Today was the last full day of the Harley Davidson 5 State Rally in Roanoke and the third ride that Jim was the ride Captain. Grandson had his last day of school and I picked him up at 11 and we drove to the covered bridge in our community and sat for a few minutes until the 15 or so bikes rode by us on the way up to Mountain Lake Lodge to see the Dirty Dancing display, it was filmed there, and to have lunch. We hurried in to town, picked up granddaughter from Preschool and back up the mountain where we joined the big group on the porch for lunch. They were a really nice group of folks and the kids were well behaved and hungry.
Back home, my ride, the tractor was brought out and the yard mowed, showing the clear demarcation between the lawn and the hay.
It was such a nice afternoon that the new wheel and I adjourned to the front porch and a funky skein of yarn was plyed. Daughter named it “Seussical” as soon as she saw it. I am now spinning a yellow and orange skein that will be used with “Seussical” to make a hat and mitts for the Holiday Markets in the fall and winter.
While sitting there, the distinctive buzz of a hummingbird was heard and soon, the little emerald green hummer was feeding right in front of me. I have tried for years to get a photo of one and if I sat still and stopped spinning, it returned repeatedly to the feeder.
While I was prepping tacos for dinner, the haying team arrived and the area where the photo of the short grass and the tall hay along with most of the rest of the area in front of the house were mowed with a sickle bar to be raked and baled tomorrow or Sunday. The big 15′ mower will arrive tomorrow and take on the big fields that have fewer obstacles and longer straighter runs. The sickle bar will go around the rock piles and along the edges of the fields. Soon the farm will be neat and mowed. Farmer Jeff is right on schedule, he always gets to us in the second or third week of June. The grands will be glad to have more area to play once the hay is all in.
Each day in the fiber arts brings new challenges. Some of these challenges I can tackle on my own. Some I can toss out to local friends and be rewarded with answers. Sometimes, the challenge requires me to cast the net farther out into the world for advice and solutions.
My knitting guru moved back to Ohio, but she taught many of us in this area tricks we didn’t know and introduced me to many others in this area that are in the know. My knitting needs are always met, if I can’t work it out on my own.
The spinning group members are all far better spinners than I and I am never wanting for help in that area either. They each have their own styles and their own equipment preferences. This group is further expanded through the 3 retreats that I attend each year. It was one of those retreats that I learned to card fiber, thus allowing me to start blending my own colors and fibers. One of the members of this group is also a spinning wheel dealer and can get the equipment for us, or help us with minor repairs.
One of the challenges that I have had to cast out into the world is help with the antique Amable Paradis spinning wheel that I purchased just before Christmas. As I have mentioned in prior posts, it arrived Christmas eve and eldest son was here. He and I tackled trying to put it back together based on the photo that was on Ebay as it came shipped in pieces. We figured it out, but there were some problems. The legs were loose, solved by using the waxed hemp and the video from Bobbin Boy. The chips in the whorl and bobbin that would affect it’s ability to spin. That is also being handled by Bobbin Boy and a second bobbin being made so I will be able to spin two bobbins and then ply them on my Louet. Once the wheel was put together and stable, I realized that the footman, the peddle assembly that makes the wheel turn, hit the ground and prevented the wheel from continuing to turn. This assembly is in two pieces, the horizontal part that the foot treadles on that pivots on two metal pins inserted into the front two legs, and the vertical rod that attached to the treadle by leather and to the wheel on a forged metal piece with a pin.
The leather that held the vertical rod to the treadle was huge loose loop. The leather was pretty dried out, but with some effort, I was able to work the knot free breaking off one end that was very dry and retying it as tightly as the two pieces of wood could be together. This improved, but did not cure the problem. It looked to me, that I needed about an inch or inch and a half more clearance for the mechanism to work properly. I toyed with various ideas on how to raise the legs of the wheel that much without doing any damage or permanent change to the wheel and finally today, tossed the problem out to two forums on Ravelry, an international online social network of other fiber lovers. I quickly got several responses to just cut off as much of the bottom of the rod as needed, redrill the hole, retie the leather and voila, it worked. But . . . Isn’t there always a but? This lead to me realize another problem with this wheel, but one that I felt that I could manage a solution for myself. When I treadled and the wheel turned as it was supposed to, the top of the rod would fall off of the pin in the forged metal part.
This piece had a warp in it that causes the pin on which the rod rides to point slightly upward at the top and slightly downward at the bottom of its rotation. Being forged, it isn’t going to bend, so a solution was needed to keep the rod in place. The rod has a piece of leather tacked to the back side that may have taken care of this problem at some point, but the wear has caused the hole in the leather to become too large to hold on to the pin. I have a thick leather belt that was a bit too long for me, so I cut the end off, drilled a hole a bit smaller than the pin and forced it on as a leather washer. Problem solved for now.
