A Flock of Spinning Wheels: Part 2

Where did we leave off?  Oh yes….still Falling Down the Rabbit Hole into wheel Wonderland.   At this point, I had working wheels.  Was a member of a terrific spinning guild too.  I was content; not even looking for more wheels.  They just sorta found me…

The Cat Wheel

The Cat Wheel

# 4.  The “Cat” Wheel.  Bavarian style upright.  Take note:  if your dim-witted feline caterwauls loudly at 5a.m, jolting you awake & to the rescue….be forgiving.  Even if nothing was amiss (pleasant surprises may yet follow).

So I had wake-up coffee while dinking around on Ravelry.  You know how Ravelers imbed links, and next thing you’re staring at an eBay page?  Yup, that’s what happened.  I didn’t go looking for eBay; I was lured there unawares.   And it was the little photo on the sidebar that got my attention.  I clicked for a closer look.  Clicking anything at 5 a.m. is risky.

Cat Wheel, close up

Cat Wheel, close up of all the turnings

There was a captivating wheel, for all of $50.  Intriguing lacy metal ball and bands.  Sure…it needed some love.  But why hadn’t anyone bid on it?  Waitaminute, what was this “Buy Now” button?  I’d never seen that before (I rarely visit the site).  A moments investigation reveals that once a bid appears, the “Buy Now” button disappears.  I returned to the photo and blinked at the date stamped on it:  same day, less than an hour before I showed up.  It was that newly listed?!  (Maybe her cat woke her up?)  Stared a few seconds longer….and….my finger clicked the button.  It was gonna be mine.  Only a state away, & cheap shipping.  Oh dear….whatdidIjustdo?  I blamed it on my groggy condition.  I blamed my groggy condition on The Darn Cat! 

Days later UPS is slated to deliver box.  Whew – hubby away at basketball.  I waited…  I paced…  No package.  Hubby comes home.  Well, he’d be at work next day….  And then oddly, at 7pm, our doorbell rang.  “Who’s that?” he asks, peering out window to see the UPS gal on our staircase.  Opening door, I fetch the box.  She hollers up “Sorry about delay, I had to fix a flat tire!”  Well my cover was blown, he’d seen the box, so a confession was in order.  Of course I blamed The Darn Cat!  I must say – hubby was rather amused by the whole charade.

What I unwrapped was another neglected, dried out wheel, in need of cleaning.  Every nook & crevice encased with dusty gunk of ages.  Bust out the cleaning supplies and set about gently unveiling it’s dark beauty.  Glued & clamped a crack in the table.  Why were the table & wheel rim so rough compared to the smooth intricate turnings?  It’s a mystery.  Cleaned up a curiously knobby footman, gently picking away clots of old gunk to find a delightful surprise underneath it all!  Oh looky ~ a carved CAT!  Hmm….was that karma, or what?

Carved Cat atop the footman.

Charming Cat found atop the footman.  So I carved a wee mouse for it to chase around the wheel!

Despite some separation of the wheel rim, it’s still quite sturdy and spins without a wobble.  For now, that’s fine.  Further cleaning brought forth discovery that the ‘lacy’ metal band was actually the initials & date on wheel.  The initials are A.M.K. atop the date: 1827.  The distaff isn’t original, but I appreciate someone’s effort to replace it.  The camera flash makes the distaff wood appear lighter than it is in ordinary daylight.

Metal band with initials A.M.K. and dated 1827.  That's... 186 years old.

Metal band with initials A.M.K. and dated 1827.  Gracious! That’s… 186 years old.

So with all that, I’d forgiven my cat.  Petted dear Bento-kitty to warmly assure him of my love.  Nevertheless whispered request in his ear:  please could he stop caterwauling in the wee hours?  And did he KNOW the darn wheel lacked a flyer?  Yeah.  Totally missed that detail at purchase.  A new flyer was gonna cost me.  Of course…. I blamed The Darn Cat!

