Wednesday, June 29, 2005

this muckle is mine

Image hosted by

Great Wheel, High Wheel, Wool Wheel, Walking Wheel, or Muckle it what you will, I am now owned by one!

This wheel came to me in an unusual manner, which leads me to believe that the Good Lord wanted me to have it....and I am so grateful to have such a treasure.  Apparently, the former owner was moving away and did not want to take it along, and so, they took it to an antique store and left it there with the understanding that they would be paid for it when it sold.  I happen to be a relative of someone who works with the owner of the shop...and knew that it was there, I had even seen the large distinctive wheel, but was not really drawn to it....(mostly because I live in a very small log cabin).
So, after several years, the wheel was still sitting there taking up space, no one had bought it, and the previous owners never came to claim any shop credit.  The owner of the shop was tired of tripping over it...and said that I could have it if I wanted to come and get it!  I could not believe my ears!
A few weeks ago, we made time to travel and pick up the wheel.  I noticed that it did not have a bobbin or spindle to spin from, but it did have a minors head that was in pretty good shape.  I happen to have a copy of Pennington and Taylors book (also a gift from said shop owner) and scanning the pages, I decided that it looked pretty much like a Shaker style of wheel.  I looked all over for some sort of marking, but found none.
Once I was home, I called Grace and Fred Hatton who live nearby.  Fred is a master wood turner, and has restored a Great Wheel, as well as 7 other Saxony Wheels (He makes weaving shuttles, threading hooks and yarn gauges that
he sells on can visit the store by clicking here.)
So, I packed up the wheel and took it over to their farm so they could take a good look at it.  They seemed to think it was a very nice wheel, and agreed that it was most likely Shaker.  They both think it is an older wheel because the hub is wooden, and so is the axel.  It looked like it might actually have the original capstans for the minors head.  The minors head would need repair.  Fred said that the bench looked to be made of Beech, while the rest of the wheel appeared to be Chestnut. There seemed to be a bit of a wobble when the wheel was turning, and on closer examination Fred discovered that the axel was quite worn, and would need replacing.  I would also need a spindle or bobbin to spin on.  He said he would restore the wheel for me so that I could get it spinning...and I was really excited about that prospect!  Of course he is very busy, and I will have to wait awhile for him to get to it (he is currently working on a loom for someone)...I am just so happy that it is going to spin again someday!....that is if I can figure out how to spin on it....
But the story gets better.  Before I left, I asked how to clean the wheel up.  The wood was very, very dry, and dirty with who knows what dust and dirt (which some refer to as patina).  He suggested that I use 1/2 turps. and 1/2 linseed oil on it.  So, this past weekend, I decided to get going on cleaning it up.  I started working on the bench and moved to the upright that holds the wheel.  I was using a luffa to rub it down with the mixture, and wiping it off with an old flannel diaper.  The wood was coming up a beautiful deep, rich, rust color, and I was admiring the grain, and noticing areas that had been worn down over the years.  Suddenly, I noticed some letters starting to appear!
Image hosted by
YEEEEEEAHAAAAAWWW!!!  I see a stamp!  The initials look like J A and then a little something else that I cannot make out.  How very cool.
Here is a picture of where the stamp is located...and then the photo has been enhanced to see the marking better.
Image hosted by
There is a JA who was a Sabbathday Lake Shaker...could this be one of his wheels?  I am now embarking on a quest to identify my wheel.  If anyone out there in the bloggersphere has any information on what JA could stand for or if you recognize this wheel...please contact me.
One more piece of news from life around the very good friend's daughter shipped out to Iraq.  Please pray for the safety of our troops.  Tomorrow we will make some cool ties to send off.  There should be a few of us working together, so I hope we get a lot accomplished.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

spinning seminar

On June 11th, I had the chance to attend The Mannings 37th annual Spinning Seminar.  And I jumped at the chance, having only had the benefit of attending this event only once before, and noticing that Elaine Harvey and Susan Withnell were going to speak about Angora Rabbits, I was very happy to find myself in southern PA that very weekend.

This free seminar is a wonderful event that The Mannings host every year on the second Sat. in June.  You can check their web site by clicking here- and view the variety of demonstrations that were available that day.  The seminar really gives people an opportunity to see and learn about fiber arts that they otherwise may not, and overall, its just provides a fun day of learning and inspiration.

