Category: Spinning wheels

Beautiful spinning wheels

I went to our local museum to take pics of two old wooden chests for an article, and found this:

Isn’t it beautiful? It’s from the beginning of the 20th century, made by an unknown, very skilled carpenter.

The distaff doesn’t belong to the wheel, but there may well have been one like that at one time. The flat, slightly curved distaffs where more common here, but distaffs formed like a thick staff or baton were also used. You can se some of the flat distaffs in the background:

The museum is closed in winter. It was indeed very cold inside, much warmer outdoors! The windows are covered so the sun won’t harm the textiles, but where temporarily uncovered so I could take pics.

There was also another wheel that was added to the museum’s collection recently. It was made for Beata Mårtensdotter Grind in 1889. This was a more common type of wheel in my municipality, where most spinning wheels were painted blue.

Three new lazy kates have also found their way into this amazing museum.

If you wonder whether I remembered to take photos of the wooden chests I can assure you: yes I did! But  I was close to forgetting why I had gone to the museum in the first place.

A spinning wheel from Sweden

For several years I longed for a wheel made by Swedish makers Lindh or Korf. They are held to be very good, and they have a feature that is very handy especially nowadays when used wheels are sold almost everywhere: movable maidens. On the Korf wheels you can move both maidens, on Lindh the one closest to the spinner. After keeping an eye on buy & sell sites in Sweden for two years, my friend Elaine found a Lindh wheel she suggested I’d buy. And here it is now in my room!


The movable maidens means that if you’re lucky, you can use a flyer assembly that was not made for your wheel. I tried a small flax flyer that I haven’t been able to use in any of my Saxonies before. I tested to spin cotton, and oh what a joy! With that flyer my Lindh wheel is fast enough for cotton – I now have a cotton wheel! I need a ring or two next to the maiden in order to keep the drive band in the middle of the drive wheel. I’ve now found two rings that work better than the brass ring you see in the photo.


In the photo below you see three different flyer assemblies:

To the left is one from a Finnish Saxony from Kiikka, a so called Kiikkalainen, with wool on the bobbin. I’ve mended the bobbin with a piece of card board, which works very well. You don’t always have to be so correct in what material you’re using!

In the middle the small flax assembly, now with cotton. Fast! It’s so fast! I haven’t had time to try flax yet, but I know it was last used for flax as there was thin linen thread on most of the bobbins when I got them.

To the right is the assembly from the Lindh wheel. It’s pretty much the same as the Finnish one, but you can’t switch them from one wheel to the other. The bobbin is shorter.


The two wool bobbins take 50-60 grams of singles, depending on how you spin. The finer you spin, and the more carefully you switch from one hook to another, the more yarn they take.

I find the size of the bobbins an interesting question. You all know how big some of the standard bobbins are that come with new wheels nowadays. That has to do with the new wheel mechanics. It also has to do with the drive technique. I haven’t seen Saxonies with bulky flyer assemblies yet, even if there are some bigger ones made for plying, but never one as big as some of the Scotch tension wheels have now.

I’ve wondered why? And always ended up marvelling at how my spinning gets worse and not so fun when I try to fill a Saxony bobbin over its capacity. When the bobbin fills up close to its limits, I automatically start to spin thicker to compensate for having to increase the intake. My yarn gets uneven, and the spinning doesn’t feel nice anymore.

So I think that the wheel makers and spinners long ago came to a conclusion that the size most Saxony assemblies have now is optimal. It’s what this double drive wheel can do, and it does it just so well: a consistent yarn, spun with the fast and beautiful woollen long draw. That’s what I like to spin most of all, and the best way to spin it is on a good Saxony wheel. When I want to spin short draw I choose one of my uprights with Scotch tension: Louet Victoria or Hansen Minispinner.

I now have four Saxonies. Three of them you can see here together with Louet Victoria in front and Hansen Minispinner in the background. My fourth Saxony is retired and has to spend her days in the attic. The Saxonies from the left: the famous and much appreciated Finnish Kiikkalainen from about 1920 (a guess from my side), the blue very good Finnish one (from 1892) with unknown origin but probably from the Swedish speaking west coast, and the yellow Lindh wheel Hilma-Elaine from 1924.


