Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Majacraft Suzie Spinning Wheel

 

Majacraft Suzie - All Purpose Workhorse

The Majacraft Suzie is the most versatile and well rounded wheel in the Majacraft Spinning Wheel product line.  It is the wheel that Majacraft uses to design and optimize all the accessories, so it works with every optional tool available from Majacraft.  It was the original Majacraft wheel and has been around for 30+ years.  It is named after the original owners' John and Maizie Allots' daughter.

It has a solid drive wheel with a pretty engraved clematis design on the wheel and stem which was designed by New Zealand artist Sharon O'Callaghan. 

Clematis Design on Stem

Clematis design on Drive Wheel

The solid drive wheel is made of MDF with rimu veneer, and the weight of the wheel makes treadling very easy on the knees.  Once it starts spinning, the wheel takes momentum and treadling gets really easy.

It has a bobbin bar on the front which is designed for storage of two bobbins.  It wasn't designed to be used as a lazy kate.  But many people do figure out how to use as a lazy kate.

Suzie has a Bobbin Storage Bar

It was designed to allow for easy assembly and it is a very flexible design.  If you loosen the wooden drive wheel knob, you can shift the stem to the left or right, which is very convenient for long draw.

Suzie with Stem shifted to the left

You can shift the stem all the way down until it reaches a safe hard stop to take advantage of the carrying handle feature.

Suzie folds up for easy carrying

You can also shift the spinning head to have the orifice offset to the right or left, depending on how you assemble the head:

Orifice assembled on left

orifice assembled on right

At one time the drive wheel on the Suzie was laminated, but it was improved with an MDF base and a rimu veneer.

Scotch tension

The Suzie uses scotch tension to control the speed of the bobbin and flyer rotation.  With scotch tension, the flyer is directly connected to the drive wheel, and the bobbin follows the flyer.  The bobbin has a small amount of resistance applied with a separately controlled brake band to allow the flyer to rotate faster than the bobbin.  This makes it possible for the flyer to wind the fiber onto the bobbin.  This light tension allows for spinning finer yarns, but can be adjusted if more bulky spinning is desired. 

Majacraft Scotch Tensioning System on the Suzie

Double treadle

The Suzie is a double treadle spinning wheel.  This means you use both feet to treadle two pedals which rotates the drive wheel.  Double treadle wheels offer excellent control over the rotation of the wheel which is helpful when stopping, starting, changing speeds and rotation directions.  You have much more control than when using a single treadle wheel.

What is the difference between the Suzie and the Suzie Pro?

I listened to a live feed of Glynnis Poad explaining the differences between the Suzie and the Suzie Pro that was released in 2017.  In it she says that the Suzie was the original wheel.  The Suzie Pro was added and had a drive wheel that was 25% heavier than the drive wheel on the Suzie.  This gave it more inertia to allow it to spin very smoothly with little effort.  It was designed to be a production wheel.  There have been changes to the Suzie Pro over time, such that now they only difference structurally between the two wheels is the appearance of the drive wheels.  The Suzie and Suzie Pro drive wheels are made of a base MDF material, and are flat, not sculpted.  They are also very close in weight.  The Suzie Pro has a painted MDF drive wheel.  The standard color is green, but you can work with Majacraft to customize the color of your drive wheel and pulleys.  Suzie Pro is also sold with more accessories.

The Suzie has MDF wheel with Rimu veneer.  It comes with the Suzie Whorl and a delta flyer.
Majacraft Suzie Spinning Wheel
The Suzie Pro has MDF wheel with painted surface.  Suzie whorl and high speed whorl (both painted), delta and e flyer.
 

Accessories

The following accessories are available for use with the Suzie spinning wheel:

Specifications for the Majacraft Suzie

SpecSuzieSuzie Pro
mminchesmmInches
Maximum Height78030.778030.7
Maximum Width38015.038015.0
Maximum Depth45017.745017.7
Folded Height55021.755021.7
Orifice Height75029.575029.5
Wheel Weight6.4 kg14.1 lb6.5 kg14.3 lb
Drive Belt Length126049.6126049.6
  • Packed weight
  • Dim weight (USPS Calculation to account for extra large box, use this to estimate shipping cost):  37 lbs
  • Sell price:  $1,180 USD

Spares/Replacements for the Suzie Wheel

The Suzie comes standard with the following items, all are available from our website for replacements or spares:

Other parts of the wheel can be sourced as replacement parts, contact me directly if this is something you need at jen6265@gmail.com.

