Monday, July 7, 2008


When I started dyeing yarn I had to figure out the correct size skein to fit properly in the dyepot so that all the ones in a pot would dye similarly (notice I did not say the same).  This happened to be a one yard skein.  Most commercial skeins are longer by at least another foot and usually more.  It also turned out that people were more apt to purchase my hand dyed yarn if the separate colors were mixed up so they kinda resembled the knitted look more.

OK.  Good idea.  However it takes about 10 - 15 minutes of hand skeining to rewind a dyed sock skein. Sometimes more if the skein gets cantankerous.  I can dye about 25 - 30 skeins in a day so adding that kind of time to my schedule was way more than fun.  The Universe sent me people here and there who would come and skein for trade.  I so appreciate all the knitters who have done and still do this. I also enjoy getting to know them. The down side is they are not employees.  If something more important comes up in their lives, well, they'd rather do that something.  I can understand their preferences quite well but it has left me with agita before shows several times.

Last week Jim was in the shop doing some blank skeining for me on the electric skeinwinder from Fricke.   We got to talking about how the reskeining process could get motorized.  The motor on the Fricke is sensitive to pull so stops at the slightest extra tension.  Jim thought some kind of swift with ball bearings might work though.  Aha!  So online I went and in short order found 5 that said they had ball bearings.  Looking at several knocked them out as they were not very adaptable to differing skein sizes.  Finally the Beka seemed to be the closest to what we had been envisioning.  However nowhere on the page did it give the skein dimensions that it could handle.  It was now 7:50pm on the east coast with Paradise Fibers, on the west coast, closing at 5pm.  Whew! -- I had 10 minutes.

Sure enough I was able to get through, asked my question and was transferred to a pleasant man who knew what I was talking about enough to be able to help.  He went and got a Beka, then measured its smallest circumference which was about 40 inches.  Not small enough. Hmmnnnn.   He knew how the swift was put together so suggested a modification that was rather simple.  He also went to the Fricke website to check out the electric skeinwinder just to make sure.  "Yes" he said,  "It will work.  The Beka spins like nothing is stopping it."  I ordered the thing immediately and had it sent Priority Mail.

On Saturday a nice long box awaited me in the shop.  It was super easy to put together.  Maybe 'cause it was made in the USA so the instructions were written in English first?  We then proceeded to test it out.  WOW does that thing spin easily!!!!   The downside was that the dyed skein would wind its way up the poles and get tangled near the top.  We tested different angles and heights which helped some but not enough. Once I slowed the Fricke waaay down the climbing virtually stopped.  Over two days, easily, with no real muscle power of my own I rewound about 30 skeins of yarn, while doing other things.  I was able to do computer work, balling of fiber, labeling skeins, shipping and other chores while keeping an eye on the two 'machines' and only needing to be there towards the end of each for some winding up and then the tying up of the skein.  This is so liberating!!!!!!!


rebecca jc said...

Congratulations. Labor saving devices are so important when you are actually trying to make a living and not just doing things for the fun of it. Years ago when I was doing a lot of hand dyed yarns my hubby made me an electric yarn winder out of a commercial sewing machine motor. It worked great for many years and wound hundreds and hundreds of pounds of yarn. It still sits in my workshop though I haven't used it for a long time. One of these days though I may start dyeing again in bulk and it could be put back to work.

Leah said...

Something that is a labor saver for you is a Good Thing! Very interesting....I went and watched the U Tube demo. How did you make yours pointy? The extra point on the top seems like a better design.