January 29, 2014

Wool, Linen, and Gold Thread for the High Priest Clothing (Part 2)

Once I found the right threads for the clothing of the Jewish high priest, I had to figure out how to combine them into a loomed piece of fabric. At first I tried using the white linen thread as the warp thread, and then individually using the purple, blue, and red wool thread as the weft threads. This was very difficult to work with on the loom and did not look very good, as it created a striped pattern instead of a more solid color (see blue and red stripes on the left on the below image).

Test fabric using scrap yarn and various threads and weaves
I finally decided that I needed to twist my own yarn. I first created a wooden rope twister out of pieces of wood and a coat hanger to test out the thread. Once I decided on making my own thread, I made a Lego machine that stretched each piece of yarn out (around 50 feet long) and then twisted the three yarn colors together using the Lego machine on each end (similar to a ropewalk). The problem is it took around two hours to twist about 50 feet of yarn. At this rate, it would take me approximately forever to complete just the yarn. I had to come up with a more effective method for twisting yarn.

I started searching online and found several motorized yarn twisting machines, including this one built using an erector set. Once I saw it, I knew that this was how I would twist my yarn. The final machine (see below for images) includes four motors, 27 gears, and who knows how many pieces. With this new machine I can spin about 100 feet in about 20 minutes.

Front side of my Lego yarn twisting machine
The key to the machine is a small gear (see the second image below) that allows for two separate rotations on the same shaft. This allowed for the three bobbins to spin one direction, while allowing the actual shaft to spin another direction. This was no small feat to figure out to say the least.

The three bobbins with purple, blue, and red wool yarn
The center gray gear allows for two separate rotations on the same shaft
To create tension, I added a rubber band to the bobbin mechanism
The next challenge was how to add the gold thread. At first I placed it on a fourth bobbin (next to the three others). However, the gold always got trapped inside of the thread. The only solution I could think of was to wrap the gold on the outside of the thread after it was twisted, ensuring that it stayed on the outside.

This mechanism keeps the yarn separate until it is twisted together
Gold thread is wrapped after twisting to ensure that it stays on the outside
The final winder that pulls the finished yarn through the machine
The backside of my Lego yarn twisting machine