As my partner mentioned briefly a few days back, we have had a new addition to our family! Meet Pumpkin, a very tiny (17 inches at her highest point), very portable, very adorable little spinning wheel. Here she is next to my Ashford Traditional, for scale:
And here is a (somewhat dim, sorry) shot of one of our cats investigating:
(When we first brought Pumpkin in the house, our 15 pound dog Corbie J., dismayed to see that we had a wheel his size, let us know that he was emphatically not about to take up spinning. The cats, likewise, let us know that the spinning wheel had better be intended for the dog and not them.)
Pumpkin is a Wee Wheel, a direct drive, double treadle wheel handcrafted from maple and alder wood by a local Oregon artisan, Terry Korn. That’s right, I now have a handmade spinning wheel! But even more remarkable than Pumpkin herself is the fact that her creator, a former shipwright, is 91 years old. Mr. Korn only decided to start making these amazing little spinning wheels a few years ago, taking inspiration from the Merlin Hitchhiker and one other tiny handcrafted wheel on the market. Pumpkin is signed and numbered as his 50th wheel.
I have to admit, I find spinning wheels endlessly fascinating–the simplicity of their design, and yet the fact that tiny adjustments to the wheel change so much! I love their classic lines, the familiar shape so evocative of fairy tales, past eras, and the “slow” lifesyle of handcrafted textiles, and I am definitely finding myself partial towards either vintage or handmade wheels, wheels that are perhaps a little idiosyncratic but special and one of a kind in some way. Learning to use a double treadle after having gotten so used to the single treadle on my first wheel (Wheelamina, my Ashford Traditional), has been a bit of an adjustment, but practicing sure is fun!
So far, I am absolutely loving Pumpkin! Besides being beautiful and very sturdily crafted, she is a joy to use. She has only one ratio, but it’s easy to vary yarn diameter by treadling more or less quickly, and treadling is easy since it involves moving only my ankles. Also, she has a delta orifice, so yarn diameter is not limited (although yarn with curly locks in it would probably need to be manually helped past her small flyer hooks). I am currently spinning some sock-weight yarn on her from a roving handpainted by Janis Thompson of DyeLots, for practice, but I’ve just received a shipment of some gorgeous rare breed wools I’m very excited about spinning on both her and Wheelie. (More about those new wools soon!)