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.
I was in my old home town Vaasa yesterday with hubby. While waiting for him when he did some errands, I went to the Ostrobothnian Museum to see if an old spinning wheel I’d heard of would be on display. It was, but I also saw this one:
Absolutely awesome! I couldn’t believe my eyes! I’ve never seen anything like it, except some new wheels that are also resplendently made and painted. The wheel is from the island Björkö in the Baltic Sea.
The light was bad for taking photos (but very good for just looking at the objects), but I still hope you can see the year that’s painted on it: 1854. It’s in very good condition, so must’ve been appreciated also after it’s no longer been used.
The bobbin is dark blue. Hard to say whether it’s original, but it did look as if it belongs to the wheel.
The furniture and the textiles are typical for the island: rich, bright colors, much red, green, blue and yellow.
And here sits the man in the house mending fishing nets amongst all this beauty! The bed is special: in Björkö shelves for plates were built onto the headboards. I didn’t see the reflexion of the glass cabinet facing the bed until I downloaded the photo, but I think you still can see the plates and bowls. The walls are sprinkled with red paint, very decorative and effective.
This is the wheel I went to look for. It also was behind glass, like so many of of the other objects in the museums nowadays, and therefore camera stands usually are forbidden. That makes me a bit grouchy, even if I can understand why I’m not allowed to mess around with sticks.
What you see is an upright wheel from the early 18th century, found in Karijoki in southern Ostrobothnia, now in the museum in Vaasa. The flyer and bobbin assembly is missing, which of course is a pity. This is one of the few old castle wheels there are in Finnish museums. I don’t know if the flax distaff is original, but it’s plausible the wheel once has been equipped with one of the same type.
Next week: distaves, lazy kates, and other goodies! A teaser: this lazy kate is from Toholampi in northern Ostrobothnia.
In my previous post I mentioned a wheel made by Toika Looms some decades ago. They haven’t produced spinning wheels for a long time now, and it seems to be difficult to find information about them. But I got some info from Toika Looms, which is shown below:
I don’t have any more info than in the text. It’s interesting to see they also made an upright wheel. A Finnish upright wheel was mentioned in a discussion in a group I follow on internet (as so often, I don’t remember where). I haven’t seen the Irene wheel so far. I may have seen the Ulla wheel without knowing what it was.
If I had time to do research on our wheels, I would probably find some information. But as I don’t have that time, I only hope that someone would take on this task. There are university students out there who could do it as part of their studies. But what I can do is to go to museums wherever hubby and I end up on our road trips, and I can take photos if that’s permitted. Not all museums are that kind to people like me, who point there cameras at everything in sight. It’s a good plan for next summer! When I told hubby about a wheel with golden decorations in a museum in northern Finland, he said “I thought you’d like to go there, I saw the road sign a while ago”. He was on his way to another town a few hundred kilometers east, and when seeing the word “Museo” the dear man thinks of me. I wonder why? I leave it to you readers to decide.
Thanks to the kind spinners in the Facebook group Kehrääjät, who have given me some hints on where to find nicely decorated wheels! Silver and gold, that’s something to ponder upon during the cold dark winter that is soon upon us here on the northern hemisphere. Thanks also to Toika Looms that kindly sent me the info above.
EDIT: Right now I got a message from Betty in the Netherlands, telling me there is a group for these wheels on Ravelry!
EDIT 2: More information from Toika today in an e-mail to me: Toika stopped making spinning wheels in the 1980s. Most of their wheels were exported, and the upright Irene was made for export only. This explains why I haven’t seen any of the Toika wheels yet here in Finland.
Last weekend I taught a beginners’ class in wheel spinning. Some of my pupils also took part in a spindle class last spring, and I was happy to see they wanted to learn more.
Five old Finnish Saxony wheels!
Two more Finnish Saxonys, and my Louet “Peerie” Victoria that I lent to one of the participants as the green wheel wasn’t in mood for working. The owner fixed it in the evening, but got so fond of my Peerie (who wouldn’t!) that she wanted to go on using it during the second day.
Finnish spinners will know what this is about: three wheels from Kiikka, called “kiikkalainen” in Finnish. The municipality Kiikka was famous for its skilled wheel makers, but all that ended when people stopped spinning. Luckily there are lots of old wheels in the second hand market, and among them hundreds of kiikka-wheels. You see mine (I call her Eevi) with the blue distaff stand in front. I use it for spinning in public, while my other two antique Saxonys are for home use only.
There was also a new German wheel, but I forgot to ask about the maker. Germany was, and is, an important country for spinners. All the wheels you see in this photo have their origin in Germany. The Saxonys came to Scandinavia from Germany centuries ago, and the upright wheels have continued to develop into interesting new forms there. I think the wheel in the front may be a Toika wheel, but if someone knows what it is, please tell me! It’s unfinished. EDIT: A kind reader has sent me a photo of a Toika wheel from the 80s. It’s much more robust than the wheel in the class, and many details are different. I therefore think the one in the class isn’t made by Toika.
My pupils had various skills from none to quite advanced. It’s always difficult to teach a beginners class to people who needs very different kinds of knowledge and skills. I had prepared myself for a situation like that, but you’d still need to be able to split into at least three persons! One who makes the wheels work, one who teaches the basics in spinning, and one who teaches advanced techniques.
But it was fun, thanks to the nice participants! The beautiful room in the Crafters House at Stundars is an inspiring place for small groups. I hope we can continue in the spring with fiber knowledge, fiber preparation, and one or two new spinning techniques.
Blue is my colour. I like all colours, but I love blue. So last autumn I bought blue paint for the distaff holder where you put your distaff when you spin flax. The lower part of the holder is new, turned by a kind man at the outdoor museum where I use to spin in the summers. He wanted me to paint it, so I did that a couple of days ago. I painted my spinning chair blue as well, because I really like to paint. And because I love blue 🙂
And then another kind person from that same museum called me and asked if I would like to take care of a spinning wheel, an heirloom that had belonged to a friend of her family. I said I’d have a look at it. And it was blue. And the wheel was straight, it had all the necessary parts, and I said, yes, I want to take care of it. I call it Elsa after the last owner. Here she is, with the blue chair, the blue arms, and my other Saxony wheel Eevi, and little Peerie Louet Victoria.
I have spun a few meters on her. Eevi is a wonderful wheel, but I have a feeling Elsa might be even better. Let’s see after a few months, when she has got used to her new home and the conditions here. She was made in the municipality where my husband and I have livet the last 24 years. I don’t know who made her. There used to be a wheel maker in almost every village, but what the wheels have in common is the blue colour with sparse red details. And, a relief for spinners with floors you don’t have to be afraid to damage: the legs have metal tips that keep Elsa stay where you’ve put her. No sliding across the floor here!
I will add red details to the distaff holder later.