Monday, November 30, 2009

Haldane Harris.

This "little" beauty is my Christmas present this year.

Given that it has a 24" drive wheel and almost certainly spins at warp factor nine it's not so little, actually! I've always wanted a Norwegian style wheel and was seriously considering a Timbertops Leicester...except it would cost more than I could justify if I bought a new one and the only one that's come up recently on Ebay went for a silly amount too. The Kromski Polonaise was also on the short list for a while.

But under a completely seperate subsection of the "Spinning Wheels I Would Like To Own One day" list there was this scribbled note saying "Haldane?" This was because I really liked the Haldane Orkney that I once had briefly in my possesion and I sort of though it would be nice to own one, if I ever saw one at a good price. I did know that Haldane had once made a limited run of Norwegian wheels, but I thought they were so hard to find that I didn't really include it in the list of contenders for Next Wheel.

Fate really, And it was on at a really good BIN of £175. What else could I do? And Hubby had been wondering what to get me for Christmas this year, lol.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Today was cold, wet and filled with rugby, or so it seems. I think I may be going down with a bug of some sort too. All I want to do is sleep. It's been a loooong week.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Addi Sock Needles.

Brief blog post tonight, just to report back on the Addi Sock Needles I bought last week. A couple of you have asked how I'm finding them?

Well, different. Little. I've got little hands but I knit with a classic hands-off english throw and usually my needles move around quite a lot. The small circumferance restricts this so I'm having to push the needle point clear with a finger tip, which can get sore after a while. I've tried flicking,changing to continental, combined knitting and a couple of other ways of holding the yarn, just to see what feels best. I think if you knit continental then you would get used to these needles very easily. For me, it's taking a little longer.

But I'm persisting. Why? Well, they're fast. Very fast. You don't have to stop, muck around changing needles, grip, stitches on the cords and tip. You just keep knitting round and round and round. Actually, that's possibly one reason my fingers are getting tired. There's no break in the flow so your fingers don't get a chance to stretch their muscles. Try knitting four hundred or so little stitches in a restricted way with no pauses whatsoever. Your hands would hurt too! But these 400 stitches are really, really quick.

Still, I'm getting used to it. By the time I finish these socks the motion will have bedded into my hands and it will be automatic. I just love the speed of it all, you see. I'm on the heel of this sock already and I only cast it on two days ago. For me that's amazingly quick. I expect a fast sock knitter could do even better especially if they knitted continental. So definately, these needles are worth a try.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Peeing down with rain here at Chez Fishwife. The kind of day that makes you want to go back to bed, or at least sit on the sofa watching slushy DVDs and knitting. Chance would be a fine thing, eh? Much of my knitting is done in the car these days, as I wait for the kids to either go into or emerge from various sports and activities. Yesterday the Mum Taxi was on first thing, then back on duty at 4.30pm. I did get to go home for a couple of hours here and there, but I didn't finally get home till 11pm. (With a very tired Princess who had been at The Gang Show.) Given that I get up at 7am to get the kids to school, I make that 16 hours of domestic and childcare tedium yesterday. Really, I should find myself a job....

Actually, I don't know if I mentioned but I was offered a tutoring job out at the Poldrate. Teaching spinning, of course, which was quite funny to think of given that I've only been spinning myself for five or six years. I've no formal qualifications to teach, you understand, but I am one of these people who likes to teach and explain and so far, I seem to be reasonably good at it. So I did give the job offer serious consideration. It wouldn't have paid much but it would have been fun I think.
However they wanted me to do it at least one evening per week, which is impossible. Hubby used to get home around six-thirty pm least a couple of days a week but work has expanded for him to take up all availible time space and the kids still need someone here with them in the house, let alone their taxi driver! So no evening job for me at the minute, and they don't want only a day class because we already have the self-help spinning group. Where I will teach you to spin anyway, come to think of it. Only difference is I don't get paid for it!

One day.....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Socks etc.

Finished socks...Araucania Ranco, colourway unknown, Violet-Green Sock pattern Generator.

Finished hat. Except for the dangling braids. I will need to discuss these with Lad. Rowan Plaid in Soft Kelp, Ear Flap Hat Generator.

