I need(ed) a kick in the pants. Boredom? Stagnation? Progression? Rut? I started taking flower pictures in earnest last summer. Sure, I have tons of flower pictures from the past. Yawn! But, last summer I started paying attention to the little details. I discovered I had been missing a lot. This spring I convinced myself to get a macro lens. I had a macro lens. It was an old clunky mechanical macro lens, now decades old. There were a myriad of reasons to justify the purchase of a new toy. I am acquisitive and have been all my life. Why not indulge? I did. I got a spiffy full frame mirrorless camera body to go with it. Don’t ask. Boys and toys. It has been a game changer. I am, for the moment, shooting exclusively, extensively, with the new camera and macro lens. Better images? Sure. You can also do the job with about any other equipment. But, like cars, some are better suited to the task. Ease of use and consistent results help. It is similar to the improvement of my dive photos after I started using a dedicated underwater housing and a flash strobe. Unless you are a gearhead, you will not likely understand. Maybe you will nod indulgently like Colleen. Part of what I love is that she (Colleen) understands too well my exuberant enthusiasm. Her spinning wheels are much larger (size) examples how much fun it is to have different tools for the same task. Why use different spinning wheels? Each (wheel) brings something different and, so, brings joy to the task at hand. I like different cameras (not too many) for what they can do to get the image I have visualized. I firmly believe that iPhone is not the best tool for most situations.
I have cameras. They are smaller than spinning wheels. And, they (cameras) are smaller than looms and great wheels. This does not mean that I don’t have a lot (of cameras). It just means they are more discrete. I have a series (of cameras) that I rotate in use. Each has its own characteristics, and therefore, its use in certain situations. It would be boring to wax poetic over each (camera’s) special or general use. Suffice to say that Colleen’s picture illustrates one “signature” spinning wheel, one loom, and two great wheels, all of which take up (all) the available space in our (her) living room. Three cameras take up a portion of one table that does not have fiber upon it. Which is to say, that the missing camera (I took this photo with it) is my new spiffy Nikon Z5. Yes, one must always keep up with tech. It is the replacement to my trusty Nikon D610, that I purchased when Colleen and I first met. I will not be replacing Colleen anytime soon. I say this upon pain of death. Ha ha. (KIDDING!).
This new camera does take great shots. I’ve been waiting to get the red wing blackbird with its red chevron – only to find, it is orange – and shot with my Sony RX100 VI. The swallow? A crow decimated their nest last spring. I hope they have returned to nest once more. Mix and match, each instrument for its purpose. When you you need a hammer, a screw driver might do if nothing else is at hand. Macro? The right lens is definitely a plus – helpful! But you can do it with or without. I love to learn new tricks. A new camera? A new lens? Is it an excuse? Or, is it inspiration to explore new possibilities? Whatever! I rotate and I use whatever is at hand that will achieve what I imagine. Sometimes it works. Do we need all those spinning wheels? Ha ha. I would not presume to answer that question. But I do know, it’s a whole lot of fun to have the tools you need at hand. … now to talk Colleen into needing a Tesla.
Rick Reeves made spinning wheels. Ok, I bet that means something. It don’t mean a thing – hmmm, a song – to me, inasmuch as, what’s in a name? If you are a serious spinner the name is like a Leica camera. Drool, dream, pine, whisper, are all supporting descriptive adjectives. The internet had exactly one for sale the day I searched. It was in Texas, the wheel. After communicating with the owner, we agreed to try to ship the wheel intact. I commend UPS. The surcharge for shipping was near 30%. But the wheel arrived intact. There was a lot of packing. A lot!! Motion? The wheel and the bobbin are spinning in the pics. It’s subtle. Subtlety is the best way to appreciate a handcrafted signature wheel. I will further admit, I got a wheelbarrow for my birthday. A fair trade, I think. Not! Look closely. This a weaver’s home. Notice: two great wheels, a loom, a yarn winder, it’s all in the background. This is an idyllic setup for a spinner/weaver. No complaints. This is “home.”
The Saga: Colleen has admired the Rick Reeves handmade wheel – whispers, dreams. In a house full of spinning wheels and looms, what would be the impact of one more wheel? Don’t laugh – too hard. The internet revealed a Reeves wheel for sale – the one and only, and on the day I searched, the only one for sale. Package and ship cross country? The cost was nearly one third the price of the wheel. The box was substantial and the packing weight was nearly equal the weight of the wheel. Safe? Yes! As you can see, there was much joy!
I have made few trips alone. This was one. Colleen has been curious and asks often about my travels before we were together. On this occasion I was set up by a fellow neurosurgeon who asked if I would attend his birthday party. Of course! And, then, he told me it would be in Norway. I had an unplanned stay – in a farmhouse room – with a loom! Two looms! Who knew how much that would impact later on in my life! Traveling alone is no particular fun. I learned early on that dining alone was an issue. I soon carried a book to read while eating. More importantly there was no joy in being unable to share something picturesque without someone in the moment. That has changed permanently for me now. I shall be traveling with the one I love.
Something old…. Well, Colleen likes to entertain. We have silver we got for cheap at one antique store or another. Yes, we have several sets. Did I tell you they were cheap? Yes, very. You just have to hit the sale at the right time. Coleen has made the linen. Yes, she wove, she has talent! The plates are from my side. Lisa never like them. My brothers gifted them. Colleen loves them. It all worked out. Pickles, yes, the pickle fork is rude. We got that at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Ha! Ham? I got a shoulder. Wrong cut, looks like sh*t, tasted great, you’d never know after it was cut. I gotta say it’s been nice playing “house” with Colleen.
