Saturday, May 4, 2013

Mutti's wheel

As I work on getting my studio more studio-like and less storage-locker-like, I am sorting through my tools and equipment, looking at what to keep, what to discard or sell, what to replace.

And I am faced with the conundrum of this wheel.

(all photos are clickable for embiggenment)

Here is the story:

The wheel belonged to a girlfriend’s mother-in-law. She was very big into spinning, weaving, and knitting. When mom passed away in the mid-1990s, she left behind a quantity of fiber equipment, and I offered to purchase her drum carder. My girlfriend’s husband said that for the amount of money I was willing to pay him for the drum carder, I could have all of the equipment. That included this wheel.
Mom was from Germany, and emigrated to the United States in the early 1950s to marry her United States G.I. sweetheart. No one seems to know at this point, but I believe that she brought the wheel with her. Having met my girlfriend's mother-in-law at almost the same time as she had met her, I always knew her as "Mutti" ("MOO-tee") which must be the German diminutive for Mom or Mommy (as "Mutter" is German for "mother"), and in fact I never knew her first name until I heard it at her funeral.
I can’t tell what kind of wood it is made from. The distaff has been snapped in two and reglued, and there is evidence of various repairs made to the wheel over the years. There are multiple bobbins which fit this, but I suspect they are later additions. It came with another flyer as well, which is broken in two pieces; I suspect the flyer on the wheel is also a later addition. The orifice is lined with ivory or bone,I believe; the rod where the distaff inserts has a metal cap on it of some kind. It has Irish tension, and the same drive band it came to me with.

The wheel does spin pretty well. I have used it once or twice, but never extensively. Careful inspection has led me to believe she didn't use it much either, and part of the equipment I took over included a 1970s Ashford Traditional single drive, which I sold shortly after I acquired it.
I am debating whether to sell it, because it seems a shame just to have it sit around my house - I have three other wheels and am contemplating a fourth, which is causing Mr. Spins to make noises about divesting some of them - but it's hard for me to know whether there would be anyone interested in it with all its little quirks. None of the remaining family are interested in having it.
It is an odd little thing, and the wheel crank/footman arrangement is - um, interesting, but the footman does stay (mostly) attached at least, and it wouldn't be hard to craft something to keep it on the crank - even a wine cork might do it!

So - what does one do with a wheel like this? I'll let you know when I find out!

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