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In Which the Pirate Needs a Weasel.

A few weeks ago, my cousin sent me a picture of an antique skein winder and asked me if it was something I wanted. It came from his friend’s grandmother’s estate. He’d been helping with the cleanup efforts and thought of me as soon as he saw it. But the friend’s mother wanted to sell it, rather than give it away, and I declined to purchase it since I do have a newer winder.

This past week I saw my cousin and he said “I have a thing for you.” I had no idea what it was; I’d already put the winder out of my head. So I was really surprised when it turned out that he’d gotten it for me!


It’s not just a skein winder, but a reel with a weasel, like in the old nursery rhyme! The weasel itself, a springy strip of wood, is missing, but that’s something I can fix on my own. You can see the little hole it would fit into, and then as that peg comes around on the gear it would POP the weasel by pushing it away from the upright and then letting it slap back into place.



The gears are pretty worn, but they still mesh decently. One of the gear’s teeth apparently cracked off at some point and was nailed back into place. I’d have to do some careful checking to see if the worm meshes with every tooth, or I wouldn’t be able to trust the measurements. From a little bit of googling, I found that these reels are often made at 40:1. If every tooth works, then the weasel should POP at a 240-yard skein of yarn.


The whole thing is kinda wobbly, actually, and some of the arms are chipped from having been knocked against the table. I’m hesitant to use wood glue, because it’s obviously an antique and I don’t want to diminish its value. Someone on Ravelry will certainly know the best way to refurbish it into usefulness! It was made without any nails (or glue, it seems) at all.


There are no maker’s marks or anything to indicate a year or origin, but you can see the scores used to measure the placement of the uprights.


One of the arms has no lip on it, which will make it easy to take the skein off after it’s wound. Whoever made this thing really knew what he was doing!


Nothing new can be brought into the living room without the Official Inspectors taking a look (and a sniff) at it. They kept their distance from the strange object at first, but it didn’t take long for them to begin working on their Official Report. Kipling tells me that these pictures will be very helpful for their files…





1 Response

  1. Mary-Anne says:

    That is so cool. I got an antique skein winder recently too, but it doesn’t have the cool gears yours does.
    Pop goes the weasel!

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