I had Bobbin Boy, maker and fixer of wheel parts, make a distaff; three more bobbins; and a second peg to hold the flywheel in place. He did an excellent job, although saying the name “Bobbin Boy” makes me giggle.

I stained them myself. Thanks to Adam at my local Ace hardware for talking me through how to do it.

The finished wheel is gorgeous.

It spins like a dream, too. It’s very quiet, quieter than my modern wheel. (My modern one, an Ashford Joy, doesn’t make a racket or anything. But the JOS barely makes a sound unless I accidentally clank the treadle against the footman.) I plan to use it a lot.

Here’s a snippet of video, in which I’m drafting from the fold. As you can see, I’m storing my wool on the distaff.

My first project, which I began this evening, is going to be a woven wall hanging based on early American coverlets. These blankets were everywhere from the colonial period though the early/mid 1800s, usually woven on a 4-shaft loom. The backgrounds were undyed white wool. The foreground, an overshot pattern, was typically blue, dyed with indigo. For a little more information, check out this page on the James Madison Museum site.

My wall hanging will be much smaller, maybe 9×12″. I’ll use a weaving draft (a pattern) appropriate for the time period.

Technobabble for my fellow weavers: I’ve decided to experiment a bit with yarn structure, which I’ve been wanting to do anyway. I’m Z-spinning the wefts woolen-style (although I’m doing it from the fold, as I’m too lazy to turn my top into rolags). The warp will be spun S in worsted style for strength and smoothness. I don’t know if that’s how they did it in early America, but I’ve wanted to try it since I first learned that prehistoric textiles often had these two types of yarn for warp and weft respectively. (They did it on spindles, obviously. I’m clashing my time periods. I don’t care.)

I do spinning commissions occasionally; I’m offering to my client to spin their yarn on this wheel, just for the history nerds who want to be able to brag a little.

So yeah, I’m really happy. Thanks again to R.B., the woman who generously gave me the wheel!

See previous posts in this series

Categories: Textiles


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