The last time? 2018 – crunchy granola set. I say it in the most wistful way, for Colleen adores the Common Ground fair. It was our second visit. And, then, the Covid pandemic hit; its canceled ever since. Produce, sheep, bourbon barrel maple syrup … and a spinning demonstration, it was full of photo ops. I now know, much more about spinning wheels. For instance, I can spot a Schact ladybug wheel. Ha ha. They are all castle wheels? I can say my eye is more practiced in spinning, and, you don’t care. Alas, a sheep is still a sheep. I can only tell you that this batch is not ready for shearing. Maybe the fair is on again this year? Maybe.
… doing the same thing over and over … hoping for a different result. We got another fleece to wash … spin. Yes, nuts! It’s spring, time to plant. Eating out is good. Colleen took flight on St Pat’s day. We had a reservation. 30 minutes later we were seated. It was a local place, definitely not worth the effort. Dinner with the cousins, priceless. And, the cats keep getting images into my camera.
It came to me as I awoke – idea!! I would be in costume – well, not exactly, but scrubs. My (personal) PJ’s, working gear. We were to demonstrate at the local fiber show. Ok! I am not a volunteer. Colleen volunteered me/us. A local newspaper came by to get a pic and a story. We will be in it – the news. (WITSEC) Witness protection beware. Ha ha. And of course, pizza and a beer for dinner. Colleen had seafood lasagna. Note: be careful what you wear in public, especially if you don’t have the figure for it. She took mine (pic); I took hers.
I have a parochial view of the Midwest. Biased. For sure. I have been thru but never been there. Passing thru is all I wish to partake. Yarn Barn – a destination. ?! Colleen knows it as in tourist destination – for spinners and weavers. Yawn! With newfound knowledge and interest I am looking at spinning wheels in a different light. Schact and Ashford – hallowed names in spinning wheels. Ho hum. They are sold but not made in the store. But to touch and feel…. Ha ha. We did not buy a wheel. And, I did not get a haircut. It is like antique stores. You never know what you may find that you did not need until now. Me? I’m gettin’ back in the car and takin’ Colleen. Need her? You bet!!
I’m a hobbyist – photographer. I do not collect cameras. I have cameras – more than one.
Don’t ask. We spin. Forget weaving for the moment (too many pictures). We have (spinning) wheels. We do not collect? Well, sort of. There are a few old ones not currently spinning. The rest are in active use. Even the old winder – weasel – is in use. Weasel? Yes, as in “pop goes the weasel” – a term used/derived from the button which pops when you have wound off the yardage of yarn you desire. There are different features – castle, Saxony, single or double drive, single or double treadle… Do we need ‘em all. Do you care? Colleen uses them. All. I do, now. Fun? Fun!! There is a certain “zen” in spinning. Oh! Did I mention wooly winder? And?? Spinning wheels go back over 1000 years. We have followed in a long hallowed cherished tradition. Neat!
Me? Spin? … in self defense. We have so much stash – fiber waiting to be spun – it would be impossible for one (or two) people to spin. So, I, too, have wheels in rotation. Name the wheel? Model, manufacturer? No, real names, Colleen has given real names to the wheels she uses. Ahem, … my cats have names.
I can hear Carol – “…enough cats already” And, “eight is enough!” I’m shooting the same things over and over as when I was diving the Red Sea. Enough fish… hey! I have a camera near at hand. This is the subject material that presents itself to my lens. I am lazy. We don’t get out enough. My bad. Colleen wants to go around anytime anywhere. We got a lot of “going around” to make up for. When do you see a bed pan with a chimney? The moon is not an easy subject, but, it shows up. Telephone poles always seem to be close by when you want to shoot the perfect sunset. I love my cats, too. They are just too cute sometimes. So, what to shoot? I hope travel restrictions end soon. We would like to go again. I am, indeed, a lazy photographer. I shoot what’s available. No doubt. But, I do try to shoot each and every day. Hey! It’s a hobby, not work. Happy and hobby have lots in common.
The end point is spinning yarn. A sheep fleece is processed from shearing to spun yarn. You start by sorting and picking it. It has lanolin (grease) that needs to be washed clean. Along the way Colleen took locks to weave into a rug. I combed (carded) the rest and prepared it for spinning. Yarn is the product. Weaving comes next. I know way more than I ever intended to learn. It’s craft. In my wildest dreams I never expected to spin fiber. Fun? I sheepishly replied, “Yes!”
It was a close call. We almost got cats number 9 and 10. They were beautiful cats. Colleen put her foot down. No more cats!! No picture. Alas! A new wheel? Can you say Kromski? It’s old looking. But it is recent vintage passed off as an old wheel in demonstrations. It was at an estate sale. It was ugly (a lot of dust and squeaks). It looks so much better in the pictures. And it was even better when I spiffed it up. Yes, we got another wheel. Colleen got it. I’m using it. So, you know how that goes. She got me a wheel. Me! I now have double drive wheels rotating thru different stations to occupy my time. And I am (spinning)! It is, indeed, a good looking wheel. And, no more cats! Darn!
