Saturday, August 19, 2006

Spinning extravaganza

Was it the fact that I had seen this in a castle just days before that led me to buy one (maybe two) spinning wheel in Germany?
No, I lack self control in any environment. The truth is, I had been wanting a spinning wheel for some time. I wanted one of the beautiful old-fashion Kromskis. (On some level, I still do, actually, but that's not going to happen unless 1. I get a much bigger place, 2. I have a lot more money and 3. I get really good at spinning.)
I was all set to come home with a duffel bag full of German yarn (like I did last time) and rejoice in that. I would have been happy. Estatic, even. But then, driving through the small Bavarian town of Tirschenreuth, I saw several spinning wheel in a shop window. I had to go look at least.
The store appeared to be closed, but there was a sign in the window with a phone number. I tried calling, but it was aparently the wrong number. I asked at the little pub across the street. They called the number too, but it was still wrong. Then, a guy came into the pub that lived or worked in the same building as the store, and he managed to help me out. (Bear in mind, this all took place in German. My command of the German language is feeble at best.) He let us into the shop, and told us to wait while he called the owner.
There were only a few wheels, but I was amazed. There were several toy model that people who like to put that sort of thing in their houses would love. But there were also several that would clearly work. There was also one of the giant star-shaped wheels that I had only ever seen in photos of Ghandi spinning.
Well, I knew I was buying one. The price was really quite good, much cheaper than the other ones I liked.
When the owner, Herr Schmidt, arrived, he was an ancient little old man. He was missing his fingers on his right hand, and shook our hands with his left (with no embarrassment or apology, good for him). He had hand-made almost every piece in the store, including the spinning wheel I was going to buy. That cemented my decision more than ever. How could you pass up a spinning wheel hand made by a cute little old man in Bavaria? He was thrilled that I was actually going to spin with it, and kept giving me little wooden animals as extras.
As my dad went and got the car, I sat and eyed another wheel, the Ghandi one. My mother and the owner conversed through me, both assuming I spoke fluent German (I don't. In simple situations, I'm maybe 60%, but that didn't stop either of them). He had lived in that town over 50 years, and this beautiful Ghandi wheel had come with him. It was probably over 100 years old. It was only 45 euros. My mother bought it, though I fully intend to use it.
When my dad got back and found we had purchased another wheel (a really large one), he basically wouldn't speak to us. We went back to my cousins' and disassembled both wheels as much as possible. That bench was going to be a huge problem.
We looked all over for a box big enough, and finally found one at the local hardware/kitchen store where my other cousin's wife works. (The owner, probably about 35 with a young daughter, was totally hot, but that's beside the point.) As it turns out, yarn is an excellent packing material. The box was just over regulation for the aircraft in size and weight, but we didn't have to pay extra. It was a pain to lug, but it's so worth it.
Finally, back in the US, we got the wheel assembled. I really owe my dad big for that one. He should get something out of the first quality handspun (though I don't know if he'll appreciate it). The big wheel actually works! I've learned several things about it. Aparently it's a double-drive Saxony wheel, not that I knew what that meant two days ago. The star-shaped wheel, well.......not so much. I don't even know what it's called. I know it can be spun upon, I know it! I've seen a picture of Ghandi. But googling Ghandi and spinning only gives the boxed charka wheel (which is cool, but not particularly useful to this application). Well, I'm a big fan of things that still function while broken (ie. escalators just become stairs) that I'm going to use it as a swift until I figure something else out. I've got plenty of time to practice on my big wheel first.


abe/happy said...

2 wheels in 1 day - you are so lucky & they are both beautiful. I cant wait to see how the star one works. please post some pictures of it if you can..

Robin said...

The star shaped wheel is a yarn winder.

Great finds!

Anonymous said...

One is a spinning wheel....other is definitely a skeiner.

Barbara said...

The skeiner looks like part of a charkha type wheel and I can see where you made the assumption that it is one.

However, the charkha type wheel has a table that the wheel is mounted on by the axles. The wheel has a drive band that drives a spindle similar to a great wheel.