Fiber Corner

Daily life of a knitting designer/publisher of handknitting patterns

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Where the Redbuds Bloom

That's where I was last week. Unfortunately, my pics of the Redbud trees didn't turn out so this shot of my lilac starting to bud will have to suffice--proof that spring really has finally arrived here in the upper Midwest.

My trip to the south was on account of a wheel. Not just any wheel, a Rick Reeves Frame wheel. My sister from a different mother (not really, it just feels that way) June contacted me last January to see if I'd want to buy it--she just had too many wheels and one of them had to go. I could hardly believe it. I had been very happy with my wheel family--the big Black Walnut Lendrum Saxony, my Ashford Traveller and little baby Joy. About the only thing that would tempt me to get another one was if a legendary Reeves wheel fell into my lap--and then one did!

Isn't it a beauty! (Please only look at the pretty wheel and not at the condition of the yard.)
The wood is Red Oak and it's a lovely warm honey color. I'm not sure when it was made, but it has the brass plate on the front, and is hand signed by Mr. Reeves on the back.

Oh, and I love the script R on the crank. The attention to detail is wonderful and the workmanship is absolutely stunning. I don't think I've ever seen anything this well made.
I love the on board storage for the extra whorls. Actually, this wheel came with two flyers (the regular and the large one), 6 bobbins (three for each flyer) and 6 whorls (again, three for each flyer). The ratios as I measured them are: 5.5:1, 6:1, 7.5:1, 9:1, 9.5:1, 10:1, 11.5:1, 12:1, 12.5:1, 14:1, and 15.25:1.

Another great feature of this wheel is that the mother of all can be placed at the center or to the right or left (or taken off completely when traveling).
As a left handed spinner it's great to be able to have the flyer on the right and be able to draft across my body instead of having to twist my body to the left when I want to long draw. Here's a shot of the bobbin in progress showing some woolen spun Shetland.
My first skein spun was this painted BFL roving. It shows the result of switching gears in midstream. This wheel has been very well cared for so wasn't in need of any special tender loving care to restore it, however, June had her set up for Scotch tension and I prefer spinning in double drive, so I switched out the drive band right away. It took awhile to get the hang of how it treadled (and we're still not totally in sync but I think we're definitely on the road to becoming friends).

The second skein was this laceweight Merino/Angora/Cashmere. Swapping out a second drive band with a softer cotton one made a big difference.
The first drive band I put on was some parachute cord that I'd gotten for my Traveller. It's a very tight cotton cord and has held up really well on that wheel, but on the Reeves it just made the take up too strong. So, thankfully, Roberta told me about the drive band material the Jensen wheels use (Strait Line cord--it's the stuff used for snapping chalk lines if you want to look for some) and it's much softer and more to my liking. I tend to spin with a very light take up, though, so YMMV.

A couple of people have asked for pics on how I sew a drive band on so even though this post is already picture intensive, I'm going to add on a bunch more to demonstrate it. This is something that Susan McFarland (of Susan's Fiber Shop) once showed me how to do.

First tie the new drive band on--you want to make sure you've got the right length and it will work with all the whorl/bobbin combinations on your wheel. Then, untie the knot and pinch that section tightly. Once you have it securely in your fingers, you can ease off the tension on the drive band so there's a little slack--makes it easier to sew.
Pierce both strands of the cord with a needle, wrap it around and repeat.
It's easiest to work from the middle out leaving a long tail. After you go one direction, thread the tail onto the needle and move the other direction. You only need to really sew through both strands for about a half inch total, then you can just wrap the thread around the two strands a little bit.
Once the band is sewn, you can cut off the remaining tail of cord and to keep the little ends from fraying, drip some candle wax on them.
It's a good idea to really get the drive band out of the way of the wheel when you do this because you don't want to drip hot wax on the beautiful wood.
Then, when the wax is still warm, rub the whole sewn section back and forth in the palm of your hands. This sort of melds the whole thing together and prevents it from getting stiff. Done. No knots to get in the way of your spinning--only smooth sailing...

...make that smooth spinning.


At 5:05 PM, Blogger June said...

OMG, VICKI!! OMG, OMG!!! This was just such a great post. Wowza! She was waiting just for you, and I am so happy that you guys are getting along better.

I know that the Scotch Tension, kinda made this wheel not my favorite, but I didn't have the knowledge of the parachute cord or the plumb line cord. I must find some of that. I love your explanation of the sewn drive band and hope it's ok to copy for my own use!

It looks great up there in the north, and you always have me to prove you were here in the mid-south anyway! I hope we can meet up halfway next time. I think I'll start planning on that. . .

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous kerry said...

It's a beautiful wheel - color me pea green! I hope the other wheels aren't jealous...

At 10:23 PM, Blogger vanessa said...

whee! nothing beats a lovely reeves :-)
great band photos!

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Melanie said...

Wow, wow, wowie, what a gorgeous wheel! I love the red oak. I love your spinning and I love the drive band tutorial. Thanks so much for a wonderful post.

At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Sam said...

Envy, thy name is Sam. :-) And thanks for the great tutorial on sewing the drive band. Sam p.s. I think your BFL yarn looks great!

At 6:34 AM, Blogger Kim said...

Beeutiful wheel and great tutorial!!


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