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In Which the Pirate Introduces a New Wheel.

A week and a half ago, I went up to Connecticut to check out a 30″ Schacht-Reeves wheel with a Woolee Winder and every size whorl, and I fell in serious like. It’s too soon to call it love, but I think we’ll get there! She came home with me and I set her up in the living room without too much trouble. Her crank had flexed by a millimeter or two in transport, which was causing one of the footmen to rub, but I was able to gently bend it back into place. She’s running smooth as silk now!


My next problem was finding the right kind of string in my stash to use for a driveband. I could swear that I had some #3 crochet cotton around, but it’s all disappeared, and the #10 is too fine. Eventually I went with some leftover Sugar ‘n Cream – it’s a little thicker than ideal, and it stretches annoyingly, but it works for now!

The wheel and I got further acquainted by plying the rust-and-cream singles, which almost matched up in length and almost entirely fit on the Woolee Winder. I adjusted that so it would wind more evenly, and decided to make use of the fast whorl to add more twist to some Rambouillet singles I’d spun up forever ago. My original plan had been to chain-ply those, but the singles didn’t have enough twist to stay together while plying. Frustrating! Then I’d thought to just wind off the singles and make a slightly fulled laceweight yarn, but that’s not the kind of thing I’m ever going to knit with. So, in not very much time at all, I ran ’em through the S-R and added twist where necessary. I’m glad I did, because some spots were really underspun and some were almost wiry-hard, and now everything is more even. I also got to test the Woolee Winder bobbin size and found that they have easily as much capacity as the ones for the Kromski – *and*, as a bonus, they fit on the Kromski’s tensioned lazy kate!


Once that was done, it was time to try actually spinning on her. I’ve heard that big double-drive wheels are supposed to be excellent for woollen longdraw, so I got out some of the mystery roving that my friend Josh gave me a few years ago. It took me a little while – and swapping out to the largest, slowest whorl – to get the hang of it, but I spun up 25 yards or so, plied it, wound it off, gave it a bath, thwacked it a few times against the side of the tub, and laid it out to dry. It’s more even than I had expected! I can’t wait for it to be fully dry so I can knit a swatch. If all goes well, my plan is to knit a handspun sweater for myself, though I think I might want a slightly thinner yarn than what I’ve made here. I have four colours of the mystery roving (white, two shades of gray, and a chocolate brown) and just under a pound of each colour. That should be more than enough! I may make that into my Tour de Fleece project, though I’m still tempted to spin lots of pretty colours – I suppose I could do both and switch off…

In keeping with my theme of naming wheels for qualities on which I’d like to meditate while spinning, I’m leaning towards calling her “Persistence.” What do you think?

4 Responses

  1. Anna says:

    It’s lovely! My first wheel was a double-drive that we found at Goodwill, of all places. It had one bobbin and only one set of whorls, but it was a great starter wheel. Later I found an old Ashford traditional at an antique shop for a really good price and eventually sold my double-drive when I needed to winnow down my spinning supplies a bit. I still liked it but wasn’t getting much use out of it at that point. It’d be nice to have a more versatile double-drive someday, though.

    • Pirate says:

      Interestingly, I also have an Ashford traddy – but I never spin on her. I’ll probably give her a tune-up and then let her go to her next person. She deserves to be loved and used for more than just decoration.

  2. Patsy says:

    You relate to your spinning wheels the way I relate to my harps. As for naming, why not spin on her a bit longer, and let her tell you her name? That’s kind of the way my harps get named. I play them until something has whispered a name to me. If I name them before that, the name ends up changing to what the harp dictates.

    • Pirate says:

      My naming convention hasn’t led me wrong yet! The acoustic guitars are named “The Martin” and “The Douglas,” and the electric is named “Peter” only because it has Spiderman painted on it. But I actually call it “The Squier.” :)

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