Learn to Spin

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , Hand Spun Yarn , Spinning 
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Love to craft? Learn to Spin!

Learn to spin wool yarn using a spinning wheel. In the first session you will learn spinning terminology, about the different types of wheels, and the basics of how wool is spun into yarn. You’ll be spinning by the end of your first session!

During the following class you will learn to ply your singles yarn, ending up with 2-plied yarn, and how to prepare fiber for spinning using drum carder. In the third session you’ll have more practice in spinning, plying, and carding. No experience required. Spinning wheel & materials will be provided to use in the class.

September 7, 14, & 21 ● 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
As the class size limited to 5 students,
call and for your reservation today! 941.755.7830
(Reservations are required…Don’t miss out!)

Instructor: Linda Martin, winner 1st (knitting) & 2nd (weaving) place handspun division @ Florida State Fair 2018 & contributor to Spin-Off Magazine and Spinning Wheel Sleuth.


Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , FOR SALE , My Spinning Wheels , Spinning 
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ebay 2

eBay 4














German eBay import arrives in disarray but after some time on the workbench and some TLC, it has been put to work as a functional spinning wheel.

I saw this lovely vintage Tyrolean Spinning Wheel on German eBay. (Seller photos above.)  I loved the graceful hardwood turnings.  It appeared in-tact; I bid accordingly and won the auction.  But was shocked when the wheel finally arrived and I opened the box.  It looked like the wheel had been dumped in a box and shipped with hardly a bit of packing materials.  It was a jumble of broken pieces.  The photo below was taken right after opening the box (you can see the missing foot).  The packing material you see is all that had been provided for trans-ocean voyage.














The photo below is of the wheel as I attempted to re-assemble it.  One of the uprights that holds up the wheel, a foot and the distaff are broken off.


wheel damage & mountains 075










When I contacted the seller and confronted him with the damage (most of it old as evidenced by residual glue and not the result of poor packing), he acknowledged sawing off the distaff to fit the wheel in the shipping box but sarcastically inquired, “don’t they have glue in the US?” Ugh! My DH (dear husband) went about making proper repairs.  He drilled holes then pegged and glued the separated pieces and pegged the distaff.  I added bamboo “pins” to hold down the wheel.  Then I drenched the thirsty wood with a combination of bee’s wax and orange oil.


Tyrolean Spinning Wheel 046













The wheel was beautifully turned by a master craftsman. Sadly, the builder appears to have had little experience with spinning wheels. The tension knob on the front of the table at first glance appears to be a screw which would move the maiden forward and back to create tension on the drive band. Instead of a spiral pattern of turns, the “screw” is a row of concentric circles. It doesn’t adjust. But, the weight of the maiden alone seems to create enough drag that the wheels spin with plenty of draw. The footman crosses in front of the spinner but to maintain proper alignment, the wheel can not be reversed. The wheel was constructed with apparent purpose to slant. But instead of slanting toward the spinner, it slants away, confounding treadling action.   Despite all the reasons it shouldn’t, the wheel spins and yarn it makes.  Lovely example of a Tyrolean Spinning Wheel.


Tyrolean Spinning Wheel is for Sale.  CLICK HERE


Antique Yarn Winder

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , Spinning 
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Recent rescue, antique brass & iron yarn winder.  Very heavy.  No manufacture’s markings.  Here are “before” photos, needs some TLC & polishing.

end view

end view


side view

side view




brass yardage wheel

brass yardage wheel/gear


One-of-a-kind Spinning Wheels

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , My Spinning Wheels , Spinning , Techniques 
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I am writing an article for Fall 2014 Spin-Off Magazine on One-of-a-Kind spinning wheels. I am soliciting photos. I am posting a guide for photo taking and a photo release which need to be returned with any photos.



The wheel below is a OOAK spinning wheel I created from a foot powered dental drill and an antique Victorian door knob and back plates.

Foot Powered Dental Drill Spinning Wheel

CLICK HERE to see Foot Powered Dental Drill Spinning Wheel Video.


Spinning Roving for Sale

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , Dying , Spinning , Techniques 
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I’ve been playing with commercial dyes and home dye techniques and I think I’ve nailed it.  I have several combinations which will soon be available on Etsy.









