Castle Wheel or Oil Derrick?

My new-to-me Irish Castle Wheel arrived from Washington State via Greyhound Package Express. We went and collected her on Saturday and I spent part of Sunday assembling her. The other part of Sunday was spent rearranging the living room in order to make space. She is Winsome Timbers Fiona by now-retired wheelwright, Ken Lennox.

This is an absolutely magnificent wheel, and one that I have been longing for for years. When I first discovered the Lennox Fionas, I couldn’t afford one. By the time I was able to afford one, Ken Lennox had retired. So, I waited patiently, hoping one would turn up. It did. Unfortunately, it was in Washington State. Fortunately, one of my Ravelry friends had experience in shipping via Greyhound Bus. She picked up the wheel, boxed it, and set it off safely to New Jersey. It arrived in something like 8 days and cost less than half what a UPS shipment the same size would have costs. Who knew?

The only thing I was a bit startled by was her size. I have always loved Irish Castle Wheels and was lucky enough several years ago to acquire an antique one. This was too fragile to spin on, so I kept the quest alive for a Fiona. Now that she has arrived, I have realized one thing. She is ginormous.

This is what she looks like next to the antique Irish Castle Wheel:

She is easily twice the size and positively towers over my poor little Irish girl, who I’d always thought was such a big wheel! If she dwarfs the Irish Castle, my “go-to” wheel for everyday spinning, my Jensen Tina II, is lost in the crowd:

The Lennox compares favorably to the Jensen as far as spinning goes. She is smooth and fast. However, her size in motion is a bit disconcerting and invites comment from my husband, a non-spinner. His first remark was that if the drive wheel ever broke loose while spinning, it would go right through the wall of the house. Then after watching the 46 inch dual footmen cranking away, he casually asked if I’d struck oil yet. Ha-ha. Funny guy, huh?

The Fiona has some interesting details. Her wheel axle slots have custom-fit leather wedges instead of wooden retaining pins:

The footmen have little wire retaining pins:

She is signed and dated, something I wish all wheelwrights would do, having gone through the maddening exercise of trying to identify Canadian Production Wheels by maker. I do wish the model name, Fiona, had been added here, though!

She has a lovely built-in lazy kate along the left-hand lower crossbar:

But, best of all, she spins wonderfully well!

This is a bobbin of acorn-dyed corriedale. In the wake of Hurricane Irene, hundreds of white oak acorns were blown down. Gathered and boiled, they produced a dark brown dye which I used to dye 3 pounds of roving. But that, as they say, is a story for another day!

10 Responses to Castle Wheel or Oil Derrick?

  1. Love the “family” portrait. Like you, when I see wheels posted on-line I have difficulty judging their relative size. I have a mix or semi-new and antique and find the newer wheels more substantial and should easily spin for a100 years as have some of their less substantial sisters.

  2. Absolutely love, love, love the Fiona and I am so jealous as I have been looking for one for awhile now. If you have any leads as to where I may find one, please contact me Enjoy that wheel!


  3. I have a friend who has asked me to sell her Winsome Timbers Saxony wheel, I think the style was called “Patience”. It is beautiful, with a lazy kate and 5 bobbins. The wood looks similar to yours and I was wondering if you know what kind of wood your Fiona was made from? Any help would be appreciated. Heidi Dascher

  4. Sue Judd says:

    I also have a Fiona and LOVE her. Mine is #178 from 2005 and all Cherry wood. Sue Judd

  5. Terry says:

    I just received a Bonnie Winsome Timbers spinning !!!
    Needless to say I’m thrilled almost to death. At first I was envious of your “Fiona”, but the size is a bit overwhelming for my cottage size home & other wheels. As this is wheel # “7”. Wheel #1 is a CPW that I purchased as a beautiful antique( no thought of spinning, Ha!Ha!) Then my sister gave me her table size antique.
    Then 20 plus years later spinning lessons, a Lendrum, then a Wee
    Peggy, then Thumbelina ( which I thought would be “it” ) Then my mothers Daneker (a lovely reproduction) and then “Bonnie”.
    So I have told myself, no yeaning for “Fiona” . Enough is enough.
    I hope !!!
    Your Fiona is beautiful !! Belated congratulations !!!

  6. Janet says:

    I just brought mine home:) it was dated 2003-1 is it possible I have the first one he made?

  7. Good for you! Not the one from the auction at Maryland Sheep and Wool, by any chance? Sounds like it could be the first one!

  8. Fiona is a BIG girl and I have her sister, Bonnie, as well! I should do a post on both of them. They are lovely spinners but, yes, the Fiona is quite startling if you think it will be the same size as a regular castle wheel.

  9. Terry says:

    Again belated “Congratulations !!!” Your Fiona is amazing, to say the least!!! You & your “Hubby’s” comments & the comments of the gentleman I purchased my Bonnie, from made me realize that my Bonnie, is tall enough for me.
    Yes, I would love it, if you wrote an article, from you comparing the two lovely sisters!

  10. Janet says:

    yes, that is where I got it! I am replying now, and want to alert everyone that there is one currently for sale on ebay! I love this wheel! so if anyone is looking for one here is the link!

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