Butterfly Box

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valtz 2Womack Butterfly Electric Spinner just arrived.  I’m loving it !!! But, it’s no lightweight and yet I want to travel with it and I want to keep myself organized.  The seller told me she has used a long handled plastic milk file crate to tote it to and from guild meetings and that she created a false bottom  with storage below in which to keep bobbins, cords and other accessories.  Local Office Depot is relocating and holding a blow-out sale so I stopped with the thought of getting one of those crates for cheap.  They were sold out but I found a lidded and locking portable file from Valtz.


frameMy DH (dear husband) built a frame from 1″ X 4″ lumber which actually is only a bit taller than the 3″ diameter bobbins.  And I sprayed it with flat black paint.



1 inside






Butterfly box 022  Butterfly box 018













DH cut a “lid” for the “hidden” compartment from 1/4″ plywood paneling.   It was oiled and a random pull from the shop added … voila!!


Frank Fell Spinning Wheel for Sale

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I am selling Frank Fell Spinning Wheel on eBay HERE.
for sale 2


My understanding is that in 1884, Fell began working for the Mayville Furniture Company, which manufactured spinning wheels for sale both locally and to a broader market. When the factory closed in 1904, Fell purchased its lathe and opened his own wood-turning shop in his Mayville, WI home. He built German-style wheels, although he was the son of a British immigrant cabinetmaker and not of German descent.  Existing wheels are highly collectable and have a reputation for spinning extraordinarily well and this wheel is no exception.  Most rare and unusual, while most have been lost, this wheel retains a bit of the original distaff.  Spinners love these wheels and for good cause.

While this wheel has a beautiful patina and retains it’s original finish, there are signs of age and wear from use.  This wheel spins like butter (See video in previous article.)  I offer it without reservation and with more than a little reluctance.  It disassembles and reassembles easily and is light making it the perfect candidate to take out for demonstrations and re-enactments.  It is a single treadle, double drive, German Saxony style spinning wheel.  The functional difference between a double drive and a Scotch tension (for example Ashford Saxony), is while finding the “sweet spot” on a double drive may take a bit of fiddling, once found, you can spin without any further adjustments; you can even switch out bobbins and spin again without adjusting the tension.  The Scotch tension needs to be adjusted throughout the process of filling the bobbin.  While this may not be an issue for a novice spinner, it is an annoyance as one becomes more proficient and increases the rate at which they can fill a bobbin.

I have used this wheel when teaching new spinners and as an experienced spinner, I still find it a joy upon which to spin.  I am selling as I am attempting to reclaim the living areas of my home; I have more than a dozen working wheels and several in the process of restoration.  While I’m not convinced, my husband assures me that one cannot spin on more than one wheel at a time and therefore it makes no sense to have so many wheels.  That said, this wheel needs to be re-homed where it will be used and appreciated.


Frank Fell Spinning Wheel

Frank Fell Spinning Wheel


Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , FOR SALE , My Spinning Wheels , Spinning 
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ebay 2

eBay 4














German eBay import arrives in disarray but after some time on the workbench and some TLC, it has been put to work as a functional spinning wheel.

I saw this lovely vintage Tyrolean Spinning Wheel on German eBay. (Seller photos above.)  I loved the graceful hardwood turnings.  It appeared in-tact; I bid accordingly and won the auction.  But was shocked when the wheel finally arrived and I opened the box.  It looked like the wheel had been dumped in a box and shipped with hardly a bit of packing materials.  It was a jumble of broken pieces.  The photo below was taken right after opening the box (you can see the missing foot).  The packing material you see is all that had been provided for trans-ocean voyage.














The photo below is of the wheel as I attempted to re-assemble it.  One of the uprights that holds up the wheel, a foot and the distaff are broken off.


wheel damage & mountains 075










When I contacted the seller and confronted him with the damage (most of it old as evidenced by residual glue and not the result of poor packing), he acknowledged sawing off the distaff to fit the wheel in the shipping box but sarcastically inquired, “don’t they have glue in the US?” Ugh! My DH (dear husband) went about making proper repairs.  He drilled holes then pegged and glued the separated pieces and pegged the distaff.  I added bamboo “pins” to hold down the wheel.  Then I drenched the thirsty wood with a combination of bee’s wax and orange oil.


Tyrolean Spinning Wheel 046













The wheel was beautifully turned by a master craftsman. Sadly, the builder appears to have had little experience with spinning wheels. The tension knob on the front of the table at first glance appears to be a screw which would move the maiden forward and back to create tension on the drive band. Instead of a spiral pattern of turns, the “screw” is a row of concentric circles. It doesn’t adjust. But, the weight of the maiden alone seems to create enough drag that the wheels spin with plenty of draw. The footman crosses in front of the spinner but to maintain proper alignment, the wheel can not be reversed. The wheel was constructed with apparent purpose to slant. But instead of slanting toward the spinner, it slants away, confounding treadling action.   Despite all the reasons it shouldn’t, the wheel spins and yarn it makes.  Lovely example of a Tyrolean Spinning Wheel.


Tyrolean Spinning Wheel is for Sale.  CLICK HERE


Antique Yarn Winder

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Recent rescue, antique brass & iron yarn winder.  Very heavy.  No manufacture’s markings.  Here are “before” photos, needs some TLC & polishing.

end view

end view


side view

side view




brass yardage wheel

brass yardage wheel/gear


Spin-Off Magazine

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Visitors, Welcome!fall 2014spring 2014












I was delighted that Spin-Off Magazine has accepted articles for Spring & Fall 2014. They’ve also accepted an article for Winter 2014, a Gallery of One-Of-A-Kind Wheels … antique and contemporary. The article was a challenge but it turned out really well.


“Antique Wheel Buyer’s Guide” Fall 2014  (That’s me.)


Florida Sheep, Wool, and Herding Dog Festival 2014

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packed for workshop 002Florida Sheep, Wool, and Herding Dog Festival 2014 this weekend: Friday, Saturday & Sunday 4/25, 4/26, and 4/27/2014. I’ve loaded six, count ’em, six wheels already including Victorial the Dental Drill base Victorian Door Knob spinning wheel, a Frank Fell Saxony, Journey Wheel, imported antique French Metal Wheel, Ashford Traditional Spindle Wheel and Australian Wind Wheel.

I’ll be teaching:

(1) Wheel Mechanics 101 … spinning wheel tune-up; if it’s not broken or missing parts, we’ll get it spinning. Will include instruction re:wheel mechanics, i.e. double drive, direct drive and Scotch tension AND minor repairs i.e. new leather bearings, tightening joints. In addition, we’ll provide hints for evaluating a garage sale or Craig’s list wheel and the feeding of old wood. There will be a small materials fee to cover the cost printing and supplies.

(2) Spinning 101 … introduction to wheel spinning. Will include survey of fiber prep techniques and prepared fiber available to hand spinner, i.e. hand carding, drum carder, roving and batts, also learn about yarn composition, i.e. z vs s twist, plying and fulling. Lots of hands on time to learn or refine basic spinning skills to turn out small gauge knitable/weavable yarns, not “art yarn”. Spinners may bring their own wheels or “rent” a wheel for the session (by pre-arrangement). There will be a small materials fee to cover the cost printing and of fiber.

(3) Garbage Bag Dying – an intro to dying wool fiber. Lots of hands on experiences.


One-of-a-kind Spinning Wheels

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I am writing an article for Fall 2014 Spin-Off Magazine on One-of-a-Kind spinning wheels. I am soliciting photos. I am posting a guide for photo taking and a photo release which need to be returned with any photos.



The wheel below is a OOAK spinning wheel I created from a foot powered dental drill and an antique Victorian door knob and back plates.

Foot Powered Dental Drill Spinning Wheel

CLICK HERE to see Foot Powered Dental Drill Spinning Wheel Video.


Spinning Roving for Sale

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I’ve been playing with commercial dyes and home dye techniques and I think I’ve nailed it.  I have several combinations which will soon be available on Etsy.









Sand & Surf


Muted Morning








Weaving Fibonacci Colors

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , Smoky Mountains Convergence Tri-Shawl , Tri-Loom Projects , Weaving 
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Here I’ll describe how to weave Fibonacci colors as I described in my article in Spin-off Magazine Spring 2014.



My first use of Fibonacci numbers was laying out my “Convergence Tri-Loom Shawl”. Every two years, the Handweavers’ Guild of America “converges” on a city for the HGA’s International Fiber Arts Conference. In 2008, they met in Tampa, Florida. To honor convergence, the Guild commissioned the creation of special yarn. The space-dyed yarn was dyed in colors of the tropics, brilliant pink, turquoise, green and orange. I plied the space-dyed convergence rayon singles with bright colored cotton for a tri-loom project.

I’m tall and wanted a generous shawl. Not satisfied with the available 7’ looms, I wanted an 8’ loom. That summer, we were planning a vacation in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, so I had my summer project. I had my husband cut three pieces of wood molding to create the tri-loom and had him bolt the corners together so I could disassemble it to take it to the mountains where I could reassemble it. He devised a transportation device, utilizing a PVC pipe which he capped on each end, the “limbs” of the tri-loom rode to the mountains on the roof rack in style.

Once we got to the mountains, I began to hammer nails. Yes, I’m obsessive, before the groceries were purchased, before the suitcases were stored, I was nailing. I carefully marked and nailed exactly the same number of nails across the top as were nailed into the other two sides of the triangle. When I started to weave, the threads became more and more angled; they weren’t straight up and down. I soon figured out that the ratio should be two to one; that is, two across the top for each along the adjoining sides. BUT, serendipity, it all worked out. When I first began to weave the shawl, I had found my weave very loose. I discovered that if I looped my yarn twice around the bottom nails for each time I looped the yarn around a top nail, I had a tight weave. (Twice the yarn and twice the work, but a very satisfactory result.) I finished the shawl by treating each loop separately, knotting fringe in each loop.

I wanted the stripes to blend into one another. I recalled when I was looking at sock knitting patterns reading that stripes are most pleasing to the eye when one uses stripes proportioned in additional adjoining numbers: 1, 1 (1 + 0), 2 (1 + 1), 3 (1+2), 5 (2+3), 8 (3 + 5), 13 (5 + 8), 21 (8 + 13), etc.  The number sequence was named for Leonardo Fibonacci an Italian mathematician who introduced the relationship, also known as the golden ratio, to the West; it had been earlier described by an Indian mathematician.

By the nature of tri-loom weaving technique, each pass creates both warp and weft. It moves from the bottom left side to the top of the triangle and down again; it then crosses the loom and loops on the next available lower right nail before going up to the top right and then reverses the process, ending on a nail on the lower left. This process creates two warp and two weft threads for each pass. Therefore, my widest stripe was 8 pairs of two. The next stripe of the same color on either side of the mentioned stripe was 5 pairs of two. The next stripe of the same color on either side was 3 pairs of two; then 2 pairs of two; then 1 pair of two and finally 1 pair of two. I overlapped the colors, placing the narrowest strip of one color next to the thickest stripe of another. I love the final results.

I worked on the shawl in the summer and had to wait ‘til fall to return to the mountains to finish the project. (P.S. My husband took pity on me and my struggles at nail driving and purchased for me in Ashville a beautiful cherry Hill Creek Fiber Studio 6’ 10” tri-loom.) That next summer, I wore my Shawl as I wandered through Convergence. Yes, Florida in the summer but thanks to the air conditioning, it was freezing (at least to this Florida gal). A Convergence shawl with a tropical twist was just the thing.


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I’m delighted, an article I wrote was accepted for Spin-Off Magazine Spring 2014, “Fibonacci Colors“.

The article provides guides to “Using leftovers purposely”. I describe training ones eyes to identify what Laura Bryant describes as a “river of light” in her video “A Fiber Artists Guide to Color”. I also included a tip I’ve learned to build on her training ones eyes. By taking a digital photo and converting the photo to black and white you can assess the “weight” of a colored yarn without being distracted by the colors. Those that are too intense/too “heavy”, can be easily identified; those that are too subtle/”light”, can easily be sorted out. Colors that are the same weight can be used in the same project, even if they don’t fit color wheel guidelines.

I’m a beginning weaver so I choose a simple Undulating  Twill:  Straight Draft; 2/2 Twill from Anne Dixon’s the Handweaver’s Pattern Directory page 198 for the pattern.  Because as the warp advanced and completed work would be hidden, I was concerned that the “random” colors might not blend or the stripes might not balance.  To blend the colors and assure balanced stripes, I used the Fibonacci number sequence as a guide.  The numbers follow a progressive sequence, with each new number being the sum of the two previous numbers.  The sequence is   0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, … Fearing one pass would get lost, I used the formula 1 = 4, that is for each Fibonacci number, I would make four passes.   Where the number was “1”, I would make 4 passes; “2”, I would make 8 passes; “3”, I would make 12 passes, and so on.  While the yarn from one skien was woven into the weft in stripes with increasing width, I decreased the width of the adjacent yarn stripes.  One transition of weft passes would be as follows: 52 cream (13) 4 blue (1) 32 cream (8) 4 blue (1) 20 cream (5) 8 blue (2) 12 cream (3) 12 blue (3)  – 8 cream (2) 20 blue (5) 4 cream (1) 32 blue (8)  4 cream (1) 52 blue (13) 4 salmon (1) 32 blue (8)4 salmon (1) 20 blue (5) 8 salmon (2) 12 blue (3) 12 salmon (3) 8 blue (2) 20 salmon (5)4 blue (1) 32 salmon (8) 4 blue (1) 52 salmon (13) 



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