Ratios for the Majacraft Suzie and Suzie Pro

Whorl size - 5 is largest ->

Ratios are :1

54321
Suzie Pulley (standard)4.26.48.911.314.5
Little Gem Pulley5.66.89.112.116.0
Rose Pulley (Slow Speed Kit)3.44.56.09.312.8
Fast Pulley9.512.415.018.8
High Speed Head11.415.420.427.0

 

Pulleys that can be used on the Majacraft Pioneer X Spinning wheel

Here is a video of me changing the whorl on a Majacraft wheel:

 

Here is a video of me changing the drive band on a Majacraft wheel:

Warranty

Your new Majacraft wheel is guaranteed to be free of defects in the workmanship for a period of two (2) years following the date of original purchase.

Documents

Majacraft Suzie/Pro Assembly Manual

Majacraft Overdrive Head Assembly Manual

Majacraft Spinning Manual

Videos:

Here is a video of me unboxing my Majacraft Suzie Spinning Wheel:

Here is a video of me assembling the Majacraft Suzie Spinning Wheel:

Here is a video of me Spinning with the Majacraft Suzie Spinning Wheel:

Here is a video of me installing and using the high Speed Head on the Suzie:

Here is a video of me using the Suzie and the Lace Kit

 

Here is a video of me using Suzie and the Stylus Kit

 

Here is a video of me using Suzie and the Wheel Skeiner:

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Majacraft Pioneer X

 

 Majacraft Pioneer X - What makes it special?

The Pioneer X was launched in order to give spinners a low cost, low frills option to "dip their toe" into the craft of handspinning.  At a price of $989 it is the lowest price wheel in the Majacraft Lineup. 


The Pioneer X spinning wheel could also be a lovely addition to a collection which is missing a Majacraft wheel and therefore doesn't have that one wheel that offers effortless treadling and smooth takeup which is characteristic of every wheel in the Majacraft lineup.  In other words, you are getting all the benefits of the ingenious Majacraft design elements in a simple, low cost wheel. 

Another ideal scenario I can envision would be if you would like to work with Majacraft accessories to spin lace, art yarns, and higher volume spinning, but don't see the need to secure a wheel for more niche applications like the Aura for art yarns or the Rose for fine spinning.

Features

The Pioneer X is a double treadle spinning wheel.  This means you use both feet to treadle two pedals which rotates the drive wheel.  Double treadle wheels offer excellent control over the rotation of the wheel which is helpful when stopping, starting, changing speeds and rotation directions.  You have much more control than when using a single treadle wheel.

Majacraft Pioneer Double Treadle

The Pioneer X uses scotch tension to control the speed of the bobbin and flyer rotation.  With scotch tension, the flyer and bobbin are activated by the rotation of the drive wheel using the same single drive band. The bobbin has a small amount of resistance applied with a separately controlled brake band to allow the flyer to rotate faster than the bobbin.  This makes it possible for the flyer to wind the fiber onto the bobbin.  This light tension allows for spinning finer yarns, but can be adjusted if more bulky spinning is desired.

The Pioneer X has a convenient carrying handle that folds out of the way when not in use.

Majacraft Pioneer X Carrying Handle

Every wheel from Majacraft is individually numbered, assembled and tested before packaging, and is signed by a member of the Poad family. 

Majacraft Pioneer Serial Number Location

To register your wheel with Majacraft, click this link.

Spares/Replacements

 The Pioneer comes standard with the following items, all are available from our website for replacements or spares:

Spares for the Majacraft Pioneer X Spinning Wheel

Other parts of the wheel can be sourced as replacement parts, contact me directly if this is something you need at jen6265@gmail.com.

Accessories

The following accessories are also available for use with the Pioneer X spinning wheel:

The stem design of the Pioneer X makes it incompatible with the overdrive head and the high speed head.

Specifications

  • Material:  The latest upgrade is made from American Ash.  The drive wheel is MDF with American Ash veneer, giving it additional weight to allows for even rotation and long life.  It is finished with a clear lacquer.
  • Weight:  Aproximately 14 lbs (6.3 kgs)  The weight varies with the wood density of each wheel
  • Height:  28.3" (720 mm)
  • Footprint:  15.7 x 15.7" (400 x 400 mm)
  • Wheel Diameter:  12.6"  (320mm)

The Pioneer X - Creative is a version of the Pioneer which can be supplied with a unfinished surface so you can paint or finish any way you want.  You can also get the drive wheel in custom colors.

Pioneer X - Creative

The Pioneer received an upgrade in April 2019 which included three features:

  • Changed the composition from pine to american ash
  • Added a handy carrying handle
  • Modified the base, pedals and stem to match the aesthetic of the other Majacraft wheels.

