There is a footnote to my last post on the Wm MacDonald Saxony spinning wheel. Since posting she continued to impress me through 4 bobbins of BFL/silk top.
As she ran, I cleaned and oiled and spoke to the twitter. A wool lock shim came to the front maiden & I had an eye out for any signs of trouble. Towards the end of the fourth bobbin, I felt a slight shift. All of a sudden, I discovered an old repair to the right of the front treadle support – and not in a good way.
R. Needles, “Wheelwright” from London, Ontario spoke at the 2013 Ontario Handspinning Seminar. He writes succinctly in his paper for the seminar:
Function matters if you’re going to use it.
This named wheel functions beautifully, and is an important historical artifact. We are going to seek professional assistance to restore this old fix. It’s actually still holding because I recognized the change in feel, applied a non-invasive brace (hello, leather tag from that purse!), and caught it before real damage happened. As a solid piece it can take glue you know from a pro.
More than anything else there is a simple fact. I love this wheel. So, stick a pin – we’ll get to that 5th bobbin spun yet!
Blame the flax
This tipping point from “wheels” to “wheel collection” is all because of flax. Yes, that’s right, I blame the flax.
You should watch out for this sneaky fibre called flax. It wants you to have specialized wheels, and takes its own sweet time to whisper sweet nothings in your ear as you go.
See the twisted fingers of flax to the lower left of the distaff? This is the finest from the antique Pennsylvania flax that I combed last October. I brought it out last month for a group fibre study on Ravelry.com.
Even after last fall’s hackling, the best of this flax has a ton of boon & straw! Out came a bandana, in fact. It was that much dust as I drafted from the distaff. The flax varied wildly. One minute I had soft, fine lengths, and the next I was waving the straw along! I just went with the texture, and kept up with wet spinning to smooth it all over.
My jeans were soaked. I looked a sight. Still there I was, hooked all over again on the linen. Having a virtual spin-along was also really cool.
About the wet spinning – it wasn’t plain water this time. I gave a lot of flax seeds a generous splash of boiling water. Steeping & stirring happened but I was really halfway to the wheel before long. There was a good difference. In the future, I’ll boil the seeds, and use the flax-slurry.
This fibre varied from fine to feeling almost like tow flax. I hope there was enough twist in this linen yarn. It was spun wet, and felt fairly textured when I wound it from my drying tin (holes are punched in the sides of the tin) to the rolls for storage.
Alongside my singles is a birthday present – Kati Reeder Meek’s, “Reflections from a Flaxen Past for love of Lithuanian Weaving.” A fantastic first flax reference for my shelves! It was Camilla Valley’s last copy, and is blowing me away. The Lithuanian linen tradition far more complex than I ever dreamed. Most of all, I am thrilled to have a spinners’ insights on making linen weaving yarn. It is so well reasoned, and accessible.
Also inspiring this push is the samples of handwoven linen lace that Jette Vandermeiden brought for our guild class last month.
All of the samples were interesting but I was so drawn to Jette’s discussion of the linen laces in particular. My goal is to practice weaving first, and build my skills but with an eye towards learning to weave my own linen textiles.
Happy Canada Day to all Canadians near & far! Like the Clematis, this is my first year with roots in the Canadian soil for this day, and that means something!