Posts Tagged With: spinning wheel

Victor P. Buchcik Spinning Wheel

So I love spinning and weaving, and I love history, so of course I started volunteering in our small town at the Heritage Center and Log Cabins. There, in a corner, was a spinning wheel so one of the first things I set about doing, as a member, was sorting out this wheel which they said the lady who gave it to them had come and spun on it, but it hasn’t been for a little time.

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Looking straight on as one would when spinning

The wheel had a plastic drive band that had been wired together and was of no use whatsoever. So I got rid of it and tied on a new drive band (will take better cordage next time) So now the drive wheel turned with the treadle. The treadle rod is in the middle of the treadle which I haven’t seen before but it had a very smooth motion and was quite easy to treadle.

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Looking at the back of the wheel

Then to tackle the scotch tension. It had a piece of plastic cord tied to springs on each side. Now for all I know of scotch tension, that wasn’t going to work, and it didn’t. So I cut that all out and tied another string to the spring on the one side and then tied it around the knob, on the other side, that is there for that purpose (ignored in what was) and then played with the tension.

Did you notice the crochet hook sticking out at an angle in back? Befuddled me for a bit. Thought at first it was used for the orifice hook and that is just where they kept it, but alas it totally doesn’t work for that. Did learn though how to get the bobbin and flyer off. The maiden on the tension end moves back and turns down to take them off. Alas whatever once ran through those holes that keep it in place when all together has long been lost and along the road someone figured out that a small crochet hook fit in just right.

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Side view of wheel before scotch tension work. See the stretched spring?

This tension is the problem I think. The flyer and bobbin did not spin if there was the least bit of tension on it. Then after some fiddling, the flyer would spin but the bobbin did not. It was at that point that I learned the importance of both being able to spin. Have you ever wondered why the bobbin needed to spin, albeit slower than the flyer, when spinning on a treadle/flyer wheel? I have. And, as of yesterday, I learned why. With just the flyer turning the draw in is way to fast for these hands to keep up. With the bobbin turning as well, there is time for you to draft and get it right before it winds on.

Also an interesting bit for this wheel is that the flyer and bobbin sit so far back. They are actually, basically, for all practical purposes behind the drive wheel when you are sitting at it. Makes it a bit of a stretch when working back there.

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Spinning at last.

So, yes, I did manage to spin some. That was after realizing there was no orifice hook and a long way for something to reach through. I searched several drawers and finally found one paperclip. After bending it in different contortions, I managed to make it do the job and got some wool through. That also entailed cleaning the hole out with the wool. Icky! But we were spinning. It didn’t go super easy though. I so wanted to add some oil to the bobbin and tension thinking it would help it move smoother. But I also know “they” say to never oil the drive band or tension. So maybe the groove just needs cleaned up more? Or a wider band for the tension. I already know I am going to do that for the drive band, but the tension as well?

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Label on bottom of table.

After all this, I wanted to know what this wheel was that was driving me crazy. On the bottom I did find a label. Designed & handcrafted by: Victor P. Buchcik, 8 Norman Street, Wagga Wagga 2650″ . Now this label was between all the legs and footman, so not easily photographed or for these old eyes to read. I went looking for a Victor P. Buchcik online. Got that much down. Thought maybe a local builder? There are lots of Czech and Wends around here so names that only the Good Lord knows how to pronounce are in abundance. Alas, nary a hit on the name at all. Next I thought the “8” was an “&” so looked up Norman Street as well as a compatriot in the work. Alas nothing. So looked up Wagga Wagga. A HIT! A town in New South Wales. What? Australia? How did it get here if it was made by some home guy in NSW? I did, at first, think that the four digit number was maybe a number for the piece, but it turns out to be a post code. That took seeing the picture and realizing that Norman Street wasn’t a man but an address. So of course, I looked up the address and it is a nice house though lots of trees in the way of seeing it very well.

If anyone knows anything about this wheel or the maker, I would appreciate knowing something of them. If you have advice on getting it to spin smoother or dealing with that scotch tension, advice appreciated.

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When Projects aren’t Going Well

OK, so I have warp on the loom that refuses to cooperate. 7 repairs hanging off the back with other broken threads. The sad part is that this is the same warp that I made the corded petticoat on with really no trouble. Why it is going south now is beyond me. But alas the end is in sight and I must get back at it today.

My corset is needing help as well so decided I really need to do a third mockup before cutting out the real thing so here goes. My big goal today. Must, though, watch videos again.

