Out of all proportion!

Oh, I know it’s silly… but then again, is it? I remember a friend, a keen cyclist, getting a new bike and being every bit as excited. And I’m sure it’s the same for any other enthusiast – a new timetable for a trainspotter, a new flavour for a chocaholic…

Where was I? Ahem.

Anyway, daft or not, I tracked the progress of my new spinning wheel as it made its way towards me…

10-07-2012 00:31 Deeside Depot Loaded to vehicle for delivery
09-07-2012 09:13 National Hub Received and processed
06-07-2012 16:31 Gloucester Depot Tracked out of Local Hub
06-07-2012 15:06 Gloucester Depot Collected from customer

The timing couldn’t have been better. I’d a deadline for Monday, the 9th, and then I was moving on to another project on the 11th. The wheel was due slap in between.

Perfect timing:

But I resisted the urge to rip the box apart with cries of glee. Well, I resisted in as much as I didn’t actually haul it out of the rather splendid box (complete with carrying handle), because I had  a plan.

Now I like bikes, and I enjoyed looking at my friend’s new bike when it arrived, but I am very much aware that not everyone might feel the same about a spinning wheel.

(Though why not escapes me… )

So I called one local spinning friend when the wheel arrived – ‘come on over’ – and then we decided to ring another mad spinner, who has recently had a massive op and is temporarily hors de combat as a result. In the end, I put the box – unfiddled-with – in the car, picked up Spinner 1, and drove up to Spinner 2, who had previously refused to speak to me until I ordered a new wheel (she’s not just an enabler; I’d been driving her mad with my havering).

So there were four of us – me, Spinner 1, Spinner 2, Spinner 2’s husband (also a spinner, now referred to as Spinner 3) – plus a large box, plus three other spinning wheels, plus two Miniature Schnauzers, all in the relatively small front room of a Welsh cottage. There was much over-excited squealing – human, not canine, and not really Spinner 3 who is far too sensible for that – as the box was finally unpacked. At this point I forgot to take photographs. Probably just as well. They’d undoubtedly have included cardboard, inconvenient body parts – elbows, feet, ears – and dogs’ noses.

But this is what I got, after a lot of assistance from Spinners 1, 2, and 3, and dogs 1 and 2:

She’s a beauty, and I said so. And then Spinner 3 asked why everyone was making the assumption that she was female.

My old wheel – which I will probably use more for fleece now – was definitely female because of her previous owner. Also she had lovely woodcarving, incorporating a ‘B’ for Betty. I can’t go on referring to this one as ‘my new wheel’ and there are many, many Louet Julias out there, so ‘Julia’ is a bit of a cop-out.

I must add that I do not normally name inanimate objects. Well, I did once have a bad-tempered Mini who was called Ermengarde for no apparent reason, but I am not seized with a general tendency to call the fridge Frank or my laptop Lavinia. (Sound of laptop breathing sigh of relief.)

My new wheel – MNW – has some lovely features, by the way. First, the kit came complete with everything, and I mean everything; it even included a beautiful screwdriver. Then the Lazy Kate is a masterpiece of simple, elegant design, with an easily adjustable angle giving different levels of resistance. The orofice is also adjustable (no sniggering at the back):

You can make it bigger by removing the central part (I said no sniggering).

And it spins magnificently. I don’t, but I’m working on that.

Hmm, back to the name issue, because I really don’t feel comfortable calling MNW ‘it’. It – ugh – so obviously has a personality, rather like a bicycle or a ship. In French, a spinning wheel is un rouet – masculine – so maybe Spinner 3 had a point.

I was always rather intrigued by a quirk in French, and I remember my father laughing about it when he tried to explain (he did also say that the worst phrases uttered by small children began with the word ‘Papa…‘ uttered in a high and rising tone, were usually anatomical and/or delivered on public transport, or fiendishly difficult and deeply philosophical). By plane, by ambulance, by car, are en avionen ambulance, en voiture – they’re inanimate objects. By horse, though, is à cheval, and it’s that for other animate objects. But a bike, ah, a bike can be either – animate or inanimate, who knows? The point of all this reminiscent drivel is that I evidently feel like that about MNW, so ‘it’ needs a name.