Packed weight:  43 lbs dim

Sell Price:  $989 USD

Ratios:

Whorl size - 5 is largest ->54321
Suzie Pulley (standard)4.46.79.311.414.5
Little Gem Pulley5.97.19.412.316.0
Rose Pulley (Slow Speed Kit)3.64.746.29.412.8
Fast Pulley10.012.815.218.8

 

Pulleys that can be used on the Majacraft Pioneer X Spinning wheel

Here is a video of me changing the whorl on a Majacraft wheel:

 

Here is a video of me changing the drive band on a Majacraft wheel:

Here is a video of me unboxing the Pioneer X:

Here is a video of me assembling the Pioneer X:

Here is a video of me spinning with the Pioneer X:

Here is a video of me using the accessories on the Pioneer X:

Warranty

Your new Majacraft wheel is guaranteed to be free of defects in the workmanship for a period of two (2) years following the date of original purchase.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Whispering Pines Ivy

 Whispering Pines Ivy

Ivy's fleece

Ivy is a grey katmoget ewe from our breeding program.  She was born in 2016 and is named after the kitchen maid in the television show Downton Abbey.

Her dam is Whispering Pines Pamela, a fawn katmoget.

Whiserping Pines Pamela

Her sire is Whispering Pines Mr. Darcy, a grey katmoget that had his origins with our efforts in AI to help us achieve finer, crimpier fleeces than what were available from the shetlands that were available to us in the US.

Whispering Pines Mr. Darcy

Ivy has a very nice, fine and crimpy fleece, and it is usually one of the larger fleeces from our clip:

Ivy's Fleece

Her micron results from 2020 were as follows:

AFD:  24.3

SD  4.96

CV  20.3

SF 23.5

Here is a picture of her as a lamb:

Ivy as a lamb

Monday, January 25, 2021

Whispering Pines Freyja

 

Whispering Pines Freyja

Freyja is a very flashy spotted ewe from our 2019 crop of lambs, named after Nordic goddesses.  She is registered as black even though most of her fleece is white.  What is making her appear white is that technically she is black with an enormous white spot.  Her fleece will be mostly white, with a few small spots of black and black/white fiber.

Whispering Pines Freyja

Her dam is Blue Sapphire, one of our first fine shetlands born here on the farm.

Whispering Pines Blue Sapphire

Her sire is Rush, who we brought in from another fine fleece shetland breeder, OK Acres.

Rush

We knew when we put these two together that we were going to get very prominent spots, so were not suprised that Freyja and her twin brother had a lot of flash!

Freyja and Twin Ram as lambs

Last year I was able to roo her lamb fleece, which means I was able to pluck her fleece by hand without the use of shears.  This is a trait with the shetland sheep where their fleece encounters a break in the staple which allows them to shed their fleece.  It is also called a rise, and usually happens in the early springtime.

Freyja's Roo'd Fleece

The AFD data on her fleece is AFD 23.4, SD 5.9, COV is 25.1 and spinning fineness is 23.6. 

Her staple length is a very nice 3" unstretched.

Freyja's lock

This fall we bred her to Brienne's 2020 fawn kat ram, who we named Frederick, after Frederick Douglass, keeping with the theme of key players in ratification of the 19th amendment.

Whispering Pines Frederick

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Whispering Pines Harry

 Whispering Pines Harry is a white ram from 2020 lamb crop.  He has a white fleece which is very fine and crimpy.  Here are the ewes we put with Harry for 2021 lambs:

Whispering Pines Harry

Neda:

Whispering Pines Neda

Tovia:

Whispering Pines Tovia

Eir:

 Whispering Pines Eir

Saturday, January 16, 2021

What I learned about Spinning Lace Weight Yarn

 I love learning new spinning techniques from an instructor vs. reading or watching videos.  Don't get me wrong, I use all three methods for learning, but love the opportunity to listen, ask questions and verify understanding with a live person.

I installed a Majacraft Lace kit to my Rose spinning wheel and began using it to spin a finer lace weight yarn.  These are available in my shop to purchase and can be installed on any Majacraft wheel - link to listing



Majacraft lace Kit includes two fat core bobbins, lace flyer, high speed whorl and an allen wrench.

Majacraft Lace Kit 

I created one small skein then decided to reach out to one of my customers who bought a Rose and a lace kit from my shop in order to find out what I could do to get my yarn as fine as possible.  She generously shared her knowledge with me, and I am happy to document in this post some of the kernels of insight that I learned from the talk.

