Spinning Up Some Kindness

November 25, 2020

I began spinning before there was an Internet. Well, not much of one, anyway. If you knew what to do, you could get the weather and baseball scores and that was about it. YouTube didn’t exist yet. No Facebook. Certainly no Ravelry. Nada.

So, if you wanted to learn to spin, you were pretty much on your own to find a wheel and find a teacher. I found a wheel without too much trouble. It was one of those seventies’ artisan-made wheels with lovely inlay and Irish tension (although I didn’t know at the time that was what it was called). It wasn’t a toy or a decoration, but it wasn’t a heavy-duty workhorse, either. It was intended to spin but probably made by someone who didn’t themselves know much about spinning. I thought she was beautiful.

Now that I had a wheel, I set about finding a teacher. In that time frame, to find anything meant a trip to the library or reading special publications. Somehow, I discovered a local fiber arts guild and happily went off to their monthly meeting, my beautiful wheel in tow. It was a complete disaster.

I was easily the youngest person in the room. A few people had very high-end wheels with them, many were knitting, one or two had little sample looms and were doing intricate weaving. All were older. The ones that lowered themselves to speak to me generally derided my wheel as a toy and no one correctly identified the tension, although they all told me it couldn’t possibly be a real wheel because none of them (the experts!) could identify the tension. When I asked about learning to spin, they sneered that “it isn’t our job to teach you” and went off in little groups that shot nasty glances my way. Clearly, I was in the wrong place to want to learn to spin!

One kindly woman did come over to speak to me. She admired the wheel without passing any judgment on it and suggested that when spinning, it was easiest to learn on a drop spindle. Once I had drafting fiber under control, it was then an easy (easier!) step to move to a wheel and add in treadling while drafting. I did have a drop spindle, but wasn’t sure how to get it started. She tied on a leader and showed me how to make a half-hitch and start off. That one small act of kindness started me spinning.

I later learned this kindly woman died of a brain tumor not many years later and I mourned her passing. She was the one person who took a few minutes to a.) speak to me kindly, and b.) share her knowledge. Those two small, simple acts made her immortal in my mind. They did something else. Once I was up and spinning on a wheel, I vowed that if I came across anyone who wanted to learn, I would teach them for free and do whatever I could to get them going, and keep them going. A number of new spinners exist because I taught them, and a number have gone on to teach new spinners themselves. I feel my immortality is achieved as my teaching is handed down.

I bring this up because in a spinning forum I belong to, someone new to the group but a long-time collector, began sharing their wheels. Not being an American, he used a term he was unfamiliar with and the abuse began. Not only should he know better, why didn’t he sell his collection so other spinners could use it? And on and on, until he decamped to start his own forum. And so, our collective knowledge of spinning wheels splinters a little, all because someone used a term they were unfamiliar with. Our collective knowledge splinters because someone owns more wheels than someone else, so they must be castigated for it. Our collective knowledge splinters because we chose to not share our knowledge and take someone into our circle.

Actions have consequences. It costs nothing to be kind. The few minutes of time you do spend explaning something may be all the other person needs. In these unprecedented times, don’t be a jerk. Be kind.


And a double-treadle, to boot!

October 5, 2020

Did I need another wheel? Ummmmm … not really. I’m pretty well-stocked with wheels and am downsizing some papers and household stuff. So another wheel wasn’t really a necessity. But I hadn’t bought a new wheel yet in 2020 so if I was going to buy one, this was certainly a catch.

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This turned up on Facebook Marketplace. Usually, a wheel like this turns up many, many miles away but this was local. The photo was a little dark but I could see it was in good shape. And, a double-treadle! The unicorn of Canadian production wheels. And, best of all, the seller wasn’t asking for much money. So, off we went to gather it up.

I couldn’t believe what good shape this was in. The seller had had it for 50 years; her father had bought it for her. She loved Early American furniture and had kept this wheel all these years (I hated to tell her it was 19th century and Canadian!) and said she never was tempted to spin, but just kept the wheel for its architectural integrity.

Her flyer is in mint condition.

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The cast iron MOA mount has the little pleats in it and is held on by the coveted “chicken nut.” The beaded edge suggests the makers Laurence or Cadorette. A scrap of oval ink mark matches the oval shape of the Cadorette mark but so little remains, it is difficult to say.

The double-treadle axle is forged, as are the footmen although one is a bit battered and installed upside down. The wood of the upright has a lovely burl in it.

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The treadles are pristine along the front. The only damage is a small piece sheared off one side of one treadle. The eye bolt in the other treadle was loose and needs some TLC. The one treadle has a couple of intriguing drops of finish — was the original finish stripped off at one time and some drips not wiped up? Or are these original to the wheel?

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Over all, I feel like this was quite a catch. She is clean, her flyer is in mint condition, and her wheel tight and true. I will need to get a driveband on her and see what she spins like, but that is for another day!

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Soctober!

October 2, 2020

It’s Soctober! Are you knitting socks? In a happy accident, I found a perfect autumn colorway and a pattern to go with it.

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The yarn is “Hagrid’s Pumpkin Patch” from Bumblebee Acres Farm. The “Little Pumpkins” sock pattern is available free on that recently redesigned knitting website which-name-we-do-not-mention (can you tell I disagree with the way the redesign was handled?).

