What a very surreal time we are having at the moment. Here in New Zealand we are all on lockdown except for essential services like grocery stores, pharmacies and medical centres. Non essential travel is frowned upon…even travelling 3kms to my studio to work with the door locked isn’t allowed.
So with all this time on my hands at home and unable to weave, I decided to do some spinning for the first time in over 20 years. I have a beautiful spinning wheel that originally belonged to my sister then my mum.
This wheel was hand made from Tasmanian Myrtle wood by D Cook in Richmond, Tasmania and my sister bought it in 1982. She kept it for about a year before giving it to our mum.
So we need to wind back a few years…my mother was a very, very good craftswomen. A very talented dressmaker, she made all our clothes, wedding dresses for people, perfectly tailored skirts for herself, and she was also a wonderful knitter. She never quite mastered crotchet though, I guess it just wasn’t her “thing”.
In the 1970’s a place called Cransley Craft Centre opened not far from where we lived.
My mum went there to learn to spin with lessons from a lovely lady called Eve, and over the years she spun wool and knitted for all of us four kids and dad, then later on for her grandchildren.
Her first wheel was a wee upright spinning wheel called a Thumbelina, but then my sister gave her the wheel I have today. It is a beautiful spinning wheel and has a lovely slow rhythm to it.
I was fortunate to be given the wheel after my mum died when I was in my early 20’s and, needing to brush up on the lessons mum had given me on spinning a few years earlier, I went to teacher Ailsa Trainor. (Ailsa was also a weaver but that is a story for another post).
So back to the present and the situation we are all finding ourselves in. How to pass the time?
I’m ashamed to say I had let the wheel get covered in dust and relegated to a corner in the spare room, but two days ago I got it out, dusted it, oiled it, put on a new drive band and spun half a bobbin of some hand dyed merino sliver I had lying around. I plied this with some random dyed silk that was the last thing I had spun on the wheel 20 odd years ago, and was still on the bobbin!
And this is the result. A little bit lumpy or as I like to say “a design feature”.
So maybe with a bit more practice I will achieve a nice even yarn and maybe even weave something from it eventually. I’ve already dyed up some merino sliver for my next attempt.
Written on the underside of the wheel is the word felicit which means in Latin great happiness or giving something that is pleasing. I think that’s a nice sentiment to have on my spinning wheel.
“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.”