There is art in form. Art is not always in museums. Photography is art? Platitudes. There is a fine line between art, photography, and journalism? Is nature art? Antiques are automatically art? Modern art? Does price define art? $$$$ For a shopping cart with zip ties – $10,000. Paying for concept or for a few packs of $1 zip ties? Oh yeah! Does that sound outrageous? Does it make it all the more valuable? I ain’t no critic. Artist, journalist, photographer, gadfly? Egad!! – (word) first used in 1673, how do they know stuff like this? Do you look funny eating?
I am now educated. When I first became reacquainted with Colleen, a sheep was a sheep. Colleen weaves; she spins. Now, we chase particular breeds – border Leicester, Corriedale, Polworth, Merino, Lincoln…. I know a llama when I see one (now). I am hooked on auctions. It is the closest thing to gambling that I am willing to risk. I have an “enterprising” gene somewhere buried deep. I have to stay away! Otherwise, we are gonna have a sheep, soon.
We are officially full – in this house. Carol makes fun how much “stuff” we accumulate. We are gonna need a bigger car – this thought occurred to me more than once during our trip. So, I/we shipped home three big boxes. Fleece and fiber compress. You can’t keep it compressed forever. Like a fart, it expands to fill the room it is released into. And the beer! It rode in the car. I don’t drink. Ha ha. The cats were happy to see us once again. Nutley settled into a basket of yarn. Spice got into a bin, too small, next to the beer. The living room shows a partial series of spinning wheels. How many does one spinner need? Another fleece(s)? Bags and bags covered the table. OMG. Good and rare one and all, we have a collection of fiber you don’t go and find easily, if at all. I suppose I will have to start spinning again… and drinking beer…. for the team.
… in a room full of rocking chairs. Ha ha. Equipment sale – euphemistic. It was about the auction of a lot of spinning wheels and a couple looms. Complete with a “real” old style auctioneer. Spinner’s paradise.The kicker? I was amonst a group of knitters. Great wheels were going for $50. Spinning wheels were a song. Oh my! It was a heartbreaking nightmare. So cheap! And, my car was already full!! Needless to say, I bid, Colleen cringed, and we won a cute “old” wheel. Who could resist? There is a certain amount of educated gambler in me. I had a value (in my head) and bid up to that limit. One wheel I bid on went for $500. Wow! Near the end, I just kept bidding to raise the buyer’s price. Why not? It seemed obvious that the bidder was just buying an antique toy for his kids. We could tell he was clueless and with a deep wallet (and a long tail).
My daughter terrorizes me. As long as we are being truthful… we, too, have a complex relationship. She has accepted Colleen in my life only reluctantly. I now have a present wife and an ex-wife. I never thought that would be the case. They get along as well as one might expect. Our common meeting point is granddaughter Noa. For the sake of seeing her, we dance around. I accept that as the price. It was a non-negotiable price. Stuck? You bet! I attest the dynamics are complex. Detente!
Diplomacy. Not my strong suit. Present & former wife – we all survived the encounter. They were cordial. We were there, for my daughter, the common point: and, of course, Noa, the youngest grandchild. At least we are civil; I/we had always intended to be so. A peace offering: Colleen gave Lisa a spinning wheel she was not using. We were making space: a new wheel will soon arrive. Either way, it worked out for the good. It was a strange day on many levels. It ended peacefully. One never knows. Strained? Tension? Nah!
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.
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 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.
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.
As long as we are talking technique, let me mention background. Most folks forget to look at the clutter in the background. You know, the stuff behind your subject. … like the light pole sticking out of some loved one’s head. Clutter. Distraction. Ha! I often find myself looking at the background to see the clutter that got “snuck” into someone else’s photo. Oh well, no one likes a messy background. It’s distracting and shows that you were not paying attention when you tried to focus on your foreground subject.
No one likes a cluttered messy home. “Minimalist” is “in” these days. Me, us, we seem to have accumulated an assortment of weaving and spinning things that would do any shopkeeper proud. Nice stuff. Displayed. We do work with most of the stuff you can see. (There’s more!!) Since, we are not entertaining in the near future, anything goes. A lot of fiber equipment is out and in use. This is not a display so much as it is a workshop of “in progress” projects. It’s home. And, it feels like it, though I laugh because not even the cats can make a straight line across the room.
… two spinning wheels, two looms, winder, lazy kate, carder, great wheel, fiber, ball winder… we’re not showing off. We – mostly Colleen – have many projects simultaneously in progress. …and, nary a cat in sight. And, I daresay any picture (in this room) unless it’s a closeup will have distracting background to be considered.
After you spin, you ply. That is, you combine two single spin fibers into a plied yarn. You can ply more, but two is good. And this looks good to the untrained eye. There are plenty of defects. I’m not sure what we can do with it. That would be for Colleen to decide. But this skein is ready to go. I hope. As in, I hope it will be put into some project and not just sit around looking pretty (not).
After the first, I kept at it, moved on, and tried to improve. It’s mileage. The more you spin, the better you feel the fiber in your hands. Ha ha. It’s a zen thing. And I got better. Of course, the first was worst, so there was only better to go. And indeed, I am. Ha! I am my own worst critic. It’s only that honesty is a necessary trait in order to improve. I’m not prime time yet. But, there is a great promise. No, one cannot achieve what the industrial mechanical machinery can spin. But, I am happy with imperfections of handmade, custom made home spun yarn. I suspect time will tell as I get better. We have a good many spinning wheels both antique and modern. At least they are all in use.