"I have a new friend visiting for two weeks!
She is a Daedalus Sparrow e-spinner, and part of their ‘Sparrow Migration Program‘ where she is sent round the country to spend a fortnight each with various different spinners, and we get to take her on an adventure and write up our experiences.
I initially tried her for just 10 minutes to make sure everything was there and working properly, before getting on with my Tour de Fleece spinning on my wheels. Now the tour is over I have much more time to get to know her, but I decided that I would write up my initial impressions based on that first short spin, then do the same after a fortnight and see what has changed, whether I’ve got used to things I initially didn’t like, and whether I notice anything else.
My initial thoughts:
– So cute! although small, the bobbin is actually of a reasonable size and I’d have no concerns about spinning for a sweater on this. The size makes it really nice and portable. The very small (looks to be 5 or 6mm) orifice means that most art yarns won’t be possible, but that’s fine, I’d generally prefer a larger bobbin for those sorts of yarns anyway. It’ll easily handle thicknesses of up to worsted weight, and given I generally spin in the fingering weight range, the size is more than adequate.
– The spinner itself feels really sturdy and well-made with rubber feet that mean it’s not going to slide around. Initially I was surprised that the controller felt a bit flimsy, but on actually looking at it I think it’s just that the front panel moves as part of the switch mechanism, which I wasn’t expecting.
– I am ambivalent about the separate control panel. On the one hand, I love that it’s on a cable that means I can position it closer to me than the spinner so I can reach the controls easily but have a nice long distance between my hands and the orifice. On the other hand, it means that a small spinner ends up having a fairly large footprint, and I can’t just grab it with one hand (also, the orifice hook is stuck with magnets to where I’d instinctively go to pick it up)
– The control panel options are AWESOME. I love the programmable soft start and stop and can see myself using a very slow start for super fine yarn, and a slower stop for full bobbins of dense yarn. The option to be able to change the speed adjustment increment is interesting too, while it’s not easy to change on the fly, it does at least mean you don’t have to press the speed buttons hundreds of times if you’re spinning small samples of very different yarns. I love that the speed display lets you set a repeatable speed for consistent spins. I am used to espinners with speed dials though, so not being able to quickly set the speed after starting up will take a bit of getting used to; having to press the button lots of times is a bit annoying, but once happily spinning I doubt I’ll need to mess with it at all. Using the controller itself is a little fiddly, with the direction/off switch needing setting, and then the menu options, and it needing to be switched off or running while you adjust the speed, and generally the order of pressing buttons to get it to do what you want it to. I imagine this is just a learning curve thing and once I’ve played for longer I won’t need to think about it (and indeed won’t need to adjust most of the stuff very often), I just didn’t find it intuitive
– The spinner itself feels sturdy and solid, and everything turns smoothly. The bearings mean that no oiling of moving parts is needed, and you get a really smooth spin. The motor is really nice and quiet. Changing bobbins is fairly easy as the front maiden has a swivel that lets you move the flyer shaft without needing to pop the driveband off. The motor itself has very little clearance underneath, so I think you’d always need to use it on a flat surface, no putting it straight on the sofa/bed. I love that you can change the motor and brake band around to switch between scotch and Irish tension modes, although I’d not had a chance to try this yet. I really love the tension setup with a large and fine adjustment option. Initially I was unsure of the fine adjustment screw as I’m used to a tension knob that turns in a horizontal plane, but I began to get used to the vertically mounted knob very fast, so I’m sure after playing more I’ll love it. I did not like threading it, the orifice is small, and the back side of the orifice is too, so it’s really fiddly to catch the yarn with the hook. Even the yarn guides are fairly small and hard to thread. I really like how the yarn guides both move nicely, and stay put. It also has the back of the orifice and the path to the hooks positioned differently to every other wheel I’ve used, so it’ll take some getting used to. The curved shape of the front of the flyer, and the fact that one hook faces up while the other is down (so the flyer is really nicely balanced) means that I can’t cross lace easily between the front 2 hooks, which I sometimes do on my flyer wheels to reduce takeup with very fine yarns without having to lace from one flyer arm to another and have abrasion of my singles on the ready-spun yarn. This is unlikely to be a huge issue with this spinner as you can get the takeup really low, but when I quickly tried superfine spinning, I did find I couldn’t get it quite as low as I would like. If it were my own wheel I think changing out the brake band for something finer would help with this, but it’s not something I’d want to do with this one as I’d worry that a finer band might wear away the plastic of the bobbin end. The bobbin end has two different sized whorls which I imagine would be good for those who like to spin with higher tension, for me I will only ever use the smaller one as I like a very light touch. The top speed of 2000rpm is enough for most spinning, though I would like it to be faster; I spun most of my last longest thread competition entry at 3000rpm, and would have liked a little more speed than that if I could have got the tension low enough to cope with that. I did have it up to full speed for a little while and it was nice and quiet given the speed, at lower speeds it’s even quieter; certainly quiet enough to watch TV while using it.
My first impressions are overwhelmingly positive, despite having several e-spinners and wheels already, I’d really love one of these guys too. Really the only thing that I don’t like is that it’s not easy to thread, I can imagine this getting very frustrating for a beginner who has lots of breaks, or indeed for me when I’m trying to spin longest thread competition level fineness.
Yesterday we went to the very first in-person meeting of the Norwich City Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers and lots of people got to try her out, most of whom had never used an e-spinner before, and one of whom had never spun at all before. Everyone enjoyed using her, some were surprised by how much they liked it.
The following is an estimated schedule. We have built in time for shipping however as with any adventure there's always a bit of uncertainty. Updates about Tweety and Sojourner's travels will be shared on our Instagram and Facebook page/group.
- Lorrie G - Alaska - July 22-Aug 8
- Krystal P - Washington - Aug 13-29
- Jessica C - Washington - Sept 2-19
- Nancy T - Washington - Sept 23-Oct 10
- Esther E - Idaho - Oct 15-31
- Susan L - Idaho - Nov 4-21
- Leigh W - Oregon - Nov 26-Dec 12
- Desiree G - Oregon - Dec 16-Jan 2
- Valerie S - Washington - Jan 6-23
- Vampy - Norfolk, UK - July 22-Aug 8
- Kathryn F - Leicestershire, UK - Aug 12-29
- Jan H - Fife, Scotland UK - Sept 2-19
- Liz T - Wiltshire, UK - Sept 23-Oct 10
- Eve W - Cornwall, UK - Oct 15-31
- Teresa P - Dorset, UK - Nov 4-21
- Jessica D - Dorset, UK - Nov 26-Dec 12
- Su J - Kent, UK - Dec 16-Jan 2
- Sophie L - Norfolk, UK - Jan 6-23
Follow the Migration!
To keep tabs on the adventures of these two Sparrows follow us on DaedalusSpinningWheels on Instagram, Daedalus Spinning Wheels on Facebook, as well as our Migration Blog here on Spotted Ewe Fibers.
All spinners participating on this program are encouraged to use the following hashtags on social media.