Ratios & Flyer Styles for Art Yarn
I received this email and thought it would make a helpful blog post on the physics of spinning.
QUESTION: I see you're spinning art yarn on the SpinOlution Echo, and another spinner tells me she also prefers the Echo for art yarn…Do you have experience with the Ashford Country Spinner, and if so, can you compare the experience of spinning art yarn on that vs. Spinolution?
ANSWER: I spun bulky & art yarns for 10 years on an Ashford Country Spinner (ACS) A-Frame, which had one ratio of 1:4. If I wanted to spin fine, I treadled faster. If I was spinning tail-spun or embellishments, I treadled slower. I never had a problem, and never needed a different ratio. And I do not notice a difference in twist between 1:4 ACS and 1:4.5 Echo. I do notice a difference in treadle feel, because of how each wheel is designed. And neither is better or worse - it’s a matter of preference. I’m comfortable on both.
If you are considering purchasing a new ACS, I recommend starting with the 1:4 ratio. Any ratio higher than 1:4 will take more effort to treadle, especially when you’re filling big bobbins with heavy yarn. This isn’t a fault, it’s a fact. If you do want to try a higher ratio on a new ACS, I recommend completely removing or lowering the tension. This will make it easier to treadle at high speeds.
QUESTION: …The lowest ratio on the Echo is 1:4.5, whereas the 32 oz [SpinOlution] Hopper does 1:1, 1:1.5, 1:2, and 1:3 on the "low" whorl. Apart from the price, wouldn't a 32 oz Hopper make the most sense for art yarn? (I ask because I'm in the market for a bulky/art yarn wheel.)”
ANSWER: Some spinners might prefer a ratio lower than 1:4, but I find 1:4 just fine for the yarns I prefer to spin. It probably depends on what you're accustomed to. Since I spent 10 years on 1:4, I find 1:1 too slow for my liking. But that's just me.
Regarding the Hopper, it is a unique wheel that spinners either love or hate. Many spinners find that the Hopper is a comfortable couch wheel - but that depends on how you feel comfortable sitting and spinning. Using the Hopper on a chair that is too tall or too short (or too far away or too near) can be a workout. I call it "The Goldilocks Wheel" - you need to find a chair that is "just right" for you to truly love your Hopper. SpinOlution sells a studio chair that, at a lower height, works great for me.
I recommend test driving the Hopper before purchase, because it is such a unique design. If there isn't a Hopper to test drive near you, consider the 30-day moneyback guarantee from SpinOlution. Try the wheel with different low chairs in your home, and if it doesn't suit you - ship it back for a full refund minus shipping.
That being said, my favorite wheel right now is the SpinOlution Firefly.
QUESTION: The master spinner in my guild only approves of the Ashford, and doesn't like Spinolution because she says yarn slips off the pegs. Is that really a problem?
ANSWER: It's not a problem when you use the left side pegs for spinning and the right side pegs for plying. The momentum of the flyer rotating in a clockwise/counter-clockwise direction causes the yarn to be pressed against the flyer arm and pegs and prevents the yarn from jumping. In short: Clockwise on the left, Counter-Clockwise on the right.
In comparison, I have had problems with delicate locks or light & airy textures getting shredded and ruined by hooks on other wheel brands. Loop-guides don't work for me either, because they limit the yarn just like a small orifice. I prefer pegs for the style of yarn I spin.
The only time I have jumpy yarn is when spinning heavy embellishments (like big glass beads). And it's not the wheel's fault, it's the physics that happen with the yarn. The momentum of a heavy glass bead will pull the lightweight yarn away from the pegs as the flyer spins - and might cause the yarn to jump. Therefore, I always hand-wind heavy embellishments so they don't jump (or shatter, in the case of glass beads). It's safer to hand-wind heavy embellishments regardless of the wheel brand or flyer type.
That being said, master spinners are a great resource for learning what wheel is right for you. Thanks for reading my $0.02 and Happy Spinning!