Yesterday I mentioned that I may have a little piece of Canadian spinning history.
It all started a couple of years back when Lola and Jim Fisher, Tim’s parents gave us an old spinning wheel that had lived in their basement for years.
It didn’t work at all, but as it was interesting and beautiful to look at, even in it’s slightly disheveled state we took it. It has been hanging around our house since then, albeit in more prominent places. It had become part of the furniture here as well.
First I will remind you all I know NOTHING about spinning or yarns. Wool, yes. Felting, yes. Sheep, yes. Spinning and yarns are this secretive world to me. This past summer I got back the first batch of yarn from our sheep. Now, I had received wool before, but not yarn. I have to admit, I felt very silly not being able to do anything with it. Friend Bree Zorel knitted up a hat from our roving that was spun by drop spindle spinner Danille. I have put that hat out at markets to give people examples of what our wool looks like knitted up, people have wanted to buy it.
SO, I thought it was high-time I figured out how to do SOMETHING with yarn. Knitting and I have never agreed. Yes, I have tried to knit many times and it never seems to stick. At the August Kensington Market Art Fair I was inspired by an incredible young lady who crocheted anatomically correct dolls of all varieties (old, young, LGBTQ, amazing stuff!).
It got me thinking I may be able to crochet. You Tube Nana showed me how to crochet left handed and I can now proudly say I have crocheted up that last hank of finn yarn I had.
Working with the yarn was intriguing and the concept of learning to spin (beyond a half-hearted attempt at a drop spindle). Any of you out there who have looked at spinning wheels know how expensive they even start at. As a complete beginner spending that kind of money is a little daunting. So, I began to look at the 2 wheels I had in the house.
The little one Tim’s Mum and Dad gave us seemed like it may be a possible restoration candidate, or at least I may be able to get it working again. The only challenge is I had NO idea what kind of wheel it was. It looked like nothing I had seen before.
The other day I got up very early and began working on a website. I had a few seconds between website changes so I thought I would see if I could find out what kind of wheel I was looking at. Not knowing where to start I began with some pretty generic searches and looked for matching pictures. So between website clicks I glanced at spinning wheel pictures to see if I could find one similar.
Once again Google comes through. I found a match, or an almost match. I was pretty surprised when I read the blog (https://thewoolmerchantsdaughter.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/oops-i-did-it-again/) that went with it. I discovered a name: Lin Black. I followed that name (all while doing website stuff) and found this blog, (http://www.woolthing.com/blog/?p=40).
What about MY Wheel?
Well, this is what I have found out. It appears to be a type of wheel made in the 1970’s in and around Prince George British Columbia. Many bulky yarn spinners were made that were commonly used by the Salish people to make Cowichan sweaters. This lead them to be referred to as “Indian Head” spinners, “Cowichan Bulky” spinners or just plain “Mud River” spinners. I am partial to Mud River Spinner.
There were many different makers of this type of wheel, but one maker stands out in particular. His name was Lin Black. He made spinning wheels in his own distinctive style and is said tohave signed them. There is a reference picture here: http://www.woolthing.com/blog/?p=40
The one I have is identical to that picture as you can see. I can’t find a signature, so it may be another maker, I don’t know. I think it is safe to say it is a Mud River Spinner though.
Isn’t that amazing! Who would have thought that this little wheel, a gift from family, would have had such an incredible history! It is humbling to bring this wheel back to life so it can be used again. Wish my luck in doing so!