You might not think that drones have much in common with spinning yarn, but they play a role in the founding of Daedalus Spinning Wheels. The company is owned and operated by husband-and-wife team, Dave and Rebecca Giles. Dave, who worked for a decade as a drone designer, used that experience to build a lighter, faster, more responsive e-spinner.
While we were looking forward to allowing spinners to try out Daedalus wheels in the lounge at Indie Untangled on October 20, Dave and Rebecca were accepted to have a booth at the New York Sheep & Wool Festival on October 21 and 22! You can visit them in Building 36 at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds.
Tell me about the process of starting Daedalus. Was there one conversation that sparked the business?
David and I started a yarn dyeing business in 2018 called Spotted Ewe Fibers. When we wanted to expand into dyed fiber, a friend and fellow dyer mentioned that to effectively dye spinning fiber, I really needed to learn how to spin. So off I went falling into a new and very deep rabbit hole! Once I had learned to spin I decided I wanted an electric wheel and started looking at my options. When I told David that I wanted an electric wheel, he took it as a challenge and that was the beginning of our journey. I learned to spin in April and David learned soon after, then I was looking for an electric wheel in May, and amazingly tested Dave’s first prototype, the Blackbird, in August of the same year.
How long did it take to develop the first Daedalus e-spinner?
The first Blackbird was delivered in November 2018, approximately six months after design began. There were so many obstacles and setbacks during this time; we remember it as an emotional roller coaster of failures and successes.
How have the devices changed through testing and input you’ve received from your customers?
That’s the beauty of in-house production compared to mass production overseas; when we receive feedback that some detail can be improved, it can be redesigned and put into production in only a few days. If we had gone the mass production route, the molds are so expensive that you are sort of stuck with what you have for many thousands of units, because any change would require new molds. We are very proud of how fast our models have evolved into a high level of refinement, with the help of both the community as well as our handful of top-level testers around the world. The sheer performance figures, reliability/longevity, and overall quality are the results of this group effort!
Dave, how is designing e-spinners different from designing drones and how is it similar?
I would be hard-pressed to say how they are different, honestly. I undertook these designs with the same principles in mind. Both drones and our wheels are light yet strong. Their mechanical systems have been scrutinized down to the electron, meaning I obsess over electrical and mechanical efficiencies to keep the systems running cool even under what others would call “abuse level” use. I choose motors that are oversized for the job because the motor is the heart of the machine and must endure many years of use without faltering. I then get to “bling” out the remaining mechanics with the highest quality bearings, axles that are as hard as tool steel, and tension system components that are unparalleled in the current market (air-cooled aluminum and kevlar). I also will not compromise on things like silence and longevity, even when it requires exotic or expensive components.
Do you both do any crafts in addition to spinning?
Becca spins on spindles, treadle wheels, and electric spinners, She also loves dyeing fiber, knitting, writing colorwork hat patterns, embroidery from handspun silk, yarn weaving, felting, bead weaving, linoleum block cut stamps, photography, and painting. (Rebecca actually went to Savannah College of Art and Design for her bachelor’s degree, so lots of art in her background). David still sketches and models fixed-wing drones and experimental aircraft in his free time.
Do either of you have a spinning or other craft project you’re most proud of?
Becca is most proud of a huge spinning project she just finished, 2538yds of lace weight yarn (36 WPI plied), spun from a 12oz gradient pack from Inglenook Fibers called Mont St Michel.
Tell me about what you will be bringing to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival and if there will be anything special for the show.
Daedalus will be bringing all four models of our electric spinning wheels.
The Sparrow, a great little lace spinner:
The Starling V3FP, a great all-around wheel that spins below lace weight up to a piled bulky weight, and our most popular model:
The Falcon, the highest-speed-on-the-market lace wheel, great for cotton:
The Magpie V2, our largest wheel having two flyer options — Standard or Art Flyer:
In addition to spinning wheels, we will be bringing our winding duo the Whirligig (electric skeiner and swift) and the Roly-Poly (our electric nostepinne style ball winder).
And we will have a brand new model that has recently graduated from the testing phase and is very near production at this time! Mum’s the word for now but it’s guaranteed to be very popular with both the novice and the expert!