Tag Archives: Spinning

The Crazy Cat Lady – 12/14/18

But not cats, spinning equipment.  A while back, I posted that I finally had all the spinning equipment that I needed and it was all comfortable to me.  Well, an opportunity presented itself this past summer to purchase an antique sitting quill spinning wheel from Pennsylvania.  It couldn’t be shipped, but a friend was an acquaintance of the seller and was going to be in her area a few weeks after and she said she would pick it up and take it to her home until we could connect.  We live about 3-4 hours apart.  She and her husband were going to be setting up at the Shenandoah Fiber Festival in September and though that is also 3+ hours from home, we can visit our eldest son and his family in that region, a plan was hatched.

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This beautiful little wheel joined the huge walking wheel in our loft.  She has been taken to a couple of living history events as she travels in the back of my car nicely.  But this meant that the Ashford Traveller that I had been taking wouldn’t go anymore, and though a pretty little wheel, wasn’t what I wanted for everyday spinning, her bobbins were too small and I didn’t want to spend more money to get the larger flyer, so she was offered for sale and sold quickly.  The Ashford came apart enough to box it in a medium moving box and it could be shipped.  That left me with no everyday wheel and I wanted something with huge bobbins and yet small enough to travel, so Miss Polly came home with me, a Spinolution Pollywog, a tiny little 8 pounder.

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So now, I had the 49″ diameter great wheel, the sitting quill wheel, Miss Poly, and a gorgeous Golding drop spindle.  Then I found another Golding spindle that called to me and I purchased it.

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The Celtic sheep spindle is a joy and spindles are so portable to take spinning anywhere, anytime.

Yesterday was our spinning group’s annual Christmas Party with Dirty Santa exchange, potluck snacks, and camaraderie.  It is always a fun afternoon with the opportunity to give away fibery items you no longer want, sell those that you don’t want but don’t want to give away, and of course the Dirty Santa fun.  One of our group members has turned her interest to quilting in the past few years and has dropped out of coming to the weekly gatherings and the parties and she decided that since she was no longer using her wheel, that it should find a new home.  The hostess picked it up from her home and brought it to her own home.  The original owner did not want to sell it, she just wanted it to go to a new loving home.  The wheel is a 40 year old Jensen, hand made wheel and it is beautiful.  That wheel came home with me yesterday.

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She is larger than my sitting quill, but smaller than the great wheel, a large sturdy Saxony style wheel of Cherry wood and she glows.  With the leather fittings and old style hooks, she also can go to living history events with or instead of the sitting quill wheel.  The loft now houses 4 wheels, I’m running out of space, but not out of love for the art and the beautiful equipment.

Perhaps an intervention is in order.  At least an organization so that I can use them and get to the fiber to spin on them.

Craft season – Nov. 10, 2018

Craft season is upon us.  Today we wandered about the big show that may be in my future next year to see who had what, prices, and may have bought gifts for upcoming birthdays and Christmas.  One of my products is soap and there were at least three vendors with soap.  One had felted soap for $12/bar, one had beautifully packaged bars that you couldn’t see or smell for $4.50 each.  Another had melt and pour bars in gaudy colors and scents for $6 each.  Knitwear was scarce.  If my friend and I share a booth, we would have enough inventory of items to make a go of it, I think.

This upcoming weekend is my first show of the season, followed by the first three Saturdays in December at the Holiday Markets held by the Blacksburg Farmers’ Market.  Those are always fun, often cold and windy, but among friends.  Thermos of hot coffee or tea or soup and Hot Hands packets to go in gloves are in order.  I hope my shop apron fits over my parka.

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With it’s big pockets, it is good for cash, a pen, and the Square reader on my phone.

Once the notification came in today that those were a go, more soap needed to be made.

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Two batches were made this afternoon, the Goatmilk, Oatmeal, Honey soap which is my favorite, but has about a 33% fail rate, and a Green Tea European Clay batch.  Those need to sit wrapped in a towel tonight and labels need to be made so I don’t forget what went into them.  Tomorrow I will make a Moroccan Red Clay and Cocoa batch, and a Lavender batch.  Once the soaps are curing more lotion bars need to be molded and labelled.  The weather will be cool enough that I won’t have the melt problem I had last spring.