It's very cosy. There is a box on the pattern generator where you can adjust for closeness of fit and Lad opted for a loose helmet type effect rather than tight. So it sits down well over his head and ears and what with that and that double layer of alpaca and merino this is a really warm hat. The earflaps are actually just like knitting toe-up socks using short rows, with the "toes" sticking out of the headband section in a very entertaining way until the facing is folded under. Well worth a shot.

Finally, my Addi sock needles arrived today. You can quite clearly see the little kink as the tip joins the cord. That's what makes them fit into my hands so well.

So naturally I had to cast on another pair of socks immediately. The choice was of the pink Yarn Yard yarn above, or the rather lurid greeen and blue. I dyed this second one myself a couple of SkipNorths ago, using Kool-Aid on a (I think) Trekking sock yarn base. After a bit of a mental struggle I decided on the green/blue, basically because it was already wound so I didn't need to go and find my ball winder. Lazy? Me?

(The ginger bit is Oliver's tail, btw, if you hadn't realised.)

Have to say, casting straight onto such small unfamiliar needles was a bit tricksy. So I resorted to my tried and trusted method of casting on to straights, one size larger than my main needle, then working two rows straight before transferring to the working needle(s). Much better. I've done a few rows of the ribbing and the little needle just flows now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I finished the socks today.

I finished the earflap hat today too. Well, apart from doing the braids, but the knitting is finished and the ends sewn in.

And I went to spinning group today.

This sort of productivity is a bit alien to me, actually. I possibly need to go and lie down somewhere soothing and dark.

The sock needle has not arrived though. So life is not all good.

Short blog post today, actually, because now I'd like you to all nip over and read my friend Natalie's blog post of the day. Many if not most of you will know her as The Yarn Yard. (Fabby fibres and yarns, really. Have a look while you're there.) But she's also the founder of p/hop, which is her fund-raising site linked into Médecins Sans Frontières.

By the time you finish reading your way through all of this you'll probably be thinking that perhaps that third skein of sock yarn isn't quite the priority you thought earlier? Well, as Natalie says, donations of money would be very acceptable but also it would be very welcome if you could spare a day of your blog to mention p/hop and Médecins Sans Frontières to your own readers. Details on how to do this are on the p/hop linkie above. Spread the word!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Catch up.

Monday is always catch-up day. Laundry, cleaning the bathroom, hoover etc. Work out what leftovers are in the fridge and knock up some sort of meal plan till at least Thursday. Write a shopping list so I can go shopping while the kids are in swimming club tonight. That sort of thing.

I'm determined to sit down for an hour somewhere though and finish these socks. Why the rush? Well, while I was at spinning Guild on Saturday a friend showed me her 30cm Addi circs, for sock knitting. Previously I'd dismissed 30cm needles for this because the ones I'd tried had longish tips and joined straight onto the cords. I thought they were awkward and was staining to knit a standard 60 stitch sock on them. But the Addis have much shorter tips and a smooth bend onto the cords. I tried ten stitches of my friend's sock and was instantly hooked to the point of wondering if she'd notice if I just slipped the needle out her half-knitted sock and stole it. (Probably...yeah, she would, bah.) So I came home and ordered one from Pavi Yarns instead. So now I have to get the current sock finished asap so I'm ready to cast on a new pair when my new needle arrives, hopefully tomorrow.

Really, it's ridiculous to get this excited about a new sock needle.....

The Earflap Hat is coming on apace too. I've finished the double-layer headband plus earflap section and am getting close to the crown shaping. For these who have asked no, I'm not going to line it with fleece fabric. There is a three inch deep double hem of Rowan Plaid round head and ears and that's going to be quite warm enough. Plus Lad has his own thick layer of curly locks which will provide the equivalent of thrums inside.

Yeah, hair like that is totally, TOTALLY wasted on a boy.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lazy Sunday.

After a fairly frantic few days, I finally managed to have a lazy Sunday. Up late (ie not 7am), no rush to get showered, only real fixture in the day was to take Princess to gymnastics. I even had time to chat to my neighbour in the supermarket. Then lunch and my sister came round and I sat and nattered to her most of the afternoon, while Princess vanished off to see a friend and Lad and Hubby did manly things like rugby and xBox and painting toy soldiers. Curry dinner courtesy of M&S, kids off to bed sharp, nothing left to do except sit on the sofa, knit and see if there's a good trash film on the telly.

Might not be everyone's idea of what to do on a Sunday but it suited me just fine.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Guild Day.

