Infrastructure

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Tools are amazing. I love ‘em. I used to be a machinist. I like to work with wood, and clay, and food. I have a motorcycle, two spinning wheels, a couple of looms. I’ve owned horses, fixed cars, done plumbing.

Tools are needed for all of them. Tools like bowls, knives, tables, countertops, chairs, pots, beds, etc. All of those are tools. Anything which isn’t your bare hands; be it a stick to pry plants out the ground to a Saturn V is a tool.

That said, the right tools; used well, make all the difference. I used to sell cookware; pots, pans, knives, spatulae, etc. If I hadn’t known it already, I’d’ve learned that what works for me isn’t what will work for you (it’s most obvious with knives. I hate 5 inch utility knives, almost as much as I dislike 6 inch “chef” knives. For me both are too small for most jobs, and too large for all the rest.

Oher folks swear by them as much as I swear at them.

For my spinning I have a lot of tools I’d be really unhappy without; because they make my work flow. My niddy-noddy lets me move yarn off the bobbins into skeins; and giving me a rough measurement while I’m at it*. My ball winder is nice, not so much because balls are better (I find them more compact, but it’s harder to “squish” he yarn, and skeins don’t try to come undone) but because I have a yard counter I use when ballingº.

The thing I couldn’t do without; and need more of, is bobbins. I have 17ª, four “production” bobbins, and 13 storage/plying bobbins. I’d like more of both.

The production bobbins are wood. The extra mass, and the greater friction mean they are more consistent in motion when I’m making yarn. That makes my yarn more consistent. I fill them up, then I re-rig the drive band, so it moves only the bobbin, and move those four singles onto “plastic” bobbins§, since yarns really ought to rest at least 24 hours before being plied.

It also lets me balance the slight imperfections in twist; by virtue of letting the yarn have about 10 feet of slack from the production bobbin to the plying bobbin. The most important aspect is this greatly reduces yarns breaking during plying; because they are more evenly distributed on the bobbin, and the tension doesn’t vary much. Both on the bobbin the yarn is leaving, nor relatively between the bobbins being plied together.

From such simple things are better things made.

*I have a 1.5 meter niddy, which I was convinced was 1.5 yards, so all my skeins are longer than I think they are, because I can’t be arsed to add 1 yard for every ten turns. I rationalise this mismeasure of my YPP as the equivalent of a Baker’s Dozen.

ºthough it’s not as reliable as I’d like. They get made with plastic worm gears, and mine has gotten displaced, so I have to wedge it to keep the transmission engaged. They are also prone to getting clogged with stray fibers, which means they sometimes stop; unless you take them apart and clean them. Being plastic housings with small frame clips, this is a nuisance. If you know anyone making them with brass gears in an easy access housing, let me know

ª19, if you count the special purpose one for using with the Very High Speed whorl, but for reasons (explained above) having one is a problem, and inhibits my using it, and the oversized one which goes with my bulky flyer, and gets used for plying. Being larger I can spin about 2 oz singles, instead of 1.5, which lets me have larger/longer skeins

§ “Plastic” because the ends the drive bands run on are plastic. The axle is also made of a cheaper wood, with less consistent density from bobbin to bobbin, The work fine, but again, aren’t quite as consistent.

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