Tag Archives: spinning wheels

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…