Not Child’s Play, it’s a Flax Wheel!

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a Kijiji ad:  Antique Child’s Spinning Wheel.  Just 2 pics but it looked doable in terms of price, and location.

After lots of searching, I decided that it is a flax saxony spinning wheel, probably brought here by an Eastern European family.  The Antique Spinning Wheels Ravelry group also helped calm my fears that she was going to turn out to be a sad little Frankenwheel.

Naturally, I was doing this all in secret.  DH’s first reaction?  He may have asked, “Where will you put it?” but he soon rallied.

That Saturday we braved the snow & headed out to Uxbridge.  The seller was unconvinced that the wheel was used by grown women but she did like that I wanted to get her spinning again.  Even I was stunned by the tiny size when we walked in.  It’s just 2′ high at the maidens, and fits this place mat exactly:

Even Melvin fits!  The hinges are leather, and the treadle is practically made for my size 7 foot.  I worked on the wheel that first weekend, and gave her a Murphy’s Soap bath followed by plenty of tung oil, a new front leather, and pegs for everywhere.  The spa treatment went fairly quickly but I sought help on Ravelry to get her fully functional.

See the massive chip in the bobbin?  It unscrewed easily but the flyer shaft was very rusty.  WD-40 scoured and left overnight did help… a bit.

This flyer probably never had hooks or nails but the spinner would move an eyelet peg along the holes.  The back holes show much more wear.

The ‘Proof of Spin’ pic also shows my fix for the pegs.  Like the steam punk?  Reed Needles aka Wheelwright on Rav does too!

Woodworms made their mark in the mother-of-all housing.  I worried it would need shoring up but all has been well through spinning 1.5 bobbins of BFL wool.

The important thing is that the screw tension is totally undamaged and moves well.

Is it rude to look under a slanty’s skirts?

Don’t carve leather with a buck knife and expect to come away unscathed.  It took some shaving but now the flyer moves freely.  I kept the old leather… it was very badly worn wide.

The drive wheel crank is one of my favourite things about this wheel.  Small but perfectly formed.

Maybe the nail got hammered in after the top of the distaff went missing?

Melvin has been positively doting about the wheel.  It’s not just that he wants to get in on the action.

I named the wheel Chella because it reminds me so much of my Grandmother’s older sister who never married but loved crafts.  It took a few tries to get the right drive band – the purple Hempathy.  I absolutely love this wheel.  She’s a good spinner, and the low profile is ace for tv watching.  The paint on all sides is adorable & I am dying to try to spin line flax with her.

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Lara is a spinner, knitter, natural dyer, parent abandoning a certain fear of weaving. Jamaican-Canadian; she/her in the Greater Toronto Area; we have a Jellicle cat, Melvin & a Double Doodle, Spark. A spindle is usually close to hand!

11 thoughts on “Not Child’s Play, it’s a Flax Wheel!

  1. Lara, she looks sweet! Lucy and Joy are excited to meet her. lol. You must have really enjoyed fixing her up.

  2. Hi! I just got a wheel pretty much like yours at an auction… I want to clean it up as it is very dirty… In using Murphys soap, did you have any problem with the paint coming off?

    1. Hi Beth, No, the Murphy’s Oil soap did not hurt the paint finish on my wheel. I gently rubbed with a rag, and followed the label for diluting the soap. Just go ahead carefully, and check your rag for any signs that paint is coming away in the process. I like to leave the patina as much as possible, and go extra cautiously over any maker’s mark. The wood on your wheel is very likely also dry, and after cleaning it will thank you for conditioning with wood oil (Tung is often cited). The Antique Wheels group on Ravelry has an excellent FAQ on restoring them to working order. Congrats on your new wheel!

  3. Wow!!!!! your lovely little wheel looks a lot! like mine. I got it from a good friend that couldn’t get her working and now she’s spinning temporarely with the help of a few odd replacements.

    Her drive wheel is only 25 cm/10 inches. I too left a great deal of patina on the wheel as i donn’t want to rob her of her history by making her all new again

  4. I bought an identical wheel a few years ago at an antiques shop. I always thought it was for a child but am glad to know much more about the little wheel. It is a dreamy and pretty little thing and whirls so gracefully.

  5. What a beautiful wheel! I hope it doesn’t sit in the window all the time. That isn’t good for the wood….especially after all of the work you put into researching and restoring her. So wonderful to have all the parts

    1. Thanks for your comment, Teresa. The pictures were staged to get the best lighting on a snowy February day. None of my wheels (or other equpipment) is kept in direct sunlight or near heat sources. Since these pictures were taken this room also now has blinds instead of the curtains as well. This wheel is not just restored – she’s in use!

  6. I know this post is old, but I just got a little spinning wheel that’s pretty much identical to this one, even the paint job is similar. Though mine needs a bit more tlc to be a working wheel(the leather hinges are pretty much completely gone)

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