To follow are some of my questions I had and her responses.  I have also embedded the video of my interview with Caroline at the end of this blog post.

What is a lace weight yarn?

Lace weight is any yarn that yields 18 wraps per inch (WPI) on a standard yarn gage.  You measure it by wrapping your yarn around the gage and count the strands that fall within a notch in the gauge which is premeasured so you can calculate how many wraps would fit within one inch.

My Yarn Gage has a groove that is 1/2 inch, so this yarn is 30 WPI:

Yarn Gage

A higher number indicates a finer yarn.  18 WPI is the lowest gage to qualify as lace weight.  Lace weight has other names, some are slang like frog hair, others have more acceptance as descriptions of gage, like "cobweb" for example.  3 fiber strands are the minimum to be called "yarn", and that is really fine!

What are the basic materials needed to make a lace weight yarn?

The most important thing is to use a very fine wool.  The neck wool is typically the finest wool on the body, but if you have wool that microns around 20, with a low standard deviation, you are using a good material for lace weight yarn.  Our soft shetland sheep usually micron in the low 20's, so I think I am in good shape for material requirements for spinning lace.

Wool samples from our soft shetland sheep

What tools are used to make a lace weight yarn?

Majacraft makes a lace kit which has some features that make it easier to create a fine yarn.  First of all the flyer has a very short bar.  This reduces the distance the yarn needs to travel as it's winding on the bobbin which reduces the risk of breakage due to the fine nature of the yarn.

Standard vs lace flyer

 

The bobbins in the lace kit flanges are smaller so they can fit inside the lace flyer.  They also have an enlarged core which reduces the tension of the takeup, again allowing you to apply more twist to the yarn for a stronger, but finer strand.  

Standard vs. Lace Bobbin

The whorl that is supplied with the lace kit takes you to higher ratios which result in a very fast rotation of the flyer, incorporating much more twist than you would get with a standard whorl.  My wheel is a Rose, so I am showing the whorl from my wheel compared to the lace kit fast speed whorl.

Standard vs. high speed whorl

When you spin thicker yarns you have the benefit of many strands in your twist which provides strength to the ply.  This is less the case with lace yarns.  So Majacraft has tailored the parts of the wheel which when combined create the optimal conditions for spinning lace yarns, which are as follows:

  1. Light takeup tension to prevent breakage and allow for more twist before winding on bobbin
  2. Shorter distance between flyer bar and bobbin core
  3. Faster flyer rotation to get more twist into the yarn

What techniques are used to make a lace weight yarn?

When I started out with the lace kit I was using a supported long draw drafting technique.  After talking with Caroline I decided to switch over to short forward draw.  Spinning as a worsted yarn with as few fibers as possible is how you create the finest yarn.

Because you are consciously trying to minimize the number of fibers that go into your yarn, it is a good idea to put a cloth behind your spin so you can easily see how many fibers you are introducing into your twist.

If you are spinning from roving or combed top, you want to isolate some fibers to measure their length so you have an idea of the optimal length of your drafting zone.

Caroline showed me a few very lightweight spindles that she uses for lace spinning which is another way to achieve fine yarn.  She shared the links to those suppliers:

Trillium spindle from Bull Sheep Fibery 

SpindleLady has some very lightweight spindles 

There is a contest for lace spinning called "The Longest Thread Competition".  Can you tell us about it?

The contest is in Tazmania, Australia and takes place every other year.  The next competition is in March 2021, entries from the states should have beenin the mail by the end of October to arrive in time for the entry deadline.  The challenge is to spin the longest 2 ply yarn with 10 grams of fiber (1/3 oz).  The judges measure the length of all the entries in the different classes, and the longest strand wins.  The record for wool is 1,442 yards held by Naoko Tamuro from the 2005 competition.

Bothwell Spin in - Longest Thread Contest

What do you do with lace weight yarn?

Lace weight yarn can be used for knitting shawls, weaving and crocheting lace items.  Caroline talked about how to use lace weight for weaving. 

I am currently in the process of working towards a very fine lace yarn and will share my progress and findings in my next blog post!

 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Frederick's Breeding Group

 Frederick, a 2020 ram lamb, named after Frederick Douglass, a pioneer in the suffrage movement, had a very nice assortment of ewes in his breeding group.

Frederick:

Whispering Pines Frederick

Susan:

Whispering Pines Susan

Freyja:

Whispering Pines Freyja

Sif:

Whispering Pines Sif

Baxter:

Whispering Pines Baxter