In order to have my sales come out even dollar amounts after collecting state sales tax, I have played with numbers to figure out how much to charge.

I have another half pound of alpaca/merino to spin and a two scarves to finish knitting.  Guess I had better get busy.

From Fall to Winter – November 3, 2018

Yesterday’s rain and wind blew through last night and the night was chilly, it was quite cool this morning still blowing strong making it feel colder.  Animal chores were done and after not making it to the Farmers Market in a few weeks, we headed in to town to get breakfast and shop at the Farmers Market.  We knew today was a home football game that always makes traffic worse and eating in local restaurants nearly impossible.  We didn’t know that it was Homecoming, there must have been 40 people waiting in the cold to get in to the little local diner where we often get our breakfast on Saturday.  The Waffle House and fast food places all had lines.  A little further out, not in walking distance is a bagel shop and we got there, got breakfast and sat down just as the line snaked out the door.

It was cold enough to warrant my winter coat, a knit hat, and gloves for the market, but veggies, bread, and meat came home for the week.  One stall has whole hog sausage, fresh mozzarella, and fresh cultured butter.  The Italian sausage and fresh mozzarella purchased decided dinner.

Once home, the huge 2 gallon bag of frozen red cue balls that have been in my way were dumped in the sink, some warm water run over them so the skins would slip off, chopped with the big butcher knife and seasoned with onion, garlic, and Italian herbs and set to simmer.  When started, I wasn’t sure if it would be pasta sauce or pizza sauce.  My recipes are basically the same but the pizza sauce if reduced until it is thickened.  There is 1 ripe tomato sitting in the kitchen window, it will be part of my breakfast tomorrow with a scrambled egg and a slice of toasted bread.

Because of the morning’s purchases and because we really like pizza prepared from scratch at home now that I have a crust we like, the decision was to reduce it to pizza sauce.  Seven half pints were canned plus one left out for dinner.  I had them about half canned when I remembered that I hadn’t added citric acid or lemon juice, so pulled them from the canner and we left to take a walk in the woods and around the pond.

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The pond always had a dozen or so geese and ducks, but this huge flock must be passing through and taking a feed and rest break.  There must have been more than 100, diving and honking at each other.

The walked relieved my frustration at myself for forgetting the lemon juice and once home, each jar was unsealed and reheated, lemon juice added and re-canned with fresh lids.

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Other than enchilada sauce once the Anaheims are all dry and toasted, the canning is done for this year.  There are many jars of Rotel style tomatoes for chili, plain canned tomato sauce, pizza sauce, apple sauce, bbq sauce, and jams to enjoy this winter.

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The remaining cup of sauce with the local sausage, fresh mozzarella, Farmer’s Market red onion, our own green peppers and pizza was made.  The trouble with making it is that one pizza is too big for the two of us and neither of us like cold pizza, so we both always eat too much and one slice always goes to the chickens.

When I went to the fiber retreat last month, I came home with 2 pounds of fiber.  One pound was more of some that I had purchased at Shenandoah Fiber Festival as I decided to spin and knit myself another sweater.  The other pound was a light green alpaca/merino blend.  Almost half of that has been spun and is to be plyed.

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4 ounces

Once it is plyed, I think I will change colors for a while.  Tomorrow I am going to introduce spinning to a new wanna be spinner.  Hopefully she will fall in love with the art as I have.  And later this month, I have two new wanna be’s to teach.

 

Olio – 10/16/2018

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Time goes on, the summer and garden fading rapidly with seasonable though still damp days and chilly nights.  Sweater weather, just in time to wear the newly finished sweater of yarn spun by me and then knitted by me.

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It now sports deer antler buttons made by one of my daughters in law and the sleeves were lengthened from the 3/4 length they were when this was taken to wrist length.  A nice addition to the sweater wardrobe of hand knits.

The past weekend was one of my favorites, a group of folks, men and women, have a fiber retreat in Tennessee.  The trip there was dicey as the remnants of Hurricane Michael made their way here the morning I was to leave and the first couple of hours of westward travel on the interstate were in heavy rain and the always present semi trucks spraying the water back up as fast as it fell.  The retreat is at a state park with delightful cabins in the woods and a conference center that accommodates the 30 or so participants who come to knit, crochet, spin, and other crafts such as spoon carving, needle felting.  I attend as a participant and a vendor, selling soaps, salves, yarn, buttons, and knitted items.

