A trio of restored antique wheels lives with us.
Each has these features: sloping-bench, three-legged, double-drive, screw-tensioned, treadled, flax loving. They share the overall Saxony spinning wheel structure, and they work. Apart from all coming to me right here in Ontario they have little else in common!
From late 19th-century Eastern Europe, Chela
Since my February 2012 post about this “not child’s play” painted wheel, several spinners have contacted me with their own strikingly similar examples.
This is the finished combined 307 yards from two fingers of the vintage Pennsylvania line flax that I have from an eBay purchase. It was wet-spun on Chela, and wet-plied on my Spinolution Mach 2 wheel at 10:1.
This wheel is useful, and has a beautifully gentle action for fine spinning. She does need help for a safer peg system.
Although the back of the bobbin is badly chipped this does not affect the function. Not every break needs major repair. The pegs have held fairly well but do need attention. Each flyer hole is a different size but it will be a minor repair for a wheelwright.
From early 19th-century Nova Scotia, signed Wm McDonald
The largest in the trio, this signed flax wheel is a rare one that is just beautifully made.
Alvin Ramer quietly gave me better flyer hooks while he fixed the treadle at the end of October, 2014. It is now restored to working condition.
The celebratory lap was to seize my 50% silk; 25% buffalo; 25% cashmere batts from Sericin Silkworks, and give her a spin. Record-breaking sustained cold this February was definitely a factor in the indulgence!
Two batts weighed a total 2 oz/ 56g. I tore strips, and with not another thought made the 189 yards of semi-woolen yarn.
The wheel passed my test for plying the yarn on her second ratio, so she is simply an all-round good example. I am so happy to have this wheel!
The new Kid from the Ramers, Linley
This is the Oops! In my defense, she came with 3 Ramer bobbins + a (partial) Ramer oak distaff.
I am still puzzling over this wheel – is she a low-Irish wheel as the Ramers suspect or is she a North American example? Any tips will be appreciated, dear readers!
To my (untrained & enthusiastic) eye, the depression in her table looks original . Barbara Ann Ramer suggests that it would hold a water dish, perhaps tin.
For my spinning, the water will be kept away from the compact table but it is a good spot to park all manner of things!
The singles for this 618 yards were spun from 24 g of silk caps on my new antique saxony wheel. I used my Watson Martha wheel in double drive to for plying.
When the previously strong take-up stopped on a dime, I discovered that the old flyer whorl (darker wood) was threaded.
Older posts in Ravelry fora gave solutions to hold friction, and I went in search of plumber’s tape. I needed a combination with painter’s tape but it seems to be holding now.
A large but seemingly stable crack in the back wheel support is also of concern. The wheel sits level on a leather bearing but its axle seems worn. I am not sure if this will need additional professional work but have decided to ask for an assessment.
The spinning on these wheels has been a delight. My hope is to keep them working as tools in my spinning practice, and to get back to the flax.
Space does not allow me to have a large collection but the trio makes an awesome sub-herd!
edit, December 4, 2015: Wheelwright, Reed Needles, notes that the treadle on this unsigned oak flax wheel, Linley, is cedar. It points to Canadian & not Irish origins for this wheel. See my update post of today for more!