My ankles are in a bad shape, especially the right one that has been treadling for decades during the days when double treadles were rare. Look at the broad treadle on my Hilma-Elaine: I can use both feet. I can now spin a Saxony for more than a few minutes. Guess how that makes me feel, considering I love Saxonies!

The first finished yarns I spun on Hilma-Elaine will be used in this year’s Shetland Wool Week hat, the Crofthoose Hat designed by Ella Gordon. I sometimes ply yarns onto the same bobbin and make one skein of them, as in this case with red and blue Swedish Finull, grey Kainuu Grey, and natural brown Finnwool. Yes, in only a couple of weeks I’ll go to Orkney to see friends, and to Shetland for Wool Week!


Busy summer – some results

My summers tend to be busy, considering I’ve been retired the last 5,5 years. I’ve been spinning in public and teaching. I’ll post more later, for now my trip to Överkalix in northern Sweden is quite enough for one posting.

Let’s start in Torneå (Tornio in Finnish) in northern Finland. This was my husband’s home tome in his teens. It’s a lovely small city with the impressive Torne älv (the Tornio river, Tornionjoki in Finnish) running through it, and the Swedish town Haparanda (Haaparanta in Finnish) on the other bank. Those two cities live as if there’s no state boundary at all between them! People cross the bridge all the time for shopping, it’s part of everyday life. The area has been inhabited for at least 8000 years, as the climate is milder and friendlier than you’d expect so far in the north.

Three photos from the city museum: a beautiful spinning wheel and a few of the many distaffs they have on display. I wonder, can you walk into a museum in Finland and not find at least one distaff?



And of course there were spindle whorls:


Then let’s drive over the bridge to Sweden. Hubby and I, and of course, Kasper the dog, drove some 100 kilometers north from Torneå to Överkalix, where they have a crafts event every August. I was to teach tapestry crochet and spindle spinning. I also met some of my spinning friends, who meet in Överkalix during the wool weekend that ends the craft week. It was a very cold weekend for them during the Spin in Public. It can be very warm and nice in Överkalix in August, as we noticed last year when it was hot and sunny. But not so this year. They were freezing!


They had some lovely fibers and knits for sale:



My introduction classes had tempted some lovely people. All learned the basics of the not so easy tapestry crochet technique. All also learned how to use a drop spindle. Eight hours is just enough to learn the basics, and sometimes it’s not at all enough. We run out of time during the spinning class, because there was quite an amount of curious people dropping in all the time, and they proved to be a bit of a disturbance. I didn’t want to show them out, as we had onlookers during the crochet class also, but they stayed in the background and didn’t interfere.

A snapshot from the crochet class:


My classes were in a beautiful old mansion that has been restored into a restaurant and hotel. It’s not always you see a table cloth like that in a classroom! And the food was excellent – I miss the salmon pudding and the delicious corn soup.

My spindle class and me with my laptop showing pics of my wool combs:


There was one lady who didn’t come to the class to learn, but to show something. I was so happy for this, and the others where amazed as they couldn’t imagine this can be done. It was a lady from Afghanistan. She sat down beside me and picked up a stone from her purse. Now you who know the history of spindle spinning recognise a stone as a spindle if you have fiber and want to make a thread, which she did.


She spun a perfect yarn from my batt:


I also want to show an item that made me just as happy as the stone. It’s a spindle whorl owned by one of the officials involved in the arrangements during the crafts week. This is the first time I’ve actually been able to hold a whorl that old in my hand (except for one from Israel that I own and use). It was a solemn moment at the lunch table and the salmon! Salmon was most probably a common meal in the time that whorl was used, by the way.


And here is Katarina, one of the volunteers making things happen during the crafts week. As being one who’s had to arrange events as part of my job (no, I wasn’t at all fond of that part!), I can imagine how much she’s had to fix for this event. Here she’s selling products from her and her husband’s sheep farm.