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There are classes, Brioche knitting, and yoga for the hands then later for the neck and back.  It felt so good after those classes I wanted to adopt the instructor and bring her home with me.

One optional activity was making  a My Word token.  Cards are used to ask questions to help you select your word.  My choice was a reminder to myself, the word CALM.  To look at when I am stressed, to remind me to take a deep breath, possibly practice some of the yoga.

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Once home after the long weekend, relaxed and calmed, the car unloaded, the accounting done, some inventory taken, prices adjusted prior to the next event in a month, I reorganized my spinning wheels so they can be used, not just admired.

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This is big sis and little sis, the two quill wheels.  One a large walking wheel, the other a smaller sitting hand operated quill wheel.  The little Spinolution Pollywog, Miss Polly, sits by my chair with the box loom nearby for my daily craft release.

As fingerless mitts and hats were sold, knitting of more for the fall markets is underway.

One of the items I have wanted for the house is a moveable kitchen island.  There really isn’t room for a large one, but yesterday, the one below popped up on my Facebook marketplace and the price was too good to pass up.  We drove an hour to see it and because the folks are downsizing and knew how far we drove, they knocked the price down even further.  The cabinet came home, fits nicely behind the couch, will provide more cabinet storage for counter top appliances not used daily, and a serving area for holiday meals.

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It is a little low to work on but counter space isn’t a problem if I move some of the counter top appliances, and it can be used for cooling bread or canned jars to keep them out of the way.

The chickens are in hard molt, eggs are scarce, but feathers are not.  There is some new feather growth being seen.  If they don’t all freeze this weekend, they should begin to fill out again soon and some egg production return.  It is about time to get new chicks for the spring egg laying and retire these girls.

Peace and calm until next time.

 

Rainy Day business – 8/1/2018

The rainy season has returned, just in time to soak in the newly planted seed and transplanted berry bushes.  It has put a temporary halt on deconstruction clean up, but I still have a couple of weeks before it all has to be gone.

Rainy days are for knitting, spinning, and reading.  Diligently I have been working on my handspun sweater, hoping to get it ready to submit to the Agriculture Fair, but the body is going so slowly and the neck and front bands will have to be picked up and added, so I don’t think I will make it.  The fiber is a swirl dyed Coopworth from Hearts of the Meadow Farm, the pattern is Peasy.

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In the car and away from the house, I am knitting fingerless mitts of my own design from some delightful fingering weight Kid Mohair, Merino Lamb, and silk blend from Junebug Farm.

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Oh that isn’t a good photo, sorry.

Last night because my hands were tired from knitting, I tackled a 4 ounce braid of Corriedale combed top  from Best Friend Fibers that is white at one end and gradually ends in a rich royal blue.  It was split down the middle and is being spun into another gradient skein, though I don’t know if I will knit it or sell it.  We will see how much is there and if I have an inspiration when it is done.  Half was spun last night, the other half will be done today, then it will be plyed and measured.

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The book of the week, though it is slow going as I generally fall asleep just a few pages in each night is Beartown by Fredrik Backman.  It is a good book, but by the time I pick it up each night, I am exhausted from the day’s activities.

A Week on the Farm – 7/27/18

Summer is going so quickly and the weather has been so strange this year.  A foot of snow in mid April after spring like temperatures in February.  Rain and more rain in early summer, making putting in a garden a challenge, then hot and arid.  Then the rain returned, along with insect pests in the garden, first Japanese beetles eating the leaves off of the Raspberry bushes, then they were joined by bean beetles and together, they decimated what remained of the first bean crop.  Then the blister beetles arrived and defoliated some of the tomatoes.  I hand picked them, dropping them in soapy water then sprinkled diatomaceous earth on the ground around the plants to try to kill off any that escaped to earth during the hand picking. The plants are alive, not putting out new growth, but fruit is ripening.

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The tomatoes are being frozen whole but there are so many in the freezer now that I will pull them out, slip the skins off, and begin canning them this week when the rain resumes.  The cucumbers that I planted this year for pickles are small and greenish white, interesting mild smooth flavor raw.  Most of them are being lacto fermented into sour dills thick slices.  Maybe a jar or two of spears too.

