I’ve been generating new feature ideas for a high end eSpinner for years. Many of my feature ideas have never been in a consumer level eSpinner before. The working name for this eSpinner is the EEW Pro and it is likely years before I’ll be ready to release it. At this point I’d like to get a feeling for what features are most wanted by the community to help me focus on the right priories. Please help out by filling out this survey about the possible EEW Pro features.
Here is a photo of the progress made on the new Dreaming Robots workshop where future EEW design work will be done. In last month’s email I explained in detail why I’m building this, but this month I’ll just give a quick build update. Progress has been a little slower than expected because some of the roof pieces got delayed, but we have just received them and work in underway again. Windows are also delayed which means final completion has been pushed back into December. Like my business, global shortages are also affecting them, but I’m really happy I went with this builder as even though there are delays they are keeping things going as best they can and when they do get the items they are waiting on they get right back to my building.
Product Stock Update
Due to global shortages and increased demand several of my products are out of stock. I really wish I was able to get these in stock sooner. When I do get them in stock it will be a big batch and there should be enough for everyone who wants one. I’m trying to be conservative on my estimates so it might be a little sooner than the dates below, and I will keep you updated if there are any changes.
EEW 6.0 – March 2022
EEW Yarn Counter – March 2022
EEW Nano 2 – April 2022 (More info about this product soon)
– Maurice Ribble (Inventor of the Electric Eel Wheel)
I am attending the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival (also known as Rhinebeck Festival) on October 16-17. If you are attending check us out in building 31 at booth 26. In addition to selling my products I’m hoping to bring some prototypes for a few new products. You can get more information about this festival at their website.
I am also planning to go to the Fiber Festival of New England in Springfield, MA on November 6-7. I am still looking for a helper for this festival. This person would demo and help anyone interested spin (levels range from young kids to expert spinners). I pay $20 per hour. While I’m not sure what this festival requires, I will ask anyone working at my booth to be vaccinated and to wear a mask due to the large number of people we’ll see each day. If you are interested in this, reply to this email with any experience you have and I’ll schedule a quick phone call to chat.
This has been a long time in the works, and now is finally the time to share this exciting news with the community.
Let rewind back when I started making eSpinners in 2009. Back then I was just assembling a few of them at a time in my basement. As my my business grew I hired some locals to help with assembly while I continued shipping them out of my basement. At this point I had converted nearly my whole basement space for my business. This was great because it kept my costs very low. In early 2019 I had to rent a warehouse space in Shirley, MA thanks to the massive success of the EEW Nano. It has been a great space for me and I negotiated good terms for the three year lease. About ten months ago I found out my lease would be going up by 60% and I started looking for other options.
After a lot of research I decided to build a workshop and office at my house. This will be a much better space for new product development than I’ve ever had, and it will let me keep work separate from our house which is important to my work-life balance. I also love that my daily commute will be a 30 second walk from my house. Construction has started on this building and there is a picture of the foundation below. It will be at least a few months before I can move in, and I’ll keep you updated on the progress of this new Dreaming Robots HQ.
Another change that comes with this, is shipping from my home with the current volumes just isn’t practical even with this new workshop. So I’ve also found a fulfillment center 10 minutes from my house in Leominster, MA that has given me great terms. The cost of this fulfillment space is less than one-third of what I’d pay if I stayed in my current dedicated warehouse space. The way this new space works is they will give me a little space to setup a fulfillment station in a way that is efficient to ship my products. Then they will store most of my pallets in their large warehouse area. I will have access to the warehouse anytime I want, which is one reason I went with this fulfillment location. I wanted to keep the shipping as flexible as possible going forward and this helped accomplish that. I plan to continue shipping all the daily orders like I do today for a few weeks until I have a very efficient system setup. Once I’m happy with the setup I will hand off daily shipping to an employee at this warehouse.
These two changes will let me focus more on improving existing products and developing new products. I actually like the time I spend each day shipping out orders because it’s easy and relaxing, but I do admit it isn’t the best use of my time. I think these changes will help me keep my prices affordable and will let me do more creative new products for the EEW line at Dreaming Robots.
I’m in the very early planning stages for one product I might be working on after the EEW Cone Winder ships. I’m considering making a more expensive eSpinner than the EEW 6. It would probably be about the same size as the EEW 6.0, but would include many more features than the EEW 6.0. I’m investigating a level winding system for bobbins, a built in graphical screen to help display a menu system, and a few other major never seen on an eSpinner features. If I do this, it would be the most work I’ve ever put into a fiber related project. Just the software I’m envisioning for this one will probably be as much work as the entire EEW 6.0 design. I won’t make any promises at this time because I need to test a lot of the ideas I’ve come up with over the past decade to see if they work as well as I’m hoping. The main reason I’m mentioning this now is to let you community members send in your suggestions for features you’d like to see included in high end eSpinner. I have a list with 14 major new features, but I’d like to grow that list bigger so I can pick the best ones that make sense for this project. Please respond to this email if you have ideas of new things you’d like to see included in a eSpinner.
