Spinning silk on a flax wheel?

After 20+ years of declaring I'm not a spinner I'm considering taking on spinning silk. Let me interject that I can spin, I just don't. But I'm wondering if my antique flax wheel would be appropriate for silk? It sure doesn't work for wool and I've not tried anything else on it. Thanks and happy new year!


Posted on Fri, 01/01/2016 - 21:23

An autique flax wheel in good working order will spin about anything but cotton well.

The first thing is to have the wheel looked at for functionality. Those "flax" wheels are so named because they have a low ratio and small orifice, but the owners also used them to make fine wool yarn for mittens, caps, etc.

If a wheel doesn't work well with wool, I'd not trust it with expensive silk - mainly you are looking at a wheel that twists the fiber and draws the yarn smoothly on the bobbin.

Posted on Tue, 01/05/2016 - 00:17

I was told the ratio was too fast for wool. In the class we were trying for a 6:1 ratio and the ratio on my wheel was measured at 25:1. The wheel has been assessed by three experienced spinners and pronounced to be in good working condition.

Posted on Tue, 01/05/2016 - 00:24

25 to 1 is excellent for fine wool, but too fast for medium weights.

It might be a little fast for flax as well because of the fiber length.

A modern wheel like an Ashford traditional or traveler, a Lendrum folding, Kromski wheels  with Scoth tension would be better for flax spinning, especially in the beginning.

And if all else fails, treadle slowly.

Posted on Tue, 01/05/2016 - 22:16

A custom woodworker who does turning can make you a pulley with a lower ratio.  You have to very specific about what you want if they aren't familiar with wheel repair.