My sister and I do send each other gifts every Christmas, but it's usually pretty low-key. A few books. A couple of toys for the baby (ok, that was just this year).
I knew something was different this year when my sister texted me:
"I am so EXCITED about your gift!"
"You're going to LOVE it."
And, because we are our mother's daughters, she had to give hints and I had to guess.
Hint: It's from Oregon.
Guess: Maybe a swift? That would be pretty awesome.
Christmas arrived, as it does, and I called my sister so that we could chat as I opened her gift.
And by chat, I mean squeal with unbridled delight.
Because, my dear, sweet, wonderful (spinning) twin sister bought me a WooLee Winder.
The stuff of legend. The spinning tool that one of my spinning friends declared made her "love spinning instead of just liking it."
Basically, it automatically makes the yarn you spin go onto your bobbin more smoothly. This helps in a couple of ways. It means you don't have to take your hands, eyes or attention away from your spinning to move the yarn yourself. Also, I've heard that some spinners can pack more onto a bobbin with a winder, so you have to change bobbins less frequently.
Following the directions that came with it, I took apart, washed, and reassembled the winder and installed it.
Then, I set up the wheel to spin at a 9:1 ratio and tried spinning Merino combed top for the first time. I plied it on the 7:1 ratio. One of my bobbins (I actually use toilet paper tubes as storage bobbins...) had a lot more yarn on it than the other, so I Navajo-plied the extra singles.
Overall, it went well. Some of the singles were overtwisted, which made plying evenly difficult. The Navajo-ply was a complete mess, but I don't expect a lot from that, anyway. I always welcome the practice. One day I might make a really crazy art yarn out of all of the odds and ends of Navajo-ply I have lying around.
The finished yarn ended up at about 10 wpi, which I would consider a thick worsted-weight. I think it would work up well on a size 10 (6.0 mm) needle.
I went on Ravelry and asked if anyone else found that the Winder seemed to be slowing down bobbin takeup. Most people have the opposite situation. A WooLee Winder seems to create a more even, but also slightly stronger, pull on the fiber while spinning than the same wheel set up without a Winder.
So, I'm going to take the advice I got, re-oil everything, and also try spinning a little finer. According to The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook*, Merino "wants" to be spun fine. So, maybe my overtwist is from just not drafting out fast enough.
Also, I may have developed some "leadfoot" habits from the Kiwi. The Ladybug is a lot easier to start and keep spinning, so I think I'm treadling too fast for the wheel to work perfectly. I will try putting on some slow, soothing music to help me keep a slower rhythm. (No leadfoot jokes, dad. You're the one that taught me to drive, after all.)
Anyway, I'll try those changes tomorrow, along with the 12.5 and 10.5 ratios, and let you know how it goes.
*I wrote a bit about this great book, if you want to read it.