Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Story, Part 2

So to continue my tale of yarn and fiber and travels....

I had an absolutely lovely time. I convinced Sonya to try spinning, and bought her a beautiful spindle and some fiber to try. Before the end of our day, she had purchased herself yet another spindle in a different weight, and more fiber!

Sonya got a little wore out from all the walking, being not-that-long-ago having had most of a knee replaced, so I left her watching a spinning demo while I went back to get a pretty fiery red fiber we had eyed earlier in the day, and decided we both wanted to try. When I got back, this was what I found:

Sonya wants a wheel now.

Yippee! A new spinner!!!

Of course, she had some encouragement. She watched me buy this, early in the day:

This would be wheel #2 for me. A bargain on a used Schacht Matchless. Swift and packing and shipping to Michigan included.

I learned to spin on an antique that was a gift 9 years ago. I received it, literally, in pieces in a Rollerblade bag. I was in graduate school, and unhappy with my studies. I was knitting, and there was an excellent knitting/spinning/weaving shop in town that offered fibers and lessons. While I couldn't afford the lessons, there was and is a strong fiber culture in southern Indiana, and I was able to learn volumes from local spinners and breeders at fiber festivals.

So I restored that antique wheel in my "spare" time, reading everything I could find on wheel restoration, and was pretty pleased with my results. I had it spinning. I was making yarn. But it had issues. I had read that older wheels have personalities, and can have limited versatility, depending on what they had been used for historically. Apparently mine had been used for one speed, one twist, it's entire existence. So it makes yarn. One kind, one twist. And it will not, under any circumstances whatsoever, treadle in the opposite direction.

Now maybe if I were more experienced with wheel restoration, maybe if it had gone to a professional instead of suffering under my hands, it might spin differently. Thing is, though, it spins beautifully if you want what it wants to make. And it looks really pretty in the living room.

So I've outgrown it. I have a completely different perspective on bloggers who claim to have outgrown their wheels, when they have Ashfords and Louets and Schachts. I tend to think they're looking for an excuse to buy another wheel, they haven't explored every possibility of the one they have, or they are absolutely astounding spinners. Of course, I can't be the judge of which one, if any, applies. Those are just the thoughts that run through my head, having apent 6 years making more types of yarn than I should have been able to make from that little antique flax wheel!

So I haven't spun in about 3 years, for various reasons, including no room in the house for the wheel. (My house is about 650 sq.ft. and has 2 bedrooms, one for me, one for my Little Boy). So when I was considering wheels, I was only looking at uprights with fairly compact footprints. I have a semi-local Schacht dealer, but a new one was out of my budget, so I had 2 other, less expensive wheels on my radar as well. I simply lucked out in finding one of the used ones at MS&W on Saturday morning.

And I have been spinning up a storm since it arrived last Wednesday. I went to storage and found my box of fibers, and pulled out an array of things, including unlabeled stuff I don't even remember buying (very unusual for me! I can remember where, when, and $ for fabric I bought ten years ago!) I'm trying everything! I'm loving it! It took some practice to get back into the swing of things after 3 years' hiatus, but I'm back.

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