But during this time I have done a couple fibery things. I made more squares with my Zoom Loom and was running out of ready early handspun with color. So Saturday afternoon threw two small skeins of white in a crock pot with some Easter egg dyes of unknown color. It came out a bright green and not all fitting to current project so added some cherry kool-aid. Actually I think it was Wyler’s which is cheaper. So it came to a darker color. One skein took in the color wonderfully and I actually really like it though it did show a spot where a tie was too tight and no color got under but it doesn’t show really in the squares. Actually just little spots in the swatch and looks good. I think. Alas it would be nice to replicate this color but will never happen. Who knows what colors really went in that pot and how the skein became somewhat heather in its look. So the couple of squares I get from it will be in a special place.

The green skein and swatch

The green skein and swatch

Now the other skein I threw in at the same time took none of the color except for one of the plies on a short bit. Hmmmm…. I’m sure they are both wool and the same type as in my old stuff was all from the same place pretty much. So once again I threw in some more tablets of unknown color and a good glug of vinegar for good measure and cooked away some more. Now I have some pink yarn. Hmmm… At least it will blend in to the other squares somewhat.  As you can see in the photo just a bit of one ply did take on the darker color but that was all.  A mystery I would love to know why it happened but not enough to really spend my time now figuring out. Anyway both skeins can be used now, so I am happy with the results and will be dyeing more white wool for said project. Up to 62 squares for it and as the project has done a normal in my head – it is evolving and I need more than I planned in the beginning.

The pink skein and weird section of ply that did take the darker dye.

The pink skein and weird section of ply that did take the darker dye.

Now with all this going on and my actual favorite thing to do in the world is research, I started building up a Pinterest board with spinning and weaving. Now I was very picky as to what I pinned to it. Starting out with old painting then evolving into old photographs. It has been a fun journey and I would love to know more about some of the pictures out there. Some are so common and come in different forms. What was the original one? Was it all staged? Did said woman really spin or just look good? I also found some old postcards with spinning wheels like I haven’t seen before. There are a couple from France that are downright interesting. And of course so many different styles of wheels. Who doesn’t love a Norwegian wheel with all its craftsmanship and beauty? But being me of course my favorites are the ones from Ireland that are so simple and plainly cobbled together and similar in Appalachia.

I remember back when I first started this journey of spinning, I joined a spinning group online and not long after someone in Kansas asked about spinning in a historical context on the frontier. Right away many women in the northeast responded that no one was spinning at home any more after the mills were build in the early 19th century. Well, a few of us had done research and we immediately responded that yes they were spinning and gave sources. Looking at all these pictures sure backs up the fact that women were spinning in America long after there was available mill cloth.

But my thoughts also go to the lives these women lived. Some of these pictures come with stories and would we today, no matter how much we love the past, really want to live their lives? For a time I would say yes, but I would miss my modern conveniences I’m sure. Actually I would probably only really miss this computer I am sitting at right now with its access to a world of knowledge. And of course indoor plumbing on cold winter nights. These were not wimpy women such as myself.

Categories: Spinning, Tidbits, Weaving | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I Love Inventories – North

So I found Sarah North’s father’s name and inventory today as well as the one for Henry Earnest. Sarah was Henry’s daughter-in-law and she had married Henry’s son Felix. Her father was John North and he died in Washington County, Tennessee in 1794. Now I have seen his death date as 15 October 1794 but have discovered that date is actually the date of the sale of his property. So he died earlier in actuality unless something strange was happening. Hmmm….

His inventory filed in the August Sessions 1794 lists many fibery things. 10 head of sheep, 1 loom and tacklings (another great term for loom accessories), 1 large wheel, 3 small wheels, 1 pair cotton cards, 1 pair wool cards, 1 pair sheep scissors, 12 lb. wool, 1 flax break.

Now his sale pretty much is the same list. But at the sale 15 October 1794 Esther (his wife though unsure if Sarah’s mother as it seems he was married twice) bought 5 sheep £1.1s , 1 loom and tacklings £2.10s, 2 wheels and 2 pair cards 15s, 1 wheel and 2 spools 6s, wool 10s.

In comparison with Henry’s here we have more cotton references compared to Henry’s having more flax, but both have sheep and wool. Looks like Esther is not considering retiring from the need to spin and weave the cloth needed in the home since she bought back the loom, tacklings, and wheels, and cards. Rebecka North did buy one of the wheels. There must have been a few women in the home to man all the wheels but also in my latest reading in spinning history care was taken in having wheels for certain duties. They didn’t buy or build a one wheel to spin everything like we do today. They spun wool, cotton, flax on different wheels if possible. Amazing to think how the Great Wheel continued on despite what one would think as the treadle/flyer wheel should have made it obsolete but alas in many many inventories I have found a “large” wheel and “small” wheel in the same home.