Not the third Saturday of the month as usual, because the church hall we use has their Christmas Fair on the third Saturday of November. The Guild calendar had been printed with the wrong date though and the website is wrong also, so apologies to anyone who intended to turn up for spinning on the 21st! Not my fault, I do assure you. I only found out because of a chance comment another Guild member made on Tuesday. Shoot the Guild proof-reader instead, unless I get there first.

Anyhow, we are going to make Christmas decorations. I have no idea exactly what, but it's sure to be interesting. And I won't need to teach, because no-one new will turn up, I don't think. Not with the date mix-up. bah.

However I have managed to shed Princess for the day so that's good. I was reasonably confident she could cope with half a day of pom-pom making or similar activity but she wouldn't last a full one. I was scheduled to be looking after her because I didn't think I had a Guild day and Hubby and Lad were off to a wargames show, and the car was going to be full. But someone has dropped out and Princess has opted for wargames instead. As she says, she can make pom-poms any time.

Speaking of pom-poms, yesterday I found this amazing set at Hobbycraft. Where has this been all my life? I've made dozens of pom-poms using the classic old two cardboard doughnut method and this is 100% easier. Princess has really taken to it and is churning out pencil roving pom-poms like a pro. Worth every penny. I foresee a very pom-pom Christmas!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Crikey...actual knitting.

Well, with some actual knitting content today....

I've not been knitting much over the last weeks. Life is busy and come 10pm all I can do is slump in front of America's Next Top Model (compulsive viewing in this house) and pick my way round a plain sock for twenty minutes. Then go to bed. I have three sweaters all at the stage of front and back completed, but do you think I can make the effort to start knitting the arms? ZZZZzzzzzzzzz......

However when we were up buying Lad his winter jacket at Mountain Warehouse (great place for genuinely warm, waterproof jackets) he spotted this.

Now I'm absolutely b****red if I'm going to stump up £19.99 for a nasty acrylic knitted hat, even if they are on Buy-One-Get-One-Free. But he did look remarkably good in it, in a sort of crazed muppet way. Isn't it amazing what teenage boys want to wear? I rejected a pair of Lee Cooper lace up black sneaker type gym shoes the other week as being dorky, only to discover they were the latest fashion craze around these country parts and had to go back to the shop to get them. (They were dirt cheap so I did not mind.)

Anyway, I said I'd knit him a hat. He came home from school the next day looking expectant so I had to get up to the attic asap and find something suitable. I came up with two balls of Rowan Plaid in an alpaca/merimo/acrylic blend, in Soft Kelp.

It's nice stuff to knit on and I'm using 7mm needles so it should be a quick knit. (Well, for anyone but me...) I'm using the Earflap Hat Pattern Generator.(Ravelry link.)

Here's the socks...

I only have 15 rows plus toe shaping to go on the second sock, so might finish by Christmas, eh? The yarn was a gift from Thereyougothen on her summer visit back from Chile. The lucky so and so apparently lives round the corner from an Araucania outlet shop. This yarn is (I think) Araucania Ranco...lovely bouncy yarn, anyway, and a great colour. I "enabled" Thereyougothen to start knitting socks when she was ill, come to think of it, so these ones have good associations for me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Parents Night.

Parents Night at school this evening, for Princess.

You know, at the risk of bragging, there's hardly any point in me going to Parents Night. Princess is extremely bright, likes school, gets on well with her classmates, is polite and enthusiastic and works hard. There's some bits of work she likes less, of course, but they're few and far between and she just gets on with them or, in the case of disliked classmates, ignores them as much as possible. Really can't ask for more. Except the furiously enthusiastic and somewhat novel spelling to improve, but that will come. So apart from reading off her marks and saying how well Princess is doing in all respects, Teacher had nothing much else to discuss. And I'm perfectly happy with how Princess is doing at school and I have great confidence in the school too, so I didn't really have any worries to discuss either. Is that good or bad?

So her teacher and I ran out of things to talk about very quickly. Her teacher is young and enthusiastic and very nice and Princess likes her but she's not as much fun as the very quirky and opinionated older teacher Princess had last year, who really had a soft spot for my strong willed and also very opinionated girl and treated me to a stream of funny anecdotes of what Princess was getting up to at school. I do miss Mrs P. She's taught all my kids at one point or other and we've always got on very well. Must try not to hold this against the new teacher!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Times Twelve.

