I got a special package in the mail from Bill Wyatt of Wyatt Wheels.

Inside this amazingly sturdy (wood-reinforced!) cardboard box, was the prototype

This is the thing side-on. You can see the rocker arm, and the bobbin in the middle. The handle that drives it all is sticking out the left side; it looks like there’s a handle on the right, but it’s actually sitting next to another piece of equipment. There is a knob sticking out to the right, which mounts the re-reeling stand.

This is the re-reeling setup, which is essentially an on-board Lazy Kate. The brass rod is attached to the wooden board, which sets up and pokes into a hole in a knob on the side of the box. This will be nice for winding off, because it doesn’t have to work the machine backward that way.

This is the belt drive; this is hidden inside the “tower” to the left-hand side in the first and second photos. The ninety-degree pully is amazing to watch. The top drive shaft turns the bobbin, and the secondary pulley that goes through the 90′ turn drives the rocker arm. The rocker arm distributes the silk evenly onto the bobbin, which makes it easier and better to work with.

14 replies
  1. aloesfred
    aloesfred says:

    silk reel

    The more I look at it, the more I have a feeling it’s going to work just fine. Proof of the pudding and all that, but I’d say it looks awfully promising. I do like those bobbins. And it sure is a good-looking machine.

    Michael, does the beautiful new reel require clamping to a table? Does it sit still? Not that it matters, since if it doesn’t it would stay put on a nonskid rubber mat. But I kind of like the idea of one that stays put by itself, though it might be just a silly conceit of mine.

    I can’t wait to hear how it goes.


  2. sandthistle
    sandthistle says:

    That looks like the kind of thing that my Dad would get a total kick out of and that I would scratch my head over for hours (until I got an explanation from Dad 🙂

    Lovely, lovely machine. And welcome back, again!! 🙂

    :::going back to continue picking up the havoc wreaked by a Thanksgiving Eve 16 hour power outage::: :::grumbling:::

  3. admin
    admin says:

    Doesn’t it look like some alchemical straw-into-gold machine? I love how he puts the decorative pointy knobs on things.

    I got to work with it this weekend, and it is *amazing.* More later, when I have the digicam and time to expound!

  4. fibrejunky
    fibrejunky says:

    I’m so glad you’re pleased. I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut about the details until you got it. It was fun being in the shop and seeing how Bill’s brain worked. Getting to help a little was even better. Now I want one.

  5. admin
    admin says:

    I found out a new wrinkle last night… the wagger arm is being eaten alive by the silk! I know that the Delrin is a good choice for low-friction, but I think we’re going to have to go with something a little sterner for the thread guide.

    The flash kind of wipes this out, but you can see the little line where the filament has been slowly slicing through the plastic.

  6. mothie
    mothie says:

    Reel Kewel

    Hi Michael,

    Wow, that’s reel kewel. 8-]

    Do you use all your reeled silk for your own brocade projects, or do you have “extras?” Are you thinking of selling any?

    My weaving has taken a backseat to printmaking these days. Woodcuts mostly. I’ve extended my “Paleo-Mythos” Series from tapestry to print. Same urge, different medium.

    Love to see your work.

    Philippa (in another lyfe)

  7. admin
    admin says:

    Re: Reel Kewel

    Philippa, it’s good to “hear from” you!! I’m so sorry that I flaked out on the tablet weaving that we were talking about – I just kind of drifted away for a while. I’ve thought of it since, from time to time, with vague twinges of non-productive guilt.

    I haven’t actually used reeled silk for any projects other than a couple of brocaded ribbons (as the brocading fiber only, in a commercial spun silk warp) so far. BUT, now, I’m able to reel a LOT more… did you see the post following? I can reasonably produce a thousand yards of tram in two or three nights work, and organzine in an additional night (twisting.) I am planning (soon, hopefully!) to make something entirely from my hand-reeled filament.

    I haven’t given any serious consideration to selling any of it, mainly because the time involved would make it too costly – like so many things we do! It’s like when I was asked to put a price on a ribbon piece for entry into a show, and after a lot of thought, realized that it had to go for at least $150 for me to make back materials and as much money as I could make mopping floors per hour. Especially when you start to figure in five daily feedings for the Tiny Masters! I’ve been using mostly China cocoons lately, just because they’re larger and reel easier – I want to do more projects with my home-reared stock, but I think I may need to upgrade my gene pool for more serious silk production. I get too many non-reelable or thin cocoons, and I think it’s because I’ve got a strain that was bred to survive OK on the special powdered food diets.

    I’d be willing to consider barter for it – especially if you want small amounts, it’s not onerous. When you start getting into thousands of yards, it becomes more of an issue. Are you thinking like floss for an embroidery project, or spools of organzine for tablet weaving? An evening’s reeling usually produces about a mile of filament (5,000 feet) and goes through about 50 – 60 cocoons. Four strands of that filament make a ply of my (so-far-favorite) organzine, and there are two plies – so it divides the yardage by 8. Six hundred-something yards of organzine would be a night’s reeling, a night’s throwing, maybe two, and an evening to skein it out and degum it. Various other arrangements are possible on the doubling-throwing-plying process, for different weights. I need to measure the denier of my filament, so that I can accurately describe it in the traditional terms of the trade!

  8. fibrejunky
    fibrejunky says:

    Oh dear. I can see the tiny lines. That is definitely going to need some more thought. Have you spoken to Bill about it? If it weren’t for the friction thing, I’d suggest hickory, like the arm, for its sturdiness. I wonder if putting one of the metal bearings into a slightly wider arm would be the way to go, or if there’d be too much weight.

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