Sand & Surf


Muted Morning








Florida Sheep, Wool & Herding Dog Festival 2014

Posted by Tropical Twister under Spinning , Techniques 
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The Florida Sheep, Wool & Herding Dog Festival 2014 is being held April 25, 26, & 27 in Ocala, Florida.  I’ll be teaching two classes (Saturday & Sunday).

(1) Wheel Mechanics 101 … spinning wheel tune-up; if it’s not broken or missing parts, we’ll get it spinning. Will include instruction re:wheel mechanics, i.e. double drive, direct drive and Scotch tension AND minor repairs i.e. new leather bearings, tightening joints. In addition, we’ll provide hints for evaluating a garage sale or Craig’s list wheel and the feeding of old wood. There will be a small materials fee to cover the cost printing and supplies.

(2) Spinning 101 … introduction to wheel spinning. Will include survey of fiber prep techniques and prepared fiber available to hand spinner, i.e. hand carding, drum carder, roving and batts, also learn about yarn composition, i.e. z vs s twist, plying and fulling. Lots of hands on time to learn or refine basic spinning skills to turn out small gauge knitable/weavable yarns, not “art yarn”. Spinners may bring their own wheels or “rent” a wheel for the session (by pre-arrangement). There will be a small materials fee to cover the cost printing and of fiber.

These will be small classes with lots of one-on-one assistance. I have elicited the aid of my DH (engineer by training, wheel fixer by conscription) and look forward to a great weekend. My order from the Sheep Shed Studio just arrived so we’ll have lots of fiber to play with.

I plan to bring an assortment of wheels to demonstrate including Victoria (the foot powered dental drill wheel), and whatever antique and vintage wheels will fit in the back of my SUV, and we’ll have a free spin time for spindle and wheel spinners to hang out and spin just for the sheer joy of it.

(Photo is of Lacy my 15 year old Aussie mix.  She’s been struggling with age related issues the past few weeks.  We love her sweet soul and biddable temperament and will miss her when she is no longer with us.)



Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , Spinning , Weaving 
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I’m delighted, an article I wrote was accepted for Spin-Off Magazine Spring 2014, “Fibonacci Colors“.

The article provides guides to “Using leftovers purposely”. I describe training ones eyes to identify what Laura Bryant describes as a “river of light” in her video “A Fiber Artists Guide to Color”. I also included a tip I’ve learned to build on her training ones eyes. By taking a digital photo and converting the photo to black and white you can assess the “weight” of a colored yarn without being distracted by the colors. Those that are too intense/too “heavy”, can be easily identified; those that are too subtle/”light”, can easily be sorted out. Colors that are the same weight can be used in the same project, even if they don’t fit color wheel guidelines.

I’m a beginning weaver so I choose a simple Undulating  Twill:  Straight Draft; 2/2 Twill from Anne Dixon’s the Handweaver’s Pattern Directory page 198 for the pattern.  Because as the warp advanced and completed work would be hidden, I was concerned that the “random” colors might not blend or the stripes might not balance.  To blend the colors and assure balanced stripes, I used the Fibonacci number sequence as a guide.  The numbers follow a progressive sequence, with each new number being the sum of the two previous numbers.  The sequence is   0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, … Fearing one pass would get lost, I used the formula 1 = 4, that is for each Fibonacci number, I would make four passes.   Where the number was “1”, I would make 4 passes; “2”, I would make 8 passes; “3”, I would make 12 passes, and so on.  While the yarn from one skien was woven into the weft in stripes with increasing width, I decreased the width of the adjacent yarn stripes.  One transition of weft passes would be as follows: 52 cream (13) 4 blue (1) 32 cream (8) 4 blue (1) 20 cream (5) 8 blue (2) 12 cream (3) 12 blue (3)  – 8 cream (2) 20 blue (5) 4 cream (1) 32 blue (8)  4 cream (1) 52 blue (13) 4 salmon (1) 32 blue (8)4 salmon (1) 20 blue (5) 8 salmon (2) 12 blue (3) 12 salmon (3) 8 blue (2) 20 salmon (5)4 blue (1) 32 salmon (8) 4 blue (1) 52 salmon (13) 