Do you know, I have driven down the same small street in Musselburgh twelve times today, what with one trip or another. At no point have I driven further than two miles from my own front door, but I have been round and round and up and down and across this blessed town carrying tubas and trombones and a variable number of kids and bags of sports equipment and all the rest all bloomin' day. Or so it seems!

How do mums without cars manage? Do they manage all this by taxi and bus? Or do they just take the sensible option and restrict the number of activities and interests their kids are allowed to do? I was on taxi service duty from 4.15pm to 9.00 pm today, not to mention the am run to school with the trombone.

And to top it all, I had to miss the allotment AGM. First time in thirteen years, bah. And me on the committee too. Bah bah bah. I'm not happy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009



Get up, get kids up, feed kids, assemble lunches/backpacks/kids, make sure kids are clean and dressed, send kids to school. have shower and breakfast, deal with emails. Put on load of laundry. Go to spinnning group at Haddington. Very pleasant lunch with Pollianicus. Quick trip round the Haddington charity shops. (Didn't buy anything.) Back home for kids coming home from school, make dinner, do laundry, supervise homework, feed kids, take Princess to Cubs, take Lad to buy new school jacket, fetch Princess from Cubs, come home. Message on answerphone from neighbour to say that Oliver's mum Lily has had five kittens and could they borrow the kitten cage again? Take cage round (no I didn't see the kittens), come home, get kids to bed. Husband comes home from work. Feed husband. Feed self.

Think I'm going to sit on the sofa, knit a couple of rounds of plain sock then go to bed. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day, not quiet like this one.

Monday, November 09, 2009

First Frosts.

It was the first hard frost of winter last night. We live on a hill looking down into one of the local parks and all the grass and trees were diamond white. I live near the sea and as such we miss most of the snow but we can still get some killer frosts. The allotment will be a heap of shattered vegetation today and the pond will have stared to freeze. Start of winter.

I didn't go to the allotment today though as I was so tired from the weekend. You'd think that sitting on your rear end spinning and chatting for six hours, plus an hour's drive at each end would be a reasonable but not excessive day out, no? Apparently not. I was shattered yesterday and this was not helped by having to go to Princess's Cub Scout Remembrance Day parade and service,which took up the best part of four hours of hanging around and walking, with only a brief sit down in church.

So this morning I got up at the usual 7am, got the kids off to school and went back to bed. I didn't get up till lunchtime and I'm still creeping around dead tired and with no energy. Off to the doc's again, methinks. Got an appointment booked for Friday.

Oh, as to Princess being a Cub these days? She was in the local Brownies up till the end of last year till we discovered one of the local Cub packs took girls. (They don't always, it depends on the pack leaders and of course they have to have at least one woman leader in the pack as well.) Our Brownies are pretty tame...they don't camp in tents, just bunkhouses, because it's "too rough for the little girls" in tents. They don't do sporty things or outdoor activities much. On the other hand Princess has been eyeing up Lad's local Scout and Cub activities for years...they camp, often in wet and muddy fields, they get to have camp fires and chop up wood with axes and whittle things with knives and go for midnight walks in the woods. Etc. Much more to Princess's tastes, especially since she's been camping since she was a few months old. So she has dumped the Brownies without a backwards glance and become a Cub, lol. She's even learning to play football (which she doesn't much like, but hey-ho) so she can keep even with the boys. Actually she's very fit and sporty with a mean killer instinct, so the boy Cubs aren't getting away with much, has to be said!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

St Abbs Wool Festival #2.

St Abbs....a view of the harbour from up the hill a bit. A very typical looking East Coast harbour of around these parts.

This is a rear view of the memorial to the Eyemouth fishing disaster of 14th October 1881, where 189 men from the small fishing communities of Eyemouth and neighbouring St Abbs and Burnmouth were lost at sea. I couldn't get a clear shot of the front without falling off the cliff, but basically you see the women and chidren standing on the harbour sea wall, hands to their mouths and looking out to sea with horror on their faces. Most moving.

The Wool Festival was great fun. It's not a big hall but it was stuffed to the gunnels with wool, fibre and other wooly things. I went there feeling I had more than enough wool in the stash at present but of course this doesn't mean fibre, does it?

From left to right..

Two 100g braids of superwash Blue Face Leicester colourway "Shepherds Warning", from Spinning a Yarn. Not my usual sort of colour choice but they spoke to me, so I had to buy them really! I'm looking forwards to spinning these up to see what happens with the colours.