As soon as I arrived, I saw Sharon Peffer with the Great Wheel Exhibit.
I watched her spinning on what I learned was a Norman Hall Great Wheel Reproduction.  Apparently, Norman Hall does not make Great Wheels anymore, and to get a Norman Hall wheel, you would need to get on a waiting list (for at least 5 if not 7 years!) this was indeed a special wheel.  It had beautiful carvings in it too.  Sharon was nice enough to spend a little bit of time teaching me how to spin on her wheel. She explained about Minors Head's and Bats Head's and recommended some good books to read.  All of this was of great interest to me because I have recently become the proud owner of an old Great Wheel. (more on this in the next post)  I tried drafting a bit while Sharon turned the Wheel, and I realized that learning to spin with one hand while the other hand turns the wheel is going to be a challenge.  Here is a picture of the Norman Hall wheel that Sharon was spinning on.
Image hosted by
After the Great Wheel Exhibit, I made my way back to the area where the Angora Rabbits Demo was beginning.  Elaine Harvey had her bunny (a chocolate Senior English angora buck- by the name of "GC CCR's Hershey") up on a grooming table.
Image hosted by
She was explaining how she uses a special blower on her bunnies to maintain their coats.  I have read about this, but never saw anyone doing it, so I learned that you should use a professional groomers blower, and never a hair dryer- and that you would work from the bottom up while holding the head and ears.  Hershey was very cooperative about the whole process, and entertaining as well.  His coat was such a beautiful color, and so full and long, the pictures do not do it justice.  To read more about Elaine and her rabbits, you can click here to see her web page, or here to read her blog.
It was starting to get crowded and I realized that Susan Withnell was starting her demonstration.  Susan brought a 2 year old, pure German, Angora doe named Gretel.  She was white, white, and had a lovely long coat that Susan was demonstrating how to clip.
Image hosted by
Even though I have been clipping my rabbits for a few years, I learned some really good tips....the best one was on turning the scissors slightly away from the skin while clipping.  I could see how this will make a difference, and am anxious to try it out next time I clip Jack.  Susan explained about how she parts the hair down the middle of the back, and works from the top down.  She is very skilled with the scissors, and handles them like a NYC hairstylist.  Her bunny was very well behaved too, especially on such a hot day with so many people crowed around.  You can read more about Susan and her Fiber Arts by clicking here.
To top off my day, I went inside Mannings to make a purchase and found a book that I thought was out of print (on needle felting).  A friend had loaned it to me once, and I could not remember the title or author, only that I liked when I spotted it I snatched it up.
So ...those are just some of my highlights of another very nice Spinning Seminar at the Mannings....see you there next year, second Sat. in June..rain or shine!

Friday, June 10, 2005

getting ready

We have been getting ready for a day of fiber arts over at the Hatton Farm. On Wednesday, instead of going to our regularly scheduled spinning session at the library, we went to see Grace, and try out the antique spinning wheels in preparation for the workshop. I fell in love with a wheel from Finland. It spins like a dream, you don't have to do anything except sit behind it. I also spun on a Hyacinth Wheel, which is a beauty. The treadle has a lovely cast iron design on it...very unusual. I am looking forward to meeting the people who are signing up. Below, is a sample of the flyer that Grace created:

Thursday, June 09, 2005

fiber fest


Home of Hatton Finnsheep

Image hosted by


9:30 Am to 3 PM, Saturday, July 30, 2005 in Lords Valley, PA

16 mini-workshops!

  • hand spinning
  • knitting
  • nalbinding
  • fingerloop braiding
  • triangle loom weaving
  • cardboard weaving
  • sheep breeds
  • alpaca fibers and more!
  • Class space is limited. Pre-registration and class selection is required.

    $45 for the day. Some classes have additional materials fees. Bring your own lunch. Cookies and beverages will be supplied.

    Contact us for more information:

    Grace Hatton,

    Cyndy Donohue

    Lords Valley is located off I-84 between Scranton and Milford in Northeast, PA.

    Saturday, June 04, 2005

    indian corn

    Image hosted by

    This is the mohair roving that I purchased at MS&W, from Greta Dise at Persimmon Tree Farm.  She really blends the colors nicely, and it is always a nice experience watching how the fibers spin out.  I spun a single, and used a Navajo ply to make a nice puffy 3wpi yarn.  I plan on using it to weave on the 3 foot triangle loom, and perhaps adding some beads that I found to embellish the fringe.

    It is appropriate that I was finishing this yarn on the same day that I planted my corn, because it goes by the same name....Indian Corn.  I planted a total of 3 different varieties of corn this year, all of them have different harvest times, and so different pollination dates, therefore, I should be ok planting them in close proximity to each other without having trouble with cross-pollination.  I don't want a kernel of Indian corn winding up in my sweet corn, and visa versa.

    First, I planted the 100 day "cutie pop" from Stokes.  It claims to be an ornamental popcorn, that looks like miniature Indian corn.  The ears are only 5 inches long.  Since I had great success with popcorn before, I decided that by popular demand (Christmas present recipients) I would try it again.

    Second, I planted the 80-90 day "True Platinum" sweet corn from Seeds of Change Organic.  I have been waiting for three years to get this seed.  It sounds like a beautiful plant..."Sweet and tender, excellent flavored cobs wrapped in burgundy purple husk- 6 to 7 feet tall with 8-9 inch ears."  Who could resist?

    And last but not least, an early sweet corn called "Cloud Nine" from Stokes, calling for 77 days.  I will be marking my calendar, and seeing if it clocks in on time.  We experience many cool nights around here, so if it is late, oh well.

    So, now that it is finally June, and things have warmed up enough for the corn and beans to be planted, some other critters have been seen enjoying the warmer weather...

    Image hosted by

    a frogger at the pond

    Image hosted by

    garter snake in the garden,

    Image hosted by

    and the new addition...Buttercup...who has come to live with us.  I cannot believe we are owning a cat again, but she needed a home.

    Blog Widget by LinkWithin