St-François-du-Lac CPW Elie Laporte builder

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This past weekend I rescued a CPW, Canadian Production Wheel, which showed up on local Craig’s List and which has a distinctive cast iron treadle with cut-outs:  EL. St. Frs.  While there had been much speculation in spinning wheel circles some time ago when the treadle first appeared on a wheel, but no one had been able to ID the wheel.  Sadly, that wheel was missing flyer and bobbin.  My find is intact with the exception of the footman.  While I’ve been in the process of cleaning and feeding the wheel, others have been researching.  We think we’ve found the builder.  24 year old Elie Laporte in the 1871 Census of St-François-du-Lac, Yamaska, Quebec was reported to be a “manufacturier de rouets”.  He reappears in the 1881 Census as “menuisier” (carpenter) and again in the 1891 Census as “fabricant de rouets”.  It all fits.  EL St. Frs

Obviously, by identifying the builder and discovering the span he was working and building wheels we can approximate the date of the wheel.  Elie Laporte was born 27 Nov 1845 and died 2 Aug 1919.  He had married first at age 17 and he and his wife had three daughters.  His wife died after only five years of marriage, leaving him a widower with three young daughters.  He remarried a year later and is listed in the 1871 Census with his second wife, the three young girls, his mother and mother-in-law and his sister all living in the same household.  Since he is already identified as a builder of spinning wheels at that time, it can be assumed that this wheel was built before the turn of the century and somewhere within the range of 1863 (the year of his first marriage) and 1901 (when he is listed in the census as a border which suggests he’d given up his home and shop).  He had relocated to St Bonaventure d’Upton by the time of his death in 1919 at the age of 64.

While it would be wonderful to have been able to narrow the build date even more, I’m thrilled to have identified the builder and to have restored the wheel to it’s purposes, that of being a production spinning wheel.

Laporte wheel Treadle



Spin-Off Magazine … Hot Wheels

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spin off hot wheels

The cover title, “Hot Wheels”, Spin-Off Spring 2015, refers to a round-up of One-Of-A-Kind Spinning Wheels. I wrote the article and several wheels from my “collection” were featured. The article has been well received and has garnered a request for more. The next round-up will be for “personalized” spinning wheels.

I’m looking for photos of wheels that started their lives as one of many  but have been decorated to express the personality of the owner/spinner.  (Not custom or one-of-a-kind wheels.)

Guidelines for taking photos for Spin-Off HERE.

If you have a wheel you would like to have featured, add a comment and I’ll email a visual release to you for signature and directions as to how to get photo to me.





SAORI Weaving Lesson

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birthday 2014 008

Had the most amazing Birthday.  I spent much of the day with Kathleen Keenan, Certified Saori Instructor @ her Sarasota studio for a private lesson.  She is a generous instructor, coach, and cheer leader.

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Very pleased with the outcome … a sampler of playing with color & texture and somehow it all works. Plan to turn it into a mobius scarf.

birthday 2014 010

birthday 2014 014


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


Frank Fell Spinning Wheel

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Frank Fell spinning wheel.  Lovely spinning wheel … smooth spinner.


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.


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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.


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