There are 7 in my spinning wheel collection. How exactly does that happen? I mean, it’s not like they procreate…..right? (although the triplet of tiny wheels makes me suspicious). Spinning wheel
crazies um….folks on Ravelry have playfully dubbed this wheel pursuit “Falling Down the Rabbit Hole,” referring both to the collecting of them (a self perpetuating addiction) and the Wonderland you’ve stumbled into.
Wheel collector ‘Crazies” is my term of endearment. And I’ll even own up to it; I may be one of them.
adj. cra·zies (kra zeez)
a. Possessed by enthusiasm or excitement: (well….Yah!).
b. Immoderately fond; infatuated: (What’s not to love?)
c. Intensely involved or preoccupied: (but… there are so many types to explore)
d. Foolish or impractical; senseless: (Nuh uh! Wheels are totally practical!) .
So I have seven. Eh, that’s not so much. A very nice lady in our spinning guild owns about 63 wheels! Clearly I’m such a beginner (ha ha)
How Did my Wheel
obsession Collection begin? With this Mystery Object:
A 1996 visit to small coastal town in Greece and this lovely souvenir came home with us. Back then, we thought it was a carved wooden version of Ball & (spinning!) Jacks. No hook, no string, or English sign to explain. It sat a dozen years unidentified upon our shelf, until a 2008 visit to Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival….brought enlightenment. I went to see the barn critters. Wandering among the outdoor booths, I was instantly enthralled by the spinning wheels in use on the lawn. Wow – I’d never seen any in person! The spinners were delighted to explain the how wheels worked “Practically tied me to a chair to inflict knowledge upon me” I’ve said ever since. AND they talked me into joining their Aurora Colony Handspinners Guild, tho at the time, I only knit. ”Don’t worry,” they assured me, “We can tell you’re one of us. It’s only a matter of time until you’ve got your own wheel.” And of course, they were right. They could spot a
crazy- um… spinner-to-be a mile away!
Back home, online wheel research led to an explanation of drop spindles, with photos of the Turkish design. Sudden epiphany + shouts of delight! Mystery object identified! Armed with this spindle, I visited the Guild, learned to drop spindle yarn, and used it over a year until buying my 1st wheel/s off Craigslist. My spindle already had a wee hole at either end of the shaft, so I scrounged a vintage eyehook, clipped, sanded & inserted it. It spins wonderfully well! I still use it to spin small yarn quantities faster than using a wheel. Plus the Turkish design allows you to immediately ply your singles. I love my souvenir from Greece.
Meanwhile…. I longed for a wheel, and haunted the ads. Success? Yes, but I may have made a few minor eager-newbie errors along the way…..
#1. Frenchy. (she was lolling in the back bedroom and missed her group photo). Craigslist, modest price, lovely. Sellers got it while living in Bordeaux, France, in 1965, and kept it for decoration. Antique?? Vintage?? Not immediately functional, and that was my newbie mistake. But I had faith. Believed I could find a repairman and soon be spinning. Eventually I wrote to (famous deity among spinners: wheel repair guru Ron Antoine) who confirmed yes, this wheel had French origin, and likely made of fruitwood. After repairs, I gave this wheel to hubby for his birthday. See photo of him spinning while watching NBA AllStar game.
# 2. The (ubiquitous) Lendrum. See palest wheel in group photo. Craigslist find. Moderately priced for the whole kit. Important note: Frenchy’s repairs took a long time, so the Lendrum was the 1st functional wheel acquired.
Following Lendrum purchase, dear hubby surprised me next morning when I found him treadling the wheel. No fiber on it; Spin Off magazine open in hand. By way of explanation, he informs me “It says here to practice your treadling.” Groggy halucinations, or was my man using the wheel? Gosh I really needed my coffee. Once properly caffeinated a rare insight hit, cautioning me to keep a distance. Do -not -attempt -to -instruct -husband. Let him be…. Wait til he asks. For weeks he tinkered solo ~uninstructed ~ until by golly, he was teaching himself to spin. How awesome is that?! Clearly wheels were A Good Thing, and there were more in our future! All the more so because HE hogged the Lendrum so much, you’d think he “marked it” to claim as his own. Sheesh.
# 3. Mothra. Craigslist find. Identity unknown. Inexpensive. My sturdy go-to wheel. Zero repairs needed, although I am ever-so-slowly refinishing. Have it to the point of a bit more sanding to lighten color before applying oil finish. Spins wonderfully well.
# 4. Swiss Side Treadle. Okay, by now I admit I had a hint of
crazy obsessive growing fondness for the many varieties of spinning wheels. And gee, Craigslist can make them so accessible! But I had a budget and strict some criteria to be met. It had to be inexpensive – although I later learned (ouch) cheap is not necessarily an advantage. When a treat like this is listed for $50, and the sellers relent to $35, it’s too irresistible. Alas…it needed repair, and another wheel got hidden in another closet til repair time. Fixing it definitely upped the cost, but overall it was still an inexpensive acquisition. I just really liked it’s unique appearance. I’ve cleaned off the dust of ages and oiled her thirsty dry wood. Wheels are so much more appealing on display when the bobbin holds yarny proof of the wheels functional ability. Eventually a few wheels came out of their closets, due to my inability to really keep a secret long from dear hubby. He’s really quite tolerant of my crazy obsessive um…unique hobbies.
PART II of “A Flock of Spinning Wheels” will be in next post.