AND a tiny Soctober monkey! This stitch marker is one of set available from Wee Ones on Etsy; she has a marvelous selection of tiny figures and I do highly recommend her.


A Bit More Spinning

August 7, 2020

This is another set of coordinated mini-batts from Inglenook Fibers. The colorways are based on different types of owls! I forgot to take a photo before I started, so here are 6 unspun owls and one completed:

owls unspun

And all spun up, here they are:

owls spun

They averaged out to about 150 yards per mini-skein and I am already working them up into somethingĀ  hopefully wonderful!

 


Natural Dye Spins

August 6, 2020

These are spun from Inglenook Fibers’ Natural Dye series.

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The braid on the left was dyed with osage orange and saxon blue. The other four are in a colorway called “Elm Leaves.” Next up, the “Honeysuckle” colorway!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I’m Still Here

August 5, 2020

Gentle readers, although I am not posting on a regular basis these days, I am still watching over my blog! I am working in a somewhat different direction these days and have just not had the time to work with spinning wheels or with fiber. I do hope to get back to that sometime soon.

And just because I am not posting does not mean I don’t keep an eye on things! Please note — comments are moderated and will not appear unless approved. Even then, I haven’t approved comments as I don’t have time to keep an eye on them. If you have posted a comment about a spinning wheel you have, you can always email me at: thewoolmerchantsdaughter [at] yahoo [dot] com. I may not respond quickly there either, but you have a better chance of getting me there!

Another word on comments — remember when your mother told you if you have nothing good to say, then don’t say anything? Well, that applies here, too! Keep it positive and please, keep it clean! It doesn’t go any further than me, anyway, so why even bother?

I hope you are all keeping safe in these times of Covid. Please remember to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands often. I’m hoping allĀ  you fiber enthusiasts are staying home and spinning, knitting, crocheting, weaving, or pursuing whatever other fiber interest you have (I know I left off a few!). Hopefully, we will be back in gear in better times!

Yours truly,

The Wool Merchant’s Daughter

 


Colorwork

May 7, 2019

Learn colorwork, they said. It will be FUN, they said.

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Well, it is FUN, to some extent, but mind-boggling. On size 3 needles, in KnitPicks Palette yarn.

Onwards and upwards!

 


Inspiration

April 17, 2019

Have you knitted an Inspira Cowl yet? This pattern, available free on Ravelry, is positively addictive. It is an easy knit and a good way to ease yourself into colorwork. And it provides endless variety, given the endless variety of yarn out there!

Malabrigo worsted, Plymouth Tangiers cotton, and Lion Brand Amazing:

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Three yarns, two of them self-striping, on circular needles.

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There is a certain fascination in watching the pattern build and grow. And if you make a mistake, it is of little consequence, because it easily conceals itself! I liked mine so much, I made this for a friend:

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I do like to make one solid base color with the other colors mingled in. And for practicing your colorwork technique, it is an excellent pattern to teach you how to carry your yarn and balance your tension. If the inside is as good as the outside, you’ve got the hang of it!

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You will keep making these, over and over, stashing busting or trying out new yarns. Just make sure to take photos, as several of these have now gone out into the world and I forgot to record them! But this pattern gets a big thumbs up from The Wool Merchant’s Daughter!

 


Support Magnificat Cat Rescue!

November 28, 2018

How you can help …

On a separate post, I described the rather harrowing medical rescue of Peter Mego, a little orange-and-white cat suffering from sepsis. Mego was saved, but at great cost to Magnificat Cat Rescue and Rehoming, the group that rescued him from the NYC Animal Control.

To help Magnificat make up some of that medical bill and to help them continue the very good rescue work they do, I am participating in an online benefit for them. It is hosted by the Afghans for Animals forum on Ravely and you will need a Ravelry ID to participate. But this is easy: log into Ravelry.com and create an account. Then visit the Benefit Store thread here.

Lots of great handspun yarns, support spindles, drop spindles, knitting-related items, and items with cat themes. Everyone is welcome to participate. 100% of sales go directly to Magnificat. Join us today; the kitties all thank you (especially Peter Mego!).

And, if anyone would like to donate directly to a really worthy cause, checks can be mailed to:

Magnificat Cat Rescue

P.O. Box 504

Bronx, NY 10471

I know that all the kitties would appreciate it!

 

 


A Gentle Reminder on Copyrights …

March 5, 2018

I haven’t been much on this blog lately. Okay, I haven’t been writing at all! Life gets in the way sometimes. But that does not mean that I don’t keep an eye on the old homestead!

I would like to take a moment to give my readers a gentle reminder about copyright. All content on this blog, including photos, are copyright by me. That means you don’t have the right to appropriate them. With my permission, you might borrow one as long as you attribute it to me but you can’t just take them.

It is simple enough to just post a comment below an entry and say, “I would like to use your photo to ….” and explain why you want to use.

Do not, as one person is doing now, take a photo and use it in your “spinning wheel for sale” advertisement. I don’t care if you a found a wheel that “looks just like” one of mine, take a photo of your wheel and post it. Please don’t mislead people into thinking the wheel you are selling is one of mine. I have a considerable readership here, and on other spinning forums, and people recognize some of my wheels. When one shows up “for sale,” it generates considerable messaging, as in, “Why didn’t you tell me first you were going to sell that wheel?”

So, please, readers, don’t borrow my photos (or my text!) without asking first? Please? Be good and do the right things!