I’ve spent a bit of time this week fettling1 with my two Ashford Traditional wheels.  It started with the thought that perhaps I don’t need the jumbo flyer now that I’ve got the Pipy Poly wheel (though I currently only have one bobbin for it).  Anyway, there have been so many changes I thought I’d create a table:


Changing Wheel Configurations

  1960’s Wheel Late 1980’s Wheel
Start of week Jumbo flyer and modern MoA2. Lace flyer and maidens with sealed bearings.
First change Restore original MoA but use sliding hook flyer.  
Today Remove original (60’s) maidens and install lace flyer maidens and lace flyer. Remove lace flyer and restore original (80’s) maidens and use sliding hook flyer.

The oldest wheel has been rather heavy to treadle with the jumbo flyer.  Sometimes it worked well, but the wheel has never felt entirely happy with this arrangement.  The original maidens have leather bearings.  They are very sturdy and work well.  The sliding hook flyer (and all modern flyers) has a slightly longer spindle than the original flyer.  It fits between the maidens very well and works, but the maidens need to be turned a long way to change bobbins.


The big problem is that the front of the flyer is flat and gives a large area of contact with the bearing (the original flyer has a curved front which has very little contact with the bearing).  This obviously slows the flyer down making the wheel harder to treadle and also causes some noise.  However, I’ve done quite a bit of plying this week with this set up.


1960’s wheel with the lace flyer:


The wheel practically purrs in this arrangement!  It’s lovely to treadle.  Even the smallest whorl (which gives a lightening fast 40:1 flyer:wheel ratio) is easy to treadle.  However, the rubber band which provides the spring in the brake band is on the wrong side according to current recommendations, though Anne Field was of the opinion that the arrangement I currently have is the correct one!  Certainly it appears to work well, so I’ll leave it for the moment and see how it does when filling up a bobbin.


The traditional way to thread a single through a small orifice is with a feather.  I’m not a fan of feathers, but a pipe-cleaner works well:


The next thing to do with this wheel is to make a nice knob for the brake-band instead of just having a piece of dowel.

And for completeness, the 1980’s wheel restored to original parts with the sliding hook flyer:


I promise that my next post will have yarn.  Actual finished YARN!!!  Now I must get on and do some spinning!

1- British dialect meaning to modify or change something to get it working correctly.  These are often small incremental changes until things are right.  When I’m working on my wheels I feel a bit like someone who owns motorbikes and spends the evenings taking the engine to bits, tuning it up a bit and putting it back together. 

2-Mother-of-All: the bit of the spinning wheel that supports the maidens and flyer.  I think that one day I should make a diagram and write a glossary!

One thought on “Fettling”

Comments are closed.