The One That Almost Got Away

November 27, 2013


When you walk around the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool festival, there is so much to see and do, it is easy to get distracted. If you don’t come with a clear idea in mind of what you want, you go home with things you didn’t know you needed but nothing you really wanted.

I didn’t know I wanted this fleece until we were on our way home:

01 fleece

On the way home, my husband and I had a discussion about the “Rhinebeck Sweater” — that concept that, if you are going to Rhinebeck, you should have a sweater that you knitted to display your knitting ability. I had knitted the Enniscorthy Sweater by Maggie Jackson this year. Husband noted that HE had no Rhinebeck Sweater and that, perhaps, he should have one for next year. The discussion then went on to what type of sweater (cables) and what color. “Lighter instead of darker,” he said, “Like that fleece you kept looking at in the booth.”

I had looked at said fleece in the Fiber Connections booth several time. This is a booth where shepherds and spinners can consign their wares in one location. I had walked by several times and was quite taken with this fleece, which is a Romney cross, but, hey, I have fleeces home I haven’t spun yet. I bought fleeces in the Rhinebeck sale. I have projects lined up from now until I am at least a hundred and eleventy years. Did I need another fleece? As much as this one called to me (and I think I went back, oh, 5 or 6 times?), I had to regretfully pass.

And now, on the way home, I find out this was the perfect fleece.

I had one saving grace here — I had picked up a wheel from a fellow Ravelry spinner and she had noted that she bought a Romney fleece from Elihu Farms in New York State. She ALWAYS wound up buying from them, she said, because the always had the nicest wool. I had filed away the name of the farm in that vast storehouse of mental trivia, only to have it pop forward in the Fiber Connections booth, because this fleece was tagged as having come from Elihu Farms.

What did we do in the days before Google? A search quickly turned up the farm and a related e-mail. The e-mail was answered by the very lovely shepherdess, Mary Pratt, who said that, no, the fleece had not sold and that yes, it was still available if I would like it. I explained the circumstances and she laughed. She was happy to hear the fleece was going to someone who would appreciate it and she hopes to see the finished project come next Rhinebeck.

I have a Dec. 7 deadline for some other work and once that is fulfilled, I will be turning my attention to this fleece. I did already wash a handful of it and, once it dried, kept walking around with it and burying my face in it. This is a lovely, creamy, clean, soft fleece:

02 fleece

Yummy. Can’t wait to work with this.

Of course, the pattern will be the challenge. Cables, go figure. I can do cables. I haven’t done really complicated cables. I am much better at reading charts than I used to be. So, cables, okay, how bad can it be? The chosen pattern is the Severus Sweater:

01 severus sweater

Stay tuned. 2014 promises to be full of knitted adventures!



Flat-Rim Wheel

November 11, 2013


This wheel took along to get to me via the “wheel railroad.” One of my Antique Spinning Wheel friends on Ravelry kindly picked her up for me last spring, but we could never make a connection. Finally, we both agreed to meet up at Rhinebeck in October and, so, this lovely finally came home with me.

There are several styles of this wheel around, but no one seems to know anything about their origins.

002 flat rim

This is a big wheel. The drive wheel is 32″ in diameter, comparable to a Canadian Production Wheel. But, unlike the CPW, this wheel’s rim is flat, like a walking wheel. Like a CPW, this wheel has a tilt tensioning system, and has the optional Scotch tensioning bar attached to the top of the maidens.

005 flat rim

Perhaps oddest of all is her flyer assembly. Where with other flyers, you unscrew the whorl to remove the bobbin, this wheel has a quite a different approach:

001 flat rim

That’s right. You unscrew the FLYER. The downside on this is that there is a little knob at the other end of the shaft to prevent the whorl being removed. The problem with this is that it also prevents the rear maiden bearing from being removed. The leather bearing on this wheel is beginning to wear out, so there will be some creative repairs needed in the future.

The flat rim drive wheel has a nicely-fitted lap joint:

006 flat rim

Her hub is also interesting in its shape, being very elongated, rather than the roundish “bagel” shape of so many wheels. This hub is more reminiscent of a walking wheel hub.

007 flat rim

Another oddity about this wheel is that she has 4 legs. Most “saxony” style bench wheels only have 3 legs. In this case, however, the extra leg comes in handy. The front leg on the farthest side from the spinner shows signs of having originally been the leg that held the treadle pin. When the leg became worn from use, it was simply exchanged to the back position and the good leg moved to the treadle.

004 flat rim

And how much use did this wheel see, in order to cause that much wear?  Quite a lot, apparently, judging from her treadle:

003 flat rim

That, dear readers, is the footprint of some long ago spinner, preserved on the treadle. Notice, too that the treadle bar on the left hand side also shows wear. On these single treadle wheels, the spinner often rested both feet on the treadle while spinning. This wheel, where ever she came from and whomever built her, was a well-loved, well-used workhorse in her time.





Autumn Mitts

November 4, 2013

The leaves here turned abruptly and there finally is a little sting of cold in the air. I am taking precautions against the winter’s cold, as I usually wait too long and find myself without gloves, without scarf, without hat, whatever. And curse myself for not thinking ahead to make something. This winter at least my hands will be warm.

This is a little pair of angora mitts I knitted from one ball of angora:

01 mitts

The haze of the angora made it a little hard to get a clear shot. No pattern to share, I’m afraid, I just made these up and put a little cable along the plane of the index finger for interest. For indoor wear as wrist warmers or for driving:

02 mitts

And I finished my Northanger Abbey Mitts from the Fall 2012 issue of Jane Austen Knits:

03 mitts

I love the tweed, I love the green color. This is Berroco Blackstone Tweed, 2 balls for the mittens. I love that soaring gothic-arch motif up the back of the hand.

04 mitts

The other thing that is nice is the extra-long forearm. If I remember to put these on first, then a jacket over them, they will keep my arms warm as well as my hands.

05 mitts

See how the ribs of the forearms turn into the gothic arches? Simple designs can be really amazing when you see them worked up.

Now, I think I am going to need the lack of a scarf next ….