Thursday, May 24, 2012


It was more than a month ago, that day that Lou Ann bought her Great Wheel.  We were snooping around the Antique shops in downtown Clinton Tn, and we came across a Doo-Dad.  At least that is what it said on the tag.  Of course it wasn't a Doo-Dad at all but a Drop Spindle.  It seems that someone made a trip to Mexico, and brought home a souvenir.

Of course it did not have the yarn on it, and it may not be the best drop spindle in the world, but I think when it gets a little more yarn on it, it will spin quite nicely. There are these cool rings that twirl when you spin it, and tons of  burned decorations on it, truly a one of a kind!  Or so we thought!

That's right, when we were hitting a few shops in Townsend yesterday, we found another one!  Not exactly the same, but it has the twirly bits and the same decorations on it too!  This time they called it a "Folk Art Piece".  I should have taken a picture of it, but I didn't think of that until we were down the road.  I didn't buy that one, you only need one Doo-Dad after all.

On our next stop, we were whipping through the booths at the next shop, where I found a Corning ware coffee pot with the innards in it.  That is something you don't see everyday, and it is something I have been looking for, so I picked it up.  Then I heard Lou Ann at the back of the shop calling me.  I made my way back there and there was a beautiful Great Wheel.  We oohed and aahed, and wondered at the price tag.  Even with the Minor's head it was quite steep.  We really weren't looking for a complete spinning wheel after all, just parts and pieces.  So we moved on, browsing here and there, not finding much of anything really that interested us.

We moved on towards home, we were both on a tight schedule really.  We were driving along, and saw another shop, we reviewed our time constraints and decided that we had time for one more stop.  I wasn't really impressed with the contents of some of these shops, I suppose if I was looking for old dishes I would be thrilled, but we are after very specific items to complete a Great Wheel. We ran across a couple of industrial end feed shuttles that were in good shape, and a good price too, but I really don't need another one.  

Then we found some old coverlets, stuck in a cradle.  We just had to pull them out and see how they were made, and how wide the loom must have been that they were woven on etc.  We put them back in the cradle and I lost my balance for a second and put my hand on a shelf to steady myself.  Then I looked on the shelf and saw.....

 Be still my heart, a spindle to a Great Wheel!  I have a Great Wheel that needs a spindle!  That was an amazing find!  We were almost speechless, this is by far the hardest piece to find for these old wheels, and I can now check it off of my list.

They even knew what it was!

Until next time, Happy Weaving and Spinning, Tina

Monday, May 21, 2012

Old Wheel

While Lou Ann and I were in Gatlinburg last week, we priced the Minor's Heads they had.  A Minor's Head is a part for a Great Wheel that greatly accelerates the spin of the spindle.  They were in excellent condition, but a little pricey for us right now.

When I got home I began to look on Ebay just to see what I can see.  You know dangerous that can be, don't you! There was a listing for a broken down Great Wheel, and is really was, it is missing 2 wheel spokes, and many of the existing spokes were broken off at the hub.  But, what caught my eye were 2 Minor's Heads!  One  was complete, but there was also another incomplete one, with just the accelerator wheel and that is all.  I contacted Lou Ann to see if she was game to split it with me, and she was.  There was another auction on Ebay that had the parts I would need to complete the second Minor's Head, well almost anyway.  We bid on both auctions, and won.

Early this week, all the parts arrived.  I took the Minor's Heads pieces over to Lou Ann's to see which one would fit her wheel best, and I think we have gotten it right, though we are going to double check on Wednesday.  I think this may help her wheel function much better too.

This is the Head that I have at my house, and there is a very small but vital piece missing.  It is the cap that fits in the right side of the wheel and into the upright. You can see it in the second picture.

I pulled out the Howard's Feed and Wax, and started to treat this old broken down Wheel to a little TLC.  The Minor's Head above had already been treated, but I thought I would show you what just one application of the "Feed and Wax" can do.  ( I continually call it "Weed and Feed")  Here are the legs, one treated and one not.

A couple of the spokes, one treated and one not.

This is the wheel post, with a portion treated and part not treated.  Right about then, is when it happened.  I leaned on the base to get a better picture and I heard a crack!  I broke one of the legs!  Stupid, Stupid, Stupid!  I haven't treated that leg with the "Feed and Wax" in the hope that we can glue it back together.  I may have to get Alan to look at it for me.

The only thing I am missing for the Old Great Wheel, besides the leg I broke, is a Wheel, and I have most of the pieces for that.  I can either use the Minor's Head on it, or the Bat Head I have on my other Great Wheel, though I suppose that means I will need a spindle as well.  I also have an extra base for a Minor's Head, and a couple of end caps that are too big for these uprights, but they might work wonderfully for another set. Either way, I think we came out ahead.  We spent way less than we would have spent in Gatlinburg for one head and we got 2!  Hmmm, I wonder who restores her Minor's Heads, maybe we can do a swap!  My leftover pieces, for the part I need!

