Sunday, November 13, 2005

Aah! Paypal & osCommerce/ZenCart you are killing me!
AKA a completely boring post all about the shop and spinning 

Seriously, I have a hard enough time putting together a website as it is, I don't need weird issues with Paypal and open source shopping cart programs that somehow eat all the pictures of my stock (the code is still there, but it's as if they were never part of the table and it's because of some stupid javascript cgi style sheet crap thing one of the carts inserted at the top of all the pages) or won't install at all. Although, better to not install at all than to install, ruin the look of the site, then refuse to allow me access to uninstalling you. Bastages.

On the brighter side, I am enjoying the fruits of my ordering. I've spun up that wintery merino-silk and it's on the plying bobbin now.

And since I just wouldn't feel right if I was selling stuff I didn't know intimately and love, I'm spinning up a bit of everything. And while I'm annoyed by all the fiddly computer bits, I love this "excuse" to self-indulgence.

Here's the big fun stuff news though: I bought another wheel.

I actually bought it for Lanas de Libélula to have a rental wheel, but until the site is functional and ready to be unveiled...this Louët S17 is all mine.

It's a kit which has to be assembled, but it really isn't very difficult. The directions are certainly better than the assembly instructions were for the Mazurka.

It comes in the wee-est box with a carrying handle on it, perhaps 3 inches thick, and three feet by four feet.

Whippet provided for scale.

Once you open it up, you spread stuff out in two halves and...

all the fiddly bits


I am really surprised by this wheel.

I think it's a great beginner wheel--it treadles incredibly easily with true heel-toe action in the single treadle, adjusting tensions is easy (it's bobbin lead) with a poly stretch drive band, it's relatively easy to put together, it comes with a free half pound of fiber (the Louët people pick it and put it in the box; on the invoice it was going to be grey Icelandic, but it showed up Dark BFL [which I love as it's the softer kind of BFL and I already have an amount I'm planning to spin up for plying for a cabled sweater]), it comes with three bobbins and an attached lazy kate, and the bobbins are 8 oz. bobbins! Which is frickin' amazing, since 8 oz. is Lendrum's idea of jumbo and you have to have a whole other drive band, flyer head and bobbin to wind that much on. It's really their plying head.

Anyway, I spun more and spun faster on the S17 than I ever have on either the Mazurka or Lendrum...but I did spin thick.

Imagine this times two, in about two hours. A pound of South African Fine Wool, spun thick and thin.

The Louët wheels are made to spin thicker yarns, but they have special bobbins for lace-weight spinning with finer whorls, and you can cross the yarn over the hooks to slow the take for spinning lace, so this is a wheel you can use forever...but at the same time...it's not.

If you want to spin lace, probably not the right wheel.

But for DK to bulky, it's great. In fact I was trying to get the take up even more and with the fatty yarn I was spinning, too tough a take-in didn't seem like a problem.

I've been of the opinion for a while that there is no "perfect" wheel for the beginner, that there's just the wheel you can afford to learn on, then the one you research, save for, try out and splurge on. Kind of like cars. Your first car teaches you the skills, and teaches you what you want in the next one.

Anyway, since I've moaned on an on and sounded like an ad, here's what I didn't like:
  • it comes unfinished and there are some rough bits (they include sandpaper and all the tools you need to put it together except for a flathead screwdriver [which is weird, since they include a nice phillips head screwdriver] and the glue clamp, but I just sat on the crosspiece for fifteen minutes instead of clamping it, so there wasn't any need) and the unfinished wood really sucks up the lemon oil.
  • Although you can adjust the take-in, and move it to a different whorl, there isn't a ton of fine-tuning of spinning you can do. With what's out of the box, most of the control is in your treadling.
  • Let's face it, this is not a pretty wheel. It looks like the remedial geometry teacher banged the woodshop teacher and they had a crafty lil bastard.

    Of course, I thought these wheels were ugly (which is one reason I got a Mazurka for my first wheel) but putting this thing together, I love the canvas that the big flat solid wheel and its block of a treadle actually are.

    If I hadn't been in such a hurry to put it together and try it out, I would have decorated it, with something like one of those hypnotic swirly pinwheels, or the Vitruvian Man

    or a celtic circle (artwork by Carol Sexton)

    or, painted it black and done a glow-in-the-dark representation of our spiral galaxy, or, more locally and small scale,

    The possibilities of customization are a little overwhelming. I'm open to design suggestions too; I know that I will be painting this wheel, I just don't know what design will win my heart.

    So I stick to the smaller canvas of yarn at the moment. Here are the two half-pound skeins I made after dyeing, one blue, purple & green, and the other orange and red.

    I just think it's interesting the way yarn looks in the skein v. the ball.
    Anyway, I've plied up a Lendrum "jumbo" bobbin of it and...what do you think? One minute I like it and think it's a fun quirky rainbow ply yarn, and the next I think it's hideous and ill-conceived.

    I left the price sticker on the bobbin, 'cuz that's just how I roll.
    (remember price tags still on hats "gang" fashion?)

    When the bobbin is whirring and blurring, the color is a light purpley-pink wine color, oddly enough.

    I'm going to wash it and the merino/silk tomorrow to set the twist.

    And tomorrow I'll have pics of doggy doings. The non-poopy kind.

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