Tag Archives: wool spinning wheels

Fiber and Family Trip

Our trip to Colorado and Wyoming was full of fiber and family which is perfect in my mind. This is the trip that Steve masterminded after I told him last fall that I don’t need more “things” for gifts. I have more than enough stuff and would prefer experiences.

He got on the ball by looking in one of my Spin Off magazines and at Christmas proposed that we take a trip to Colorado and Wyoming as my gifts for 2016. The timing was centered around Interweave’s Yarn Fest in Loveland CO and our children joined us for parts of the trip.

The day he and I arrived we went first to Boulder so that I could visit Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins. I have always wanted to go there because it is run by Maggie Casey who is well known through her workshops and DVDs, and her partner. I knew it would have many spinning and weaving items as well as yarn and I wasn’t disappointed. After browsing extensively and finding a few treasures to take home I walked deeper into the second room, turned a corner and stopped with a small gasp when I saw:

wheels in boulder

Spinning wheels for classes at Shuttles Spindles & Skeins

These wheels are used for teaching in a huge classroom. I was among my own people. 🙂

The next day I took a day long class on Fiber Prep with Esther Rogers, another well know spinning teacher. I enjoy Fiber Prep as much as and maybe a tiny bit more than spinning. I knew that she would give tips on creative out of the box ways to use fiber prep tools and I wasn’t disappointed. I learned different ways to use the drum carder and blending board to create unique fibers to spin. One fun thing she did was to literally cram as much diverse fiber onto one little drum carder with long teeth as she could to produce art rolags. Art means the rolags will have many textures from different fibers and will be colorful. The yarn spun from them will have those characteristics too. It won’t be a smooth predictable yarn.

esther's art batt

Filling the drum carder super full









art rolags CO

Art rolags by Esther Rogers








One night we had dinner with cousins from Denver. We were able to meet my cousin’s young grandson for the first time and figured he would be my third cousin but our sons first cousin once removed following genealogy terms. All we will probably retain is that he’s a cousin. A very nice cousin.

Then on to Laramie Wyoming to visit another cousin (first 🙂 ) I was so lucky to be able to visit her in part because we share some family heirlooms. Our Burnham grandmother was a Nebraska farm wife during the depression and was a very talented quilter. We did not know her as she died in 1944.  Here is Dell’s quilt:dell's quilt


Here is my quilt:

my quilt

My quilt from my grandmother Burnham. The lighting isn’t so good.

I took individual pictures of many of the squares on Dell’s so I can find the common fabrics. Here is one of hers:

quilt square

Quilt square from Dell’s quilt

Here is one of mine with the same flower material. Mine is more faded.

rose pattern like dells


She also gave me a bowl that had belonged to our grandmother. It says Western Stoneware Co. on the bottom and is quite heavy. I couldn’t resist getting some of my sourdough starter going in it the very day we returned home.

Nebraska bowl with sourdough

Grandmother Burnham’s bowl with my sourdough starter

Then, just to show how bizarre life can be, Dell took us to this monument:

ames monument

Ames monument Laramie WY

Steve had told her that the shovels used to dig the original railroad were made in our town at the Ames Shovel Factory which is now condos. She said there was a monument to the 2 Ames brothers who we knew in addition to providing shovels were also in charge of completing the intercontinental railroad at the behest of President Lincoln. We had no idea the monument existed. Several town buildings including the high school and library  in our town were named for the Ames family and their historic homes are now parks and we know their history well. So, we found ourselves sort of in the middle of nowhere (I say that fondly) looking at a picture of North Easton MA containing a building we recognized. ames plaque WY

C me Dell WY

My son Christopher, myself, and my cousin at Ames Monument in WY

At the end I was ready to get back to my cat and chickens. I missed seeing their little faces every day even though I knew they were being thoroughly spoiled by a neighbor.

We were blessed with a wonderful trip.




















Bringing Out Old Friends

We’ve had a few moves in the past few years and some of our things stayed behind. Everything is with us now. My Ashford Joy wheel and my fiber processing tools were at my side every step of the way.


joy wheel and tools

Ashford Joy spinning wheel and fiber processing tools

As was my spinning partner. Is she trying to correct my technique?

cat spinning

Friends don’t let friends spin alone. Apparently.

Now I am renewing my acquaintance with my first wheel, a Country Craftsman. The Joy is much easier to transport when spinning with friends and I was having some trouble with the drive band falling off the Craftsman as I spun so it hasn’t done much for a number of years except look pretty and sometimes be a prop when I took  pictures of my yarn and knitted items.


My first spinning wheel

There is a funny story connected with the Craftsman. Years ago one of my son’s girl friends told me she had a dream that he had a party at our place and that some friends were making the wheel spin. She went over and made them stop and told them that was the most important thing in this house! She sure had my number! (Besides of course the living and breathing things and the pictures of my children as babies and toddlers.)

But today I decided to try it again and if I had problems that would be hard to fix I would, well, do something else so it wouldn’t take up space in this small house. My test was to see if I could spin ten minutes without a problem and it spun like a breeze. Maybe it healed during its long rest.

There are many differences between the Joy and the Craftsman besides ease of transport. Although I didn’t know any of this when I bought each I now know that the Craftsman can spin faster because of its construction. When I was taught to spin years ago I was taught to create different yarns by how I used my hands and feet rather some of the more technical methods that people with technical minds, and I am not in that category for sure, can now apply to get yarns with certain attributes. So I have studied the technical ideas just to understand them simply because I want to know everything about spinning even if I don’t use it. I do pay attention to ratio but that is for another time. The rest, for example twist angle of the yarn-I won’t explain it because my eyes are glazing over even as I only type it much less try to use it- is knowledge but doesn’t enter in to the ways I use to create the yarns I want. Different strokes for different folks.

Now I look forward to doing more “production” spinning-getting more yarn more quickly- on the Craftsman as it has larger bobbins and can spin faster and thus make yarn faster. I don’t usually think much about speed since I am usually too busy enjoying the leisurely process but I may try out speed for fun. When I am alone and not distracted by other talk around me. I will mean business! 🙂


Mrs. Mc’s wool winder


I have a few other truly antique wooden friends I have been using right along. Several years ago while on PEI I bought a smaller old wool winder that I use all the time for the purpose for which it was made. I love the big old nails, and in one spot I can faintly see the penciled name  Mrs. Mary Mc (I can’t read the rest of her name) which makes it even more fun to use. It is very rustic and may have been made by Mr. Mc…I also have a large clock wheel wool winder given to me years ago by a friend which now is mostly another nice prop for my yarns and project bags.


Everything has multi purposes.


toy wheel with rolag

Toy spinning wheel with rolag

Of course I also have this wheel:





rigid heddle loom

Rigid heddle loom


New friends too.




Human friends and family, pet friends, perennial flower friends, spinning wheel friends- they all bring warmth to our lives and we can never have too many. Except maybe too many pets at one time!