Thursday, 19 August 2010

Spinning - a really exciting event in my life captured in photographs

So you're one of my descendants checking out Great Grandma, or you've happened across this blog and seen it's about knitting and my female ancestors and what do you get - a first post about a difficult period in MY life, and then .......Spinning.

I'd better explain.  Last week I was in Stirling at the very first UK Knit Camp - hopefully the first of many.  Had a totally amazing, stimulating experience learning new skills, meeting lots of wonderful people from all round the world, turning an interest in rare and specific breed fibres into a passion, and taking my first steps into the world of spinning.

I had an afternoon in a beginners spinning class with Deb Robson.  Between the frequent yarn breakages and production of yarn thick enough to make a rope of, there were some very brief but peacefully ecstatic moments when it all came together.   I came home from Knit Camp with 4 fleeces in my car and the details of where to purchase my first wheel.  Choosing which wheel to get had been more straightforward than I'd anticipated.  There were a lot of experienced spinners around who were only too happy to talk wheels and I got to try a few.  One name kept cropping up, and when I tried one of them I knew this was the one for me.

First thing Monday the order was placed and then yesterday I got the phone call to say it would be arriving today.  Which is one reason why I was up to silly o'clock last night/this morning setting up and starting my blog, because I knew once the wheel arrived then the blog-birth might be postponed indefinitely.

Then, just before lunchtime this arrived.

The box, not the dog - she's a puppy spending her first year living with us.  This is a very perceptive puppy and the look on her face shows that she has sensed the enormity of the contents of the box, and is perhaps a tad apprehensive about the implications for her.

Husband was around - he'd been on 'post watch' while I did the morning training session with the puppy.  He seemed relieved when I said I'd take the wheel into the front room and assemble it by myself as part of the 'getting totally acquainted' process.  In fact so relieved that he went and sorted out all the tools the instruction leaflet told me I'd need.  I think he has some traumatic memories himself of 'us' with a box of bits from MFI or Ikea and an instruction leaflet that was either missing or written in Martian.

He needn't have feared - this was an Ashford Traditional Wheel from New Zealand, where they obviously have quite a different attitude towards instruction leaflets.  The diagrammatic instructions were actually clear and precise, and just before I got to the tricky bit I found there were also written instructions, in English (that's proper English, not translated from Chinese by a 5 yr old who can only speak Portuguese) that made things even clearer.

There was a bit towards the end that involved a bit of strength with a screwdriver, so I invited him into the front room and he agreed to demonstrate his superior muscle strength and prowess with a screwdriver - which he did beautifully, but he did prefer me to do the 'banging the pin into the crank hole with a hammer' bit, so that if the hammer slipped he wouldn't have to spend the rest of his life knowing that I had to look at the 'dent made by husband' in my wheel every time I used it.  He even managed a modicum of sincerity when I asked him if he didn't feel that the atmosphere in the front room was unusually calm for this sort of construction situation.

I should explain that some of my past encounters with putting things together have been exceedingly fraught and traumatic, so his caution is actually quite sensible.  Anyway, we ended up with a wheel that looked like the one I'd tried at Knit Camp, it's still daylight outside, and most importantly - there are no bits left over!

Puppy managed to slip back into the front room once the 'yet to be named' wheel was completed and decided to pose for the final triumphant photograph.


  1. Oh that's a beautiful wheel. I love my Ashford. I hope you have many happy hours spinning :)

  2. Beautiful! (both wheel and puppy that is)

  3. Love the puppy pic, plus your description of putting The Wheel together. My husband bought me my Ashford Traveller (Betty) for Christmas, but stood well clear when it came to Operation Assembly!

  4. Your experience makes my heart sing. Thank you so much for coming to the class!

    I still have my first wheel, an Ashford Traditional similar to the one you bought (mine's a good deal older, so there are fewer turnings on the spokes and my brake tensioner was, and is, a rubberband).

    Give your Ashford a bit of oil every hour or so--frequent, rather than abundant, applications--and I look forward to hearing about your fleeces as you discover them!

  5. By the way, WONDERFUL puppy. Pats to her from me, please.