Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Olympic Gold.

Well, here`s my GOLD medal.....

I have to say that Yarn Harlot`s Knitting Olympics event was an inspired idea. I`m sure I`m not the only person who learned something new about his/herself and his/her knitting. Thanks a lot, Stephanie.

(And as an aside, here`s the little button because I want to put it in my sidebar and I`ve got nowhere else to host it, lol!)

Monday, February 27, 2006

SkipNorth vs PluckyFluff.

As many of you are aware, I spent the weekend at Haworth attending the SkipNorth gathering. It was a great weekend, full of fibre talk and wine and fibre shopping and cake and knitting and...well, there was a lot of things going on. A LOT. I`m knackered. Totally. We never stopped except to sleep. Even when we were eating we were still talking. (Well, not quite...you`d be eating and someone else would be talking.)

There`s an overview of what we did on Alex`s Blog. She took much better pix than I did, especially of the SkipNorth cats. (In fact I took very few photos because I was too busy talking and shopping most of the time, so I`m going to shamelessly steal them from other folk as I go.) We...the Scottish contingent, that is...had a bit of an epic drive down on Friday morning which involved a fairly lengthy compulsory detour to avoid the roadwork closures, plus getting lost in what I think was Bradford a couple of times. Fortunately Alison was navigating, not me, so we did actually arrive mid afternoon. If it had been me navigating we would have been in Wales by now.

There were three workshops running, during the afternoon...making stitch markers, small felted flowers and bags and spindle spinning. I was naturally attracted to the spindle spinning first, because I`m mince with a spindle. I bought my first wheel two weeks after my first spindle because I wanted to produce more than half a yard of yarn per hour. So I thought it might be a good idea to go to the spindling workshop and learn to spindle properly.
As it turned out I did indeed learn a lot, but it wasn`t going to be about conventional spindling. Nope. The workshop was run by Nic, she of the notorious Mermaids Nipples fame. She had decided to teach us how to spin alternative yarn.

Naturally I got too excited to take any pictures of anyone elses efforts but this is what I made.....

This was made by (I hope I got this right, Nic!) wrapping a cotton core yarn with contrasting commercial roving and every so often adding embelishments such as Angelina fibres, lurex fibres, silk nubbins, short lengths of interesting commercial yarns, feathers, sequins and beads strung on a thread etc etc and catching them between the cotton core thread and the wrapping fibre as we spun. This was quite a tricksy little operation requiring the usual three hands when learning to spin, but at least with using the cotton core we weren`t dropping the spindles every five seconds. I did go for the interesting novelty effect of adding my hair to the wrapping fibre a couple of times and had to be cut free at least once, but apart from that it was huge fun and I`m deeply proud of my first effort.

Ain`t it something? (I`m not sure what exactly, but whatever it is, I like it.)

And as modelled by my glamorous female assistant....

Pluckyfluff, eat your heart out. (Though I promise I`m going to order your book.)

Knitting Olympics update...finish line!

I finished my Olympic Jaywalkers on time, yeah!!!

As predicted, I had to finish them at Skip North and I did indeed have to kitchener the second toe in public (apologies to all there for the faint snarlings if anyone talked to me during this activity). However it does mean that I had seventeen reliable knitting witnesses to the fact that I did indeed finish nearly 48 hours ahead of the Olympic flame being extinguished. I didn`t take a picture though as the light in the lounge of the Haworth Youth Hostel rivalled that of the gas lamps it must have originally had. And of course no access to this blog to post a picture anyway.

I must say I`m quite chuffed with this pair of socks. They are definately identical twins, not fraternals, though I`m not sure if the picture shows this fact to best advantage. Take my word for it though...they match. Or rather, the stripes match. The mistakes (I think I must have knitted enough to make three Jaywalkers to allow for all the frogging) don`t match. They are unique mistakes in each sock. You have to look pretty closely to spot them though!

