Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Family Member

I've been waiting to share this here but I want to introduce you to my new little friend.  It's a Country Craftsman spinning wheel.  I'd never heard of them but I went along to a local auction house a couple of weeks ago and saw this beauty sitting there longing for a new home.  The treadle was laying on the ground and there was no tension screw but as I hooked up the treadle, I could see that it fit champion and it was in really pretty good condition.  There are a few nicks and that but it spins like a dream. 

Needless to say, I won the bid, and at a very low price.  I got her home, fashioned a tension screw and got started.  What a beauty!  I didn't know anything about this wheel - I assumed it was from the 70s or so but as soon as I started doing some research I found that those what have one, love them.  It seems that these wheels were originally built by a Mr. Rooney beginning in about 1971.  Mr. Franzek started working with Rooney and eventually took over the business when Rooney retired.  My wheel is marked Franzek so I've been told it's probably early 1980s although he continued to build them up to about 2001.  I've been told that Rick Reeves had high praise for this wheel so that's a pretty good recommendation!

As I learned more about it, I found that this wheel loves to spin fine yarn and I can testify to that.  I'm currently spinning a fine lace weight wool I bought early this year at The Yarn Barn.  Loverly jubberly!

The other new baby is an antique wool winder often referred to as a weasel (the mechanism - which doesn't currently work - pops after it's been rotated a certain number of times...pop goes the weasel...).  Other than the mechanism, which I believe is all there and just needs to be put right, it's in beautiful shape and I got it for a song.  It's a full 88.5 inches around - larger than you generally want a skein to be these days - and I've been told that means it's an early one. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Handknitting Handspun

When you start to spin your own yarns, you generally don't do it to get yarn to make something.  The evolution of  motivation generally goes like this:

1)  Just proud that the string you're producing stays together - usually producing a wacky thick and thin yarn
2)  What stays together begins to feel something like yarn
3)  The yarn you're producing is in pretty colors
4)  The pretty color yarn is now a little more even
5)  The more even yarn is now becoming a little finer
6)  The yarn is made from yummy fibers that you can't stop petting
7)  The yarn is made from yummy fibers that you can't stop petting and is so pretty you can't stop cooing to it

As you can see, each step is sort of an end in itself with it's own gratifications.  And there's not much reference to knitting or weaving something.  The yarn is an end unto itself.  Having that end become an item of clothing, comes  much, much later and somehow, rarely produces the joy of the having the yarn itself.

Funny how that works.

That being said, I've decided I need to (and sort of want to) start knitting with it.  Of course, it's like a mother thinking no one's ever good enough for her son.  The search for a pattern that will show off this handspun can be agonizing and there may be a few missteps along the way.  But sometimes you see a pattern and you sigh and think, Yes, this is the one.

That's what happened with the Wisteria Shawl from the All New Homespun Handknits and the blue-faced leicester that I bought purposesly to spin to make a shawl.  Here's how it came out:
I'll get some action shots at some point but this shows the lovely (easy) pattern and how the hand dyed roving (FrabjousFibers) lays out in a lovely, soft variegation.  I wish you could feel the softness and lightness of it.  Those are really it's glory.

And I did that!