Two 100g braids of Peregrine 75% merino, 25% nylon in pinks and what my daughter would call "girl blues". From The Yarn Yard. Basically it had my little Princess's name written all over it, lol.

Two 100g braids of 70% alpaca, 30% BFL, also from The Yarn Yard. Scrumptious and sooooft. It's a while since I spun alpaca even in a blend, so yum.

One 100g braid of a brown/orage/pumpkin sort of colourway. Peregrine from The Yarn Yard again.

And that's all I bought, actually, apart from several cups of tea and a home-made scone. Quite restrained of me but really, 700g of fibre is a lot of spinning!

I did take a wheel of course. Actually I took three, the Louet S10 to loan around, my Mazurka to spin on and the Wind Wheel to show off. But I didn't take the Wind Wheel in after all. Too crowded. I'm not precious about my wheels normally but the Wind Wheel isn't mine and we were in quite a busy corner. Still it was an ideal corner for visibility, given it was by the doorway to the tearoom so I tucked my elbows in and got talking. Anyone who knows me also knows I do love talking about spinning so I was in my element.

I was spinning on my recently mended Kromski Mazurka. Notice the drive whorl is a tad paler? I did a muppet thing one night when I was tired and tried to unscrew it the wrong way and wrecked it. Fortunately Joan and Clive at The Woodland Turnery can deal with this sort of thing in their sleep, so the Mazurka is as good as new.

There were a LOT of people at the festival, old friends, new ones, virtual and never-met-you-before ones. It was great to see you all but if I start looking you all up and doing links I would be here for paragraphs. So I'll just content myself with saying that yes, it's lovely to go and fondle the yarns and buy new fibres, but what I really go to these events for is to see you all and have a good blether, really.

Final picture..The Yarn Yard stall, later in the day. There was a lot more than this when the doors opened, I think!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

St Abbs.

I went to the St Abbs Wool Festival today. Lovely event....small but beautifully formed and an absolute treat to see so much interesting yarn and fibre at a local event.

I have fibre (of course) and I have photographs. I also have the sleepies, so I'll save the first two for tomorrow's blog post.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Not what they used to be.

I was in the big city today and unusually, child free and with an hour or so to spare, so I decided to go and have a trawl round the charity shops near Surgeons Hall. This used to be one of my favourite ways to spend a Friday afternoon when I had my first baby and no car...I would get the train into town then walk with the buggy up to Hubby's office, take his car (so he could go out for a few pints after work) and go to the supermarket on the way home. Between the station and the office there were seventeen charity shops and as a newly skint single income family with a horrid mortgage and a new baby, charity shops were great places to get all sorts of things. I really enjoyed the Friday runs. The shops were always full of treasures and in these days, 14 years or so ago, charity shops were really cheap too.

Anyway I do go to a lot of charity shops even now, though the financial pressures have eased off a bit as the interests rates dropped. (15% back then, argh...) I get garden and camping clothes for the kids, odd bit of Lego, interesting bric a brac, books etc. Yarn and needles too and even a spinning wheel once! Our local shops are still well worth going to.

But the town ones? What happened? They are all half empty and what stock they do have is often 50% bought-in goods. I've got no problems with buying Fairtrade, you understand, but I do expect the majority of items to be donated ones in the Oxfam shop for example. And the prices! Some of the prices are getting close to what you would pay for similar new items. I know that a lot of the bigger chains of charity shops invest money in refurbishing up shops and presenting goods in a way similar to normal shops but really, it's getting too much. And, you know, a lot of the donated stock was looking pretty tired too. Lots of bobbly old t-shirts and acrylic jumpers.

Was very disappointing. I was hoping for some of the old treasure-hunting excitement and I got nothing. Bah. I had to settle for the excitement of Sainsburys instead. Is it because there are less people donating in town areas, do you think? Or more people using the charity shops in these credit-crunch times?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A small rant and a Festival.

Very small rant. Remember the building works we had done three years back? Well, the final inspection was done today for a very small but necessary piece of paperwork, and because of the lack of four bits of wood, we have failed to get this paper stamped. Now it's one of these things that would have been dead simple to do as part of the works but because the works have been completed, it's going to be more complicated to retro-fit the required pieces. I think I would rather throw myself off the roof than have to deal with the original builders again though so basically, we're going to get our 100% trustworthy joiner in to do it and suck up the bill.

