Heavenly Handspinning Herbal Wheel Wax

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Thursday afternoon, I put a silly horror movie, they do exist, on in the background and sat down to clean my wheel. The process wasn’t as difficult or time consuming as I had imagined it to be. Just detailed. First, I dusted every surface, crevice, and joint I could reach. Happy with the lack of dust, on went the wood wax.

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Thanks to a demo at a fiber guild meeting last year, I was able to buy some Heavenly Handspinning Herbal Wheel Wax from The Yarn Marm. The hardest part of whole process was getting the tin open. Somehow, I managed to not spill half the liquid contents prying of the lid. The wax had a pleasant smell and was easy to apply. I let it sit of 5 minutes before rubbing it off with a soft cloth. Now the wood has a wonderful luster and a layer of protection against dry, salty air. 

Oiling was a breeze since since only the footmen cranks and the bobbin ends on the flyer needed attention. 

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From start to finish the entire process only took about 50 minutes. The wheel looked beautiful and ready for a test spin. It spun effortlessly and quietly too. I’m looking forward to spinning a lot of yarn this year so I’m not going to wait months to clean it again. Gotta take care of my Sidekick after all. 

Review: Schacht’s Industrious Collapsable Lazy Kate

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Once I started filling up the bobbins from my new spinning wheel, it became abundantly clear that I needed a lazy kate. Or at least something to act as a lazy kate. A chopstick stabbed into a piece of styrofoam was the first thing shoved into service. It mostly worked. My second homemade lazy kate was a slightly too big box with holes poked in the side and, you guessed it, chopsticks holding the bobbins. It worked pretty well except for when the chopsticks fell out of the holes, which was often. Many an innocent single was broken in that foul contraption. I was all too happy to replace it with an actual lazy kate, Schacht’s Industrious Collapsible Lazy Kate.  

Before I clicked the “Buy” button, I thought about what I’d need from a lazy kate to benefit my spinning and fit into my available space. The kate would need to hold at least 3 bobbins, have adjustable tension, and pack small for travel. It also needed to sturdy and reasonably priced. After combing through Etsy and various spinning shops, Schacht’s lazy kate met all of my requirements for $60. Done.

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The kate arrived at my door in lightning speed in a very flat envelope. Things were looking good already. After a few glamour shots, I put the kate together without tools and quickly put it to use. Schacht’s lazy kate is a vast improvement over my box and chopstick combo. Bobbins no longer went flying and they spun easily. Tensioning is easy too thanks to a spring and the two center dowels. Just loosen the wing nuts, twist a dowel, and tighten up the nuts. I’ve even managed to adjust the tension while my hands were full with chain-plying singles. 

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The Industrious Collapsable Lazy Kate is well built and of great quality. I’m not worried about breaking any of the pieces or repeatedly assembling and disassembling it. Assembled, the kate feels very durable in my hands. The size is nice too since it can easily fit 3 standard Schacht bobbins or 3 bulky bobbins. Even with as much as the kate can hold, it still packs flat and would be very easy to travel with. Just be careful not to lose any of the small pieces like the wing nuts or the rubber rings that secure the bobbin rods. Honestly, the small removable pieces are the only downside to this design. You could get away without the rubber rings but it’d be harder to compensate for missing wing nuts.

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As far as looks go, the wood and finishing match Schacht’s Sidekick and Ladybug spinning wheels. Same minimalist style too. It feels like I have a matching set when I use the my Sidekick and kate together.

At just $60, I’m glad I picked Schacht’s Kate over both more expensive kates and those at the same price point. I’m sure I’ll be using it for years to come.

The Jenkins Turkish Swan Spindle

I’m not going to lie. Once I decided that turkish drop spindles were amazing things and, having repeatedly heard good things about Jenkins Spindles, I frequented yarntools.com. Once I decided I wanted one for my birthday, I stalked that site. I compared the different models, weights, and woods. There was always a tab open in my browser. I was constantly refreshing the page whenever there was the slightest chance of an update. So, when a spindle popped up that met all my requirements, I wasted no time clicking “Buy Now”.

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Check out what arrived in the mail yesterday: a Jenkins Swan Spindle made from cherry and weighing in at 33g. When I first got a look at the pieces, I could tell the spindle was something special.  It was obvious that everything was made my skilled hands. The spindle had spirit and energy and power. Sounds silly, I know, but it’s true.

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I was content to wait until I crossed a few things off my to-do list and finished another spinning project before settling down try this handsome devil out; however, included in the package was a few grams of BFL and some already started yarn. Who am I to resist such an invitation? The yarn was just tied right to the shaft. Why have I never thought about tying a leader on to a turkish spindle like that? I’ve usually settled for making a big loop and setting it underneath two of the arms before making a half hitch at the top. Just tying a knot at the bottom seems so much simpler and balanced.

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So, I paced back and forth across my back porch and spun up every last bit of fiber. The spindle was balanced, long spinning, and acted as a single unit instead of three. It spun like a pro.

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When the fiber was yarn, I pulled out the shaft and the arms. I didn’t have to push or pull to free the single which is a massive improvement over my last turkish spindle. Then there was plying after I let the twist set and briefly got back to my to-do list.  12 yard mini skeins are insufferably cute. I’ll knit you up one day. 

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I could sum up everything I’ve written and do a formal conclusion but I’m going to keep things simple. Never before have I used a tool, spindle or otherwise, that felt like it was made just for me and me alone. Looking forward to spinning lots of yarn together. 

A Turkish Spindle

Thanks in part to an enthusiasm to try out new spinning tools during Tour de Fleece* and a healthy bit of curiosity, I bought a Turkish Drop Spindle. What makes a Turkish Drop Spindle special is that the yarn is wrapped around the “arms” instead of spindle’s shaft. Once the spinning is done, the shaft and arms are removed which leaves a handy center pull ball. A few days ago, I got to try this out. 

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Here we have a bit practice wool I started spinning right after Tour de Fleece.

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Just the arms now.

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Look, Ma! No hands!

Besides from wrapping the single around the arms, spinning on a Turkish Drop Spindle isn’t much different than spinning with a typical drop spindle. Just have to remember the “2 over, 1 under” wrapping rule and you’re good to go. 

As soon as the arms were out and I found the other end, I started chain plying the single without having to make a plying ball or any other prep work. I could really get used to that.

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I only had one real difficulty using a Turkish spindle over the usual, whorled spindle. Since the turkish spindle acts as two pieces - the shaft and the crossed arms -   the spindle didn’t always start spinning all at once. As I would set the spindle spinning, I could feel the arms slipping around the shaft and unbalance the spin. Since the wobble got really annoying after the nth time, I would wrap the singles tighter and closer to the center. I’m not sure that did anything other than making the arms harder to remove. Since I’ve only tried this one turkish spindle, I’m not sure how widespread the phenomenon is. Guess I’ll just have to try out a few more spindles to check.

*This is the last time I’m going to start off a post by mentioning Tour de Fleece. For now.