It should really be Dutch; the wheel is from Holland, after all. But I have quite a few Dutch clients and friends, and I’m not entirely happy about any possible confusion. So how about French, following on from le rouet? Jules. Il est mon Jules. Mon mec. And that dates me, just as slang always does. Maybe I’ll stick to MNW.

Maybe I’ll just work on the spinning, instead of the wittering. Heaven only knows, I’ve enough fluff…

Um. And work.



40 thoughts on “Out of all proportion!

  1. Lindsay

    Just let the little beauty be nameless for a while and some wonderful (or very silly) name will leap into your mind one day and that will be that! Main thing is, he/she/it is loved and appreciated and you have a long and happy relationship to look forward to!

    1. kate Post author

      I think that’s a very good idea. (Mind you, I was spinning on it yesterday and I seem to have called it ‘arse’ several times – I don’t seem to be able to control it properly. Yet. Yet.)

    1. kate Post author

      Well, I had thought of Louis or Louey, but there’s a small problem. Well, quite a big ginger problem. I’ve already got a Louey in my life – a cat. He’s not actually mine, mind, but we do have a deep and meaningful relationship. Mostly consisting of dribble, dead things and huge amounts of shed ginger fluff (they’re all from him, BTW), but there you go.

  2. Lydia

    OOhh! She does look very pretty. Now you two have to go out for a spin together. Have lots of fun – I can just imagine how exciting opening the box was. I received a Schacht Ladybug all the way from the States – a massive box to pick up from the local Post Office as we have no postal delivery to our house in the bush. Out she hopped (yes, she hopped) and sat resplendent once all the bits had been put together. We looked at each other for quite a few days and then, when all was ready for a spin – she hopped back in the box for six months. My daughter’s puppy, now our puppy, the puppy from the planet Wild arrived to live with us and chew and rip up and scratch and sleep on the sofa. However, eventually she emerged and now, only now are we becoming better acquainted over some shetland fluffy stuff – safe from dog teeth – I hope.

    1. kate Post author

      Oh no – the last thing you need with a lovely new wheel like that is a Chew-a-thon! Hopefully all is now well, and your Baby is spinning beautifully – I don’t think I could bear to do that. Still, puppies will be puppies, and it could have been worse than chewing… eeeyuk….

      My Babe is coming on a jaunt to the Sunday Market Spinners in Dolgellau tomorrow. She / he /it sits on the back seat of the car, held down by a seat belt like a child – it definitely needs a name…

      1. Lydia

        Yes, a seat belt is an excellent idea. I do a lot of driving up and down to Perth over here with my other very small white dog. Turning into the Freeway the other day the wheel fell over trapping Rosie underneath – I was unable to pull over at that stage but luckily she managed to wriggle out eventually. So, more tales from The Adventures Of A Wheel!

    1. kate Post author

      Your wheel is gorgeous – I wish you much happy spinning (but hopefully less swearing than I’ve been doing – I seem to have to lawn to spin all over again. I think I’m getting there)…

  3. Elizabeth

    I’m not much of a namer either, but it seems like wheels have to have names, so mine is a Lou – but I couldn’t tell you if it was a male Lou or a female Lou. Said wheel has not deigned to make such things clear to me.

    How about Dorit for your lovely new companion?

    1. kate Post author

      I do like Lou, and I like its ambiguity on gender (I think my wheel is probably fairly ambiguous too), but I’m deeply attached to a Lou/Louey already, except usually my attachment is literal and composed of a combination of cat drool, ginger fluff and claws when I try to stand up.

      Dorit is lovely but female. Hmm. Spinning group today – maybe they can come up with some suggestions too?

      1. Caroline Counihan

        21 July 2012

        Hi Kate

        Chomhgairdeachas leat don Roth nua, or Congratulations to you on the new wheel

        Can’t see her as other than feminine myself, either a Penelope or a Jennifer for some reason, or possibly a flamboyant Irish name like Lasarfhiona, the gleam of wine – pronounced Lossereeowna, but hey just like a human baby, the right name will announce itself one day and it will be impossible to imagine any other from then on

        Happy spinning!



        1. kate Post author

          Diolch yn fawr iawn i ti! (Celtic liberation front meeting, ahem, bit like the Judean People’s Front, but with wellies…)

          I’m beginning to think she’s female now myself – she certainly zips along at a fine old pace without being distracted by things like football, or beer – and I think she needs an appropriately regional name. Mind still blank though. Am very glad I’ve got her, but am now broke. Just as well I have the All-Wales Stash Mountain in my possession!

  4. Caroline Counihan

    21 July 2012

    You’re right of course about a regional name. Myfanwy Myfanwy come to me Myfanwy, through the ash grove pursued by a massed Welsh male voice choir singing their hearts out facing the land of their fathers

    Enough (Ed)

    Quite right too time to put my cover on



    1. kate Post author

      You see, my version of Myfanwy involves weepy drunks in London pubs. Not so much the male voice choir with Cadair Idris in the background, as a dark and seamy side-street near Leicester Square with an old comedy friend (safely anyonmous) singing it, in between telling me I was his best mate ever and sniffling about Wales. A bad case of hiraeth. Aided by buckets of beer.

      Something out of myth, perhaps? God knows, we’ve enough of that!

        1. kate Post author

          Yerssss. Your churchwarden wasn’t quite the idea I had in mind when I said ‘myth’… I think she/he will name her/himself at some point – feel more confident about saying that now I’ve stopped calling it ‘Arse’.

  5. randipants

    Beautiful wheel! I can’t wait for my first wheel (hopefully by the end of the year).

    I name all my major possessions and I give them all masculine names to offset centuries of men naming their boats and things after women. But the tricky bit, of course, is that you do have to choose just the right name and that means getting to know them a bit first sometimes. I’m sure you’ll settle on just the right name before too long.

    1. kate Post author

      That’s an excellent reason for going male!

      (I’ve run into another problem, though, and that’s avoiding confusion with people – oh, and dogs. I don’t want to find myself saying ‘Come on, Meg’ – or whatever – to the wheel when I’m trying to hoick it out of the car and find collies clustered around my feet…

      You will really, really enjoy a wheel, I’m sure. I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

  6. Deb

    Hi Kate!
    I’m new here (your blog was recommended to me by Knitsofacto Annie. I’m posting here because I share your excitement about getting a spinning wheel. I just ordered one myself. It is a little crazy because I have never spun (well, a tiny bit on a drop spindle) but I find that I NEED to do it. I can’t wait to get my wheel (a Lendrum DTC) which was a very good deal and recommended as a good one for beginners.Since I haven’t done any spinning before I won’t know the difference anyway. Plus it comes with everything I would have had to pay extra for. I look forward to being a part of things here as I muddle my way through the learning curve.

    I have 6 pounds of alpaca (sent to me by a friend with a ranch) to *practice* on. I feel very lucky. After I learn how to spin I will dive into dyeing!

    1. kate Post author

      Hiya – and good to ‘meet’ another addict!

      Several of my friends have Lendrums and love them deeply, so congratulations – they seem to spin beautifully, and one friend credits it with the fact that she’s now spinning almost perfectly after only a couple of years…. sounds like you’ve picked a winner there.

      When I started I found it VERY frustrating, and then a bit more frustrating on top of that. A brilliant spinner round me told me to do 30 minutes a day, not matter how frustrating I found it (did I say I found it frustrating?) and to persist even though I produced horrible stuff. She was right….

      Alpaca! Wow! And I’m with you on the dyeing too – just starting myself…

  7. Deb

    Thanks for the warm welcome Kate! I think I am going to like coming here. I have no doubts that I will find it frustrating (you should have seen me trying the drop spindle! lol) “But it looks SO easy!” Ha. But several people have said that if you just keep at it eventually you “get it”. I think that is true.

    I still can’t believe I am going to be spinning though! A year ago I was not even thinking of yarn. At all. I have known how to knit since I was a child but it was an on/off thing until last Christmas when I got the bug. Then, after discovering that I could learn anything on Youtube and especially from Staci at very pink.com I have become addicted to knitting. My husband said “You’re probably going to want to spin now” one day a couple of months ago. At the time I said no but somehow he planted that seed. lol.

    The dyeing should be fun too. I’m a watercolor artist so I can’t wait to venture into throwing colors at the yarn too.

    1. kate Post author

      Have just discovered dyeing is just as addictive as spinning – you are warned. I’m going to have to buy a warehouse to store my stash…
      I can’t believe you’re so recent a convert, and so completely addicted! (But then you did learn to knit when you were a kid – I didn’t. IF i had done, I’d have had to buy a whole town, not just a warehouse…

  8. Deb

    I can see that after reading your last post about *Dye Club Rules*. That was great. I think you and I came out of a similar mould. I hate to document things too.

    Doing what you did Kate:

    Scheduled Delivery:
    Thursday, 08/16/2012, By End of Day

    Hermiston, OR, United States 08/14/2012 9:15 A.M.
    Spokane, WA, United States 08/13/2012 8:30 P.M.
    United States 08/13/2012 2:39 P.M. Order Processed: Ready for UPS

  9. Deb

    Some of it (“Outlaw” was the critter’s name) is already combed and ready! I have no idea if I did it right but it looks OK to me!

    1. kate Post author

      Outlaw… ho ho.
      Mind you, I’ve just been spinning up Martha. A sheep, not an alpaca, but still. And last year I had Lydia. This particular farm don’t name all their sheep, which is probably just as well, just the best / pets. I’ve got my eye on next year’s fleece, from a black ram lamb. Must find out what he’s called, too.

  10. Deb

    Ah…Martha and Lydia. Sweet. The place that sent me my alpaca has some “Gigi” which I am certain I will need if only for the adorableness of that face. See: http://www.etsy.com/listing/65450388/gigis-brown-suri-baby-alpaca-fiber
    Outlaw is a gorgeous chocolate color with just a teensy reddish cast. I’m not normally fond of brown but this is so rich and beautiful. I like knowing the names of the animals. I have some Camile too but her’s is cream and not nearly as nice. Might be a lot of the less desirable part of the coat. I can’t complain because I only paid for shipping on this stuff and its for practice. Outlaw looks pretty prime to me. My wheel is in San Diego and out for delivery so I am very anxious. I might call her Lola. That is what my grandkids call me and I had some tags made up to sew into the stuff I make for them. The say “Lola Made It” which might end up being another Etsy shop if this spinning is successful!

    Oh! I have a question. I got some cotton hand cards before I got my lovely wool combs and when I was using them I noticed that they were turning the cream color of Camile’s fleece a light gray.They are Ashford combs and not some cheap brand and I don’t think they should do that. Have you ever had that happen?

    1. kate Post author

      It’s nearly there!!!!!

      I haven’t come across that happening with carders before, how very odd. My carders are wool carders, though – I’ve not used cotton carders before. I have used dog combs, especially some rather neat retractable ones which are really, really cheap…

      I’ve not spun alpaca myself yet, though I have a bag of gorgeous black alpaca fluff waiting for my wheel. I didn’t want to risk it on the old wheel, and it’s queued up for spinning in the next few weeks. Looking forward to it, nervously…

      1. Deb

        Ha! You mean *I* might be spinning alpaca (probably more like wrecking) before YOU, the experienced spinner?
        *taps foot nervously waiting for the UPS man*

        1. kate Post author

          I’m not that experienced, because I learned to spin then overdid it and injured my hand badly. But, boy, am I catching up! Woooooo!

          (A friend and I are spinning at a craft fair this weekend, but I’ll take my old wheel. One – it looks like a spinning wheel is supposed to look, and two – no way am I letting small children ‘have a go’ on my new wheel. And I love getting people going on a wheel!)

    1. kate Post author


      (You need to put a shot on your website. Did you get any sleep? I found myself giving my new wheel a ‘little try’ at 5 a.m.)

      1. Deb

        Ohhh that is too bad that you injured yourself. I was watching my Abby Franquemont DVD last night (trying to get some insight into drafting better) and she mentions about injury that can occur in the way you hold the fiber.

        I played a little last night (so did Don, my husband) and am getting the hang of it. Sort of. BUT, I am really having trouble keeping the wheel going in the correct direction. It really is a coordination thing isn’t it? Plus I am not sure if I have the tension right. But I was able to spin a little bit of crap from my beautiful pile of Outlaw and Camile. One thing I really want to do is to “frost” some North Ronaldsay wool with the alpaca. Our daughter gave me several skeins of if and though I like it, it is a bit on the scratchy side. I figure if I can soften it up with alpaca then I can make a nice throw or shawl out of it for her. The Judith Mackenzie McCuin (?) book I have talks about “frosting” a yarn and it sounds perfect for that.

        Have fun spinning at the craft fair. I would imagine it is a little bit entertaining to let others try when they think it looks so easy!


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