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A Kate for charkha spindles

The song of the charkha is a sweet one, and it's hard to say enough good things about the speed and elegance of this deceptively simple spinning wheel. The tune changes, though, when it's time to ply the charkha-spun yarns. Despite its many merits, the charkha isn't an ideal tool for plying.

Faced with this, most of us decide to ply onto another wheel. Many spindle-stab wounds and snarled, balking threads later, a single conclusion blazes to the fore: what's needed is a kate!

Here's one that requires shockingly cheap materials and only minimal woodworking skills.

To make the kate, you will need these things:

     (1) one slat of wood long enough to be a handle
     (2) two shorter slats of wood for cross-pieces
     (3) four short wood screws
     (4) eight screw-eyes
     (5) a screwdriver
     (6) a drill
     (7) sandpaper

Step 1. Take one of your charkha spindles and measure it. You want to know the length from the underside of the pulley to about an inch from the spinning tip. This measurement will be the distance between the center lines of the two cross-pieces.

Step 2. Mark the positions for the two cross-pieces on the longer slat, then anchor them in place with the short wood screws. (The photo shows the "back" of the kate with the screws already in place.)

Tip: You can hold the wooden pieces in position with tape while you work. The tape will just pull off when you're done.

Tip: Drill a little guide hole before inserting each screw to make the job easier.

Step 3. Mark the positions for the screw-eyes on the upper and lower cross-pieces, centering the eyelets (more or less) in the piece of wood. As you can see in the photo, absolute precision is not required. ;-)

For horizontal spacing, remember these screw-eyes will hold the spindles while you're plying, and you want to leave enough space between them so the spindles won't interfere with each other.

Step 4. Smooth any rough spots with sandpaper, and your kate is ready for action!

Post Script: The Takli Problem. I had originally hoped this kate would work for my taklis as well as for charkha spindles; but alas, it was not to be! As you can see in these photos, the wood of the cross-arm hits the takli whorl and prevents the bottom of the takli shaft from passing through the lower screw-eye.

That's a shame, but it's easily fixed: I'll make another kate with the eyelets positioned differently, so the takli shaft can be held on that lower end, but the spindle will still turn freely.

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