Picture taken at Williamsburg

Picture taken at Williamsburg

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I love Inventories – Earnest

Ok, I have the loom warped and weaving. Today I had big plans to get a lot done. Really big plans and even for tonight. But alas I got sidetracked in the one way that can take down a whole day without a blink of the eye. Yes, I got to looking at family history again. I found something that was taking me around the mulberry bush and was looking promising but alas and alack…. I don’t think it holds water unless you can find more out there hiding somewhere. But in rambling around the centuries, I ended up back in 18th and early 19th century Green and Washington Counties in Tennessee and in some wills, inventories, sales and found some for two ancestors. Now since getting into spinning and weaving, I have an addiction to fibery finds in inventories done at someone’s death. One, they can show how much was done in an area at a certain time when looking at a group but also just to have a kinship with my ancestresses when I see what is found in their homes. I have written about Daniel Cummins’ inventory and sale and the fact that the girls there must have clothed the family. But now for more.

I am a proud descendant of Henry Earnest. There has been quite a bit of research done on his family. He came from Switzerland with his parents who died enroute. He was taken in by Lawrence Stephens and at age married Lawrence’s daughter Mary. By 1771, they moved from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia south into what would  become eastern Tennessee. There above the Nollichucky River he built what is known today as the Earnest Fort House.

Earnest Fort House from rear

Earnest Fort House from rear

Earnest Fort House from front

Earnest Fort House from front

I got to visit the home of Henry & Mary and it so makes one wish to see it as they knew it. As the road crosses the river today, the first thing you see is what has to be the back facing the river and road. There are three stories here and rather ugly. Wonder what once was? Then if you walk up the hill and look at the other side, you find a nice front door and stoop at the second story. But for what we don’t know about it’s first days we do know that it still looks like the fortress it has always been.

Henry died in 1809 and I have seen transcripts of his will but this time I found the ever lovely inventory and sale. So what fibery wonders did the family own? Quite a bit actually. The inventory lists less than the sale but both are interesting. So the inventory lists: 14 head of sheep, 1 loom reeds and gears etc, 2 hackles, 1 cotton wheel, 2 small wheels, 1 check wheel, set of spools, 1 ps fulld cloth, ps fulld linsey, some quantity of unbroke flax. This seems like quite the spinning and weaving shop.

But then we read the sale list and there is even more. Sale was 26 April 1809.

Mary bought back one pair cotton cards for  $.10, spinning wheel for $.10. Then quite a bit of the rest was bought by either sons or sons-in-law with a couple others sprinkled in. William Brown bought 6 yds. fulled cloth for $9.03, Samuel Snapp 3 yds. fulled linsey for $3, and 1 quill wheel $.29, and 1 reed and geers $.25, William Brown 3 yds. fulled linsey $2.50, Ezekiel Stanbury 3 yds. fulled linsey $2.48, Joseph Looney 2 3/4 yds. fulled linsey $2.02, and reed and geers $.97, Felix Earnest 8 1/4 yds. fulled cloth $14.50, John Cox 1 spinning wheel $1.20, Jacob Hiess 1 loom $4, Samuel D. Warren 1 reed and gers $1.61 and and another reed and gers $.81, Peter Earnest set of spools $.71, George Wells set of spools $.34, and 6 1/2 lb. wool $2.40, Peter Earnest 1 hackle $1.34, 7 sheep $8.27, and 7 sheep $5.02, Nicholas Long unbroke flax $1.16, Adam Shurley 1 clock reel $.80, Jacob Recer 5 lb. of wool $1.89, Jacob Earnest 7 lb. wool $3.25.

From these two lists I am thinking that Mary Earnest had a great loom set up with various reeds and “gers” or “gears” (I love the terminology in inventories for loom accessories.) I also am thinking that her daughters had set ups of their own and sent their husbands to the sale to get some of mom’s “reeds and gers” for themselves. After Henry’s death she lived with her son Peter, and I am thinking she kept at a bit of cotton spinning but that was it.

My direct ancestor, Felix Earnest, seems to have gotten quite a bit of cloth ready to be made up into something. Actually it reminds me that my dress fabric I wove was a 9 yard warp which off the top of my head I cannot tell you how much cloth came off the loom and was wet finished, but I think I have a bit of perspective of the 8 1/4 yds. fulld cloth he bought and what it took to make it. Alas mine was wet finished in a washing machine so I did get it a bit easier. I wonder if he got it for his new wife. My ancestress, Sarah North, had died in 1807 and Henry married Sarah Oliphant in 1808. I wonder if she was a spinner and weaver as Felix didn’t buy any of those items? Maybe a gift of cloth was a blessing.

One can dream up some quite interesting stories reading inventories.

