Monday, April 8, 2013

My new wheel

Warning: This is a totally pic heavy post!  :)

I purchased a new spinning wheel on the 4th.  There was a tale of drama and frustration surrounding that, but now that it's done, it seems unimportant.
The drama culminated such that the whole drive (in awful traffic) out to pick up the wheel was fraught with me thinking (and occasionally saying out loud) that this wheel had better be worth it!

Well, when I got there and saw it, I decided it was.  It is a pretty cute, if slightly odd, wheel.

Here she sits next to 'Elaine', my 70s model Ashford Traditional wheel.  It's not that Elaine is huge, it's just that the little wheel is rather little.

I've gone back and forth between Brighid, Brigantia, and Holda.  All three are mythological figures associated with spinning - although in the first two cases the association is rather looser than in the third.

'Elaine' was named for Elaine of Astolat (the Lady of Shalot), the maiden who loved Lancelot du Lac in Arthurian legend. Although I'd posted on facebook and ravelry that I'd decided on Brighid as the name of the little wheel, I've changed my mind and she will henceforth be known as Holda.  Holda is the germanic patroness of spinning.  The Brothers Grimm have a story about her called 'Frau Holle'.  So, this is my new wheel, named 'Holda'.  It's a more appropriate name than Brighid, as the wheel is undeniably german.  After posting pictures of the wheel all over Ravelry, I came across another Raveler who owns, by chance, the same wheel.  Hers came slightly less complete than mine, but it did come with the original instructions, which was useful.  As best as she was able to figure out, the wheel was manufactured as a kit in the 1980s by a German furniture company.  There are enough oddities about the wheel that it's pretty clear the wheel was not made by a spinner.

The wheel itself is wonderful lightweight.  She will be amazing for taking out to spin-ins.  She weighs a very light 10lbs has a very small profile.  Her flywheel is only 12.5" diameter.

The strangest thing about the wheel is the distaff.  In it's current placement, it's unusable.  It sits about 6" behind the flyer.  That's not a practical position for spinning of any type.  However, it is not a permanent fixture.  It can be easily removed and held while spinning.  I've tied a mohair and wool blend batt onto the distaff and have been spinning from it.  I have to say, it makes spinning infinitely easier!  Although I generally get a nice even thread while spinning, using the distaff seems to make that evenness pretty effortless.

It's a double drive wheel, meaning that the driveband goes around the flyer and the bobbin.  I've never spun on a double drive wheel before, so figuring out the tensioning was a bit unusual.  In the picture above, you can see the wooden knob on the rear maiden.  The upper part of the assembly unscrews, and then the lower part screws up to tighten everything up.  This pulls the flyer assembly up, which tightens the tension.

The flyer goes right through the front maiden, instead of having a separate bearing attached to the maiden.  That means in order to remove the flyer, the whole maiden has to be loosened and pulled back.  It's not a big deal, though.  There is only one bobbin, so until I get more bobbins made (or find more), I won't need to worry much about switching them out.

The flyer itself is also slightly odd, having only 4 hooks.  The top hook does not align with the end of the bobbin, either.  This is an easy fix.  I plan to remove the hooks, fill the flyer with wood filler, and put in 6 hooks, evenly spaced.

The treadle was a little clunky at first, but that was a veyr easy fix.  There were a few problems there.  First was that the conrod, the twine that attaches the footman to the treadle, was way too loose.  I cut it off (it was knotted too tightly for me to untie it) and replaced it with new twine.  I am going to get a thin leather strip to replace the twine, but for now, it's much better. 

The second problem was that the footman was apparently missing something to hold it securely to the crank on the wheel.  According to the diagram provided by my fellow raveler, there should be a small wooden bead there.  Not having a bead of the right size handy at the moment, I stuck a hair elastic on in it's place.  Totally solved the clunky treadle issue.

I have great plans for this wheel.  She will definitely be my primary summer wheel.  I plan to take Elaine apart to refinish her in a lovely red mahogany stain.  Re-finishing Elaine will take me the better part of the summer.  But after Elaine is done, it will be Holda's turn.  I am going to strip her right down and remove the current finish.  I'll be refinishing her in a very dark chestnut colour.  It's likely I will paint some small designs around the wheel and treadle.  My husband is going to cut and drill an arm for the distaff to pull it out in front of the flyer.  There is a fancy little decorative tip missing on top of the front maiden.  It serve no purpose, but I am going to pour a resin bead to put in there - I will probably put a small decal of a woman spinning in the bead.  The front of the wheel needs a small attachment to make it mroe secure.  Again, I will form this from poured resin.  When she is done, she is going to be a thing of beauty to behold!

I'll keep you updated.

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