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!
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.