I learned a lot from knitting them, not least of which was the lesson "If you don`t keep on picking the knitting up and actually adding a few rows, they ain`t going to get finished". Interesting concept that. One which I haven`t fully taken on board before now and I`ve been knitting for....um....30-40 years.

I don`t know if I`ll ever wear them though. They fit, but my fat little legs are not something I want to draw attention to! I could frame them and hang them on the wall?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Knitting Olympics update...#5.

Pride comes before a fall, as they say.....and I did say I was confident that I would finish on time, didn`t I? Well, you should have seen me last night trying to get round the heel of Jaywalker#2. I dropped stitches, I got the pattern wrong (how in the Lord`s name can you get a pattern of K1 Sl1 wrong????) and I kept making mistake after mistake after mistake. Stupidly I kept trying to fix these, even though it was almost 1am by then. Didn`t work. I had to tink the whole lot back this morning.

And this afternoon I tried again and it all worked just fine. Of course it did.

I`ve got forty-five rows of pretty straightforwards pattern plus the toe shaping and the dreaded kitchenering to do. And a four hour car journey tomorow morning. Twenty rows per hour will leave enough time for lunch, surely?


(I`ll let you know if I finished on Sunday night. I`m off to Skip North for the next three days. Everything is packed, the fridge is full, the laundry done and the kids are really looking forwards to their father looking after them for the whole weekend. Except for the cooking, of course, which is worrying them quite a lot, lol! )

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Knitting Olympics update...#4.

Elapsed time is 73.65% as I write this, so just as well I`m about half way through Jaywaker #2.

I`ll finish it in time, I know I will, especially as I`ll have four hours of knitting time in the car on Friday morning. I`m reasonably pleased about how they`re coming out as well. The colours in the pix above are far closer to how they are in real life than the previous update pictures, btw. I took the above picture with some daylight in addition to my normal lighting, I used a more neutral background and, finally, I stopped being lazy and took a white balance reading first to normalise the colours. Much better!

I`ve been thinking about the Knitting Olympics. Now I don`t really know just what Yarn Harlot was thinking about when she originally floated the idea, but the rules said it was to be a personal challenge. Initially when I chose the Jaywalkers as my Olympic piece I was more thinking of the challenge of the pattern, given that I`m still pretty new to sock kniting and dpns. However as I progressed through Gauge Hell and Pattern Error Gully, I discovered that it wasn`t going to be so much the pattern that was the challenge, but keeping going with the knitting.

I like to knit when the kids are in bed and when there`s someting to watch on the TV. Peaceful chill-out time. Trouble with this is that peaceful chill-out time is in pretty short supply in this house, and even when it does appear it`s often so late I just want to go to bed. So I`ve been having to knit at other times, which I normally don`t much like doing. Knitting for me is a destressing activity, not a stressful one.

Having said that knitting outside the perfect zone hasn`t been that bad, and the rewards for that have been that yes, your knitting grows faster and yes, knitting does destress you even when you`re stressed when you pick up the pins. You get a sense of achievement as to having managed half a dozen rows rather than feeling stressed because you don`t have enough time to do anything, let alone knit. I don`t usually knit to deadlines because time pressure is a big stress factor for me, but I`m finding that a little stress is good for your knitting. So thanks, Harlot.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Stashbusting #2.

I felt so good about yesterdays stash tidying efforts that I felt inspired to do more of the same today but to the fibre stash this time. When I first started spinning I bought fibre like there was no tomorrow, and as a result I`m not absolutely sure what I have now, let alone where it all is. So it was a bit of a voyage of discovery for me, raking through the fibre bins!

Also I wanted to see what I had in stock, because one of the places I am looking forwards to visiting most this weekend is Wingham Wool Work, biggest specialist suppliers of fibre to handspinners in the UK. (So they say.) A great chance to top up the fibre stash with all sorts of yummy things.

