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Saturday, November 03, 2007

MG: quill head

this quill head attachment turns my lovely little lendrum into a spindle-led wheel; it can now spin as a kin to great wheels (video of great wheel spinning) and charkhas. spinning on a quill means no orifices and the yarn is free to be as thick/kinky/textured/full of baubles as one wishes--lovely example here. the quill head also provides some high/fast ratios--6, 25, 37 to 1 versus the default flyer's 6, 8, 10 to 1. the high ratios are good for anything requiring lots of twist, like the short fibers of cotton. spindle-led wheels are also good for fragile, twist-consuming yarns because there is no uptake. the yarn is not wound by the wheel, so the tension is completely in the twist and the spinner's hands.

the first time i spun on my quill head was a disaster. the yarn kept THUMP-THUMP-THUMPing very loudly against the tip of the quill; i couldn't find a smooth motion to transition from spinning to winding; my collar bone learned the sharpness of that pointy quill (just a small, barely there, no-damage bump but added to the mounting frustration). it felt like a completely different beast, and i had no clue what i was doing. i tried various angles but didn't even know what i was aiming for, what the correct way looked like. i gave up very quickly and put away the attachment.

then i went to Maryland Sheep and Wool where i asked every wheelwright of spindle-led wheels to show me how to work their wheels, touched those wheels, and spun on them (incidentally falling in love with a beautiful great wheel, and i also kinda want a Bosworth charkha, hee). i came home and made friends right away with drafting against the quill head, leaving only one thing to work out.

winding on a spindle wheel has to include a bit of unwinding first since the drafting angle is different than the winding angle. on hand-driven wheels, this is an easy, small counterclockwise turn of the drive-wheel, but on a treadle wheel, it can be quite a trick. i read online (link i have doesn't seem to work anymore) about a quick flicking motion without stopping the wheel from a Rachel Brown spinning video, but i couldn't manage anything of the sort. i'm not great with very quick motions, so i practiced changing directions with my treadle. it's working surprisingly well. i can now spin in the opposite direction for one treadle then go back to spinning in the original direction pretty seamlessly. a spindle-full later (seen above), i'm quite happy.


  1. oooh.. I had no idea that those existed! I think I might have to reconsider my choices for my next wheel -- are these only available for Lendrum wheels? (I have a Louet S-10)

  2. You ought to post a YouTube video, demonstrating the quill .