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Thinking About Speed

For the last year or so I’ve been thinking about spinning and speed. Until recently I couldn’t find an electric spinner that would consistently give me the speeds I wanted and so I was hunting wheels with traditional treadle drives.

All of this hunting has had me thinking about what exactly makes a spinning wheel to be considered fast and what kinds of things are necessary to make that wheel work well.

So all of this thinking has come together and I’ve been looking at the wheels I own and which wheels I use for what purpose and why. Because of all of this considering and chewing I thought I might start talking about the wheels that I have and why I keep them and how they compare to each other. This will be a little at a time because I have a few wheels I want to talk about.

Today let’s just talk about my newest wheel, the Schacht Flatiron.

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Let me tell you right off that I had the opportunity to meet this wheel when it was in its infancy. The wheel was rough, they were working on treadle angles and even still considering some of the hardware for the yet to be named new wheel. Even at this early stage I knew it would be a special wheel and very popular due to some great things that were being built in.

A few of the things that are great about this wheel are:

It is a Saxony style wheel that can be assembled with the flyer on either the right or left depending on our preference.

The drive wheel is 22.5 inches.

The wheel when assembled is only 15 pounds

The wheel uses the standard Schacht flyer and bobbins so if you have another Schacht wheel (other than the Schacht Reeves wheels) your bobbins and flyers will all work together.

The wheel can be used in Double Drive, Scotch Tension and Irish Tension and the transition is very easy.

The wheel is compatible with all of the Schacht whorls which gives a ratio range from 4.6:1 to 26:1 which is a wider range than many other Saxony Wheels on the market.

But let’s get back to the speed question. I have heard several people say that it feels fast. Well, let’s just look at my favorite whorl that works on 4 different Schacht Wheels that I own – the Super High Speed Whorl. We will also talk about drive wheel sizes.

Sidekick, wheel diameter 13.7″      13:1

Ladybug, wheel diameter 16″         14.5:1

Matchless, wheel diameter 19.5″     22:1

Flat Iron, wheel diameter 22.5″       26:1

With this small chart it’s easy to see how a larger drive wheel can assist with getting more yarn spun. When I talk about speed the first thing I think of is more turns of the flyer per second which will insert twist into the forming yarn more quickly. This allows me to draft and feed the yarn onto the bobbin more quickly resulting in more yards per minute being spun.

When I am spinning samples for an article or a class, speed is not what I’m looking for. I want instead to be able to measure twists per inch and spin with more precision and so I turn to my trusty Matchless and now, hopefully, the Flatiron.

We’ll talk more next time about my search for speed.

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