The SkeinTwister - Hackaday Prize 2016 Anything Goes Challenge
Being an indie dyer myself, I'm familiar with the challenges of making artisan products by hand, and trying to produce enough to make a sustainable living. The SkeinTwister is the logical next step to my previous project the SkeinMinder - the twister automates that last step of twisting hanks of yarn into tidy, pretty skeins.
It may sound funny that you can get a repetitive stress injury from yarn, but it's absolutely true. Dyers who produce hundreds of skeins per week are increasingly likely to get elbow tendonitis from the act of twisting, especially if they're already prone to arthritis. I hope to eliminate the pain of twisting for these fine, hard-working folks.
Twisting can also be surprisingly hard to teach others. It requires a specific set of concerted motions, and a third body part or outside tool to manage the twist when performing the final fold. Some people get it with a little practice, and some never do. Almost everyone has a slightly different technique, which leads to variation in the final product when skeins are twisted by different people. Humidity can also greatly affect skein twisting, as can the initial consistency of the wound hank.
Twisting is the final step of creating an artisan yarn. It determines the look of the final product, and greatly impacts the customer's reaction. A flooby twist with straggler strands looks sloppy and has less appeal than a neat and tidy skein of yarn. Automating the twisting process eliminates pain, makes it easier to train others, and produces a consistent final product.