Let me say now I do not need alpaca, silk threads or silk noils. I got really into spinning alpaca last year, just about the time The Alpaca Spinner first launched on Ebay and I was lucky enough to get some of her baby alpaca fleece before she got famous and expensive. Quite a lot of it, in fact....gorgeous stuff, very fine and...well, suffice to say I don`t need more alpaca at present. Also I cleared out The Natural Dye Studio of hand dyed silk threads and noils in their end of season sale last year. They had hand-dyed mulberry silk as well, but I don`t feel I`ve got too much of that, oh no....

I`ve got plenty of raw fleece up in the attic...in fact I`ve been working my way through it all sorting and washing it all because though we don`t have moths at present, I don`t want them in the future either and I read somewhere that moths prefer dirty fleece to clean. But most of my fleece is pretty pedestrian stuff and I see Winghams has a lot of unusual sheep breed fibre for sale, so I`m going to get a few bags of this and that just to try. Also I need black mohair to card with the last of my Ouessant fleece to make extra hard wearing yarn for the heels and toes of the Ouessant socks I intend to knit.

What else? Winghams have lots of dyed roving and silk, so I might be tempted to some of that. I want a couple of spare bobbins for the Mazurka before the old version ones become unobtainable. I`d like some half-sized handcarders for silk work. And....

Ah. Yes, the title of this post was indeed "Stashbusting #2". Did I clear any fibre out today? Ummm...no. But what I did find out was that I didn`t have as much as I thought, and what I did have was a bit unbalanced as to type. So as I sorted I was writing a shopping list, and that, I hope, will save me money on impulse buys. Maybe.


(And if you belive that, you`ll belive anything. Roll on Winghams!)

Monday, February 20, 2006


There comes a time in every fibre addict`s life that she has to do a little sorting and tidying of the stash and equipment. Especially if-

(1) Fibre addict has bought two more spinning wheels in the last two months, thus bringing the total number of wheels in the house to four. (One less than the number of computers, but that`s another story.)

(2) A point has been reached where there is literally no room left in the designated stash storage areas for more stash.

(3) A major Stash Enhancement eXercise (S.E.X.) is scheduled for this weekend, at SkipNorth. Both availible space and finances need to be enhanced before this happens.

So....I`ve been tidying up. This is not a popular way for me to spend a day but it was made almost bearable by the fact that it was fibre related. I started by sorting out the yarn stash. I don`t know about anyone else but I have strata upon strata of stash yarn and right down at the bottom is the layer of odd balls, bad buys, yarn I bought because it was cheap in the sales etc etc. Yarn I know in my heart of hearts that I`ll never use. Out it all came and I sorted it into batches, took some photographs and bagged it up. I`m going to Ebay it. It`s not worth lots on a bag by bag basis but cumulatively it should yield a modest sum for the yarn fund. First though I`ve sent an email to my knitting partner and enabler Gourdongirl to see if she wants a ferret through the pile. (Come on, Shona... can`t you smell the free yarn???????)

I was actually appalled as to how much there was of this unwanted stuff. It fills two of these big blue Ikea bags.

I did gain a lot of space by doing this big a clear out though. I managed to empty a whole stash chest in the "studio" area and make a parking area for the spinning wheels.

Studio? Well, not really. I wish! I keep most of my books and equipment on shelves along one wall of my bedroom. With two kids and a floating population of their friends running around the house, it`s best to keep this sort of stuff out the way. So every morning I open my eyes to this area.

No, I haven`t tidied it up, sorry! Too much tidying up in one day is bad for you. And no, that`s not where all the stash is stored. Most of the fibre for spinning lives up in the attic apart from current use stuff and precious fibres. These live in the pull out drawer and two baskets on the left hand set of shelves. Current and precious yarns live in the two baskets and pull out drawer on the right. There is a tower of plastic lidded bins off to the left for batts, handspun and such, and a big chest of drawers out in the hall for the rest of my yarns. Books, spinning and knitting magazines and patterns live on the upper shelves above the work area, and other miscellaneous bits and pieces in boxes on the shelves above that. There is a desk area with lighting but most of the time my drum carder and scales live there. So though it all may look pretty chaotic, it`s organised chaos.

I`d really like a room of my own as a workshop. I used to have a room just for sewing when I lived in my mother`s big house and it was great. It`s not going to happen here until one of the kids leaves home though and I`m in no hurry to reach that day.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Shrunken Heads.

I must just show you what else I`ve been doing....

Yes, this is needle felting. I`m quite proud of it because this is the first and so far only thing I have ever needle felted. I`ve seen the books, I`ve seen other folk`s work and I even went so far as to buy three felting needles once upon a time, but up until a month ago I had never actually done any needlefelting.

I didn`t post about it at the time (too busy) but a month ago I joined the Edinburgh Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. I`ve been a member of the Haddington Spinners in East Lothian for a year, but though I live almost exactly on the border between East Lothian and Edinburgh, it`s far easier to go to Haddington than plough through the city to the Edinburgh Guild. But last month I joined, went to the first monthly meeting armed with the Mazurka and a sack of carded Ouessant fleece..........and ended up needlefelting this head. The Guild Open Day is in May, and they had decided to make a felted banner for the event as a Guild project. Everyone made a head, supposedly a self portrait, lol!
All I can say to this is that there must be a heck of a lot of closet punks and Goths in the Edinburgh Guild, disguised as respectable citizenesses of Morningside etc. Even I, after I had faithfully added the greying locks (Wensleydale) and the white streak I have down the front, succumbed to some great blue and green dreadlocks. And I`m sure the face will look just like me when I finish putting glasses on it!

Knitting Olympics update...#3.

According to the timeclock on Yarn Harlot`s blog, Olympic Elapsed Time stands at 51.1%. Which means that though I have completed the first Jaywalker of my pair, I am slightly behind schedule.

Oh, okay, sharp eyes and pedantic minds will spot that it isn`t totally 100% finished because I haven`t kitchenered up the toe. It`s nearly 11.30pm and I`ve had a long busy day, alright? Kitchener stitch requires some concentration on my part. I think I`ll save hours by leaving this till tomorrow morning.....don`t you?

In the meantime, Jaywalker #2 awaits. I`m hoping to get it finished (or nearly finished) by Thursday night, and not to have to be kitchenering it up in public at SkipNorth. I keep reminding myself that though I may be the slowest knitter on the planet, the whole point of this is that it`s supposed to be a personal challenge. I`m also reminding myself that I know the pattern now, that I ain`t going to have to frog the leg section of this sock and that....oh well, I`m sure I`m going to get it done. I think.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Knitting Olympics update...#2.

I was originally going to knit each Jaywalker sock section by section, working back and forwards in turn between the two, but it`s not worked out like that. For one thing, I only have one of the very handy stitch marker/row tally gadget you can see in the picture, and also the pattern has really caught my interest and I want to see what a complete sock looks like up close! Great pattern, lots of little details and crystal clear, which is a refreshing change from some patterns I could mention. (Are you listening, Regia????)

Anyway, I`ve turned the heel on Sock1 and am six rows into the instep.

Not bad progress for me, the Queen of Sloth Knitting, but still not quite fast enough for me to be finished comfortably by the middle of next week so I can go to SkipNorth and relax doing something else. I`m telling myself I had to frog and reknit four inches of leg section, that I had gauge problems and I was still learning the pattern so I should be getting faster, no?

Hopefully. Watch this space!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Knitting Olympics update...#1

I`ve been making progress on my Olympic Jaywalkers, but...I`m definately the slowest knitter around. Most folk I know would have knitted at least one sock by now! Plus I had tension (gauge for the furriners) problems. The leg of the sock was coming out too wide, even for me. I needed smaller sock needles and could I find them? 2.25 mm metal dpns are pretty uncommon here, apart from by mail order, and I loathe bamboo dpns. Finally I headed for one of my favourite "auld lady" charity shops clutching a needle gauge and found not one but three complete sets of vintage Imperial size 13s, which is near enough 2.25 mm as necessary.

I`ve got fat little legs, so the cast on was on 3.25mm straight pins, the rib on 2.5mm dpns and the rest will be on Imperial size 13s. The Dr Fish Opal is working well with the Jaywalker pattern so far though.

Half term holidays.

The kids have three days off from nursery/school so all normal routines are suspended. I quite like school holidays because you have whole days that you can go somewhere or do something nice, and go out as a family. Unfortunately Hubby is on a semester system so a lot of his holidays don`t match up with the school ones, but the kids and I have a couple of treats planned. Tomorrow we will either go to the zoo or to the cinema to see Chicken Little. I prefer the zoo myself because the kids get fresh air, exercise and tired at night, but we`ve got passes for both so I expect I can cope with Chicken Little if the weather is bad. No knitting though, as Mairi often ends up on my lap during the "scarey" bits. In Chicken Little?

On Wednesday we are taking Granny to Jimmy Chungs Chinese Banquet, a child friendly eat-all-you-want restaurant with a very fine buffet. This has totally taken over from MacDonalds as No1 family eaterie, at least for this family. Not only is the food of decent nutritional content, with lots of salads and non grease laden food, the kids also have to use knives and forks, sit on their bums and behave a bit. I much prefer this to the hysterical grease-laden atmosphere of MacDonalds, the kids love the Chinese food and they get a balloon so we go to J.Chungs. It`s big, bustling and popular with office workers, groups of giggling teenagers, families and even posh ladies in frocks, so the odd loud noise from a couple of kids squabbling over a chicken ball is totally undetectable. And as a real bonus it costs almost the same as going to MacDonalds, and I get coffee cake for dessert.

Maybe. The New Year diet started ...*ahem* ...Feburary. Two weeks down and eight pounds gone. I`m not telling you how much more there is to lose, but belive me, I may be talking about diets for quite a while! I lost 30lbs a couple of years ago on the Rosemary Conley low fat diet and exercise plan but put it all back on again and then some when SIL got ill and the depression I`d been holding at bay for a while finally got too much. The anti-depressant pills the doc gave me certainly helped me feel less depressed, but they also made me feel slow and sluggish and I was definately running at half-speed for quite a while. The weight just rolled back on. But I`ve been completely clear of the pills since last November and I`m definately feeling a lot better in body and mind, so now`s the time to take some positive action.

I read this very illuminating article in a magazine around New Year, where the punch line was "How many overweight old people do you see on the street?" By which they meant 70+ years old, not 60. And you know what? I see lots of skinny stringy old men and women out there, easily seventy or eighty and still very mobile. But fat ones? Nope. So presumably the fat ones are either dead or housebound with health problems. Made me think. I`ve got a four year old daughter and I`m 47, so.....I don`t like being this fat, I`m not getting any younger and I`d like to be still here and fit enough to see her grow up, so have to get rid of some weight now.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Rotational Theory.

I have this theory that nothing in this universe really gets destroyed, it just changes places every so often using gates that shift objects through the space-time continuem. Sometimes the gates get busy and clogged up, so transient objects get parked in a sort of holding bay, or bays.

These bays are known as charity shops, car-boot sales and jumble sales. Yes, every object in the universe has at one time or other done a spell in one of the above. Antique Chinese vases, Old Masters, your Gran`s silk stockings....every last one of them has been there. Of course they seldom get bought, because the warp gate moves them on pretty quickly, but every so often a sharp eyed jumble sale fanatic catches a glimpse of a rare Faberge egg or similar on a distant table, only to find it gone by the time they reach the spot.

However this theory also means that if you`re a fanatical attendee of charity shops, jumble sales and carboots, sooner or later you`ll find one of about everything you ever wanted. IF...and this is a big IF...you look hard enough. It may take several lifetimes, of course. But sometimes it works out.

Take for instance my theory that if I looked hard enough I would find a spinning wheel in a charity shop, jumble sale or carboot sale.

Oh yea of little faith...am I not one of the true belivers? I never, NEVER go past a charity shop without at least a peer through the window. But even I nearly missed this. They had it in the window sure enough, but it was being used as a sort of display unit, with clothes draped over it. I was on my way out when I saw it and it was a real "Oh WOW!", moment, belive me.

Anyway, enough of this bilge. Do you recognise the wheel? I`ll give you a clue...it has an Ashford stamp. Yes, it`s an older single treadle Ashford Country spinner.

You just have to see this flyer unit. It`s bigger than my head.

Don`t you belive me? Look at this.

Right hand side is the Ashford Country bobbin, centre is the standard Louet bobbin and left side is a bobbin from my Mazurka. This last one is probably nearest to a standard capacity bobbin. How much can you squeeze onto a standard bobbin? Two ounces? Three? The Country one holds over two pounds of yarn.

And if that isn`t enough to convince you that this is the Big Boy of spinning wheels, look at this orifice. It`s 7/8ths of an inch across. I can put my thumb up it.

Other technical details? It has a bobbin-led drive, thus Irish tension. Don`t be fooled by what looks like a Scotch tension spring and wire system in the last pix. I was for a while, then realised it brakes the flyer by running over a groove near the orifice. The newer double treadle model has a leather strap system similar to the Louet but this version works just fine.

So....I needed a fourth wheel like I need a hole in the head, but there it was. Begging me to take it away from an ignomineous end as a shop display unit. What could I say? I have my Louet and goodness knows he can spin chunky yarns, but this beast was something else. So I bought it.

(What am I going to spin on it? Well, I have a supply of Welsh Mountain fleece...lovely thick springy stuff, perfect for carpets. And what does a Country spinner spin best? Thick chunky singles for rug making or weaving.

Back to the loom, methinks.)

Friday, February 10, 2006


Well, I`m ready. Hubby is out, Duncan is going for a sleepover, Mairi will be in bed come 7pm. I`ve got yarn, pattern, needles and an assortment of stitch markers. Must admit I`ve done no training whatsoever though! Swatch? How wrong can you go tension wise on a pair of socks? (We may return to this comment, yup...) If they don`t fit me, they`ll fit someone.

What am I making? Jaywalkers. I must be the only knitter in cyberspace that hasn`t made a pair so it`s about time I did. I decided to use Dr Fish Opal, eventually.

Here`s the kit, ready and waiting to go....

Why the multiplicity of needles? Well, I like to cast on with straights a couple of sizes larger than the dpns I`ll be using...gives a nice loose edge. Two sets of dpns, yup, because my plan (cunning or otherwise) is to knit both socks not quite simultaneously...first one down to the heel, then the other, then one heel etc etc. This is because I`ll be at SkipNorth during the last couple of days of the Olympics and I feel I`ll be able to cope more easily with frantic last minute knitting in public when I`m past the heels. Maybe. Actually I`m hoping to get them done before I go, and perhaps just keep a few rows and the toe grafting for the final ceremony.

Oh yeah, I divided the ball of Opal exactly into two with the help of my digital scales, then compared the two ends so I could be sure of starting at the same stripe for each sock. (Yes, I`m getting anal in my old age, I admit!) Scarily the ends if the two balls matched almost exactly straight from the ballwinder. I doubt if that will ever happen again in my lifetime!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Blogging and warping the space-time continuem.

See this blogging thing? It`s fun, it`s addictive...but it takes time. As Hubby says, you`ve got to be doing something to be able to blog about it, but sometimes you`re so busy doing it that the blogging just doesn`t happen.

And I`ve been BUSY. Did I tell you about the Edinburgh Spinning Guild, the felting workshop, the fourth spinning wheel I nearly bought, frogging the bloomin` Rowan Rainbow jacket and the six balls of Opal I`ve bought so I could have a choice of yarns for my Olympic Jaywalkers? No, I have not. Why not?

I`ve been digging, that`s why. Decent weather (translate that as not raining, a rare event in this corner of Scotland) means all hands to the allotment.

But I`ve been taking pix, and as soon as it starts to rain again I`ll be here posting them. In the meanwhile every morning spent on the allotment digging frog ponds means a mornings worth of other chores undone. Like sorting nine loads of laundry before I go to bed!

Night all.......

Thursday, February 02, 2006

My Old Man Louet S10.

This is Pt2 of a three part series ...working title is "Val`s Wheels". I`m not saying there won`t be a fourth part, but so far, it`s a trilogy. I`ve only got three spinning wheels, alas.

He`s definately a he, btw...Louie the Louet. I didn`t know wheels were supposed to be female! And he should have been Pt1 because he was my first wheel, the wheel I learned to spin on and definately my favourite. Even if that Mazurka did come and lure me away for a while with her pretty little spokes.

I bought Louie off Ebay two or three weeks after I first discovered that I needed to learn to spin at the Haddington Group Open Day in March last year. I went home from that with a spindle and fibre, taught myself to spindle very badly and realised I needed a wheel at once. The only wheel I had tried before then was the Ashford Traveller and initially I was looking for a second hand one of these because a new one was going to be a bit over my budget. Second hand made sense because I felt I could always resell it and not make a loss if I didn`t take to spinning. Hubby thought this was sensible too. Little did he know what was going to happen over the next year.....

I did a bit of reading about wheels...bobbin led, Scotch tension, double drive...all double Dutch to me at first! And I stalked a few wheels on Ebay, but they all seemed to be expensive for second-hand. Then I saw Louie and stalked him, and won.

He was a bargain..he was about £85 including postage if I remember correctly. He had the optional skein winder, six bobbins (three of them not Louet ones but good for storage) and some weaving equipment with it which I promptly put into the attic and forgot about till this moment. He was in perfect working order too...so why was he so cheap?

Well, it could be because Louie isn`t just any old wheel. He`s been customised. His first owner must have loved him very much, because she obviously spent a lot of time giving him a unique hand-painted finish. The only trouble is, she wasn`t that good at painting.

Judge for yourself...front view, with date. He might be older than this of course because the Louet S10 was first made in 1974.

Flyer and bobbin view. This is the original flyer that you can now buy as the chunky/bulky flier. Modern S10s have a slightly lighter flyer, in keeping with the current trend for spinning finer yarns than in the 70`s.

I trust you noticed the huge orifice? I can stick my smallest finger through that orifice. Who needs an orifice hook? And of course it`s ideal for spinning chunky designer yarns.
I hope you also noticed the double-ended early Louet bobbin. Huge, isn`t it? The modern bobbin is just as huge but has a sheaf of three ratios on the end. Louets have Irish tension..ie they`re bobbin led. The drive band loops over the whorl and drives the bobbin and the necessary speed differential between the bobbin and the flyer is provided by braking the flyer, using the leather brake band at the bottom of the flier. Bobbin-led wheels have a very strong take-up because of this, btw, but it can be regulated by loosening the brake band off ...you can even remove it completely for very fine spinning. The flyer is heavy enough to provide a bit of a brake by itself.

Finally I hope you noticed in that picture why it is not a good idea to give bobbins a fancy finish that will wear off.....

Okay, frontal view.

As I said above...loving hands at home look, isn`t it? I think it must have put a lot of folk off bidding...I nearly was, but then I thought he would be worth buying as a practice wheel. But you know something? The "artwork" has grown on me. It has character. The kids loved it the minute they saw it. There`s no way I`m going to change it now. When a man is "ugly" by conventional standards this isn`t a good reason not to appreciate his finer qualities and love him for who and what he is, is it? Same for wheels. I love my Louie. He`s tough and spins great chunky, can survive the attentions of thirty small children all wanting to play with him, you can spin for hours on him without getting tired and he`s got a huge bobbin capacity. Yet he`ll even spin laceweight if you talk to him sweetly enough. And of course he`s very low maintenence. My favourite wheel.

And finally, the icing on the cake...a matching skeinwinder!

He`s just one of a kind.