Until next time, Happy Weaving and Spinning, Tina

Friday, May 18, 2012

Crazy Batt

Last week Lou Ann and I went to Gatlinburg.  We were on a mission to check out a fantastic yarn/fiber shop that we had heard great things about.  The shops name is "The Smoky Mountain Spinnery", and it did not disappoint.  First there was a wonderful yarn selection, better than I have seen in a long time.  Then we saw various spinning wheels from Great Wheels with 40 inch wheels to the more compact sized spinning wheels.  Then we passed on to the spinning fibers.  There was such a variety to choose from! There was wool of course, but several types of wool.  There was cotton, and linen, and silk as well.  One thing that caught my eye was a bin full of what I call a crazy batt, and I mean crazy.

I generally spin yarn from wool that is one natural color at a time, and I spin it fairly evenly and finely by now, I can 2 or 3 ply it depending on the yarn I want to end up with.  This however was none of that!

 Many times when I take on a new project, I purposely push myself in some way. This time, I told myself I am going to try to spin thicker yarn and  be serendipitous about which section I would spin next.  That is a really big stretch for me.

First I pulled the "batt" out of the bag, and I fluffed up the different sections, trying to not blend them at all. That wasn't too hard now was it. Then I pulled out my electric spinner that hasn't seen a ton of use, and I began to spin.

At this point I am not really loving it, but I persevered and kept going, trying to work with only 2 colors at a time.

Again, not in love with the whole having to decide what comes next part of it, and I found that the different sections of fluff drafted very differently, and it was way hard to control how much fiber entered the yarn!

I finally gave up in disgust, and made a small skein out of  it, vowing that I would never try that again.  Then I took a look at the skein and decided that it really wasn't half bad after all, I just needed to calm down and stop needing to have such control all the time.


So I may give it another go, but what I may do is separate the different splotches of color and decide before hand what I want to spin together, and make sure that the draft will be more predictable. Does that sound controlling to you?

Until next time, Happy Weaving and Spinning, Tina

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cria Alpaca

Alpaca is something I have never worked with in it's raw state.  I have seen it in roving or blended with other fibers all nice and clean waiting to be spun.  You can imagine the trepidation I felt when a poultry friend of mine wanted me to process and spin up a couple of fleeces she had from some alpacas that she had owned for a very short time.

It took me over a year to pick the fleece up from her, and another 6 months before I was brave enough to take a look.  In the meantime I had asked around the various shows I had been to, and heard some horror stories of felted fleeces, especially tricky were the baby fleeces, or the Cria fleeces.  Great, I thought, I am going to ruin them!

I began with the white Suri fleece. This fleece is more like fine Mohair, with no crimp and a lot of shine.  Can you say slippery!  I began washing very carefully a few handfuls, and using various modes of preparation, combing, carding and the drum carder.  I found that the hand carding with very fine cotton cards was the best, though I may try to spin from the combs, and not diz it off as the Top just will not hold together!

This is the raw fleece in the bag.
Clean locks!

Combed Top on the bottom.

It is spinning up really well, I will Navajo 3- Ply this yarn mostly because I know she is going to be knitting with it.

The black fleece is Huacaya, which is more like Cashmere,very fine, not as shiny as the Suri, but still slippery!  This fleece is not as dirty as the white was, and I think I am going to treat it a little differently.  I think I am going to first do a sample skein spinning directly from the locks, before I wash them!  I will flick the ends with a dog brush and spin either from the fold (middle) of the lock or from the butt end (the cut end).  I will then soak it and see how it comes out. There is a little vegetable matter, but that should come out easily.

So far things are going well, I just hope they continue that way!

I am also busy weaving up napkins for wedding presents and Mothers Day presents, they weave up quickly and easily, but you still have to do it! White on White is stunning, and I have done some using a tan weft that are equally as nice.  I will post about that on Friday on Loomy Tunes, the blog of the Tuesday Weavers of the Appalachian Arts Craft Center of Norris Tn.

Dear One is out of town this week, and my calendar is stuffed, with the Weaving and Spinning, it is glorious, I couldn't ask for more!

Until next time, Happy Weaving and Spinning, Tina

Friday, May 4, 2012

New Yarn?

Actually, I should not be calling this new yarn because it was spun up years ago, just never plied!  
First, a skein of white Shetland from my Francis, (I haven't had sheep for at least 5 years)

I just had the one cop, so I decided to Navajo ply it, (3ply), and see how I like it!

I love it!  I had never tried it with my Shetland,  I had only 2 plied it before!  It is soft and lofty, and very knit-able, I must do some more!

Next in line is my very first attempted to use a colored batt that I had received as a gift.  I had no clue!

I am calling it Ugly Yarn, here it is on the bobbin as a single.

Getting Navajo plied!

Finally in the skein, still Ugly Yarn.  Lou Ann says it is beautiful, we will see how it knits up.  Maybe a hat?

I picked up some more T-Pins this week and blocked the Shetland Tea Shawl that took me 2 years to knit.  It isn't quite as wide as I would have liked it to be, but it will be a very warm shoulder shawl, I am pleased!

Next up on the horizon, I have 2 Cria (baby alpaca) fleeces that I am going to process and spin up for a friend of mine. One is white and one is black, the white one is Suri alpaca and the black one is Huacaya.  The Suri is like angora, and the Huacaya is like cashmere.  I am proceeding very carefully.

I have posted on Loomy Tunes about my new weaving project.

Until next time, Happy Weaving and Spinning, Tina