Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gears Make Things Go

One of the things I love about spinning in public places like the market, is the way children are fascinated by my spinning wheel. Some want to know where Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger--that's actually a difficult question since there are no sharp points on my wheel. Some want to touch the wool or smell it. Others are fascinated by the mechanics. I can see their eyes darting as I spin, analysing what makes things go.

I find it easy to explain the mechanics of the spinning wheel by comparing it to a bicycle. After all, I have pedals, a chain of sorts and wheels that go around and around. I even have gears! These wooden whorls on my spinning wheel work just like gears on a bike:
If I use the smallest whorl, the spindle goes around very fast when I push the pedals around with my feet. That's great for fine spinning where I want lots of twist. If I use one of the middle whorls, I get a middling sort of a speed. If I put the drive band on the biggest whorl, the spindle goes around slowly. I only get a small amount of twist in my yarn for every turn of the pedals. Just like on my bike, I can keep a nice steady rhythm going with my feet and choose the gear ratio that best suits the territory I'm in. It's all there right in front of me on my wheel. And it makes so much sense.

No comments: