Okay, my beloved fellow wheel geeks, something interesting for you today.
Is it a Haldane Orkney, like this one I had a couple of years ago?
Is it an Ashford Traveller? (First picture swiped from the web, second picture from the Guild wheel down in the utility room.)
I tell you, I looked and puzzled. Table of a Traveller, uprights of an Orkney, mother of all and maidens similar to an Orkney, flyer and bobbins clearly Ashford. But it all fitted together with good clearances. So what is it??? Hybrid, made from parts of two wheels? Something different altogether?
Well, after much hunting round the net it turns out to be a Mark 1 Ashford Traveller, made between 1977 and 1979. I did not even know there was such a thing. I thought the standard Traveller had been around in the same form forever. But no, right there on the truly impressive New Zealand Spinning Wheel Index there is a picture, about half way down the page.
Bingo....possibly the only picture of a Mk 1 out there on the web. Till today.
Thoughts though. I still think it looks part Haldane Orkney, especially the upright/MofA and especially one of the maiden adjustments. Lookie....
Mk 1 Ashford Traveller.
The top of the maiden turns and there is a screw adjustment system inside that tensions the drive band as it stretches with age. Utterly unlike the modern Ashford system of tilting the whole mother of all to tension the drive band.
So... when was the Orkney first produced? Around or after 1979-ish? Anyone know? And did Mr Haldane borrow a few design features from the Mk1, or was it the other way round? The Mk1 almost seems like a common parent, doesn't it? I wish Haldane hadn't gone all quiet about the history of their spinning wheels since they stopped making them.
I do like spinning wheels. All of them, though some I like better than others. I have preferences as to design, material, looks...I don't necessarily prefer old over new or any one material over another, but some spinning wheels just grab my interest and some are terribly ho-hum. I have to admit the two most common Ashfords, the Traditional and the Traveller, both leave me cold as to looks. I hate the flyer and mother of all position on both. Ugly. But they are both amazingly good wheels as to function, utterly reliable, easy to use, sturdy and have lots of accessories available. Good wheels and ones I recommend all the time. But I've never wanted one, oh no.
But a Mark 1 Traveller is a wee bit special. Different. And it hasn't got that offset mother of all either. I quite like this wheel. Also, I feel sad for it. It has a lot of rust, paint dribbled on it, it needs a good dust and oil and the footman connector is broken but you know what? I bodged up a footman connector last night, put some oil on the crucial points, put a string drive band on it and it spins like a dream. Judging by the dirt layers, the squeaks and the filthy, mouldering yarn I pulled off the bobbins no-one has spun on that wheel for the last twenty years or so but ...that wheel is a real old trouper, a class act. I tell you, it's possibly the only Ashford I've ever really wanted to own.
Got to give it back though. (It belongs to a friend who I'm trying to lure along to The Spinners.) Eventually. Once I've cleaned it up. And spun a bobbin or two on it. And taken it round to meet my other wheels. Might even take it to spinning group next week....