Old skills applied to old new to me toys make me feel like I’m learning all over again.
The little ancient Saxony wheel is up and running, or plodding. The effort to keep it going wears my right hip out, but it will be authentic to the period when spinning in costume. The first skein of yarn off of it is only marginally better than the first skein that I ever spun.
I have to admit, since I only had two bobbins and they were full of the singles, it was plyed on the Louet. Now there are 3 bobbins.
The quill for the Great Wheel came and it was just an ornament for a few days while videos were watched and study of why the 49″ diameter wheel seemed to tilt inward at the top, causing the drive band to walk off. It is difficult enough to learn a new technique when the equipment if functioning correctly. It appears that the axle that holds the wheel on was not at right angle to the post holding the axle. Upon close examination, it looked like a not very good repair had been made at some point and with much effort, half a dozen or so old square headed nails were removed from around it, allowing it to be removed and reset at the correct angle.
A bit more effort and the wheel was remounted, but touched the supporting table. More is being learned about antique wheel maintenance than I believed was possible. The upright that holds the wheel had to be removed and shimmed so that the wheel cleared the table. Tonight some singles have been spun on that wheel. Not really the prettiest, but a beginning.
The other new fiber toy that came home the same weekend as the Great Wheel is the supported spindle. That is another learning curve. A drop spindle was the first spinning that I did and began doing it about 7 ot 8 years ago, but the support spindle is a different technique, so three new techniques to learn in just a couple of months.
There can be no more. There is no more room to store and use the wheels and spindles, no room for other crafts in “my space,” a corner of the loft with my chair, three spinning wheels, Lazy Kate, Swift, spinning stool, bookcase of spindles and fiber books, and crates of Cabin Crafted stock.
This is my cozy corner to learn, relax, read, spin, and knit. Back to honing my skills so I don’t look like a total novice on April 1, the first day back at Smithfield Plantation.
It is March, the most changeable month of our seasons. Three days ago it was in the 70’s, then the rain came, the wind blew, trees around the region fell and with them the temperature. Today it is barely at freezing and this. . .
Yes, that is snow folks. Only a light dusting, but this is what we expect this time of year, not 70+ºf. Tonight it drops into the teens. If the sun comes out, the garlic will get another blanket of hay or a piece of row cover to keep the 9 inch shoots from burning to the ground. In town, the flowering almonds, daffodils, and forsythia are blooming. We have a young maple with flowers and tiny leaves. It is weeks too soon.
The chickens fled back into their coop as soon as the flurries began this morning. Those birds just don’t like snow. The dozen new chicks get picked up in 10 days. Their abode needs to be set up this weekend so that the warming table can get the environment right for them when they come home. So far, Tractor Supply has done a great job of keeping me from buying a few Welsummers as the two times we have gone down, the bins have been empty. It wouldn’t work out too well to have 4 chicks almost 2 weeks older than the tiny Buff’s coming home with us soon. The brooder coop sides that remained plastic last year still need to be enclosed within the next 6 weeks.
Mother Earth News alerted me that the onion sets can be put out under cover. To do that, another day of moving compost is in order. There is still a big pile and 2 empty boxes to fill.
Over the winter, steps were taken to make spinning at the Smithfield Plantation House a bit more authentic. Two antique wheels entered our home, both have had parts made or repaired by Bobbin Boy and returned. The little Saxony style wheel, the older of the two spins. The effort to spin on her is much greater than on the contemporary wheel, but yarn has been made.
It is a bit rougher than yarn generally spun by me, but it is yarn! Yesterday an attempt to spin on the great wheel was made. Something isn’t aligned quite right and the drive band walks off the back edge. The wheel does not have a groove and it was suggested that a beeswax paste be thinly smeared down the center to help hold it, but it still moves off the back. It is hard to learn properly when so much attention is given to keeping the drive band string in place. Also during the winter, additions were made to the costume that is worn while spinning at the plantation. A Dormeuse/Mob cap, Apron, and Fichu/kerchief were added to improve the look. A gown should also be worn, but that is not in the budget right now, plus it gets terribly hot in the weaver’s cottage during the summer months. Here is the new look.
One of the issues with the petticoat (skirt) was that it was one long panel with a single seam and a drawstring of ribbon. It was awkward and bulky at the waist. Some of the re-enactors and seamstresses on Ravelry, the social network for fiber artists, gave me some pointers on how to deal with that issue. Yesterday, the drawstring was removed, the single panel split into two, hidden pockets added to the front panel and the side seams resewn to the bottom of the pockets. Cotton twill tape was added to the tops of the two panels distributing the fullness and stitched in place. The back twill is tied in the front, then the front overlaps the back a few inches on each side and ties in the back. It is so much more comfortable and now I have pockets for my very nontraditional keys needed to get there and for my Hussif, a small needle book, that has needles, pins, thread, and my tiny scissors.
The Hussif, a contraction of the word housewife, was carried my many people, women of the house, pages, soldiers, and sailors. It is a small rolled sewing kit. Mine doubles as both a small sewing kit and a tiny knitting notions kit with the addition of a cable needle, a few stitch markers, needle gauge, and a tape measure.
Traditionally, each pocket was made of a different fabric and was used to contain the necessary tools of a sewing repair kit.
Participation as a historical spinner is encouraging me to learn more of the period, customs, and terms. The location is beautiful, though earlier this week, a very old, maybe 300 year old maple tree on the property fell. Not during the storm, which is probably a good thing, as with little wind, it fell away from the forge shop into the yard. During the storm, it might have taken a different path down. The lead blacksmith rallied a group and the trunk and larger branches have been salvaged and once dried, will be made into tables, benches, handles for tools and knives. Saving a bit of the area’s old history.
Farm life, knitting and spinning, cooking and family