The balancing act of a Graceful Flyer


I decided to make a new flyer and bobbin for my spinning wheel. The old one worked really nicely at lower ratios and for fatter yarns. At the moment, I’m spinning really thin cotton on a takli spindle and using the wheel to ply it for loom warp. I could literally hear the arms of the flyer meet the resistance of the air as it spun, and not in a good way. It sounded like a squirrel cage fan, and I knew that I was treadling with more effort than necessary.

In addition, I modified my flyer balancing jig to make it more sensitive. The difference between a carefully balanced flyer and an eccentric one can be immediately appreciated at higher speeds. To balance the flyer, it is placed on the jig with various orientations of the arms and allowed to roll. The heavy arm will want to drop and you remove material with a file or scraper from the heavy arm until the flyer doesn’t want to roll any particular direction regardless of the orientation of the arms. You can see in the above photo how one arm is about two thirds the thickness of the other, due to the differing densities of the wood. It would seem to pay in time spent balancing to start with a flyer blank of even grained wood.

Here is the old flyer side by side for comparison.


I smoothed and rounded everything much more. It ended up looking a lot more like the flyers found on antique flax wheels, which are about half again as fine as the one on the left. In addition I made the orifice smaller at 1/4″ and spent a good deal more time polishing the bend at the inside of the orifice to the eye.

What else can I say? Oh, it holds a bit less yarn on the bobbin than the former flyer/bobbin, but seeing as I’m spinning such fine yarn I’m hard pressed to fill a bobbin anyway. Now I can spin singles for knitting yarn on the fine flyer and ply it on the large flyer. Happy spinning!

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