Woolbearers

One of our recent adventures took us fairly close to Mount Holly, New Jersey, and you know what that means …

A visit to the LYS, Woolbearers!

I’m not entirely sure of the shop’s square footage, probably over 1,200 sq. ft.? But I do know it is completely packed with all kinds of fibery goodness. There are cubbies of yarn ….

And walls of yarn …

And racks of yarn …

John is no doubt wondering how much of this will come with us this time! The yarn selection really is fabulous, ranging from old standbys like Cascade 220 to the higher end Rowan and Madeline Tosh, to name but a few. In between, you can find a huge range of sock yarns, lovely mohairs, yarns for baby items, and just about whatever you can think of. They have recently added the Jameson’s Shetland wools, Spindrift and DK, which is a welcome addition because I can never find these and usually have to mail order.

Woolbearer’s also has a selection of handspinning supplies:

They are dealers for several modern brands of wheel, but I was interested to see this little wheel on the floor:

This is a Daneker, oft maligned by handspinners as being a bad attempt at reproducing a Colonial saxony wheel. Made by the Daneker Furniture Company in Maryland during the 1960s, this wheel was an effort to accurately reproduce a working model of a flax wheel. Unfortunately, the makers do not seem to have consulted any handspinners and so did make some errors. Like use brass for the flyer shaft, bobbin screw inset, and even the wheel axle. The brass does not wear well and so these parts tend to show the stress they are subjected to. The screw tensioning knob is also problematic, in that it is not long enough. However, construction flaws taken into consideration, the Danekers DO spin, and spin well, as evidenced by the bobbin of yarn on this one:

This flyer appears to be a replacement, as the orifice is larger than the typical Daneker. These wheels make nice beginner double-drive wheels. They are strong and the drive wheel well balanced. They often show up on Craigslist or Ebay and, while I wouldn’t pay more than $100 for one, they could be an excellent alternative for the new spinner on a budget.

It was difficult, but I managed to make my selections. Of course, every time I felt I had it pinned down, I’d take another look and see something else I hadn’t looked at more closely.

Finally I headed for the checkout, where Woolbearer’s owner, Myra, was hard at work. Myra does not like to have her picture taken, she said, but graciously pretended I was not there so I could get a shot of her in action. Of course, it was the best way to show the stock of needles and notions on the wall behind her.

As we were leaving, I got an arty little shot of this lace shawl in the window, looking out at a wall mural across the street.

 

Mount Holly, the county seat of Burlington County, is really a lovely little Colonial town with many restored buildings. They have worked hard over the past few years to build up the community and the shopping district. In addition to Woolbearers, there are several very nice restaurants in the area, along with the shops at the Mill Race Village section of town. It is always worth a visit, so if you are in the area, I would recommend you drop on by!

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3 Responses to Woolbearers

  1. Lana Schneider says:

    I was pleased to see your kinder, gentler words about the Daneker flax wheel. Having just acquired one that was not a good working wheel, I thought I would have to agree that it was a vanity wheel, but the description I read that really made it sound negative challenged me. Several things have been learned by my (and my husband’s) delving into the wheel. It is a double drive flax wheel, which means it is what I call a ‘finesse’ wheel. I don’t think I would advocate it for a beginner, simply because it is too use specific…fine flax. Other fibers can be spun as well, but that is its intent. The wheel I had had a bad ‘thunk’ when the footman lifted to the height of the treadle and then went over. I thought I would scream, and so did the other spinners near me. When I had to take the drive wheel off to transport the wheel, my husband found an empty small bored (not to say boring) hole on one side of the center of the wheel, which served as a peg to stabilize the iron bar that goes through the wheel. Once that peg was replaced, no more vibration: no more ‘thunk’. The other weakness was that the bobbin rattled, and this was caused by the angle in which the mother of all pulled, throwing things off kilter. There was a pegged support there as well, but it just did not seem to hold, so my husband drilled out the peg, placed the whole piece on the pedestal and repeged it at a truly 90 degree angle. Things turned smoothly and quietly; the double drive makes for a balancing of tension and take up and off you go. I am envious of the extra bobbins though…this one has only one and it is of course, pretty small, so it makes for a few hours of demo before I niddy noddy off my skein. But it makes a lovely demo of rather traditional flax spinning or a rather traditional wheel.
    I encourage the adventurers amongst us to take up a challenge wheel and make it your working friend. You really get to know the quirks of your equipment. Lana Schneider, Lacey, WA

    • herbalmaid says:

      I recently acquired a Daneker wheel at auction and was happy to see your kinder review than others I have seen posted on the internet. It is neat vintage wheel that dates from the spinning revival that happened in the 60s. For that alone, I am happy to have it. I have actually not had any trouble spinning on it and it does spin very fine wools as well as flax. I think it would be great for spinning lace weight yarns from combed top. More for an experienced spinner however.

      • Yes, I did not have much trouble with the one that I found! The tension screw was a bit short, so I put a little wood block behind it to shore up the end. Other than that, it spins like a top and I am able to make laceweight on it. I wonder if some had a bit higher quality? Good to hear of another one out there that works well!

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