Debbi by C. Norman Hicks

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , My Spinning Wheels , Spinning , Techniques 
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Debbi spinning wheel front

“Debbi”, 1980’s solid brass wheeled spinning wheel from builder C. Norman Hicks rescued from a storeage unit in California has made it’s way to Florida.  Solid oak castle wheel has scotch tension and inovative system for tensioning.

eBay wheel arrived at her new home yesterday (8/15/2013). Little “Debbi” was rescued from a storage unit and seller had no information about her. She was numbered (49) and signed by her builder (C. Norman Hicks). A brown envelop which arrived with her included a Polaroid snapshot (I remember those) labeled Christmas 1981. A receipt for purchase was dated Nov 30, 1981 and signed by the builder. Interestingly both the receipt and the notations on the outside of the envelop number her #50.

The notations (likely by the builder) on the envelop are as follows:

Debbi # 50

Finished 20Nov1981

Brass wheel

Red Oak wood

Clear Lacquer finish

Designed & made by C. Norman Hicks

Yes, that wheel’s not painted gold, it’s solid brass!

I was in contact with a member of the San Diego Creative Weaver’s Guild who was able to supply a copy of a magazine article from Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot (Fall 1974) which pictures Mr Hicks. He was reported to have been an active member of their guild and she’s promised to do a bit of research for me.

There are two sets of roller bearings for the drive wheel and two sets for the flyer. The flyer bearings were frozen. The wheel bearings were stiff. I soaked all the bearings in penetrating oil and removed the old crusted oil and repacked the bearings with white grease. The rubber band providing flexible tension on the bobbin brake was crystallized and was replaced with a spring. I didn’t have a rubber band in the house so I used the spring. Seems to work but may go back to a rubber band for authenticity of design after a trip to the Staples. The flyer rod was slightly corroded and was cleaned and buffed. The flyer itself is bent copper tubing. It appears brass cup hooks were soldered to one arm of the flyer.

The design is interesting. The flyer rod with it’s huge orifice is pressure fitted through two sets of bearings and the pressed board whorls (3) is locked on to the flyer with set screws and an allen wrench. It came with a single bobbin and it would be complicated to change bobbins. I’m thinking the plan was for the spinner to wind off the bobbin. I slathered WoodBeams all over the lacquered wood to clean and feed the wood. There are places where the finished has given way to time but no evidence of water damage or abuse.

The bobbin ends are pressed board and the glue holding them have given in to time as well. I re-glued the separated ends with epoxy glue and clamped to dry. Had to wait to this morning (8/16/2013) to try the wheel. It was a bit stiff at first but the yarn built up in a hurry to my surprise; very fast with little effort. I spun both with my right foot alone and with both. Best effort with the two feet working in tandem. The wheel loosened up and we worked well together.

Half-moon slot and bolt with wind nut on the front are for adjusting belt tension. When you want to change whorls the top section is tilted and thereby the tension is adjusted. For the largest whorl, the top section is parallel to the table.

It’s diminutive size would make it a good traveler, but it’s weight (brass drive wheel) would discourage me from backpacking with it. Very sturdy on its tripod. Well designed and engineered.


Debbi from back



Spinning Wool Singles Inspired by Coral

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , Dying , Hand Spun Yarn , My Spinning Wheels , Spinning , Techniques 
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Seabreeze Spinners’ Inspiration

Beautiful handspun singles spun on vintage Timbertops double flyer chair wheel inspired by colours of the sea and Mushroom Soft Coral.

Deepwater mushroom soft coral (Anthomastus ritteri) off the coast of California, in the Pacific Ocean — Mark Conlin/Photolibrary © (Bing United Kingdom)



Dying Hand Spun Yarn

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , Dying , Hand Spun Yarn , Projects , Spinning 
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(click on images for larger view)
Used Gaywool Dye to dye hand spun 2 ply wool. Dyed natural wool hand spun yellow & pumpkin but then over-dyed grey hand spun for rich tones of chocolate , blue and cinnamon. Attempted to hand paint grey roving but didn’t like the results. Colors didn’t work. Over-dyed hand painted roving with purple and magenta with less success; it matted. But after going through the hand carder several times and adding a little bling … the roving was lovely and spun up beautifully.

Tropical Twister


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