Monday, November 3, 2008

You spin me right round

I was out shopping with my Mom on Saturday and we stopped in to a furniture consignment store. I was on a quest for an end table. When we were at another shop, she borrowed their phone book to make a couple calls. She called a consignment store neither of us had heard of before, but the woman on the phone said they only dealt with furniture and they had several tables that might work.

When we got there, I started poking around. I walked into a section of knick-knacks and saw a spinning wheel lurking in the corner. I thought it might be like my aunt's old decorative one so I didn't get too excited. When I got closer, I saw it was a working wheel with extra bobbins on the floor next to it. Okay, so then I got excited. I checked the tag and it said "Ashford Spinning Wheel". I know the name Ashford. They make very nice wheels. I also know they are about $500 and up new. I didn't know exactly which model this was, but it looked to be in good shape, other than a little dirt and missing the drive and brake bands. It had originally been marked at $298, but the price was dropped to $144. At this point, I was having heart palpitations. I couldn't resist this deal. Forget that I don't know how to spin. I've checked into it in the past but the cost of wheels was too prohibitive for me to think about it. I actually almost put a wheel on my Christmas list but knew it would cost too much.

I told my mom this was my Christmas present, either to myself or if she wanted to chip in and I almost ran to the counter. I told the woman I was still looking for a coffee table but that I was taking the wheel. I was looking askance at anyone near that corner, and was well prepared to tackle any little old lady that might have designs on the wheel. Once I had staked my claim, I was free to browse further, although my heart rate was still through the roof. I couldn't believe my luck!

After I got home I started doing some research on Ravelry and elsewhere. It's an Ashford Traditional, which is a popular wheel and is good for beginners. It also has readily available spare parts, which is a bonus. I drove out to Susan's Fiber Shop this afternoon and bought the Ashford maintenance kit. It has all of the bands, springs, hooks and wheel oil I need. I also bought delicious fiber so I can try playing with it. I have several books on reserve at the library that will be ready tomorrow. I'm also going to try to get back to Susan's on Thursday for her open spinning night. I can take my wheel so she can help me tension it and get started.

So, without further ado, here's my wheel as of Sunday night:

And here it is just a few minutes ago:

The lighting is the same. The second photo is after about two and a half hours of solid elbow-grease, scrubbing off dirty old wax and exposing the gorgeous New Zealand White Beech underneath.

This is a close-up photo after I took the flyer off:

This is after scrubbing half of it and you can see how dark the rest of the wheel is in comparison:

This is the bobbin that was on the flyer, after I unwound the old wool that was in the middle:

The wheel still needs to be waxed but I'm letting it dry. My fingers turned black and sticky and even dishsoap hasn't taken it all off. It was worth it because I now know every inch of my wheel. I took the rusty hooks off the flyer so I can replace them with new ones. I found the conrod joint is leather, which dates the wheel back to the mid 1980's. The flyer is also a two-speed instead of the newer three-speeds. It looks like all of the joints are solid and there are no cracks or splits. The wheel doesn't wobble and looks to be true, but I won't really know for sure until I hook up the drive band and see how it treadles.

Look how pretty!

I bought myself some luscious roving to practice with.

First is some Frabjous Fibers Hand Dyed Blue Faced Leicester ("Biffel") Top in color "Jewel". BFL is supposed to be fairly easy to spin and I love the colors in this one.

And although it's beyond beginning abilities, I had to get this second one as my inspiration to learn quickly. It's so beautiful I couldn't help it. I was actually hugging it in the shop because it's SO soft, silky and smooshy. It's Frabjous Fibers Hand Dyed Superwash Sock Merino (50% superwash merino, 50% tencel) in color "Deep Space".

My plan now is to read up between tomorrow and Thursday so I can go to spinning night with an idea of what I am in for. I'll also prep my BFL so I can start working with it when I get there. I'll wax the wheel tomorrow and have it buffed and ready to take out in public. I'm REALLY excited about this! Spinning sounds like a lot of fun, and although I have tons of knitting in the queue, it's going to be interesting to learn more about yarn from another angle. It can only help my knitting.

No comments:

Post a Comment