That would be past tense of killed. I’m a dead husband after this post. Oh well… we laugh a lot around here. What do you do during a pandemic and you’re home alone? My brother was once a stock day trader from home dealing with the big stock brokers and would laugh to trade shares over the phone wearing just his underwear. Yeah yeah, you get where I’m going. Someone got distracted early one morning and started winding a warp before breakfast. I don’t think there’s any family who follows my blog regularly. They will (all, I hope) miss this. Meanwhile, just about any and everybody else in the world will know.
Que? … that we have and eat healthy fruit – banana, grapefruit, apple …. you’re all peering at the background, right?
Me? Dead ham. I’m dead ham. If I didn’t mention you’d never notice….
I have once again exposed my bookcase to scrutiny. (I hand-built it.) But, I am illustrating another fact. If you weave or spin, you have more than one wheel. It’s common. I’ve been told, one woman had 40 wheels – spinning – in her home. I’m lucky. We only have … well…. there’s a great wheel – so called because … they are also called walking wheels. They are among the oldest spinning wheels around. Modern? The wheels are now more modest in size, and, larger in cost. Castle and Saxony are popular styles. We have multiples. Of course. Why? Let me ask, would you just have one camera if you are a photographer? Laughing? Probably the greatest satisfaction (ever?) – indulging your (beloved) wife.
… the opposite of minimalist. I wish. Ha! We are close to clutter. But not! Call it cozy. Call it busy. What weaver wouldn’t kill for a studio like this? Barn loom and four modern looms. I have cameras – lots. Looms (five) are bigger and standout in a room. Alas, we have looms in the living room. Don’t forget the great wheel! And we have beer mugs – lots. My Nantucket baskets await. I shall give them away one day. Ha ha.
Consider it home. We (truly) live in it. It’s a happy home. Did you peek into the background? There’s something to catch your eye everywhere. Meaning and memories abound, stories to regale you of adventure and fun, not clutter, but about love. If there were only one beer mug it would just be a representative of the genre, a commemorative. But, each one after is a memory of place and travels. Yes, we’ve been around a bit. …making up for lost time. Yup, stuffed…with love.
During covid I am down to two chief subjects, my cats and flowers. Boring is good. It means we are safe and sound. I have joined Colleen in obsessing over weather. I have four different weather apps open and one beach cam. And we cook and eat. …repeat. Colleen asked me to photograph her handicraft and mine. We completed these projects among others. Spinning fiber to yarn; weaving yarn to material, scarves; weaving Nantucket baskets. I’m not bragging; the girl’s got talent. Me? I’m better than I was but not as good as I’m gonna be.
Weaving. Colleen wove this in a week. It was a sampler demonstrating double weave. ??? I think. Who knows? I was on my own to explore Amish country. Quaint. It is a clash of modern vs old. Horse and buggy, bicycle without pedals, modern hay baler pulled by horse, clothing without buttons, it’s just so dyssynchronous.
There are many who gawk. (Guilty, me.) The folks are oblivious. They tolerate. There’s no choice. They are out in the public. Or, that would make me rude. Sorry. A camera and me? There’s no way i pass up a photo op. I just do my best to be discrete.
Big wheel? Walking spinning wheel. Great wheel. Used as early as the 14th century, it’s more of a curiosity among spinners nowadays. I have seen few in use while many are simply display pieces. Not ours! Colleen has been determined to make ours go. And so, she did. And It works! And she spun up a pern (bobbin)… a few. Why? Because she can. It adds history and brings back skill that is being lost to the lure of modern life. This venerable tool was once a major source of yarn that got spun into fabric that was made into…
Someone once said to me that the sign of genius is a messy desk. Ha ha! I wish. Nantucket basket weaving takes space and material. It’s controlled chaos. I know where everything is. The tools of the trade are organized so I lay my hand on whatever is required quickly. Piles of material await use. Right!? Really! There is absolute organization. Rims take time and so I let them accumulate. Hence, there are a lot of baskets awaiting the finishing touch. Note: the background is Colleen’s big wheel (spinning, not tricycle) and one of the smaller looms. What else is in the background? …two more regular spinning wheels, finished baskets on the mantle and on the TV cabinet…. Sometimes the lines between worhshop and home blur. It’s ours, we’re fine.
Since I know Colleen we have been taking pictures of barn looms. I shoot to see the tie up and set up. Fascinating?! Well, we bought a real one a couple years back. It dates back to the revolutionary war period – old, real old. And then we won another one in a chance pick up from a man who got a pile of wood at a government auction and didn’t know what to do with it. (The name – they kept them in barns, or the construction of the loom was like constructing a barn.) No one knows. After a couple of years, it works. I built the harnesses. And we tied the heddles – hand tied – my surgical skill came in handy. It works! Did I say that? We actually… Colleen is actually weaving with it. Ain’t that grand?
What do you do in the time of corona? We took to drinking. Alcohol. I don’t drink. Didn’t. …till now. Ha ha. I had some Scotch. Good Scotch … as in 15 year old Glenlivet. The good stuff. We brought it home from the source, Scotland. Samples really, they were the taste samples from the tour we took. Colleen doesn’t like the taste of Scotch. She prefers dark beer. I don’t like either. So, we did not bring any Scotch home. I wish we had. No matter. We mixed it with eggnog. Heresy?! No, palatable for me. Cheers!
On a slow day you take what you can get for photos. I’m reaching sometimes. But you gotta keep taking pictures even if you are in self quarantine. ?? It’s mohair being prepared as a warp. (If you weave, that makes perfect sense. I don’t (weave)).
It’s come to this. Living room.
noun: a room in a house for general and informal everyday use.
“the apartment has a comfy living room with sofas, chairs, TV, and dining table”
Looms. Spinning wheels. Etc. The room has no room to turn around. We have a studio… for looms, and, it’s full. And, the bedroom? My bed has a loom. And, a cat. I guess we’re sleeping out tonight.