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The silicone nipple lids and glass jar weights make the fermenting so easy.

There were two partial days off the farm this week in Colonial costume working with children, demonstrating the fiber arts and teaching drop spindling.  Working with kids like this rejuvenates me.

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Today, since it stayed dry yesterday and since tomorrow we will resume deck destruction, to take down the rest of the framework, I tackled cleanup.  One task that I had promised eldest son that I would get done, was to move the scaffolding that we were not using for the deck back into storage.  When we built the house, instead of renting scaffolding, we purchased it, knowing that it would be used repeatedly with staining the logs and other jobs.  On occasion we have loaned some of it out to friend.  Most of it was stacked against the house at various points and had been there for a year.  It is now back in the back of the huge garage until needed again.

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More the rotting deck wood was burned off in the burn barrel while I was working outside.

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There will be another burn tomorrow, I am sure.  To finish the jobs that I said I would get done this week was to stain the logs that were stained during construction then hidden behind the deck.  They got a coat of diluted stain today and will probably get another coat, less diluted tomorrow.  After tomorrow, we get another round of rain, so I will have to hope for a dry couple of days to get a third coat on before the new deck goes up.

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This is the last day lily bloom of the season and for some reason, it is lopsided.  This one is called Sear’s Tower and gets quite tall.

Last night while we sat on the front porch in the cool evening, a tiny ruby throated hummingbird visited the feeder.  That is the first one I have seen that really had the vivid red throat.  This morning, another little hummer decided the feeder was all his/hers, came for a drink and then sat on the crook neck to guard the feeder, not letting any of the others near it.  It guarded for about 10-15 minutes, feeding then guarding, finally flew off.  The photo isn’t great, taken from inside the house through the screen and enlarged, but you get the idea.

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The header photo and the teaching photo were taken at the Wilderness Road Regional Museum camp and used from their site.

Busy Colonial Day – 7/25/18

My volunteerism at my formerly beloved Smithfield Plantation has ended due to some changes that they have made.  Though the Board won’t say why, they released the Director who was “Miss Smithfield,” heart, soul, and all the toil and effort that went with her position.  This disheartened me, but she asked me to continue there out of her love for history and the facility.  I tried.  I really did, but the heart was gone and after a very discouraging attempt early this week, I submitted a letter of resignation like most of the other volunteers had already done.

Fortunately, she has moved on to another historic facility, the Wilderness Road Regional Museum in a community called Newbern farther from my house, but still easily doable.  This week, she is running a Patriot’s Camp and has 15-20 kids each day portraying local figures from the Revolutionary War, and learning about the period in fun ways, different creative activities and outlets each day.  She reached out to many of her volunteers and artisans to help with the camp and today, another spinner friend and I got our turn.  The youngest was 5, the oldest 13, with an average age around 8 or 9.  Some time was spent with the entire group talking about how fiber fit into the history, some time with fiber prep from shearing, cleaning the fleece, spinning, and weaving.  After snack and energy release play battles, the group reconvened in two parts, with my friend teaching thigh spinning and Lucet braiding while I took the other group for learning to drop spindle.  Later we switched groups.  She had made Lucets for each child and had balls of yarn.  I had made drop spindles and weighed out a half ounce of fiber per child and after they had their lessons, they went home with their own fiber tools.

Jim gets a kick out of me coming home from an event like this as I get so animated about the opportunity.  The kids were full of energy and so smart, it fills me with energy too and I so love sharing my skills with them.  Each group had a couple of helpers and one of my helpers got so into it that he asked if he could have a spindle and fiber too.

When camp was over around noon, the skies opened up and poured rain on us as we were packing up our wheels, spindles, looms, and Lucets and hurrying to load our cars under an umbrella brigade.

Several of the volunteers, dashed from camp back to Blacksburg, where a peaceful vigil was held for the director, where the Smithfield Board was supposed to enter the building for a meeting.  Though we had very good news coverage, the Board must have heard as they entered on the other side of the facility through the hotel and avoided us.  Many photographs were take, some interviews for print media, and some for the local TV new.  I was still in costume and several other volunteers were also in costume and part of my interview appeared on the evening news.  Though we don’t have local channels on our TV, a friend said I looked very professional and the costume made the interview.  The many volunteers that have left Smithfield would love for the director to be reinstated and we would return, but in the meantime, we have followed her to her new venue and will continue to support local history.

