When I left China, I thought I had everything to have a quickly functioning online yarn shop. Yarn. Yarn winders (really excellent ones that are danged near impossible to destroy — I speak from experience!). Yarn counter. Digital scale, toute bagaille, as the old patoisphiles in the Caribbean would say. I had everything except money because I’d plunged most of my money into buying yarn for the store.
Well, I was wrong. The yarn winder was fine for use as weave—but not in a cottage industry yarn shop—worse yet, it seems to hate to wind silk in quantities greater than two ounces. Don’t ask me why. For a cottage industry, you need a commercial cone winder, which comes at a cost of $7,000, more or less. Whoo! Wow! Whoa! Yes, there are cheaper ones—the reviews are discouraging—but I’m one of these people who doesn’t like to buy the same thing repeatedly. Buy once, buy quality, maintain well, and use for years. That’s me.
So, I decided to improvise. First, I got the kid next door to try to add a winder to an old Singer sewing machine, but it’s been a whole week and he hasn’t come back with it. So, that’s gone. Since he’s going to be a mechanical-electrical engineering double major starting in the Fall, it’s a good project for him to work on.
Then, with orders to fill, desperate, I tried winding with a drill. Doable but difficult.
Finally, I resolved upon a hand mixer. Indeed! Why not? After all, it’s made to spin, and it can handle heavy weights, plus, it has variable speeds. So, I went thrift shopping, found a Braun which runs quietly and smoothly. Next, using electrical and duct tape, I jury-rigged a bamboo shaft to one of the beaters and tried that out. It was noisy, turned in a wide circle, but proved that the Braun was a viable alternative to what’s on the market.
Heartened, I trotted to my neighbor’s with two beaters, one from the Braun and another from some other hand mixer. He cut off the beater from the Braun shaft and the extraneous part from the other. I wasted $7 at the hardware store buying KwickWeld, which did not hold the two differently sized shafts together.
Conversation with my brother-in-law led me to hand it to him so he would get the two shafts welded together on his job. He did, and the winder works like a charm. Smooth, fast, easy.
It’s put together like this: two DVD/CD discs. One rests against the base shelf of the beater and the other rest atop the yarn. In the middle, is a portion of a plastic drink straw around which the yarn is wound. The straw slides easily off of the shaft and provides a firm core for the yarn. At Ace’s hardware, I bought a small round nut that is tightened with a hex screw. This helps keep the upper disc in place and both disks provide upper and nether limits for the yarn. In all, the shaft, discs, and nut weigh 3.3 oz.
There are only two problems: stability—I must affix it to something so I don’t have to hold it. Right now, it’s fastened to the table via a clamp. That works, but I want better. Absence of a yarn guide—right now, I must manipulate the yarn so it winds evenly around the plastic-straw-covered shaft. A yarn guide, like those I’ve seen with the old Royal yarn winders, would be great to have. Absence of a weight calculating mechanism—it would be great to have some sort of mechanism to stop the device at 4 oz.
Other than that, it’s an excellent device. Variable speed, swift, more easily controlled and lighter than a drill, and, more significantly, it’s free. So, I’m building inventory in 4 oz packages, with no pain to my shoulders.
As the shop thrives, eventually, one of this $7,000 or so winders. Right now, the Braun hand mixer. I will attach the yarn counter to it, a timer, and see how it goes. Pictures to follow.