EEW Cone Winder
Here’s a new video about an updated Cone Winder prototype that I’ve made. The biggest change is the new tension system, but there are a lot of other things I mention in the video.
EEW Yarn Counter
The EEW Yarn Counter will come fully assembled, but I thought people might be interested in how I assemble them. This would also help if you want to take it apart either to see how it works or if you have plans to modify yours when it arrives. Anyways if seeing me assemble an EEW Yarn Counter sounds interesting you can watch the video here.
The manufacturing of the EEW Yarn Counter has been going quite smoothly. I’m planning to provide some updates on that process in the future. After manufacturing is done I’ll need to ship them to my warehouse in Massachusetts and that is looking like it will be difficult since their is a worldwide shortage on ocean freight shipping. I’m already starting to look into that so it doesn’t become a big speed bump.
– Maurice Ribble (Inventor of the Electric Eel Wheel)
I’ve been working through all the details needed to get the EEW Yarn Counter ready for manufacturing. One item I’ve done this month is the user manual for the Yarn Counter. I received a lot of feedback on an earlier version of this manual that I showed to Kickstarter backers, but this link is to a new version with all the suggestions I received. I think it’s looking really good now and like how the line art in the manual looks.
There is a lot of waiting on my Yarn Counter manufacturing partners, and I fill in those down times with EEW Cone Winder work. I released the video below that explains the kinds of decisions I’m making when figuring out what cones can be supported on the Cone Winder. After releasing that video I got a ton of great feedback and have been working on a new prototype to improve many aspects of the yarn counter. I know a lot of you want to see the Kickstarter for this Cone Winder, but I need to get the design to a point where I’m very happy with it before I will run the Kickstarter. I expect that will take a few more prototypes. This newsletter will keep you updated on the progress and let you know when it’s available.
Have a great summer, unless you’re reading this from the southern hemisphere and then enjoy the sweater season!
– Maurice Ribble (Inventor of the Electric Eel Wheel)
A EEW community member showed me a new style of switch that can be used by your hand or switch that works with the EEW 6.0. If you are interested you can purchase it on Amazon by searching for “tattoo foot pedal”, but since there was a ton of interest in it I’m going to investigate what the price would be for me to include a switch like this with the EEW 6.0 in the future. Below is a video that goes into details about the differences between my current foot switch and this alternative.
3D Printed Parts
As I’m sure many of you know I like releasing 3D printable parts accessories for EEW products I think might be useful to the community. I always release the files for free and let other people sell prints since I know most people don’t have 3D printers. For things like bobbins 3D printing gives you many more color options, and others parts aren’t popular enough to justify me making an expensive mold so 3D printed versions are the only option for those. If you have access to a 3d printer or would like to see what you can buy from others I suggest checking out my 3D printing page which gives more information.
I’ve spent most of my time this month on the Yarn Counter Kickstarter. For those who don’t know Kickstarter is a platform where I allow pre-orders for new products. If you haven’t already seen this project, I really suggest going to my Kickstarter page since by the time the next newsletter comes out this Kickstarter project will end.
Yarn Counter Kickstarter
I recently launched the EEW Yarn Counter on Kickstarter. It really has some interesting uses and features beyond what a typical yarn meter would. This project will close soon so time is running out to be part of this project. Go check out the three minute video about the EEW Yarn Counter to see why over 2,000 people have already backed this project!
EEW Photo Contest 2021
The photo contest was a huge success this year. There were hundreds of amazing photos submitted and I’ll be posting about one a day to my Instagram account. Below are winning photos from Carrie, Janice, and Patricia.
– Maurice Ribble (Inventor of the Electric Eel Wheel)
I’m starting an EEW photo contest today and it ends May 15th. You can participate by emailing your photos to support@dreamingrobots with the subject “EEW Photo Contest 2021 “. After submissions end the community in the Facebook and Ravelry groups will vote for three days picking one winner per day from a list of photos I select from the entrees. Then there will also be 2 randomly selected winners. Every person who emails me will get one entry into the random selection for submitting photos, and if you also include a link to any place online that you shared your photos you’ll also get a second entry into the random drawing. You can submit multiple photos, but you don’t get extra entries into the random drawing for this. Each of these 5 winners will get a $100 credit to my store for future purchases. All the photos submitted to this contest can be used by me for marketing purposes. One way I plan to use them is to post them to my Instagram page since people love seeing a new EEW related photo there every day. If you want me to include any info in my Instragram post of your photos include it in the email and I will do my best to include it.
