This post has a happy ending, I promise.
Bent out of shape
One morning in mid-June, I left the house quickly. It was a good decision to leave the spindle bag & take knitting, a book instead. I would be sat in waiting rooms all day. Sadly the adored spindle in question, a Butternut wood cross-arm Ray Thomson was left on the kitchen table. A busy place for busy people.
It had carried me through 4 skeins of white Coopworth for around 490 yards from mill-combed top. Then I was enjoying this “What Happens If” Staghorn Sumac natural dye question.
To be clear, I like this spindle so much that I was using it to spin a whole pound of Coopworth wool top one day at a time. That is to say, I LOVE the spindle.
While my day was trying in waiting rooms, procedures (all is well) something happened to this spindle on the table top. I could hazard a guess but here is the damage to the thinner of the 2 cross arms. There was a sickening wobble, and I had to unwind to find this.
Here is the sting: Ray Thomson is a Canadian spindle maker; they are no longer in production. Until Amelia Garripoli of “the Bellwether” listed hers for sale, I had seen exactly one in around 10 years of looking.
Eventually, I could deal
While I keep the arms, shaft the project has moved forward with a carved vintage Andean pushka. It moved forward a little but is essentially quiet now. I may change the plan again.
With the Ray spindle break, I had just 1 working cross-arm spindle, a Jenkins Lark in tulipwood. It was time to act. A replacement shaft for the Jenkins Delight in carob was the obvious choice. As you can see it went well.
Both the Delight (far right spindle, above) & Lark had been purchased on destash. Buying direct from Jenkins Yarn Tools was a treat! Wanda made the process easy & exciting.
New spin & getting back to the Zwartables-in-progress
The brand new 2021 spindles are both Aegeans. Deborah Held describes this spindle model as:
This spindle differs from other modern Turkish-style spindles in that the smaller arm slides in and out of the larger arm in only one direction, unlike the more typical design of one arm sliding through a keyhole inside its mateSpin-off magazine, Summer 2019, p. 27 “ed jenkins sees the forest through his trees”
The sample of Targhee from Aurora Colony Fiber Arts inspired me to keep the happy test spinning going with my own Natural Obsessions dyed top of the same breed. The Aegeans are both rattle-free, and the straighter arms hold a good amount of yarn. This plum version is 0.709 oz/ 20.12 g. It is lighter than both the Delight (by 8 g) & the Lark (by 3 g).
Returning to the Zwartables wool project
Let’s frame the state of this spin first. It is 6 skeins deep into 8 oz of Zwartables mill-combed wool top. This is what 672 yards of the 2-ply yarn looks like:
In the time that the spindle package took from Oregon to Ontario, I congratulated my good judgement by bringing the Lark in tulipwood back to action.
Dating back to winter 2018, I had been alternating spindles and simply spinning this interesting wool. There is some wiry kemp fibre in the top that is easy to spot. This top is fairly open, and I enjoy the crisp feel in my hands as I spin singles.
Having the Delight back in the game is great. I am not sure what the yarn will become. First thoughts were for colourwork knit mittens; second thoughts are for weaving. We shall see!
Lesson of the spindle break
For years, I have held back from acquiring more spindles. This experience has shown me that total backing-out can have this downside.
My spinning preferences have shifted towards low-whorl spindles. I had long admired Ed Jenkins’ Aegeans, and am glad they are still available for a Canadian spinner in this pandemic.
Yesterday morning the plum version was at this point. The ever-so slightly heavier sister Aegean in holly (0.720 oz/ 20.39 g) will step into the new Targhee project next.
In the future, I hope to be able to purchase again from current makers. I will let go of what does not serve the work by finding homes for spindles that are no longer in use. A friend’s offer of their Tabacheks years ago will help me make that mindset shift. They explained simply that I would use the 2 Tabacheks more, and so I have. It helped spark an awakening, thank you, friend.
Welcome new readers! It is very exciting to see my posts featured again in Handspinning News and to receive your new replies, following notices.
Weaving, knitting, cotton spinning continue to be queued-up. Our family is in the midst of shifting-up our new homeschool life. This is new, frankly overwhelming work to formalize after unschooling last winter.
We also are watching Jamaica’s new wave of COVID-19 infections with deep concern. In the last week my extended family has suffered a second major loss. Our thoughts, sympathy are with all in these heart-wrenching times.
As I navigate going forward, I will be taking a step from social media. In this past week, I was better able to reach out, research, implement & show-up with this post. Best case that continues!