# 5.   The Finnish Wheel.   My lovely “Anastasia.”

Finnish wheel.  30th Wedding anniversary gift (altogether now:  "awwwww")

Finnish wheel. 30th Wedding anniversary gift
(altogether now: “awwwww”)

Dear Husband bestowed upon us…me  this stunning beauty for our 30th anniversary.  (He says: “It’s ours” but isn’t that just nitpicking?)  And although he’s not forthcoming with acquisition details (perfectly okay to leave some things a sweet mystery) there was a bit of paperwork accompanying the wheel.  I’ll get to that in a moment.

I named her “Anastasia” before I knew the wheel was probably of Finnish origin.  The name being that of a Grand Duchess, it seemed to match her elegance.  The amount of ornate detail here is amazing!  Every stick is a smoothly turned barley twist.  I just love the distaff – which reminds me of soft-swirly ice cream.  The white carvings are ivory, with black ebony buttons dotting the wheel.  The tension knob resembles an acorn, and even the treadle has lacy carving.

The maker’s initials are all over the wheel.  I mean it.  Every single stick has the initials “S.E.” embossed in one end.  That maker sure was proud…and with good reason.  The wheel hub is a petaled flower.  The glowing wood is silky smooth, as is the (lacquered?) finish.  The barley twist carvings: each perfect.   So much ornamentation it truly is a frilly confection of a wheel.

And there are a some curious points.   The bobbin is just so itty-bitty.  I have spun silk on it, and despite the petite size, it holds a fair amount.

The greatest curiosity is the 3-pronged flyer.  Why three arms?  Discussion with knowledgeable spinners reaches the same conclusion:  we see no advantage.  We suspect the maker made the unusual flyer simply because he could.  Because it would be unique and more ornate.

In 2012, Anastasia went out to play amongst other wonderful old wheels at the Aurora Colony Museum‘s annual Antique Spinning Wheel Showcase.   Check out the Aurora Colony Handspinner’s Guild web page for photos of the event.

Finnish wheel.  Tiniest bobbin ever.  And looky at the flyer - it's got THREE arms!

Finnish wheel. Tiniest bobbin ever. And looky at the flyer – it’s got THREE arms!

Finnish Wheel bobbin & 3-prong flyer

Finnish Wheel bobbin & 3-prong flyer.  At top, and at far left, you can just make out faint embossed ovals with the initials “S.E.”

Every day I smile to see lovely Anastasia gracing our living room.  She is such a  treasure, as is dear husband of 33 years.

1st of 3 "S.E." wheels in museum, Turku, Finland

The three “S.E.” wheels in museum, Turku, Finland                   2nd of 3 "S.E." wheels in Turku museum, Finland3rd of 3 "S.E." wheels in Turku museum, Finland

I mentioned paperwork packed with the wheel.  This scant provenance was an excerpt of an email between a Finnish address and a museum in Turku, Finland.  I wrote to the museum curator to inquire whether they knew who “S.E.” might be?  The curator replied promptly with regret they did not know the maker.  However, the museum had 3 more wheels by the same maker, and she included the photos of the wheels in their glass cases.  I asked her to check, and YES, all their wheels also had 3-prong flyers.  The museum wheels differ slightly where the maker varied the size of the barley twist / or the shape of the distaff / the shape of the ivory carvings / or the outline of the treadle.

Despite her camera flash thru glass cases, you can see wheel details.  Click on pics to enlarge;  you can even make out the 3-prong flyers.  Now that I see these photos again, I recall minor disappointment discovering the holes between our wheel spokes, where ~museum pics indicate~ there should have been spiral ivory 1/2 spokes.  Nevertheless, I still admire Anastasia immensely.

That wraps up the collection.  My wheel cravings are satiated.  I am content.  Henceforth I will vicariously enjoy ~through others~ reports of their own experience of  “Falling Down the Rabbit Hole.”   Have you stumbled there lately?

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