Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Cleaning my Ashford Traditional spinning wheel

Today I have been busy doing one of those jobs I have been putting off: cleaning my spinning wheel.  I have an Ashford Traditional.  I've had it for about three years.  Just lately, I have noticed spinning has become hard work.  When I was at a demonstration recently I used another Ashford Traditional, it felt much smoother than mine.  It is was definitely time to do some serious maintenance on my wheel. 

When I spin, I can feel resistance, my wheel lumbers along like it really can't be bothered. This is my own fault.  I have been using the wrong kind of oil on my wheel.  Thinking oil was oil I didn't buy any special oil for my wheel, I used what I had to hand.  Vegetable oil.  My Dad is a great advocate of vegetable oil. He slaps it on anything which should move and doesn't.  After all, there's a great big bottle sat there in the kitchen waiting for an occupation. If you spin and you ever feel tempted to put vegetable oil on your wheel DON'T DO IT.  

The problem with vegetable oil is it is sticky.  Not only does it gum up the moving parts but fine fibres and general grime stick in the oil, generating even more friction.  I've spun a fair bit of rabbit fur and that is especially good at flying around and working its way into every crevice of both my wheel and my drum carder (but that's another story).  

So today I got out the assembly instructions for my wheel (it was flat pack when I got it) and carefully revised the anatomy of an Ashford Traditional.  I looked at the diagrams; I looked at my wheel.  I read the help pages on the Ashford website.  Then I got the allan key and the screw driver out.

With the aid of a willing but publicity shy family member, I took my wheel apart.  The basic idea, pardon the expression, is to ask the wheel to splay its legs.  That means removing the mother of all, undoing the screws holding the side rails to the single leg and then easing apart the wheel supports. 
My wheel without the mother of all
It took two people, one to hold the wheel supports apart while the other cleaned the crank shaft with a cloth soaked in white spirit.  There was quite a lot of gunk in there.  We also detached the top of the conrod from the crank shaft and cleaned the whole area. Then I took the white spirit to the flyer.  
The crank shaft and the top of the conrod
 My poor wheel is now recovering from the operation. I can't wait to start spinning again and yes, this time I will be using spinning wheel oil.

You can get spinning wheel oil in the UK from P and M Woolcraft. 

Friday, 18 November 2011

Favourite thing on a Friday - Kid mohair and silk yarn

I have been very busy dyeing yarns.  It is hard to choose one favourite but I think today my favourite has to be the Kid Mohair and Silk Lace Weight I dyed with cochineal.  The colour is stunning.  The silk and mohair take up the dye at different rates, the mohair slurps up the colour greedily while the rather superior lace sits in the pan thinking about it.  The result is a variegated core of pale silk and darker mohair with a darker pink mohair halo. Gorgeous.  See what you think:
You can't beat natural fibres combined with natural dyes. 
Two skeins of this yarn are available in the Shearer's Girl Yarns shop, while stocks last.
Now do go and see what everyone else has chosen as their favourite thing on a friday. 

As this is a yarn post I'm also going to link up with: