Happy… birthday. Happy!? I hope I have made you as happy as you have made me so. In a simple collage we have the essence of it all: cat, food, travel, spinning, beach… together. Good time?! Yup! Favorite cat? We all have a special one. Ha! Not really. If a picture is worth a thousand words… I hope you will know how my feelings are in this collage. Happy?…. as the cow jumped over the moon. Happy? … my wish to you.
Flag? Symbolism? Meaning? Interpretation? Philosophical? Deep? Poetic? … Nah! Spontaneous. It was eye catching as I edited… gestalt. Ah! And flowers….
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.
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.”
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.
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…
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.
By default I am becoming a spinner. There are spinning wheels and there are spinning wheels. To me they are like rental cars. I’ve never driven a Porsche. But I can drive a car. Aren’t they all alike? Ha ha! But true enough, I eat to live not live to eat. Mostly. Spinning is getting to the product – yarn. When you look at a skein you don’t know what wheel it was spun on. But I suppose you can have a lot of fun getting there. it’s too early for me to be able to appreciate the differences. Now, if we were to discuss cameras… well, right about now, I have more than a few. And they all have a role in different circumstances. I might use one differently depending on the subject or lighting. Perhaps someday I will know spinning wheels too.
We processed fleece. Sheep fleece. It needs to be cleaned and washed. You cannot wash it on the sheep. I wish. And you cannot wash wool in a washing machine. It will felt. That would never do! No, in order to spin and weave you must prepare the fleece. Why? Because it is the beginning of the process, the source. We’d have sheep in our yard but the homeowners association forbids it. Darn! How many fleece and how much? A lot! So much fleece was waiting we were days washing and drying. Hence, the “mess.” With all this fleece ready to be spun, it would be a good long time before you could expect to do much else. So! I have decided to spin. You know, help out. After all it is one very large task. And so I shall/did. And here is the result. I tried drop spindle a good long time ago and was miserable. I didn’t spin good and the wool did not like me. We parted. But now I am spinning. Um, they say your first skein is a piece of work no mother would love. And mine was a work only I could appreciate. Actually, I got the hang of it right away. Don’t be too smug! I was. Looking back it was true. My first effort was laughable. I got a lot of encouragement from Colleen. She’s a truly supportive spouse. And I have to love her dearly for her kind words. We are still laughing…
Similar to my previous post this image was serendipitous. I carry a camera constantly close within reach. This spider was crawling about on the container. I shot and shot. Its body was partly translucent and detail is poor at the front. But look at the web that trails. No other shot I took shows this. It’s cool. I don’t get this shot despite all the spiders that live in my garden and home.
No, I’m not OCD. Am I? No matter. Here’s something you don’t see every day: Spinning in the park. Or, bobbin lace. It’s a craft not in much popularity. It’s intricate and fascinating. The artist said take all the pictures you want, just none of me. The sheep are trimmed and groomed for show. Why? The fleece is reduced to short fiber. The sheep sure look better. But then again maybe I forgot, they are destined to be eaten. Lamb burger? Gyro?
William Golding, not the author, but, well-known maker of spinning wheels was at the NY wool festival. He’s legendary. But, his booth was tucked in a far corner and could be easily missed. His work is prized and the prices for his work are stupendous. How much? I came across his name at the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival where one of his wheels was auctioned. The bidding climbed into the thousands and a woman won with a bid in excess of $3k. Yeah! That’s a lot of money. It was easily the showstopper item of the auction. So, to meet Mr. Golding in person was an honor. He was a bit embarrassed to be sure. Nonetheless I shamelessly asked for a picture of he and his son. We bought as drop spindle for some money but not nearly the $9k for one of his wheels shown here. Craftsmanship! It’s like a Ferrari. You can drive in style… or not. Your choice. I was tickled to meet the man.
Fiber, it’s a new world for me. I’m following the process. The interim step is the spun fiber. It’s made into wondrous things – cloth. Pattern is a big part of the process. And this requires multicolored and multi-textured spun material. It’s a fascinating process. I like the graphical component. I like order. Some of the material seems ethereal. Try to focus. The woven products are myriad. Industrialization has made cloth inexpensive. We take it for granted in the everyday products we purchase for almost nothing. Synthetic and throw away it’s hard to believe that the craft is ages old. We value the handwoven and pay pennies for our everyday cloth. You shop Walmart for the price not the quality.
“Pop goes the weasel.” Ever hear the song? “Round and round the mulberry bush …pop goes the weasel.” Sorry, I’m not giving singing lessons. Look it up if you like. But like “Ring around the rosie..” (a different song) there is a significance. “Ashes, ashes, we all fall down…” referred to the plague and death. That’s a downer. I liked that song too.
This?! Is a weasel. Yup. There is a weaving spinning device called a weasel. And it is used to measure yarn. You set the device and spin the yarn on the arms and it counts out a measured length. And when you reach the desired length you set – “Pop goes the weasel.” Simple. Elegant. Did you like that? Did you know that? Do you care? I learn new things all the time. Cool! Yeah, yeah, and we got one. Actually two. I guess the first one needed a friend…?