Search the Blog

patreon logoLike what you read? Find the posts helpful? Support the blog via Patreon to get even more of the stuff you enjoyed!

New tool joy!

It is a truth universally acknowledged by every spinner, weaver, knitter or other textile craftsperson that any tools needed for the craft are herd animals.

As of today, I have a new addition to my personal herd of spinning tools. Never mind that over the years I have accumulated more spindle sticks than I can shake a stick at (quite a few of the sticks intended for sale made it into my personal tool stash). Never mind that I already have two wheels (four, if you count the two not-really-functional ones).

The two functional wheels I do own already are good ones… for their purpose. The reconstruction of the medieval Great Wheel is a wonderful wheel that is suitable for serious production of woolen yarns. It may be slightly wonky, due to the fact it needs to be completely taken apart for travel, but that doesn’t make it less productive. It will only do for woolen yarn, though, and it takes up a lot of space, and the yarn (as I have not practiced enough) tends to be a bit uneven. The other one is a small one – my first wheel ever, and it is rather… slow. These days, it is mostly used to wind off portions of thread for selling them, so it still earns its keep, even though not through making yarn.

Once in a while, though, I get a request from a museum regarding yarns that will be as close as possible to the historical originals. For many textiles, especially high medieval or earlier ones, that means thin, very high-twist worsted yarns. Spinning these on a spindle is technically no problem, but even if I do spin quite quickly these days, wind-up time always means that spinning takes a long time. The wheels I own are also not suitable for making yarns of this type – it is technically possible, but takes about the same time as spindle spinning does. I tried to re-vamp one wheel (that is one of the not-really-functional ones), but there were serious problems with the friction necessary to drive the very small whorls. So I can offer historical threads, yes, but as it takes very long to spin them, they are very pricey indeed.

When I was at Wackershofen the weekend before last, though, I finally got the opportunity to try out an e-spinner and see if it could be persuaded to deliver the ratio of twist and yarn intake that I need. Long story short – it did, and today this package arrived here:


Inside, nested in copious amounts of bubble-wrap, is the Zwirnzwerg (literally: plying gnome):


It doesn’t come on its own, though (herd animals, remember?) – it is accompanied by a Lazy Kate and two extra bobbins (for a total of three) and a foot pedal and some spare bits (the brake cord, for instance).

The Zwirnzwerg (and how could I not fall for something called a plying gnome…) is produced in Germany, and is relatively new to the market. With all the accessories, and the maker’s willingness to cater to special wishes, it is sold for a very, very fair price. The manufacturer’s page is German only, but there are some pics, and google translate does a decent enough job to turn it into semi-readable English. I did ask him when we met at the Ravelry fair, and yes, he does ship internationally.

And here it is, my very own helpful gnome:


We will now have to get to know each other, and I will have to get a feel for spinning the yarns I want with it. Obviously, I had to give it a go straight away. The result?


About 0.5 mm in diameter, and with a twist angle of 35-45°.

Or, to stay with the Austen references: I am quite delighted!

This entry was posted in spinning, things that I don't want to be without, work-related. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to New tool joy!

  1. Arvind Kumar says:

    Very informative post, liked it a lot 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *