Last Saturday, I welcomed home a new member of the family.
Can you guess what it is?
Here’s a clue. A small piece of wool, probably quite old, stuck to the wood under the mark “FRS. BORDUA, ST CHARLES, R.C”.
If you’re still stuck, how about this?
Yep: it’s a new-to-me-but-actually-quite-antique spinning wheel.
Last week I was listening to a podcast that mentioned Canadian tilt-tension production wheels. I’m lucky enough to live in the general area where these wheels were manufactured, so on a whim, I stopped by ye olde Craigslist. The next thing I knew….
It’s a perfect fit for my needs, not to mention my tastes. I’ve been saving up for a Saxony-style wheel with a single treadle, and I knew that I wanted to make primarily fine yarns for weaving, and I like antiques, and this puppy fits the bill on all counts. It’s a François Bordua wheel from St. Charles, which according to this site dates it to somewhere between 1843 and 1903.
So it is an antique, and there are a few issues. The flyer was repaired sometime in the distant past, and it’s still a little wibbly. I’m telling myself that this has nothing to do with the fact that I DROPPED IT the first time I sat down to spin. (Yes, really. I almost cried.*) The arms of the flyer are wired together with what looks to be fairly heavy-gauge steel, so it’s not going to fall apart, it’s just… wibbly. Naturally, I’m a little concerned about doing further damage, so before I settle in to any serious spinning I’d like to research repairs, replacements, and what I should and shouldn’t do.
That isn’t to say I didn’t try it out.
And it was delightful! (For what my opinion is worth, anyway, since I’d never tried wheel spinning before.) It was also very fast. I love this thing.
As with most wheels of this kind, there’s only one bobbin, but that’s fine. No different than spindle spinning. Fortunately, my loom came with a swift and a ball winder, so I am well equipped.
Have any of you ever worked with an antique wheel? The owners of this one for the last twenty years used it as a decoration, so I don’t know how long it’s been since it was used. I think it’s time to put it back to work. Carefully!
*Actually, what happened was that the front leather bearing was too loose, so the flyer slipped out and skidded across the floor once the wheel started spinning. I think the skidding motion is what saved it: if it had dropped straight onto the floor, I suspect that it would have broken into pieces and that I would have been a sad blogger. Hopefully we will never find out.