The story as far… Steve, Cathy and I made up the Bliss on the Friday night, and then each had a play.
On the Saturday I played some more, trying all sorts of types of spinning – thin, thick, thicker; worsted spun, woolen spun, in between spun; short draw, long draw. And all stations east.
I then came to change bobbin, and here came the first brilliant thing about this wheel. It is SO easy – you just pull the arms of the flyer and they come off. Then slip off the bobbin (making sure you have undone the Scotch tension first!). Then slip on the new bobbin, click on the arms and replace the Scotch tension band. Done.
That second bobbin was spun to ply with the first. (I don’t waste anything!!) As the first one was a mish mash of styles etc I did the second as a thick and thin slubby yarn. The fibre is from Anna Gratton in New Zealand. It is washable Corriedale, and absolutely gorgeous. This colourway is called Jaffa, and the mix of colours is amazing.
I plied on my Louet, simply because I didn’t have an empty bobbin. (I have more on order.) This is the final yarn:
My second yarn was also with fibre from Anna Gratton, also Corriedale, but this time a colourway called Navy-Caramel. I opened the tops and made rolags and spun semi-woolen to make a 2 ply yarn of about aran weight. This time I plied on the Bliss, and it went very easily.
So far I had only used the next-to-largest whorl. The next task was to see just how thick it could go, so I changed to the largest whorl for slower spinning. All four whorls are placed well above the rim of the wheel, and the stretchy drive band means there is no fussing about when changing whorls.
I went and rummaged in the shed and collected a selection of different fibres which I drum carder into a textured batt on my Classic carder.
There is merino, English Wool 56s, mohair locks, Teesdale locks, banana fibre, silk and sparkle in there, along with some Shetland.
The batt weighed 44g, and I split it into 4 lengthways.
I spun these in turn, lengthening the strip to about twice the original length before I started spinning. I had the tension low to start with, and started with a thread about aran thickness. Very soon I started seeing how much fibre I could let through.
The answer was the same thickness as the orifice!
I let the locks stay free:
One thing which was nice was that that thread did not snag on the hooks – the hooks do not have sharp edges:
Having spun the whole batt, I switched the drive band to the smallest whorl, and spun a thin single from the English Wool 56s to about 1 ply weight. The only spare bobbin already had some of the navy-caramel on it. The wheel didn’t flinch as the sudden change from very thick to very thin. it just got on with it.
I then placed the two bobbins on separate lazy kates and placed the thick single behind me to my right, and the thin one at right angles to my left. (I am left handed.) And then I plied them, caging the thick single with the thin one. I put the drive band on the biggest whorl, and had to racket up the tension on the bobbin The wheel behaved beautifully. I had had some concern that the Scotch tension knob might come loose, but it didn’t.
And off the bobbin:
I had one more test to do. So far I had used washed fibre. Now I wanted to try spinning some very fine Shetland fleece to less that half of 1 ply thickness. This would be the ultimate test!
As usual, I combed the raw fleece with a plastic comb, one lock at a time until I had a handful of combed fibre. I slackened off the tension and put the drive band on the smallest whorl. I then spun this worsted, starting off about 2 ply weight and going thinner. As always, on any wheel, it took a bit of adjusting of the tension to get just the right amount to allow enough twist in the yarn before drawing in. But once I hit the sweet spot, it stayed sweet. Again, no change in tension as I spun.
So here are the finished yarns, with a 1 ply, 1 ply-thickness commercial yarn on the right for comparison. All my yarns are 2 plies.
From left to right the thick caged yarn, chunky slubby ‘Jaffa’ yarn, aran weight ‘Navy-caramel yarn, lace weight English Wool 56s and cobweb Shetland wool. All spun on exactly the same wheel, with the same bobbins and flyer…
Not many wheels could do that…