Monday, 29 December 2008


Mention of a spinning wheel yesterday seems to have generated some inborn, female yearning, judging from the comments I've just read! If I'd known, I'd have taken a picture of this particular wheel, before passing it on - it was NOT your usual variety, that's for sure. I got it third hand (at least) from industrious Cuz in Scotland, who had acquired a more elaborate one... To say mine was a little Heath Robinson, may give you an inkling that luxury it was not.
It was made in Germany, according to its label, and came to me in approximately 10 pieces, packed into a rectangular box. Granted, the wheel was round, but the rest were four- square, columnar shaped pieces of wood with turned screw threads (still wooden) at points of assembly, ready to receive the nuts - also wooden and square. It resembled nothing so much as one of those puzzles you see advertised around Christmas time each year for 'the man who has everything' except, naturally a complicated wooden puzzle... Cuz had cleverly numbered sections to indicate which piece fitted where, but unfortunately, instead of writing the numbers on the wood itself, had used tiny pieces of post-it-note paper, theoretically sticky backed. Somehow, during transit, many of these crutial clues as to construction had become detached and simply stuck to my fingers as I unloaded the goods.
Luckily I have the kind of mechanical mind that likes taking things apart and putting them back together, so assembly was not as hard as it might have been for a lesser mortal. Cuz had packed a small amount of fleece with the wheel ( fleece to which many of the sticky numbers had stuck) and with much trial and error I finally got the hang of things enough to spin the wool.
Another friend presented me with three bags full (seriously, no nursery rhyme joke) of sheep fleeces from her friend's pet mouton. (No, not a special breed, just a French word dredged up from one of those peculiar recesses of my mind.) The bags were large, black bin liners, and stood puffed up with fleeces and their own importance for many a long moon in my spare bedroom.
I duly taught my self to spin on that strange looking contraption, but noticed that a surfeit of treadling enthusiastically, tended to shake the wooden nuts loose and the wheel on it's three legs began to show crab like tendencies of walking sideways, or forwards, or backwards - how does one tell with only three legs? But I spun enough to crochet a square big enough for a large cushion top from the resulting balls of wool before my enthusiasm wained.
Months rolled by, turned into years, and the black bags continued to adorn my spare room with their presence and in hot weather, their very sheepish smell... Eventually I sent them off to landfill (freecycle hadn't been an option then) and dismantled the spinning wheel. It continued to live in my cupboard under the stairs, ensconced in a green bin liner ( tougher than the black!) until I dragged it forth recently, in order to allow my living room's sliding door to actually slide from it's recess in said under-stair cupboard, as opposed to being wedged immovably against a side wall.
So, you can see, this was part of the final push that sent me rushing to the computer to join freecycle and rid myself of the wheel for once and all. The add was answered in next to no time, which only left me with the task of re-assembling it - hhhmmm. No stickers, long interim of out of sight, out of mind and inevitable decreasing of mental capacity. What joy. A quick phone call to Cuz, to compare notes with any residual knowledge she could arm me with, then with only ten minutes to go before Interested Lady appeared on my doorstep, I got it together - literally.
So, I don't think any of you would mourn the passing of this particular spinning wheel. Be grateful.

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