This Kickstarter campaign has, at the time of writing, already surpassed its funding goal by over 6x. However, I wanted to highlight it on the blog as a unique product - a budget-friendly electric spinner.
The Electric Eel Wheel is an e-spinner (think motorised spinning wheel) made from low-cost parts and an open-source design. That means, if you're handy with DIY, you could make one yourself! Myself, I prefer to order one pre-assembled - at a price that's cheaper even than many conventional spinning wheels.
Well, does "electric" automatically mean "better"? As someone who prefers my spindles over my wheel, obviously I don't always believe in replacing methods that already work well with more complex automated solutions. But different tools are good for different things. And there are two things right away that I can see an e-spinner excelling with:
1. Speed/Fast twist insertion - I enjoy spinning cotton. My wheel's ratios are far too low to make it practical to spin it with that, and I find it difficult to spin cotton on a drop spindle, so I spin it on a tahkli or a charkha - both of which are excellent tools for spinning cotton, however both fill up quickly with only a small amount of yarn. The Electric Eel could be great for spinning large amounts of cotton at once, putting in enough twist quickly (cotton likes a lot of twist).
2. Super lazy plying - My current plying workflow is typically to wind a two-stranded plying ball, put the ball into a bowl or jar, and then ply onto a large low-whorl spindle. With an e-spinner, plying would be a breeze - attach the plying ball to the bobbin, set the speed, and go (adjusting the hooks and scotch tension every so often I suppose, so the plying remains consistent throughout!). It almost feels like cheating... but as I have several handspun sweater projects in progress, it seems like a very attractive option. The bobbins also reportedly hold about 6 oz (170g) of yarn!
I have thought about trying out an e-spinner for quite some time now, for the above reasons. An e-spinner is also, obviously, way more portable than a full-sized wheel (though, as a spindle aficionado, I've already got that point covered).
Most of the e-spinners on the market are, however, not cheap. I don't say this as a point against other e-spinners: Everyone I know who's used a Hansen Minispinner, for instance, has said they are worth every penny, and I believe them. However, I also think it's valuable to have an entry-level priced e-spinner on the market - so I'm very excited for this project!