Close up of a spinning wheel with geometric decorations sitting on a glass table. Black cat with red collar in the background.
Equipment,  Spinning,  Updates

Spinning Wheels Are Like Pretzels – It’s Hard to Stop at One

Okay, it’s usually potato chips, but I’m not as much a fan of those snacks, so I changed the phrase. Moving on…

A couple weeks ago, someone in one of the Facebook spinning wheel groups posted a photo of a wheel that they were considering acquiring. That inspired me to go check eBay for antique wheels. I do it from time to time, but rarely find anything worth dealing with the potential hazards of shipping a wheel (or find one that’s amazing but way too expensive for me).

First photo in the eBay listing. Besides the missing bobbin and whorl, it looked complete. The decorative elements and the “storage spot” for part of the distaff really caught my eye.

So imagine my surprise when I found a *really interesting* looking wheel. The seller described it as a “German Bride wheel”. It was a bit more expensive than I generally would consider spending for a wheel that would need work, but I had some of the recent stimulus check burning a hole in my pocket. So when I sent the photo to a number of fiber friends and they all responded with variations on “wow” and “I’ve never seen a wheel like that”, I decided to hit the “Make An Offer” button and offer a lower price, explaining that it would need work to be a functional wheel again. Imagine my surprise when the seller accepted the offer!

So I waited anxiously for notification that the wheel had shipped, and then was more anxious about its delivery, since it was coming via FedEx and needed a signature at time of delivery. Last Friday, a very large (albeit light) box was dropped off, and I started unpacking the wheel.

I discovered a couple of surprises while unpacking it. One of the back legs had an old repair that had failed during shipping – the glue had separated, but it was still held in place by a peg. Not great, but not the end of the world either. Unwrapping more bubble wrap, I found that the front leg had split on the grain. *That* was not ideal, and is something I’m still working on addressing, since both instances of damage likely occurred in transit.

Thankfully the pin in the previous repair allowed me to set the wheel up for inspection and photos. Blue painters tape is bracing the split leg – I didn’t want to use something that would leave a residue on the wood when removed. I’m thrilled that the distaff is complete, and that the majority of the decorative elements are intact. Those that are missing have probably been missing for a while. Of course, Huginn (cat) for scale (and because he wouldn’t get off the table).

I knew it would need to go to Bobbin Boy for at least a bobbin and whorl, so I set about giving the wheel a more thorough inspection and taking more photos on Sunday. I discovered a few more things in the process. The flyer isn’t original (axle is too long for the whorl to fit between the maidens properly), nor is the footman (it’s too long for the treadle to be able to move), so both will need to be replaced. It appears that the treadle was repaired at some point – the leather hinges are in much better shape than the same item on another one of my antique wheels. There are a couple wooden “bells” missing on the table and some missing bone (or ivory) elements. I’m taking a wood carving class in April, so may be able to make my own replacement bells, or have living history friends help me replicate the missing decorative elements. The geometric pattern on the wheel and part of the table appears to be paint or stain, rather than inlay (as the eBay description says).

Huginn (cat) was very curious about the wheel and wanted to sniff and rub on it a lot.
You can see several of the decorative “bells”, captive rings, geometric designs, and bone or ivory elements on the table and wheel. I’m very curious to hear what the wheel sounds like when spinning.

I’m hoping to get it out to Bobbin Boy in May so that I can have it spinning again in the very near future. Now to work on rearranging things so I have space for it in my room once it’s repaired…

A person what turns fluff into fiber. Or something.

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