Friday, December 30, 2011

Oh boy... I bought a Great Wheel...

For those of you on FB, you already know (yeah, yeah; groan)...
I bought a Great Wheel! EEEEE!!!! (and OMG, what was I thinking???)
I was sure Mom would kill me, the thing is huge. She said, "if you didn't buy it I'd have killed you." Whew.

So, without further ado, meet my new toy. It's not in working order yet, so no name. Apparently it's a "thing" to name your spinning wheel. Go figure.

(please forgive the blankets, you couldn't see the wheel for all the other wooden furniture in the basement)

It has a double drive head, also known as a Miner / Minor, (I'm not 100% on the spelling, I've seen it both ways in different books & as it's the guy's name, I don't know which one is right). That head can be replaced with a direct drive head, which suits me fine as I can use that at earlier events should I ever be so insane as to tote this thing on the road with me - and we all know I'll do it someday. Need to find some replacement spindles though.

Everything seems to be in good working order - I had to replace one spoke on the drive wheel, reinforce one leg socket with wood filler & sand rough edges on the wheel itself and the base to reduce the likelihood of splinters (which I got the moment I picked it up).
I reconditioned & re-stained the bits of newly raw wood with a nice walnut stain that matches the original very well.

Next is getting out the wax to give everything a nice buffing, then oiling the various movable bits & replacing the drive bands/strings - which I've learned to do just today - in theory.

The bearings that hold the spindle on also need replacing, these are made of braided corn husks or leather (hear Gail parrot what she's learned) - nothing was there when I bought it. I'm going with leather as I have lots on hand. The ties that hold the Miner wheel in place also need replacing, which you can see here. Fortunately, I have plenty of linen thread as well.

The truly lovely thing about this wheel is that everything comes apart except the drive wheel, so if need be, I can pack it to an event.

There is some minor damage like chips out of wooden bits, but so far, everything works. We will see how things go once I get the drive bands on & start trying to align everything. Unfortunately for me, the paper label on the drive head has mostly fallen off. There are a few tiny & very dingy letters showing at the very bottom which I have carefully avoided when cleaning.

From what little I understand about this monstrously huge piece of equipment, you can spin anything on it except warp yarn due to the tension necessary to make that strong yarn. I don't know if this is true, but I don't really care, the drop spindle can handle that - no problem, should it ever become necessary.

Speaking of the drop spindle, I'm down to fairly consistent thread-thickness yarn from the Finn fleece. I'm learning a lot, no longer doing the park & draft thing except when I have to splice, I'm finally spinning at a decent clip. Adding hand cream to my finger tips did wonders for the yarn. Lots of carding and pre-drafting made an amazing difference. My poor little dog slicker brush is about dead.

Once I get a good bit of thinner yarn, I'll measure it out & dye up various colors, probably this spring. Most of the dyestuffs I have now are yellow, green, gray, brown or red.

So if you were wondering how I was spending my Winter Holiday, it's being covered in sawdust, wood glue, stain & wax in the basement with my Moon-cat who is totally in love with "her" fleece and has hidden a sizable chunk in a chair cave, which she spends all day guarding... like a furry little black dragon with some stinky, greasy treasure. Seriously, I've had to deliver breakfast to her 3 days in a row just so she'll eat something before we give her her medicine. I'm a bit jealous right now.
And poor Shadow, he can't find a lap to sit in because when I finally sit down for the night I'm leaning forward with the spinny-thing & always telling him "not now BugHead." At first he thought it was fun to watch, now he gives it dirty looks. I've had to put it down & pay attention to him several times to avoid the Punishment of Puke.

On that note, I'm going to go socialize with my family & kidnap my cat from her Treasure Cave because I'm feeling the need for some quality time with the people I love.
-Never mind, it's t-v time...


San Diego Fiber Artist said...

Yes, I also bought a Great Wheel. And yes, I assume some time I will take it somewhere.

Gail Kellogg Hope said...

I've been slowly learning to spin on it. More "park & draft" at this point, but I figure I'll get the hang of it eventually.