For months I couldn’t come up with anything to talk about other than whining about how I’m still sitting here surrounded by cardboard boxes. Two months of having everything packed up because the house is going to be ready Any Day Now is really, really annoying. But that is a discussion for elsewhere.

One thing I can talk about is my recent experience with a motorized skein winder. I’ve seen them in catalogs but wasn’t sure what I would think of actually using one. The idea of mangling yarn beyond recognition leaps to mind, as you have to stop and turn the thing off when you notice a problem. In the time it takes for that, all sorts of ugly things could happen.

I only recently got any skeinwinder at all, having lived with a niddy noddy for forever. But last week I was helping Morgaine of Carolina Homespun get ready for an upcoming show and one major task was re-skeining dyed yarn. The chunky yarn is easier to do with the manual winder but I used the electric huge skeins of tiny yarn. Overall, I found it no faster but much easier on the arms although still not something I will be rushing out to buy.

The model in question is a Fricke non-adjustable, a tabletop motorized winder. The pegs are fixed and straight, which makes it easy to remove skeins. It also makes it easy to get sloppy and have yarn fall off the ends, something I still do occasionally. I like the shaped pegs on my Will Taylor winder for that reason, although you can only do that with an adjustable skeiner. Otherwise you could never get anything off. It has a dimmer switch to control the speed, turn it for faster or slower and press for off and on.

With no load, it gets fast pretty quick, but while you are actually using it the speed depends on how much the drive band slips. This is hard to control because you can’t control how fast the yarn is unwinding off the swift every second. Sometimes it races out of control and other times it all but stops, pretty much at random. You don’t think of this with the manual winder because your hand can immediately compensate. The only skeins that wound smoothly were the fine mohair, which wants to stick to itself anyway. The high and generally constant resistance meant the skeiner turned at a fairly steady rate. Of course, if the drive band didn’t slip there would be a disaster every time there was the least snag. So that is generally a good thing. But it takes some getting used to.

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