yarn on the bobbin.  The yarn needs to be wound onto the bobbin as evenly as possible otherwise the system develops a wobble.  I also found that the whorl ridges in the flyer were too smooth and the drive band slips when it has no reason to.

Even with it's little foibles, I like it.  The only real problem I have is that spinning yarn this fine isn't very dramatic for picture taking.  But believe me, there is yarn here.

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