What kind of photos should you submit? It can be photos of your EEW eSpinner, yarn you spun with it, the garments you made with that yarn, or anything you think is related to your EEW. Have fun with these photos and I hope to see a lot photos!
EEW Yarn Counter Kickstarter Coming Soon
I have a the molds made for the EEW Yarn Counter. The current prototype I’m using is very near final and I’m starting to work on making the Kickstarter campaign for it. I’m hoping to launch it on Kickstarter for it within the next month or two. When it does launch I will announce it online and to this email list. I’ll have all the details about what makes this Yarn Counter so special when I launch the Kickstarter.
EEW 6.0 Shipping and Support
The EEW 6.0 has been shipping out for all the Kickstarter backers and all my online store orders. When shipping out well over 2000 eSpinners there is going to be a lot of support required. Most of the support revolves around people who have never spun before asking about issues they are having with various parts of the spinning process. These questions were much easier to answer for the EEW 6.0 thanks to the awesome 6 part eSpinners for Beginners video series and the Fiber’s and Spinning Techiques video series Vampy made before the EEW 6.0 launched. The next most common issues were handling parts that got damaged in shipping or were missing. I shipped out replacement parts for all these issues and while there is room for improvement in the future, the amount of mistakes I made was manageable. Lastly I had a few actual design issues that was causing the EEW 6.0 to stop for a small number of people using the EEW 6.0. It took me about a week to figure out the root cause and propose two fix options. This page explains this stopping issue in detail and gives the fixes.
The turning off issue that affects some EEW 6.0s is related to static building up and being stored in the metal spindle. When that gets discharged it can sometimes pull the reset pin on the circuit board low which effectively turns off the EEW 6.0 briefly then it turns if back on. When you turn on the EEW 6.0 it always starts in a stopped state so this reset event stops the EEW 6.0. In my research of this issue I’ve found other spinning wheels have had this issue, but it seems more people are seeing this with the EEW. I believe there are two reasons for this. The first is the nylon case is a better insulator, and the second is the bottom cover’s rubber feet are even better insulators. This is why some people saw the issue improve when they removed the bottom cover. These insulation layers let the static to build up faster than it tends to on other spinning wheels which mostly use wood which is also an insulator, but not as good of one.
There are two things that can help fix this. The first is to ground the spindle. You hide this by drilling a few small holes in your case and running a black wire down the back support arm and under the case (I show this in the video at the end of this post). However, I went for the very easy method here. The method here uses materials most people will have in your house. All you need is tinfoil, tape, and some scissors. What I did was to cut a thin strip of tinfoil and then folded it over twice to give it a little more strength. Then I ran that from the back bearing to the motor and held it in place with tape. I put some photos showing how this was done below. In my testing this completely fixed the problem.
Another solution is to use a female to female breadboard jumper wire (or these on Amazon) to connect pins 1 and 4 on the programming header. This solution pulls the reset line high on the EEW 6.0 and prevents a reset, but the spindle can still build up a static charge similar to how you can shock yourself when touching a metal object after walking on a wool carpet. The image below shows what pins to connect for this fix.
In theory the most robust fix is to do both, but in my testing either one solved the issue. If the physical shocks are bothering you then I would recommend the first grounding one, but I will point out these shocks are no more dangerous than any other static shock you get in dry climates.
Here is a video that goes over those this problem and the fixes. It also includes a way to hide a wire to make the first grounding fix more invisible.
The EEW 6.0 is now available in my store! I’d like to thank the community for all the feedback and suggestions on previous versions which helped make this the best eSpinner I’ve ever made.
I will finish shipping them to Kickstarter backers by Monday and that is when I’ll be shipping out the first batch of orders from my webstore. So if you or some of your friends were interested in the EEW 6.0, but missed the Kickstarter now is your chance. If you are curious what goes into unloading them from the truck, I made this video of where I did that exhausting unload.
If you enjoy a fiber craft like knitting, spinning, crocheting, or weaving; then this article is for you. The reason measuring micron count matters is because micron count can be a good approximation for softness. A smaller micron count means the fibers are thinner and that often leads to a softer yarn.
If you can’t feel the yarn because you are buying it online, then micron count is a great way to get an estimate of yarn softness. Different people will have different meanings for soft. An online review saying the wool is “super soft” doesn’t help you understand how soft yarn really is. However, if you say the yarn is 15 micron Merino that will help a lot if you have been looking at micron count for awhile. A lot of yarn doesn’t report the micron count, but my hope is with this article will help with that. I’d like to see more people start reporting the micron count in online reviews which will help make more informed yarn purchases.