But, you know, bummer.

On a happier note, I'm off to a wool and fibre shindig on Saturday, the St Abbs Wool Festival. . The Yarn Yard will be there, as will Fyberspates, alpacas, spinning, weaving and all sorts of wooly things for sale. Should be a good day.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The cats cried.

I'm not sleeping well these days. I've got problems with my back (long term thing), my joints ache in general and it's worse in cold weather and the perimenopause is adding in the usual sprinkling of annoyances. I wake up several times a night if I need to turn over from an awkward position, if someone gets up to go to the loo, if someone leaves a light on outside in the hall or slams a door or if I get a flush. Or if a cat comes in to sit on my head and remind me it's only two hours till breakfast and I'd better not forget, mmm? So in addition to all the above, I'm often very tired as well.

I've been working on some of the above. I don't like to have to take painkillers every night just to sleep but there are gels and exotic ungents to rub on various achey parts of oneself that do help. Bachs Rescue Remedy and the Sleep one help. Routine helps, plus going to bed a bit earlier! And I have bought some new fabric for heavyweight thermal blackout curtain linings. Intend to make that up today.

Last night though I decided to target one of the random annoyances, the cats. Da Boyz have plenty of favoured places to sleep in this house and they like to rotate round regularly, often several times a night. The tops of the two wardrobes in our bedroom are favoured spots but to get there they have to leap up on various cluttered pieces of furniture, or the telly, or climb the side of a hamper that lives on top of my wardrobe. Crash. Squeak. Thud. Clatter. And after that they like to climb over me, or under the duvet. And purr, or just generally strike up a conversation with each other or me. They are very chatty cats and like to share all the details of their doings with me.

So last night I shut the bedroom door. I can't remember when I last did this. There have always been children to listen out for or, back in the dawn of pre-history (ie before children) we lived in a flat so small that our tandem had to live half in the hall, half in our bedroom. Or to allow cats to come in and out. No longer. Consternation! They were locked out.

They cried. They howled. They pulled up half the carpet tiles in the hall in an effort to burrow under the door. They howled some more, head butted the door in an effort to force it open, scratched and cried. Then, after an hour or so, they went away. They came back at dawn when Hubby went off to work, but I surface around then anyway. However, inbetween I got more sleep than normal, so I think the closed door will be permenant.

I am a cruel cat mummy, yup. There is worst. Da Boyz are on a Cat Healthy Eating Plan at the moment too, poor wee souls. I took them both to the vet last week for their annual shots and check up and while Oliver was pronounced a perfect size, the vet thought Paws is getting a bit "roly-poly". Yes, this is the cat who arrived last year as a scraggy mass of matted dirty fur and bones. He has been making up for all these missed meals, apparently. So no treats, no extras, carefully weighed out portions and no feeding ad lib. Not entirely fair on Oliver who is a bit indifferent to food in general but even he has noticed the shorter rations and has started making sure he gets his share the minute the bowls go down, lol.

And it's cold up the attic, so it's not even worth going up there to sunbathe under the Veluxes any more, and the spiders have gone into hibernation. I tell you, it's a tough life being a cat round here at the moment!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

On the topic of spinning wheels...

On the topic of spinning wheels, I'm sort of vaguely thinking about buying another one.

Now to get this thought into perspectve you have to realise that at this exact moment I have nine spinning wheels in this house. I own a Louet S10, S20 and S40, a first generation Kromski Mazurka, a Frank Herring Saxony and a 100 year old Breton parlour wheel. I've also got the long term loan of an Australian Wind Wheel and I am looking after the local Guild Ashford Traditional and Traveller until the next meeting.


I think. (I always have this nagging feeling I might have forgotten one....)

So with nine wheels in the house you'd think that I didn't really need anything new, mmmm? Well...thing is, I recently inherited a very small legacy from a late cousin of my father's, who I did not even know existed. He died intestate and after all the legal kerfuffle got sorted the lawyers had come up with 22 relatives who were all entitled to inherit a portion of his estate. Twenty-two people is a lot, and it was a small estate, but nevertheless it was nice to get this wee cheque in the post last week. And one of the first things Hubby asked me was "So are you going to get a new wheel?"