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Photo credit to WDBJ7 news.  I am 4th from the left.

 

Wonder Woman is worn out – 7/11/18

A lot can get done in two uninterrupted days.  Today was another very physical day, got my 10,000 steps just working here.  There aren’t any cool pictures from today though.

After dinner last night, 6 half pints of wild berry jam were made and canned.  A couple of hands full of beans were picked and made into two more pints of dilly beans and canned.  The shelves are filling, such a nice sight.  What’s not to love about the beautiful jars of jams, pickles, beans, and grains when you walk into the kitchen.  It is so earthy and soothing with the wooden bowls above and the pottery below.

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Today started with errands and the delivery of the other daylily division, then home and into work clothes.  More hand weeding was done around the pumpkin vines and the blueberry bushes, then the  Stihl weed monster was started and the edges of the garden, the two empty chicken runs, and areas that really need to be covered to kill the weeds in the unused area of the garden were mowed down.  I came in dripping wet and worn out about mid afternoon.

The garage door needed some repair and I had been putting it off because it required drilling two new holes through metal and into the wood to remount two screws that had stripped out, but I even tackled that.  Our evening visitor didn’t seem bothered by my drilling and putting the door up and down.

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A cool shower to refresh, I decided to treat myself to some time at the Mingle at the Market 2 at the Wednesday Farmer’s Market.  I was hoping for some pickling cucumbers, but not tonight.  They had live music, Virginia made beer and wine, and the Till and Grill food truck there, so I enjoyed my dinner sitting on a bench listening to the band.  That was topped off with locally made ice cream, also from the Farmer’s Market and home to put up my feet.

Until it got too dark to sit outside and knit, I worked on the shawlette I am knitting with the gradient yarn that I spun.

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I know I posted a photo of the bees in the sunflowers, but as I was weed wacking today, I got close enough to see that they are native bees, lots of them.  See the header picture.

Tomorrow I am going to plant beans and lettuce and rest, I promise.  The guys will be home late tonight and they will likely be too tired to do much.

Olio – 6/6/2018

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

The past two mornings have been spent in the garden, trying to catch up and get ahead of the weeds.  It appears that most of the “weeds’ are actually the hay sprouting, but I don’t want my garden to be a hayfield.  This is also Lambs Quarters season and though I know that it can be eaten when young, most has gotten too big and too stringy to be palatable, but still small enough to make pulling it fairly easy.  Another garden weedy problem is a mint family weed, square stem, grows erect initially with a lavendery pink flower, and then the oxalis and wild geranium.  The line trimmer cleared up around the fence edge and the taller bloom in the old compost area that is being over run by horseradish, then hand weeding of all but two beds has been accomplished.  I planted some cucumber starts from the house to fill in what didn’t germinate in the garden bed, erected a trellis for the cukes.  Planted the sweet potato slips and a row of sunflowers. The pumpkins only had about 50% germination so another sowing of them will be made later today and another row of sunflower seeds.

The chickens were providing up to 15 eggs a day for a while, but have dropped back to 8 to 10 and one Welsummer is broody, but there is no rooster in with them so she is just shooed off the nest, eggs under her collected multiple times a day.  If she doesn’t get over it soon, I will isolate her from the coop during the daytime hours for a few days and see if it will break the cycle, nothing else has worked. I am always amused at the cacophony they make when a hen lays her daily egg, wondering if it is an expression of relief or a proud announcement to the flock. Each time I fill their calcium supplement feeder, they manage to dump it with in hours.  As I was mixing up their feed today, I decided that maybe their protein level was too low, so reformulated my mix to up it by a couple percentage points. Nothing better than a child size shovel to stir the mix.

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As the weather is hot and I don’t like sitting with a heavy sweater in my lap, I am not knitting too much on it, but continue to spin the fiber for it as I realized I didn’t have enough yarn to finish it.  IMG_20180606_095758

And I recently finished this luscious 340 yards of Merino, Yak, and Silk.