By the way, I’m certainly not trying to say everyone should buy all their yarn online. If you have a local yarn shop or fiber festival I encourage you to support them. Feeling yarn in person is always better than trying estimate the feel from photos and reviews. However, the reality is a lot of fiber lovers buy some of their yarn/rovings online these days and I’d like to make the process better with this article.
One of the important measurements when looking at wool and other fibers is it’s micron count. Micron (or micrometer) is the measurement for measuring the diameter of a single fiber. For example Merino fleece will contain fibers with diameters as low as 10 microns or thicker fibers of maybe 25 micron diameter. A micron is one millionth of a meter or one thousandth of a millimeter.
Certified fiber labs can accurately measure samples when you want official micron counts. There are two reasons a lab typically does this measurement. First the tools they use to analyze the fiber require some training to use properly and if not used properly you’ll get the wrong results. Secondly, the tools they use are expensive. One of the typical tools is the OFDA2000 which typically costs around $60,000-$75,000. A newer tool called a FiberLux costs a little over $2,000. My general understanding from what I’ve read is the OFDA2000 is basically the standard way of measuring fiber and the verdict is still out if the newer FiberLux is accurate enough to replace it in some use cases (this was written in early 2021). Here is an article with more options if you are interested in more details about various ways micron counts are measured.
Measuring Yarn Micron Count Yourself
Before these automated machines people would look under microscopes to manually measure fiber. This is interesting option, but requires a lot of a lot of time and training to learn how to measure fibers consistently and accurately under a microscope. I did some research and found a common way to measure human fiber (we call it hair) is using laser diffraction and interference. This sounds complicated, but is actually pretty straight forward. You basically shine a laser pointer at a hair and then due to the how light works it will create a pattern of bright and dark wave pattern on the wall. You know the distance from the hair to the wall, the distance between these light/dark pattern on the wall, and the wavelength of your laser pointer so you can calculate the diameter of the hair with this equation.
Note for those not wanting to do the math I added a calculator below on this page that does it for you.
hair_diameter = (wavelength of laser) / (distance_between_light_dark_pattern / distace_to_wall)
For example when I measured one of my hairs, I was using a red laser with a wavelength of 650nm. The distance to the wall was 651 cm. The distance between the light/dark pattern was 4.8 cm. Using the equation above gave me a hair diameter of 88,000 nm, or 88 micrometers. If your laser pointer doesn’t list its wavelength you can use 650nm for red lasers and 532nm for green lasers.
Another simpler method is is to use a Micrometer. That link is the one I used which has a 0.001mm resolution which is a 1 micrometer resolution. I did a lot of testing with it and it was quite consistent, but it was consistently less than the light diffraction method above. I think the reason for this is using a Micrometer can squish the yarn. So to get accurate measurements you should either use the light diffraction method or practice with the micrometer on known fibers until you get a good feel for how much pressure to use without squishing the fiber. I talk about this more in the video below.
So those are the two methods I used to get fiber diameter and each one cost me under $40. I created the video below that goes into more detail on these two methods of measuring a fiber’s micron count.
Primitive breeds tend to be far less consistent in micron count, both between animals and even within an individual fleece, so for those it’s especially important to take measurements from several areas if you want a decent average, or to grade the fleece well. Modern wool sheep are bred for fiber consistency, so for them it’s less of a big deal, though you’ll likely still find a bit of difference between the neck (finer) and the britch (coarser).
Fiber Micron Calculator
Press submit to get results.
Measuring Fiber at a Wool Testing Lab
I did some searching with some labs that test fiber samples. The best two options I found were New Zealand Wool Testing Authority (NZWTA) and Montana Wool Lab. The online documentation for NZWTA is much better so if you want to do more research online I’d recommend their website. That said I have contacted the Montana Wool Lab because shipping them samples is easier for me since they are located in the USA. Contacting the Montana Wool Lab by email (email@example.com) and phone (406-994-2100) worked for me.
I found their fiber report document very informative. It explains they don’t just measure the one fiber, or a few fibers. They measure the diameter of many fibers and provide you with an average fiber diameter plus a standard deviation from that average value. With that information you’ll know a lot more about the fiber than measuring just a few fibers like my DIY approaches in the previous section. They also include a comfort factor which is the percentage of fibers that are 30 microns in diameter or less because this has been found to be a diameter that can cause skin irritation.
Judith MacKenzie says that a mix of high and low micron counts in a yarn is what causes the itchy feeling, more than simply high micron fibers alone. I haven’t verified this myself, but Judith is well known in this field so I want to share this.
I’m planning to send in some samples and get some reports from Montana Wool Lab in the future. I haven’t done it yet, but will report back when I have results from them.
Help spread the word about micron count and share this post with a friend.
I’d like to thank Vampy who reviewed an early draft of this blog post and provided some great feedback.