Castle Wheel or Oil Derrick?

September 20, 2011

My new-to-me Irish Castle Wheel arrived from Washington State via Greyhound Package Express. We went and collected her on Saturday and I spent part of Sunday assembling her. The other part of Sunday was spent rearranging the living room in order to make space. She is Winsome Timbers Fiona by now-retired wheelwright, Ken Lennox.

This is an absolutely magnificent wheel, and one that I have been longing for for years. When I first discovered the Lennox Fionas, I couldn’t afford one. By the time I was able to afford one, Ken Lennox had retired. So, I waited patiently, hoping one would turn up. It did. Unfortunately, it was in Washington State. Fortunately, one of my Ravelry friends had experience in shipping via Greyhound Bus. She picked up the wheel, boxed it, and set it off safely to New Jersey. It arrived in something like 8 days and cost less than half what a UPS shipment the same size would have costs. Who knew?

The only thing I was a bit startled by was her size. I have always loved Irish Castle Wheels and was lucky enough several years ago to acquire an antique one. This was too fragile to spin on, so I kept the quest alive for a Fiona. Now that she has arrived, I have realized one thing. She is ginormous.

This is what she looks like next to the antique Irish Castle Wheel:

She is easily twice the size and positively towers over my poor little Irish girl, who I’d always thought was such a big wheel! If she dwarfs the Irish Castle, my “go-to” wheel for everyday spinning, my Jensen Tina II, is lost in the crowd:

The Lennox compares favorably to the Jensen as far as spinning goes. She is smooth and fast. However, her size in motion is a bit disconcerting and invites comment from my husband, a non-spinner. His first remark was that if the drive wheel ever broke loose while spinning, it would go right through the wall of the house. Then after watching the 46 inch dual footmen cranking away, he casually asked if I’d struck oil yet. Ha-ha. Funny guy, huh?

The Fiona has some interesting details. Her wheel axle slots have custom-fit leather wedges instead of wooden retaining pins:

The footmen have little wire retaining pins:

She is signed and dated, something I wish all wheelwrights would do, having gone through the maddening exercise of trying to identify Canadian Production Wheels by maker. I do wish the model name, Fiona, had been added here, though!

She has a lovely built-in lazy kate along the left-hand lower crossbar:

But, best of all, she spins wonderfully well!

This is a bobbin of acorn-dyed corriedale. In the wake of Hurricane Irene, hundreds of white oak acorns were blown down. Gathered and boiled, they produced a dark brown dye which I used to dye 3 pounds of roving. But that, as they say, is a story for another day!

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Whitehorse Mountain Tensioning Arm

September 6, 2011

Another message from a Whitehorse Mountain Green Springs Spinner owner! I am as amazed as their maker, Dan Yeager, was to know so many people out there still have these wheels. This question was in regards to the tensioning system. Here is a close-up of one of my wheels with the short flyer and bobbin. Does this help to explain how the tension should work? The L-shaped arm with the round disk attached has a wing nut that holds it to the back of the upright; you can loosen or tighten the tension on the driveband by bringing the disk in contact with it. Ingenious, but when I mentioned it to Mr. Yeager, he shrugged it off as “early Industrial Revolution stuff.” Well, it’s ingenious to me!