Next up, the wheel is going to get a good cleaning and some lubrication and await the return of the parts from Bobbin Boy. Each challenge gets me closer to thinking that I made a good purchase to use for spinning at the 17th century home or just for my own use here when I want something different. I still need to get a handle on tying on the double drive belt and learning to spin with a double drive wheel. Always something new to learn.
A couple of weeks ago, I was given the privilege to be the spinning interpreter at the local 18th century plantation house on the Virginia Tech Campus. As summer was passing, I sold my Kromski Sonata, the folding castle style wheel that I had used the first time I was there and though a contemporary wheel, it at least looked the part. It was replaced with the Ashford Traditional on which I had learned, a Saxony wheel that also looked the part and was used the second time I was re-enacting. It was a nice starter wheel, though the wheel itself wobbled a bit when it spun. It has tiny little bobbins and therefore made small skeins of yarn. With the proceeds from selling the Kromski, I bought a used Louët, a very contemporary castle style wheel. The Ashford was first loaned to a teen wanting to learn to spin, then sold to her, leaving me with the contemporary wheel while sitting in the old home spinning earlier this month. I had been looking on the internet for an old (period) still functional wheel for some time and in the past couple of days, I found two. I emailed out to the first seller to be told that the wheel pictured was not the wheel for sale, but representative of wheels he had sold in the past and he was too busy with the Christmas rush to send me any photos or descriptions of what he currently had available until after Christmas. He also could not tell me if he had a working wheel. Scratch that seller off my list.
The second seller had a beautiful wheel that had come from a South Carolina estate and it had been in the same family throughout it’s history. I emailed again and the response was that it spins straight, has all of it’s original parts, is not just a decoration and not a reproduction, plus the price was so incredibly low that it seemed too good to be true, plus, if I am dissatisfied, I can return it within two weeks for a full refund.
Since my show was successful over the weekend, we decided that I should go ahead and make the purchase. This morning, I ordered that wheel and now I anxiously await it’s arrival. It has only 1 bobbin and that bobbin looks small, so this wheel will only be for re-enactment, the rest of the time, gracing our home. If I truly fall in love with it, perhaps I will have a couple more bobbins made, sell the Louët and make the antique my all the time wheel. I’m really not a collector of wheels, not keeping more than one in the house at a time.
To keep the sourdough starter going, it has to be fed at least every couple of days. The longer you go between feedings, the longer it takes to get going again. In order to not have buckets of the stuff, you have to use it, discard about 80% before you feed it, or give it away. Since I had to feed the starter left from making bread the other day, I decided to feed it a goodly amount and make muffins this morning. The recipe that I used makes a product that is a cross between a scone and a muffin in texture, but sweet, crumbly and delicious. It made a dozen and N and I ate 2 each right out of the oven this morning.
This is what was left after we gobbled down breakfast.
Today was spinning group day. Since it was beginning to drizzle with more significant storms due, I chose not to take my wheel, but just the drop spindle and some knitting. I enjoyed visiting with the ladies, knitting some, listening to the various conversations, entering some of them, and spinning on my drop spindle. Like kids in kindergarten, we often do show and tell and I took the two skeins that I have recently finished, one on the wheel and the other from the drop spindle.
The top one is Merino from Hawk’s Nest and there was still a bit of the purple left after carding it with the blues and grays, and the bottom is Romney from a fiber club. The ladies said I should blend some of them together, so this afternoon after getting home, I decided to play with my new to me Strauch Petit Drum Carder.
I took this
and there was still some of this unspun
and made these
It is only a couple of ounces and I don’t know if I will spin it on the spindle or the wheel. There will only be enough yarn to use as an accent on something, maybe with the purple Merino blend above.
As I expand my fiber skills, I get more deeply hooked on the craft. I have yet to work with locks or a whole fleece, nor have I more than toyed with dyeing, but I have a bag of Mohair locks to play with and am getting bolder with the idea of dyeing some fiber or yarn.
Today was cold and rainy. It was supposed to get up in the low 50’s, but it barely made it above freezing. The time was spent indoors for the most part so I spent it spinning and doing a little knitting. I had spun 4 ounces of Dorset lamb roving at the spinning retreat last weekend and began on the other 4 ounces when I got home. So far about an ounce has been done. It is going to take a jumbo flyer and a large bobbin to ply it and I don’t have one. I may set them aside until I save enough money to buy the flyer and jumbo bobbin for my wheel.
After I finished this last week, I had a few yards of one ply left and Navajo plied it wondering what to do with such a small amount.
At the retreat last weekend, I decided that I needed a small bag or basket to hang on my wheel to hold the spinning oil, WPI tool and repair items, so I used the scraps to knit this little bag for my spinning notions and tools and hung it on my wheel.
This is the roving that I purchased to make myself a sweater from my own handspun. It really is darker than it appears in this photo. It was put away in a plastic bag to keep the stink bugs out until I get the Dorset spun and spin the roving that I bought for my daughter.
Farm life, knitting and spinning, cooking and family