22 February 2011

The first graduate of the Apple Jack Creek Home for Aged and Wayward Wheels

The Apple Jack Creek Home for Aged and Wayward Spinning Wheels is proud to announce the first graduate from our unique program!
This wheel arrived here tired, dusty, and dry. After her creation sometime in the 1930’s in the northern Czech Republic, at some point she travelled to Canada, where she recently spent some years languishing in a cold garage attic. At long last, the decision was made that she was ready to take the plunge and re-enter polite spinning society! Finding her way here was, of course, the first step on that journey and we are so proud of her. (Everyone clap politely, now!)
Just to show you how far she’s come, here is what she looked like on arrival (she’s the one on the far left)…
During her stay, she was bathed liberally in tung oil finish and wow, did that ever make a difference! Here she is, partway through her treatment at the spa:
Look at that youthful glow!
This girl had a unique feature that called for some new techniques in our spa – she’s got a metal flyer, which is not something you see every day. Our local resources (thanks Dad) suggested brass and carbon steel brushes for the Dremel and they did indeed do a fabulous job of polishing: under all the grime, that lovely flyer has a brass neck and steel arms … and she longer sports any twisted flax fibres or caked on grease. Detoxification is just another part of the spa experience at Apple Jack Creek!
Some fine tuning work was needed on the bobbin and the whorl, where the real work of spinning happens. The bobbin clattered on the flyer rod, especially once all the gunk was removed, so new leather bearings were inserted into the ends to cushion the spinning wood against the metal. The flyer whorl is a pressure-fit (rather than a threaded twist-on), and was, in fact, fitted to a clump of flax thread and built up grease that had been purposely created around the end of the flyer rod. With that cleaned off, a new method of fixing the whorl in place was needed, so more leather was called into service. The whorl was never properly centered, so in the course of fixing the pressure fit, it was shifted somewhat more towards the middle, though it’s still not quite perfect. Well, none of us are perfect in this life, eh folks?
And now … after all that hard work, here she is. Isn’t she beautiful, folks?
Now let the ladies and gentlemen see what you were able to accomplish this afternoon....
Isn’t that great folks? Look at her, she’s ready to be productive once more! What a girl! Applause! Applause!
Here she is, showing you what she can do.

Any spinners out there looking for a productive member of the family? The Apple Jack Creek Home for Aged and Wayward Spinning Wheels asks potential adopters to contact us: we do request a donation of $250 to cover our program expenses, and we ask that you be committed to furthering this wheel’s re-entry into productive spinning society. To facilitate this process, we are pleased to offer a 3-bobbin Lazy Fred (stained to match) for just $25 to those spinners who do not already have a one-bobbin solution in place.
Local(ish) pickup or delivery to Olds (during Fibre Week) is free. Shipping can be arranged, but as this wheel doesn’t disassemble, it is likely to be a bit challenging.

19 February 2011

Spring must be around the corner!

We have lambs! The two ‘early ewes’ (the Columbia and Columbia/Hamp cross) had their lambs this week … of course after several days of lovely weather, when it dropped to –31, they decided to have their babies. :)

We were anticipating just such an event, though, and were ready to warm up the babies and get their mamas into the barn for warmth and peace and quiet.

This morning, The Boy saw this out the window:

Love, sunshine, and peace.

09 February 2011


I have, to my surprise, discovered that restoring antique wheels is a remarkably satisfying and engaging activity. It’s a hobby that probably borders on obsession/addiction, but hey, I’m okay with that.

I regularly surf the local Kijiji for wheels that might need some restoration or the attention of a spinner/fixerupperperson and this past week I found an ad for an interesting European wheel. I emailed the seller and discovered that they had THREE wheels for sale – one complete, one with the flyer but no bobbin, and one with neither.

I am now the long-distance-almost-owner of ...

  • an intact wheel with a really neat metal flyer that has slits-and-holes for the yarn, instead of hooks:


  • a really neat 'sideways' wheel – the spinner sits facing the edge of the wheel, rather than the hub, and the yarn makes a sharp ‘right hand turn’ into the flyer assembly:


  • another sideways wheel in need of a full flyer/bobbin assembly and a maiden repair:


I can’t wait to see how these wheels clean up and to get them back into spinning condition. Once they are restored, I hope to put them in the hands of spinners who will be part of ensuring that they have ‘another century of productive life’.

Treading in ancient footsteps

Tonight, the Small People were admiring the wheels in the living room (there are quite a few at the moment…) and ended up over by the wee little Lithuanian wheel. They asked about the distaff (“you put the wool on this board and stick it in place with the poky thing, then you spin from there”) and turned the wheel to see the flyer go around. We looked at the double drive band, and saw that the string is tighter around the bobbin whorl than the flyer whorl, and so the bobbin and flyer turn at different speeds for each turn of the drive wheel. I twisted the bobbin, and Dinosaur Boy turned the flyer and we admired how the two pieces work independently of one another but cooperate to make yarn.

Then I helped them place their tiny feet on the treadle and said “Feel that? There were people spinning on this wheel a hundred years ago and their feet wore down that wood, right where your foot is now, treadling over and over to make yarn for their families.”


Before she went to bed tonight, the little Princess Girl asked if tomorrow I would teach them more about the spinning wheels.

Of course I will. :)