With my Icarus disaster temporarily on the back burner, I have turned my attention to trying out the new Woolee Winder I got for my birthday.
Yessir, it's worth it. The cost of the Woolee Winder, I mean. It seems like a small change, I know--and it is--but for me, at least, the difference is remarkable. Not only do I not have to keep stopping to move the yarn along the bobbin, but for some reason, I am getting a much finer, stronger, and more even yarn. I'm not entirely clear about the details, but I think the ratios are different with the WW than with the original flyer, and for whatever reason, it's working much better for me.
There is another advantage that I hadn't considered. The bobbins for the WW are bigger than the Ashford bobbins, and seem to hold a lot more yarn. Add that to the fact that the WW winds the yarn much more tightly onto the bobbin, and we're talking a big, big difference in how many yards fit on a bobbin. What you see above is the same amount of fiber as I would usually use for an entire Ashford bobbin. My only objection to my wheel has been that I could only make skeins of about 70 yards of heavy worsted two-ply before I ran out of space on the bobbin. This makes for some pretty small skeins. With this, I think I am going to get double the yardage into each skein. And fewer skeins = fewer ends to weave in! My only (minor) issue with the WW--apart from the cost--is that it makes a slight whooshing sound. It's pretty quiet, and didn't disturb my husband, who is sensitive to such things and was watching tv in the same room, but it is there. A little oil might help.
If you already have a wheel and are considering one of these, you will have to decide for yourself if the cost is worth it (my WW and four bobbins cost $300 with shipping). If you spin a lot, and/or have been frustrated with the size of your bobbins, or with stopping to move the yarn, you might want to consider it. If you don't already have a wheel, listen up. I have seen wheels advertised as having a "sliding ring" flyer. They are more expensive than your basic Ashford, but less expensive than your basic Ashford plus a WW--and about the same price as lots of other wheels with a traditional flyer. Whether you have a wheel or not, if you know a spinner who has a WW or flyer with a sliding ring, it would definitely be worth your while to try it out. The action is slightly different than with a traditional flyer. I found it very easy to adapt to and I'm getting better results. But if you really love the way your wheel works now, you may not enjoy the change.
If you want more info about the Woolee Winder, here's the link:
WWs are available for many different models of wheel, and come finished or unfinished (so you can match the finish of your wheel, if you finished it yourself, as I did. Oh joy.) Of course it goes without saying that I have no connection whatsoever to this company, except as a customer. Just so you know.