Scotch tension

When I first received my Drudik wheel, I had been accustomed to spinning on a Schacht Matchless set up with Scotch tension (ST). I prefer ST over double drive when spinning fine because I think you can control the takeup with a little more precision. Anyway, I mentioned that, at the time, I found double drive a little fiddly, and Magnus recently emailed me a hint about setting the wheel up for Scotch tension.

Most wheels in ST use a spring or piece of elastic to give you a little resistance, and the tensioner is tied to a peg that you tighten or loosen as needed. However, the Drudik wheel in ST uses a brake band with a free-swinging weighted end. He said that if it was set up correctly, “It will give you a steady floating action, something like a gramophone needle.” Hmmm…

I started with a weight from my knitting machine. Whoa, too heavy – the yarn was yanked out of my hand. I taped 2 pennies together and tied that to the end. Nope. One penny still seemed too heavy. So… what’s lighter than a penny?

Why, a half penny, of course!

My friend Ben gave me a half penny when I was in college. I think he cut it apart during a machine shop class in high school? Anyway, I’ve hung onto that piece of penny for 12? years (including 6 household moves) because hey, sometimes I am a sentimental sap, but look how perfectly useful it is! So glad I had it! Thanks, Ben.

Yep, with this set up, I can spin pretty damn fine. The wheel is set to the highest ratio, 31:1. I need to make the orifice smaller to dampen the vibrations, but it’s easy to pull out a thin single. (Handpainted silk, btw. Scroll down to the blue-green stuff.) Are you wondering how thin?


Thumbnail included for scale

I’m trying to spin to a standard, of course, and the lower thread is my yarn. The upper thread is… a hair I pulled out of my head.

(OK, I acknowledge that I’m spinning a tiny bit thicker than the sample… but heck, who’s splitting hairs? Har har!)

27 thoughts on “Scotch tension

  1. And does that incredibly fine, smooth singles yarn have a project earmarked for it? Or just spinning it for “fun” (can we call it fun when it’s that fine?)

  2. Once again I am in awe. If I were to spin, which I don’t, my output would be usable to secure boat anchors. Period. Can’t wait to see what you knit with it!

  3. As my daughter would say your spinning is awesome.

    I once took a class with Rita Buchanan where one of the other students had an ols spinning wheel that she had fixed up. The student didn’t know how to set up the drive band so she had set it up similar to your Drudik with a weighted dangling band. I thought that Rita refered to it as Irish tension, but that was a long time ago. Rita was amazed at how well the woman was spinning because a) she had never spun on a wheel before and b) the set up was ingenious, since she had never seen a functioning spinning wheel!

  4. Wow, such fine spinning! That’s an interesting setup. On my Schacht in ST, I couldn’t fine tune enough to get something between too much and too little takeup. I’ve had better results with DD using the high speed whorl and bobbins. I’ll have to give the weighted method a try next time I spin laceweight.

  5. *eyes goggling* Nice use of a half penny.

    I can spin silk that fine (although not as consistent) on my spindle, but I can’t quite imagine being able to do that on my wheel. I am in awe.

  6. You know I don’t spin, but I have had the privilege to see the progress of your spinning over the years, and I say…you go girl! I am always so impressed with your craft and the things that you have made. Your silk thread deserves description as a lovely gossamer (which of course your hair is too – hee hee ;o)

  7. Welcome to the froghair club!

    Back in the 80’s I was at the Monterey County wool show and Stephenie Gaustad tweaked a wheel with a sprung spring for Anne Blinks by hanging a door key for drag. Have you played with the grist and style of the brake band, too?

  8. My god. That. Is. Superfine. Isn’t it called Frog’s Breath or something like that?

    Drudik. More Drudik pictures. I want your Drudik!

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