TBH it wasn't my first thought but once it got lodged in my head it stayed there. I've never had a new new wheel, always second-hand, so it's a nice thought. And I've always liked these big Norwegian style wheels with the double table.

Like this one, the Kromski Polonaise. (Though not in that ghastly colour.)

Or the really classy Timbertops Leicester.

No hurry, just thinking. But if I want the Leicester by Christmas I have to order one now, to have it made.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Name that wheel?

Have a lookie at this.....(more pix on Flickr here.)

No, not mine, sadly. It was brought into the Haddington Spinners by an older local lady who was hoping we could help her with finding some information on the wheel. She'd inherited it from her granny and remembered hearing family stories about Granny spinning on it during WW1. Granny was a Yorkshire lass who had moved to Edinburgh when she got married and the wheel apperared around then.

Well, fairly generic wheel of the era, you might think? Look again. That drive wheel has 18 spokes and that's really quite unusual. Most wheelmakers go for 6, 8, 16...easy divisions of a circle. I mooched around the internet looking for information. Eighteen spoke wheels were common in the Hebrides and apparently were connected with the fact that a compass has 360 degrees ie 2 x 18.

So off I went looking for pictures and info on Hebridean wheels, assisted by the Antique Spinning Wheels group on Ravelry. One of them came up with this picture....

Not a bad match, is it? The turnings are different yes, but lots of the important bits match, like the way the pegs stick out undeneath, the unusual height of the treadle bar and the circular mount for the mother of all. Not twins but perhaps sisters? Or from the same maker at different times. The picture is from the front cover of this book, "Whorl and Wheel: A History of Handspinning in Scotland", by Su Grierson. The picture credits says it is a Dutch type wheel popular in the Isles of the Outer Hebrides and was photographed courtesy of the Highland Folk Museum Kingussie.

I have emailed my photographs of "my" wheel to the curator at the Highland Folk Museum, asking if they could please provide any more information on either wheel. I also emailed the book cover scan to the owner, K, and she came up with this nugget of family history.

My granny from Yorkshire was a doctor who spent all her married life in Edinburgh. During World War I she was employed by the armed services to go round Scotland to inspect the living accommodation for the women in the army and navy. ( Mainly to make sure it was a fair distance from the mens quarters I think!) Meanwhile she employed a girl from the Hebrides to look after the children at home and the girl may have brought her wheel with her. I will check with my sister to see if she knows anything more about this Hebridean connection.”

So there is a Hebridean connection after all, however tenuous.

Anyway, I'm finding all this sleuthing rather exciting. She'ss a lovely wheel, not small, not big, but she weighs a ton for her size and that indicates oak or similar, yes? The 18 spokes make the drive wheel massively heavy and it's not easy to get going, especially since the treadle is set unusually high. But once you get her rolling she spins like a caffeine-frenzied dervish, at what feels like 100mph. Yes, I'm pleased with myself that I got her spinning again after decades of being a mere ornament. Actually, everything important is there, she just needed a bit of oil and a tweak. A few knocks, yes, deep grooves in the flyer and looking at the underneath she’s been taken apart and reassembled several times, not particularly carefully either. Everything pins together with wooden pegs, but they look like they’ve been levered out and the wood has splintered. And the flyer has broken at least twice, or at least been mended twice.But given a good slather of oil and a bit of tweaking, she was still up and spinning within minutes. Old, yes, but still game!

Anyway,watch this space for more news, or feel free to add any suggestions in the comments, please! In the meanwhile, I'm teaching K to spin so she can use her Granny's old wheel. Isn't that lovely?, I'm not teaching her to spin on her 100mph wheel. What a comedown, eh? The woman owns a fine historic wheel with (hopefully) lots of history and she's learning on my battered old plywood Louet S20, lol!

Sunday, November 01, 2009


It's that time of year again, isn't it? Time for NaBloPoMo. So given that I seem to have really lost the habit when it comes to blogging regularly, I intend to join in for November again. I've managed to complete the month for the last two Novembers,though you probably were wilting with boredom by the end.

Anyway, to start you off with some totally non-knitting related blog fodder, here's a recent photo of Da Boyz. I was thinking of entering it on Lolcats but on reflection, I dread to think what some of the caption submissions might have been like. Yes, Paws does have a paw round Oliver's neck. They love each other very much, you know. Still doesn't stop Paws hogging most of the cat bed however.