I experienced the most amazing act of kindness this week, and have been bursting to tell! There is good in this world, and really, this town.
It all started 2 weeks ago when I went out for a Sunday spin-in at the Fibre Garden in Jordan Village. Life had been incredibly hectic straight up to the night before but really very little comes between me & these spin-ins. Jordan is in wine country & is quite the tourist town, so the shop is open on the Sundays when we go out to spin.
The shop is a charming, brightly painted historic home that really stands out. The freshly painted spinning wheels on the front porch apparently drew an Oakville family indoors on their way to lunch. I was facing the front door, spinning on Wee Peggy & happily caffeinated. We chatted about Oakville’s spinning guild, and I raved about the daytime knitting group at the Wool Bin. They were all very nice, and then left. On his way out the man cracked a joke about us having painted toe-nails. Pleasant and par for the course at the FG…
Well, the next Saturday, Jane from the Wool Bin wrote me. The older lady came in for some yarn, and wanted to get in touch with the “young spinner in Jordan.” Jane was sure that was me (35 y.o. & called young at every turn!). The lady wanted to give me her unused spinning wheel! I was excited but fully prepared to be presented with a dud…
This is a beauty. Not a dud. Can you imagine my joy when I walked in, and saw this in the lady’s living room?!!
Pristine working condition. A Canadian Production Wheel. Could I contain myself? Um, no! Thirty years ago, her husband has business dealings in Quebec. It was a gift, packed and sent to her from a grateful businessman. She made 3 moves with this wheel, always taking excellent care of it, and now she wanted to see it go straight to a spinner. Her family had researched the wheel on-line, and she knew it had value. Even so, she declined my offer to pay. She said that it was a gift, and none of her children would use it. The family agreed with her wish to give it to me, a perfect stranger.
I must have hugged her 5 times. I explained that never in my wildest dreams did I hope for such a wheel (seriously, I thought a Lendrum at best!). That I am a self-taught lace spinner on spindles, and that the CPWs are built for that type of spinning. That I have secretly wanted one but never knew how I could find a good one. I told her about Ravelry & the following these wheels have is not in auction houses but in the spinning community. I even told her about how spinners will pass these wheels along like an underground railroad to get them safely cross-country.
She helped me get this into the car, and I have promised her a skein of handspun wool. Heck, she can have a lifetime supply of handspun from me! I told her how much this means to me because I am returning to work shortly after 1 ½ years, and it’s been a total wrench to think I am dropping out of the spinning world. “Heaven sent” were my exact words. She has my promise that this won’t ever see a garage sale if I can help it. And that, friends, is a fact.
So, what do I have? The maker’s stamp is on the wheel bed, Philias Cadorette from St. Hyacinthe, province of Québec:
There is no wobble in the 30″ diameter drive wheel. It runs true, and the wheel joins look good to me:
The wheel has the usual 12 spokes with the lovely turnings. The footman is a hooked iron rod that goes over a superb C-shaped crank:
The drive band is chunky, came with the wheel, and is still going strong…
The wheel has beautiful patina, and bears the yarn-etchings of a well-used flyer assembly:
The orifice is so narrow that I had to use an unbent paper clip to thread the wool through!
By yet another stroke of serendipity, I found out that this is a sub-set of the CPWs that has the Canadian innovation of tilt-tensioning. I have been working through 8 or so old copies of Spin-off magazine from my guild, and just stumbled on William Ralph’s article “Canadian Tilt-Tension Production Wheels” in the Fall ’94 issue. So, 16 years ago he wrote:
If you find one in good condition you are really in luck. These wheels are still relatively inexpensive and are among the finest tools ever made for spinning wool. They are remnants of a unique cottage industry which flourished in Québec Province, beginning about the turn of the century and ending shortly after World War II.
Instead of a screw that is turned to move the whole flyer assembly (Mother of All) forward & backward to add or remove tension from the drive band, the maidens are tapped and tilted in an arc. You just loosen the wing-nuts, and tap until they are adjusted to the right point. When William Ralph wrote that these wheels are, “exceptionally fast, with a strong pull & rapid wind-on,” he wasn’t kidding.
Thanks to KnitMe’s post about her Philias Cadorette here, I got a clue about how to remove the whorl & bobbin. I was scratching my head on that one!
I am still on cloud 9, and probably not liked very much at the moment by the other spinners. Ah, well! The previous owner is a Very Good Person in my books, and I am forever grateful for her act of kindness. Such generosity is rare but not extinct!