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I have almost 2 more ounces of the Merino Yak spun and am spinning the remaining 2 ounces of Merino, Yak, Silk with my newest spindle, a gorgeous Golding limited edition.

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Once done, they will also be plied for hopefully another 300 plus yards, enough to make something soft and beautiful.

It is the beginning of daylily season.  I love when the gardens are filled with their blooms.

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Still loving our life on our mountain farm.

 

 

OK, I’m fickle or picky, maybe both- 5/14/2018

Over the years since I started knitting again in earnest and spinning, I have bought and sold much equipment trying to find the perfect fit for my pleasure.  Everyone eventually finds the equipment that pleases them the most and everyone’s favorite is equally disliked by others, or just indifferent to it.  It would be great if everything could be tried out for a while first, but like with cars, furniture, appliances, etc. sales are the goal.  With spinning, in some areas, you can find a local store or fiber fest that may have several manufacturers and models of wheels, but trying one for a few minutes in a store doesn’t really give you the knowledge you need to fall in love or dislike with it.

I have learned that I don’t like metal knitting needles and crochet hooks.  Most of the metal needles react with my skin chemistry and produce a mild odor that I find unpleasant.  Carbon fiber and wood suit me better.  I only use circular knitting needles and whether they have fixed tips or are interchangeable, the flexibility of the cable is important.  I have tried many brands and have settled on Lykke and Karbonz as my favorites.

With spindles, I have tried wood top whorl, bottom whorl, Turkish, Russian support, and Daelgan (Scottish) style again from many craftsmen.  Some I liked okay, the Turkish I have kept for the longest, though it is usually just used for plying.  Since I started spinning and went to my first fiber festival, I have desired to own a drop spindle crafted by Tom Golding.  A few weeks ago, I ordered one off of Etsy, a large spindle with the whorl looking like a flock of sheep faces with a bright bronze ring.

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I liked that it spun for a long time, but found it a tad too heavy for my use and sold it quickly for what it cost.  But I wanted a Golding and went directly to his website and ordered one that is a bit smaller and lighter.  It came today.

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The slightly smaller whorl, solid top, and lighter weight appeal to me more and allow me to spin the finer yarn that I like to spin on spindles, plus it came with some delightfully playful fiber to sample. My two spindles are here to stay, the rest have found new homes.

In the decade that I have been spinning, I used only spindles at first, then met a group of spinners and fell into the rabbit hole of spinning wheels.  Like needles and drop spindles, they have pluses and minuses.  My first wheel was a wonky old wheel that had been repaired by a friend who learned to spin on it and sold it to me to learn on.  It was a decent little wheel, but the bobbins were very small and the wheel itself slightly warped.   It went on to a friend to learn on and I bought a travel wheel, actually a large wheel that folded somewhat and fit in a huge backpack.  I liked that wheel for it’s appearance, it fit in well when re-enacting,  but there were some things I wasn’t really thrilled with and it was loaned to the friend who bought the wonky wheel which came back to me when she bought the folding wheel.  I used it long enough to find a used wheel I liked and it was probably one of my favorites, but it didn’t fit in when I was at the historic house and I didn’t want too many wheels, but I bought a 200+ year old wheel to take there and tried to make it a functional wheel.  I got it working with the help of a spinning wheel restorer, but it was hard on my knees and hips and I sold it, sold the non historic wheel, and sold the wonky wheel to a local teen that wanted to learn, and bought another that required me to assemble and finish it.  That wheel goes with me to historic events, but has very small bobbins.  Somewhere along the way, Jim bought me an old Great or Walking Wheel.  That one stays at home because of it size and is still being made totally functional.

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And a month or so ago, I tried and fell in love with a tiny little wheel that fits in a large canvas tote, has huge bobbins, and is probably the favorite wheel I have owned.

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I am done.  I have my perfect spindles, needles, hooks, and more wheels than I need, but one that fits the historic spinning venues, one that looks awesome in our log home that is fun to play with, and one that travels well and that I just love.  Plus enough fluff and yarn to keep me busy for quite a while.

It is time to be satisfied with the knitting and spinning toys, uh tools that I own and spin and knit on.  IMG_20180420_124357