Monday, 20 October 2008

Cone winding accessory development

How strange: google would not let me log in all weekend at home, but it has no problem with the work computer.

Anyway, while awaiting delivery of my sectional beam I've been putting some thought into how to go about winding the bouts for the warp. I didn't particularly want to take the bobbin/rack approach that it normally used because it means yet more stuff, and seems a lot of work. But I have a lot of left-over cones from yarns I've used and recycling them appeals to me. What's more, I have a large bookcase against the wall behind where I sit to weave on the loom, and I've started to picture a set-up whereby I place cones on the floor in front of the bookcase, and run the yarn up to eyelets attached to blocks of wood, which I'll have protruding from the bookcase, weighted down by the books. Unconventional I'll grant you, but it might just work.

That left the problem of how to wind the cones. You can buy cone winders, but they're large, commercial pieces of equipment and they're expensive. Experiments proves that ball winders don't work because they're not tall enough - even the larger size. That left me looking at my bobbin winder, if I could find some way to get the bobbin winder to hold the cones. I already use a last of a sort in the form of a cardboard quill thickened slightly with packing tape, to hold on pirns as I wind them. But what to use? I thought of buying a large cork, the type used for large demi-johns in wine making, but they were too small.

Then curiousweaver posted here about a wooden last a friend had made, which enables her to wind cones on her electric bobbin winder. By sheer coincidence, I'd picked up an electric bobbin winder very cheaply the day before on Ebay, thinking that something similar could be achieved. I don't have access to a lathe until we can get space somewhere for a workshop, so I cast about for alternatives. It had to be light-weight but strong. And then it hit me. Papier-mache is light-weight and strong, especially if it's contained in a plastic cone. So I gathered my materials:

A plastic cone, a large bottle of PVA glue, a bit of packing tape, some shredded paper and a cardboard quill. The cardboard quill is probably optional, but including it gives me the option ti use either the electric bobbin winder or my hand-operated bobbin winder. This particular quill is the one I have been using to place pirns onto to use on the bobbin winder - you can see the packing tape I've used to pack it out a bit.

The first thing I did was to wind the quill with more packing tape, making sure to seal one end, to protect it from the wetness of the glue.

Then I put the PVA in a bowl, watered it down slightly, and wet some strips of newspaper with the glue.

I used these to line the plastic cone. This is difficult to do, because the wet floppy paper wants to stick to everything, but I found by folding them in half and rolling them slightly, it could be made to work.

Then I wet the shredded paper in the glue, packed the cone half-way with it, inserted the quill, and packed the rest of the cone with the paper-glue mixture. There were a few cellulose beads in there for good measure, simply because I had a lot of packing material all in one box from my recent deliveries. Once the cone was full, I made sure the quill was straight in the cone (not that it looks it in the next photo) and set it in a cardboard tube to sit up and dry.

It spent ages dripping glue out of the holes, so if I make another one I'll go with my initial impulse, which was to wrap the cone with masking tape prior to filling. I chose not to this time because I wanted to be able to wipe off any drips while they were still wet.

So how does it work? I'm afraid I have no idea yet - I made this 36 hours or so ago and it's still curing. This would probably be best made in layers, allowing each to dry, but this is a protype. I'll let you know.


  1. Hee hee, looks like a science/art project. I hope you had fun!!

    It's so easy trying to buy things rather than to think and make things. But things you make, however imperfect, are so much more precious.

  2. This one is definitely imperfect!!!

    But you're right - you get such a sense of achievement when you make something yourself.

  3. What a great idea! Did it work - I think it should as it is the same concept as my wooden cone that I've attached to my winder. All the cardboard cones fit on it and it helps me out alot.