Monday, 24 December 2012

Spinning Wheel Flyers, Bobbins and Whorls

The working unit on all modern spinning wheels is the combination of the flyer (the 'U' shaped piece) and the bobbin on to which the yarn is wound as well as the whorl. The bobbin is mounted on the flyer shaft and rotates independently of the flyer to wind on the yarn as it is spun. The difference in the rates of rotation of the flyer and bobbin, dictates the amount of twist imparted to a length of the yarn.

Flyer, bobbin and whorl on a spinning wheel

A whorl is used to give control of the twist; the smaller ratios to give the low twist for soft yarns from longer stapled fibres, and the high ratio for imparting a high twist in short fibres like cotton and cashmere.

The drive ratio, measured by the ratio of the diameter of the driving wheel to the whorl, largely determines the type of yarn which can be spun easily. For a range of yarns, a spinning wheel with a wide set of whorl diameters is helpful.

Most softer woollen knitting and weaving yarns can be spun on all the commonly available wheels which are supplied with drive ratios in the range 8 to 12:1. Finer yarns require higher twist and a drive ratio of 14 to 20:1 or more. Bulky yarns and soft spun yarns of over 1cm diameter require a ratio in the region of 3 to 8:1.

The size of the flyer orifice can limit yarn plying. It is important to check this when choosing your spinning wheel. The flyer is best with an orifice of around 1cm. A larger orifice gives a tug on the yarn for each turn of the wheel making fine yarn spinning more difficult. Bulky and complex plyed yarns need an orifice in the flyer of 1.5 cm or more as well as larger bobbin and flyer hooks.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Book Spotlight: Learn to Spin by Anne Field

Learn to Spin by Anne Field
We're often asked to recommend a book about specific crafts featured on the George Weil website.

Anne Field's 'Learn to Spin' ticks all the boxes when it comes to learning everything you need to know about spinning a fibre to create a yarn.

With easy-to-follow, step-by-step directions, Anne guides the novice spinner through all they need to know to get started. She explains the spinning process and techniques, including preparation of fleeces, worsted and woollen spinning methods, plying, adjusting tension, treadling, skeining, drafting and blending as well as helpful advice about spinning wheels and how they work. Each section is helpfully illustrated with colour photographs and diagrams making the process of learning so much easier.

Here are some sample pages of the book

Spinning yarn on a spindle
copyright Search Press Ltd
 Ann demonstrates the types of spindle that are available and shows how to ply the spun yarn by rotating the spindle anti-clockwise.

Drafting the fibre onto the spinning wheel
copyright Search Press Ltd
 There are a number of ways to draft the fibres onto the spinning wheel, here Anne shows the method for medium draft.

Preparing fibre with hand carders
copyright Search Press Ltd
 Anne shows how to prepare the fibre for spinning using a drum carder and hand carders.

Demonstrating the 'Z' and 'S' twist
copyright Search Press Ltd

Skeining, plying and the 'Z' and 'S' twist are explained in these pages.

The full range of fibres including wool, alpaca, silk, mohair, cotton, angora, synthetic and blended fibres are featured plus details of the characteristics of each fibre and which spinning method is best used.  After each fibre is examined, Anne offers a knitting project ideal for each yarn spun. 

There are many books on the George Weil website, and further books about Spinning and fibres can be found here.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Silk Paints and their Mediums

Silk paints are made from insoluble dye particles suspended in water and combined with a fixative which is set by ironing the back of the painted fabric.  The paint is very fluid and formulated specifically to simulate dye. The brands of silk paint available from the George Weil website include Javana Silk, Deka Silk and Jacquard Dye-na-flow.

Silk paints can be used with a variety of mediums to create differing effects on the fabric: 

Silk fabric is very absorbent and the fluid paint spreads across the fabric quickly.  A primer or anti-spread is used to treat the silk fabric so that the flow of paint is inhibited, allowing free-hand water colour painting techniques.  Stretch out the fabric and pin to a frame before applying the primer with a wide brush.  Allow to dry before painting.

Gutta Outliner
Outliner has a thicker consistency than paint and is used to create a barrier to prevent dye colours and paints from running into each other while painting on silk. Outliners are available in pipette tubes with applicator tips, or in jars which can be decanted into applicator bottles.  Draw out your design with an autofade pen and trace over the lines with the outliner.  Make sure the outliner penetrates through to the other side of the fabric and that each of the boundaries are complete i.e. if you are drawing a leaf, the outline should join up so that paint does not leak beyond the outline.  Outliners can be clear or come in a range of colours.

Visit the website to browse our range of primers and outliners.

silk painting with gutta outliner

This silk painting, by K Barney, was created using H Dupont silk dyes. The fabric was first painted pink and then the flower outlines were drawn out with a clear gutta outliner.  The artist then painted the other colours over the pink base, using the gutta outline to contain the colours.

Gutta outline ready for silk painting

A butterfly sketched with autofade pen and traced with a clear gutta outliner, note how each of the lines are joined up to prevent the paint from spreading beyond the boundaries.

Opaque White
This paint contains a greater concentration of pigment and is used to pick out areas in a painting such as the crest of a wave or a glint of sunshine.

Combine mix-white with silk paints to create pastel shades without loss of hue. The colours are more opaque than those created with thinner or water.

Deka Clear Medium
Paint colours diluted with water become more transparent and because they have been diluted, contain less fixative.  The clear medium helps to diffuse these diluted colours and fix them on the silk fabric.

Effects Salt
The large crystals of salt absorb wet silk paint creating interesting patterning on the fabric.

Use water to create transparent shades (see Deka Clear Medium above), drop onto wet paint to make it travel outwards, or to dampen fabric before painting to make the paint spread further.

Salt crystals and water on silk paint
Effects Salt and water have created this exciting patterning

 Visit the George Weil website to browse our range of Silk Painting products