Tag Archives: spinning wheel repair

Pirate Peg the Foster Wheel…Yarrr!!

Recently a friend of mine had given me the remains of her yarn stash. She’s had some serious medical issues, so she doesn’t really crochet or spin anymore, which is a crying shame. She also gave me her old Kromski wheel to fix up. It used to belong to another friend who wanted to be a spinner but lost interest, and it had been in boxes for a good long while. Of course I felt protective of it the red-hot minute it came into the house…

Pirate Peg the spinning wheel
Nothing like a spinning wheel in a box, whispering, “Please love meeee!”

The poor thing came to my house with a broken bobbin, several pegs missing, a part of a metal cable tying her treadle to her driveshaft, no flywheel…and no legs. No legs?! Zero legs!!

Happily, the flywheel and two of the legs turned up in another box. The flywheel has a big chip out of the side, like somebody dropped something heavy on it. As for that third leg Matt was sweet enough to cut down a dowel to the right size.  At first we thought it would be a temporary leg until I could get a new one from Kromski. (I’ve heard glowing tales about their customer service; getting new parts shouldn’t be a problem.) But the more I looked at it, the more I became enamored of that goofy wooden leg…and named her Pirate Peg.  And immediately started thinking of modifications for her–a new tension knob with a skull on it, copper around the bottom of the peg leg and a garter around the top to hold her orifice hook, black and walnut and cream and possibly gold leaf in a paint job that would wow anybody who saw her.

Pirate Peg
One of these things is not like the other…

 

At first I had doubts. Would this be too silly, even for me? So I talked to various fiber artists of my aquaintance who unanimously responded with gleeful enthusiasm. “Yes! Oh God, yes! Holy crap, this must be a thing! Where will you put the eyepatch?! Will there be a flag? Yarrrrr!!” and so on and so forth.  Nothing makes a weird idea better than more happy weirdos who like it too.

So I spun up a little yarn on Pirate Peg to see how she did. Even without her tension knob and that flywheel chip, she made some lovely, lovely yarn.  And lots of it, 110 yards of fluffy orange fun!

Orange yarn
Really nice, even yarn…Not bad at all for a wheel that just needs some love…

So this weekend between other things, I’ll give Peg a little lick of paint and sculpt some wood putty into the flywheel chip. And think piratey thoughts…Yarrrrr….

 

Hester Hestia, the Rescue Wheel…

Over the years of going from happy experimenter to serious spinner, I’ve collected a few things here and there…3 wheels, loads of fiber and more spindles than you can shake a stick at. (And I can. Because they’re made of sticks. Heh.) But my first and most abiding love is my first spinning wheel, dubbed Hester Hestia…

Hester Hestia
Hester Hestia, my first spinning wheel. She’s a Seventies beauty, new when bellbottoms, Boogie Fever and Macrame were still a thing…

My friends on Nicollet Island discovered her in the basement of one of the old Victorian houses in the neighborhood. They knew I had just started teaching myself how to spin, so they gave her to me to play with. Hestia was beautiful, but daunting, and badly battered. She was missing parts, her only bobbin was broken, her wheel had started to separate, some rotten kid had drawn on her with a ballpoint pen, and some anonymous thing or things had chewed on her treadle. She was in rough shape.

Over time, I fixed her up. It wasn’t easy…in fact, I nearly gave up on her more than once. Maybe she was too broken. Maybe I was just too stupid about this sort of thing. I had only the vaguest knowledge about how a spinning wheel worked. There were all kinds of funky looking hooks and knobs and such. Terrifying for a very, very VERY new spinner…

Hester's flywheel
The business end of Hester…complete with spinny thing, scary hooks, weird bungee thing, bobbiny-dealio, weirdo hooky support thingies, and the Knob of Mystery…

But Halcyon Yarns had all kinds of great information, and I quickly learned about my new prize. She was an Ashford Traditional from the Seventies, made about the same time I was born. I could still get parts, and bobbins–lots and lots of bobbins! One of her support hooks was missing, so I crafted a new one out of an old metal hanger. My dad helped me reglue her wheel, and I lubed her up, waxed her drive band,figured out how her tension worked, and eventually…I could spin with her. She spun wonderfully!  The wheel was nice and heavy enough that you didn’t really have to treadle hard to keep her going.  It was particularly fun with some nice loud Ministry or KMFDM,  treadling fast and spinning nice thin singles in black and red. I was a spinner! A real spinner with a real wheel, like a demented fairy-tale person! And it was amazing!

Over the years, she’s still my best girl. I would say most of the yarns in my Etsy shop come straight from Hester. From time to time, I think about giving her a new coat of varnish, possibly sanding off those cruel pen squiggles and chew marks. But for some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to. Good or bad, they were part of Hester’s mysterious history, and it felt wrong to remove them.  Instead I try to give her what she needs–more oil, a little dusting, an hour’s fun with some merino I just bought.  She’s a sweet, crabby beauty and I’d be lost without her…