Mother of Invention

Okay, so Saturday I sat down to spin. This probably was not the best idea, because I was hot and vexed, but that was exactly why I wanted to spin — I wanted to do something that would calm me down.

But it didn’t, then again, spinning on my wheel rarely relaxes me, because it’s so “touchy”. In the time that I was spinning on it (about an hour) I had to replace or fix nearly half a dozen things. (Easy things, like drive bands.)

I was pissed about this too. I wanted to spin, not fix a wheel. If I wanted to fix a wheel, I would have taken a class on wheel repair. I mad at my wheel, mad at me, mad at the world. At one time the tension was set so tight that the treadle was stuck in the up position. (The treadle is the part that you work with your foot.) Generally, this can be fixed by pushing hard on it, so that’s what I did. I slammed down on it with my foot, hoping that it would work, and that I could take out a few of my frustrations on it.

But that didnt’ work I cracked the treadle. It when down to the floor, and the part that was left was about four inches still hooked onto the treadle arm.

Shit.

All my anger turned to sorrow in an instant. I’d broken my beloved spinning wheel, and it probably couldn’t be repaired. I was heartbroken. I flew up to my room, and spent the next hour in a vale of tears. (It has been noted that I’m a bit of a drama queen, it is also worth noting that none of the family noticed this, and still hasn’t.) When I got up, I swore off all the “antique nonsense,” and committed myself to the painstakingly slow drop spindle, till I could save up enough money to buy a wheel. (Which probably would have been in the post- education and indentured servant years.)

But I am a spinner, it is written somewhere in the stars, “Garret, he shall be a spinner.” But how would I do this, properly, without a wheel.

Well, I still had a wheel. The wheel part was fine, everything above the table was still more or less intact. (That had been spared one of my temper tantrums, though barely)

I got to thinking, what makes a walking wheel, or a table top wheel work? They have no treadle, but yet they still spin. They are the earliest ancestor of the drop spindle, and are only available in antique form. (It probably helped that my best friend was just given a walking wheel, so this was on the brain.) They work because you move the wheel with your hand, while the other hand does long-drawl — which I’d thoughtfully learned just a little while ago.

I tried it with this wool I was working on plying. Man does it work! And fast too, which was great for plying, because I’m generally treadling as fast as I can, and still waiting for  the spin to catch up. And also, this way is a lot easier on the shin-splints that I am starting to develop. Though it is hard on my now sore shoulder, and my back hurts a little bit from hunching forward.

I think I’ve fixed the shoulder issue. I simply turned the wheel around, so the part that attached the treadle arm to the wheel was facing me, instead of the other way, and now I can turn that, instead of throwing the wheel around. I was even able to finish up this Icelandic wool that I bought last May.

Though I still hope to get it fixed. (Dad, I love you, wanna do me a favor, since you’d be sooo good at it?) This wheel, prior to my hissy fit, was actually worth some money, and could be worth something if fixed. My father bought it for way less than it was worth, because the seller, an old friend of his (not a spinner) that he doesn’t really like anymore, wasn’t able to sell it for his already underpriced price. (My dad somehow convinced him that it was way overpriced.)  It is a Saxony Flax Wheel, which is a rare type, and made even more rare because I’ve got an undamaged distaff, which I’ve been told is worth more than the whole wheel. I think I could sell or trade them both for a better wheel to a friend of mine that I know through the Great Lakes Fiber Fair. (It was her wheel that I first spun on, and she’s got one, just like mine, minus distaff.) So, we’ll see what she thinks next spring. If I remembered where I put her card, I would give a link. She’s an independent seller from up near Toledo, and always has the same booth, every year.

But for now I’m fine with it. I suddenly feel like I was given the gift of a spinning wheel, though I already had one.

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