Sunday, April 19, 2009

Vacation: Part 2 (Some assembly required)

When I say "Vacation" I don't mean I went anywhere special physically. I was home doing chores that needed to be done which I had no time to do because my sister and I work and commute. I'm not complaining. Things got done so I'm happy. However, I did allow my imagination to go on vacation hence our building materials for raised beds for the garden and my foray into spindle spinning (successful at last). I also looked in on E-Bay at all the spinning wheels. Now I routinely do this but I never buy anything. I mean, I just look. I drool a lot but I never buy. We already have three wheels and a pocket wheel on order for my sister (she's number 36 right now) and we live in a tiny ranch style home so it's not like I need another wheel. The problem is, when I go away somewhere on vacation, I routinely set aside money to buy something nice as a memento of my trip. Just because I didn't go anywhere doesn't mean I didn't give myself permission to buy what I wanted.

See above the wheel I got on E-Bay while I was on vacation. Of course, in the picture on the website it was
assembled. I used the "Buy It Now" option because I really don't like to bid for stuff if I don't have to. The wheel is a "Little Peggy" wheel and I purchased it from a seller identified as "pippygirl34" on E-Bay. She was great to buy from and the wheel came very quickly from New Zealand. It came as you see it and it came with written instructions but no pictures for assembly. I put it together and found, you guessed it, left over pieces. A few e-mails later I had it assembled correctly and I have to say she spins very nicely, quietly and is a pleasure to use. It's not as fast as a modern wheel but it does spin a nice lace weight single so far. The wood is really beautiful and I didn't know anything about the wheel or who made it when I was buying it so I went to a nice website called "New Zealand spinning wheels and their makers" and got a little information on the wheel I have. I won't bore you with details but it's about 30 years old and made by John Rappard. The design is based on an old Shetland wheel he was given permission to emulate and is made of a local Beech wood. Mine has a fairly dark stain though it looks lighter in the pictures. I love my "new" old wheel. Any dings or scratches are from "honorable wear" from the elderly gentleman who owned it before me. This wheel can be set up for either double drive or as a single drive with Scotch tension. I have pictures of both types of arrangements. I did replace the fishing line that came on the Scotch Tension with black cord instead and I'm using a cotton drive-band. This wheel actually spins lace weight better with the Scotch tension/single drive configuration so that"s what I settled on. I am currently spinning a little Lisa Souza fiber in colorway "Awwtum". Lastly, I did pick up two more spindles. A Cascade spindle "Rainer" made of Rainer flame wood for the whorl and Walnut for the shaft and weighs about an ounce from Carolina Home Spun as well as a Ken Leadbetter spindle off his site. That spindle has a Walnut & Dichroic glass inlay whorl with a Maple shaft (1.94 ounces). The glass is by Andrea Frost of "Rabbits and Rainbows". Good thing it was only a week long vacation or I could have gotten into much more trouble!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Vacation: Part 1 (Where in I finally "get" using a spindle)

I recently had a week off from work. This does not sound remarkable except for the fact that I have not had a full week off from work since April of 2008 when my co-worker retired. I didn't know what to do with myself until I remembered that I have a mountain of fiber and yarn in my home. Now I have been spinning on a wheel for donkey years but I have never been able to feel comfortable using a spindle. I had tried on and off again with my sisters many spindles but I just couldn't get it. At least not until this vacation when I finally "got" it. Please see above some of the spindles I bought during my vacation. I started by buying an inexpensive spindle from "A Spinners Lair" on E-Bay that can be used as either a drop or support spindle. She recycles wood for her woodworking so I have spindles in Red oak, Apple, Walnut and Cherry. Some have two sections so you can spin two sets of singles and then ply for lace. These work nicely for spinning while sitting down. They are "center weighted' which means they spin fast but for a short amount of time. I use them primarily as drop spindles. Having admired beautiful spindles all these years but having no reason to buy them, I was now at a point where I could use part of my tax refund to "get a few" for myself. I went surfing the net and I purchased 3 Tom Forrester Spindles for myself from "The Wheel Thing". I have bought products from them before and been very happy with what I received. I have a "Granny" spindle with a Purple Heart whorl and Beech shaft, a "Linium" with a Paduk whorl and Beech Shaft and an "Orchard Pyro" with a Paduk whorl and Rock Maple Shaft. All of these spin a long time but slower than the more center weighted spindles. They are a joy to spin with now that I do more spinning and less dropping! Drunk with power I then surfed over to "The Fold" where I proceeded to drool over the Avi Wasserman spindles. I called Toni Neil and ordered three spindles. She was very kind and made sure I understood that they would spin fast but for a short time which is just what I wanted since I found I like to sit while spinning and I am spinning for lace. Imagine my surprise and gratitude when she asked if I would be interested in having some "cosmetically challenged" Avi spindles. She wanted them to go to someone who would really like to have them. Needless to say I was overwhelmed but accepted her offer. I can honestly say that the few irregularity's I found did not detract from the beauty of these spindles and they spin up a mean lace weight single. Thank you Toni!!! The first one is a 3/4 ounce Ebony whorl and Tulip wood shaft Next is a Rosewood and Ebony whorl with a Maple shaft. This one has a very slight scratch and ding on the whorl but spins like a dream. next is a 2 &1/4 ounce Olive Wood and Ebony with silver Inlay, 1 and 1/4 ounce Blackheart Myrtle and Ebony whorl with a Goncalo Alves shaft, 1 ounce Olive wood and ebony whorl with a Walnut shaft and lastly another 3/4 ounce Olive wood with Ebony and silver inlay with Walnut shaft. Phew! I have a few more things I want/need to get but I'm still working on it :-) I did manage to spin and ply up a few things.The first picture of yarn is the "Faded Flowers 100% African Wool from Black Bunny Fibers that I had stashed. I didn't want to muddy up the colors so I plied with a single of Cashmere from a spare cone of Colourmart I had lying around. The second picture is of a 2 ply 5/50 Yak Silk from A Verb For Keeping Warm in colorway "Magnet". Some of it I randomly spun and plied and some of it I separated into color groups to spin and ply just for laughs. I also have some 80/20 Merino/Tussah Silk also from "Verb" in colorway "Victoria"made up as a two ply lace weight yarn. Aside from spinning, I also worked on a UFO. "Bells Through The Leaves" AKA, "Cloches a travers les feuilles" from that hand spun Madder dyed BFL from Verb I spun so long ago. I finally finished the "Birdseye" section and am into the leaves. As a parting shot ,you can see two Tom Forresters I bought my sister as her birthday is coming up and we are still waiting for her Pocket Wheel to be made. They are a Purple heart "Linium" and a Lace wood "Granny". The remaining spindles my sister purchased for herself at Verb. Two by Lars Larsen (she lost the tags so I don't know the wood) and two from Spindlewood of Leopard wood and Birdseye Maple. There's more but that's for Part 2 :-)