Thursday, February 19, 2009

Finally, something interesting.

Okay, it's been a crap month or so all round, Nuff said. Lets get back to spinning. Here's something interesting for you to admire.

Front view....

Side view....

Rear view...

Okay, hands up who knows what it is. Thought so...not many of you. Well don't feel bad about it because I had not a clue either before I brought it home from spinning group on Tuesday and got going on Google looking for it.

All I knew about it was that it was called a Wind Wheel, that it belonged to a very elderly and now long retired spinner that lives locally and that she had given it on long term loan to the group. She said she never got on with it. (We got her Ashford Traditional too.) None of us could get on with it either...umpteen years of collective spinning between us and we could not get it to spin. It does not have a drive band per se you see. It has a weighted pulley arrangement at the bottom that flicks over and a drive belt that rotates the massive flyer. It is very, very different from anything I've used before. I regard myself as a bit of a wheel geek-groupie, but this wheel is something else again.

Anyhow, after a bit of Googling I discovered my ...err, our new aquisition was an Ettrick Windwheel, that it was pronounced "wind" as in wind up the bobbin rather than "wind" as in gentle breezes and it comes from Australia.

Actually this last bit I could have discovered much more quickly if I'd looked round the rear of the wheel.

"Tasmanian Blackwood". How cool is that? If you stuck a knitting needle through a globe you'd find Tasmania is the furthest part of the other side of the world from Musselburgh. And the tree from which this wheel is made grew there. (It's a type of acacia.) It's fabulous wood and the whole wheel, from design to wood to style to polish is just so exotic. It sat there at spinning group in amongst our Ashfords and Kromskis and Haldanes looking like a rare tropical bird that had got lost.

Anyhow, there was still the problem of the fact that none of us could get it to spin. So as official Wheel Geek and Person that Hangs Out on the Internet Most I was given the task of sorting this out. I emailed the maker, Norman Walters , asking for scans of the assembly plans and spinning instructions. He very kindly sent these and now...I'm barraging him with techie questions, poor man. And some queries as to the design history.

I'm also talking to two Ravelry members from Australia, Zephyrama and Jenwren, both of whom own Windwheels. Now this is one of the most amazing things about Ravelry IMHO...the fact that I can go into it and hunt down a couple of spinners who knew exactly what I need to know to get this wheel going. Wow....!

Still can't spin on it though. I'm pretty sure I've got it set up right but it's the action of this pulley bit that really gets to me.

You have to sort of tap the treadle with your toe to get it up over the top of the turn, then the brass weights pull it down and round and momentum carries it up to the top of the turn and then you toe-tap again...but inbetween taps, if you push down on any part of the treadle plate the drive band will slip on the pulley. If you don't tap at the right moment the band slips up top here.....

...and the pulley reverses and you lose momentum and really, it all goes to hell in a handcart. It's the complete opposite of normal treadling on a single treadle wheel, where you have to be smooth and think rouuuuuund treadling, with only a little extra over the hump at the top. I feel like a beginner spinner know, when you're kicking the wheel halfway across the room at every treadle stroke and it keeps reversing on you? Well this is it all over again.

I'm going to crack it by Saturday though. Saturday is the monthly meet up day for the Edinburgh Guild of Spinners and I am taking the Windwheel along to be admired. I'm going to look a bloomin' prat if I can't get it to work, am I not?

Off to practice....