On the way home Kasper had to look at the world through my new companion. My friend Elaine found it for me 620 kilometers south from Överkalix. She took it a few hundred kilometers north, where my friend Britt-Marie somehow managed to get into the back seat of her car, and she took it to Överkalix. And then it traveled 640 kilometers south again, but in another country and on the other side of the Gulf of Bothnia. May I present Hilma-Elaine, my new love:


I’ll show you more of her in another post. She’s worth a post of her own.


Only in Swedish today – but for your information, dear English speaking and reading friends: a friend and I went to a world wide knitting day event (only there were no knitters…) to crochet and spin for two days.

Knappmakerskan / Garnmorskan Maria och jag åkte söderut till Kristinestad för att virka och spinna i två dagar. Det var Öppna Portar i staden, man kunde gå in på folks gårdar och titta på deras vackra trädgårdar nu när grönskan är som skirast och vackrast, och försommarens blommor slagit ut. Det var också vänortsbesök från Danmark, och under de två dagarna träffade Maria och jag många turister från andra orter i Finland.


Här sitter Maria i ett tält och monterar en filt av mormorsrutor. Nån timme senare flyttade vi inomhus, för trots att solen visade sig ibland var det kallt. Försäljarna i sina bodar var ordentligt påpälsade, men på söndagen blev det ändå väldigt kallt för dem. I husen runtom innergården fanns en keramiker och en dockhusutställning, och en Vänstuga där man fick mat och kaffe.


Maria och jag fick sitta i en underbar lokal: Kristinestads hemslöjdsförenings vävstuga. Arrangörerna hade ställt ut 150 par sockor som ska delas ut till behövande:


De hade också en fin utställning med virkade sängöverkast. Här är en detalj av ett överkast, den kända ruta som ibland kallas Gagnefrutan tror jag. Ni får gärna hojta till om jag minns fel!thumb_IMG_0250_1024

Jag hade med mig några sländor. En av dem var min älskade Precious, den lilla minibossien i pink ivory från Journeywheel. Här har den fått fint underlag, en ljuvligt vacker handvävd löpare i poppana.


Jag tog också med resespinnrocken Louet Victoria, som mina kompisar döpte till Peerie (“liten” på shetländska) när hon var alldeles nyfödd, nyinköpt ska det väl heta. Jag fyllde två rullar under de två dagarna.


Arrangörerna hann också fästa trådar för Marias filtar:


Och här är en blivande filt som de flesta av oss blev väldigt glada i. Maria virkar ihop de hundratals rutorna till filtar med olika färgteman. Rutorna virkas av restgarner, och det är många som donerar rutor. De har följaktligen olika storlek, men Maria har hittat ett sätt att foga samman dem så att det inte stör i den färdiga filten. Den här filten har färger som gamla glasfönster tycker jag:


Det fanns en spolrock i vävstugan. Den används för att fylla vävspolar med garn.



Kristinestad är en kuststad i Sydösterbotten med lång historia inom sjöfarten. Numera är det mest småbåtar som löper in i viken som ligger mitt i staden. Kristinestad är känd för sina små nätta trähus med inbyggda gårdar med fina trädgårdar, och alla de smala gränderna som löper mellan husen. Här är en utsikt från östra sidan av viken in mot stadens centrum, med Ulrika Eleonora kyrktorn i bakgrunden. Finlands svenska historia är ständigt närvarande i byggnader, ortnamn och sevärdheter. Staden är uppkallad efter drottning Kristina.


Det kvackades utanför mitt hotellfönster på kvällen, och när jag tittade ut såg jag en familj gäss. Vitkindad gås, tror jag. Annars är det mest kanadagäss som bor i våra parker. Det fanns gäss på flera stränder längs viken, vilket säkert inte är så värst trevligt om man tänkt sig att promenera på stränderna. Inte för att fåglarna verkade aggressiva, men för all spillningen de lämnar överallt. Vackra är de i alla fall! De gav sig av nån annanstans till natten, så det blev helt totalt tyst och jag sov djupt hela natten.


Vi hade ett fint veckoslut. Det var fin publik, trevliga arrangörer, underbar lokal, och vi fick dessutom mycket gjort både Maria och jag.