Wheel on fire

8:43 AM

On Saturday, I took myself on a little adventure to Windsor, ME for the Maine Fiber Frolic. The Beloved refused to accompany me, saying he preferred to spend drizzly Saturdays with our cats rather than with strange llamas. To each his own.

Getting to Windsor involves a two-hour drive. It's sort of near Augusta--which is Maine's capitol, but not much else. It's very rural out there. Beautiful, but rural. Everyone who might have gone along for fun had plans (Can you believe it?) and so I was left by my lonesome. In all honesty, it seemed silly to make the trip. Four hours in the car? With gas up around $3.00/gallon? Folly! But I wanted something to spin, and, well, what else was I going to do on a Saturday with sketchy weather? Clean my house? Bah!

By the time I got up there (around 11:30), I realized that my promise to The Beloved that I'd call when I arrived was said without much forethought. I was so far out of circulation that my mobile phone laughed at me when I looked for a signal. So I paid my entrance fee and proceeded to check stuff out.

There were tents and sheep and spinners and shoppers. Fortunately, it wasn't raining in Windsor--but it was gray and cold. So, I did a tour of the grounds and checked out everything once, remembering the advice Laura gave me on Friday--"If you find a reasonably priced used spinning wheel you should buy it." Naturally, I told The Beloved before I left (while putting my checkbook in my bag) that I wasn't planning on buying a wheel, but one never knows what one may find....

For example, I found this lady, with lots of yarn on her head. Someone commented, "Only at a fiber fair." I'm actually thinking more along the lines of, "Only in Maine," but that's because I hail from south of the border.

I did see lots of wheels. Some used. Not many "reasonably" priced. Well, they may have been reasonably priced to someone with a clue. My thought was, there's no way I'm spending scads of money on something I'm not even sure I can use. There is, after all, Chicago to consider (20 days till we leave!). So I walked around, and looked, and tentatively touched a couple of wheels (but God forbid did not spin on them) until I found the used equipment marketplace. Uh-oh.

There I saw a wheel that met all of my criteria. It was used. It was reasonably priced (but at the very upper end of what I could possibly spend). And it appeared to work. Well, for someone who knew what in the hell they were doing, it would probably work. It was an Ashford Traditional--a brand and model I could identify and knew to be a rather standard first wheel. I looked at it. I treadled tentatively. And then I went to lunch.

After lunch, I went back to the used equipment marketplace reminding myself of all the reasons I should not buy a wheel. Spa day, anyone? Lo and behold, the wheel was still there. But there was another one there as well--one that hadn't been there before lunch. Same model. Dusty, but otherwise looked like new. And $100 less than the other one. Naturally, I wanted to know what was wrong with it. Turns out, it had been purchased in the late 80s or early 90s for someones grandmother who died shortly after receiving it. After that, it had never been used. The marketplace guru thought that it could probably use a new drive band and some oil, but that it should function just fine. Then she suggested I try it out. Gulp. I told her I was a brand-new, very beginning spinner and that perhaps it wasn't a very good idea that I try it out. She told me to sit in the chair and spin something. So, I did. Well, sort of. It wasn't anything that you'd show to another person or use ever. But I could make the wheel go 'round and draft at the same time which did result in a yarn-like substance.

Naturally, I bought the wheel. And then I bought fiber. Some lovely soft turquoise 50/50 wool/mohair blend from Friend's Folly Farm. (They were in the process of selling a goat when I got there. The one left behind was very sad and made the most pitiful sounds ever.) I also picked up a couple of small batts from Spunky Eclectic--one is yellow and blue and fuchsia; the other is in pinks and oranges. I'll show them off as I spin them up.

Because I have been spinning. There has been minimal knitting happening since the acquisition of the wheel. I've basically given up on the Christening Shawl being finished in time for the Christening. But look! This is my very first bobbin!

The fiber is still from that bag of NZ Sliver, which is, in fact, getting smaller. I may have to buy more. And this, my friends, is the yarn I plied last night. On the wheel and everything.

What you see before you is about 45 yards at 9 WPI. Naturally, consistency varies, though it was much better toward the end. I actually feel as though I could knit something with this, which is a nice feeling. Also a nice feeling--when looking at some of the spun samples different vendors had out with their fiber I realized something: my handspun produced on the spindle was just as good and sometimes even better than some of the sample offerings. I'm not going to let this go to my head for my spindling is by no means perfect, but I am actually producing some respectable-looking yarn, all things considered, which means I should probably lay off of the self-deprecation for a little while. And maybe even knit something out of the small stash I'm creating.

Knitting pictures in next post. None of the knitting is done with my handspun--but I've got a bit of lace that looks like cheesecloth in its in-process-unblocked state and a nearly completed sock--my first "adult sized" one! Yippee!

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