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My First Spinning

I know that if you ask me how I got into spinning and weaving the story you will hear goes like – how my love of history led me out to Jesse Jones Park to the Homestead to see about volunteering and pretending to live in 1820s 1830s Texas. While there I met Jane who asked me what I would like to do. Of course I replied that I wanted to learn all I could about life then. She then turned to me and said, “Would you like to learn to spin and weave?” After the goose bumps rose, I said YES. And as the saying goes – the rest was history. So I started at the park and spinning and weaving.

My early days at JJP

My early days at JJP

But if I were truthful that wasn’t the first. We had lived in England for 5 1/2 years and the month before we moved back to the States, we went over and visited Little Moreton Hall. I had read an article on her when in high school and now was finally going to see her for myself. It is a very crooked building and has been since it was built as the family had a good start on her before learning that great halls were now all the rage and so added one at the top of the house since there was no where else. Alas the foundation wasn’t strong enough for the extra room, and the house has ever since been sliding, sinking, tilting, etc. with each succeeding generation doing what they could to keep her standing.

Little Moreton Hall

Little Moreton Hall

Now my first advice in these events is not to read everything they give you when you first arrive or else you may be purposely breaking the rules. Alas I was too excited with the view to read the back page of the flyer they gave us and missed an important notice.

When we got inside we ooh’d and ahh’d appropriately and took pictures of the shapes in the windows which would make wonder blackwork patterns. Then managed to enter a room over the entrance and there was a gal in period dress spinning away. ( And you wonder why I had such a hard time wrapping my head around a history of less than two hundred years when Mark and I had gotten to the point of only going to places at least 500 years old. Otherwise they were just too new and boring. I’d love to need her dress. Though thankfully Texas history proved to not be too boring.) Well, I have rabbit trailed so back to the story.

A great find in a small room

A great find in a small room

No one else was about and only I was entranced with watching what she was doing. She then invited me over to see what was happening and said that I could have a go at it as well if I desired. Well, she didn’t have to ask twice. She showed me what drafting was and how it all worked.

Learning to draft - though at the time I didn't know that term

Learning to draft – though at the time I didn’t know that term

She then let me have the wool and she treadled the wheel while I drafted and created my first yarn. A very exciting moment.



Alas when all was done she let me take the yarn I had spun and we walked out. As it was a month and I was moving across an ocean that bit of yarn was tossed in a – what am I going to do with you, I have nowhere for you and though it was fun when will I ever get to do that again moment once home. Ah, the bad decisions we make though alas even if I had tried to save it, I probably would never have known the safe place I put it again. But what you see there in my hands was the first.

Now to not reading that back page. It says in big letters not to be missed if you turn it over. NO PICTURES IN THE HOUSE. Oops. Yes Mark did get in trouble right after this for taking a picture but alas it didn’t happen till after we got these of my first spinning experience.

Last note for the WordPress group. Yes, I finally played with watermarks on pictures and though a bit slow on it at first, I did these four pictures and learned a little bit about doing it.

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Pioneer Day 2012

If there is one thing I love, it is being in nature in the quiet of morning. Though it isn’t always so quiet, but the noise is so natural and belonging. Not man made. (Thankfully the airplanes waited till later to disrupt the stillness.)

Last Friday I headed out to Jesse Jones Park for Pioneer Day. I get all set up on Friday and then enjoy the evening around the campfire with friends, sleep in the cabin, then get up way early and just enjoy the sunrise and morning. This particular time the birds were quite active. I even recorded some of the sounds as there were so many.

Not early morning but late afternoon in the homestead

Saturday I got to spin quite a bit on my great wheel that Mark built for me. It went well, and I was quite happy with what I accomplished despite the missing piece on the bottom of the wheel post that caused it to swivel.

The sun was directly on our site the whole day. I was so thankful for my hat.

So not a bad days worth of spinning and talking to people about spinning and history of it from the Middle Ages to 1830s Texas. The cabinet has handspun and handwoven items in it to show those who are interested in more than watching.

Winding on

I didn’t get to do a lot of the history this time which is my favorite part of these days but who can complain if they have a full spindle at the end. If you’ve never been to the park for the big events you are missing a great time.

One last picture. This is what you do a lot of while spinning on a hot day. Sweaty hands and cotton just don’t go together well so the need to dry your hands on your apron frequently.

Sweaty hands and cotton don’t mix very well while spinning.

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Cummins Historical Note

Now I love history and of course with that comes the love of finding your own family history and what made you – YOU. It is kind of nice to be able to blame great grandfathers and such for some of your worse characteristics though that doesn’t give us any excuse not to correct those ingrained behaviors. Now since I learned to weave and spin, I have loved finding tidbits of both in my family history.

My maiden name is Cummins and I come from a proud lot. We go back to a Daniel Cummins who died in Chatham County, North Carolina in 1819. Now anything about Daniel aside of his probate record, a couple of deeds, one tax record, and one census record, is not known except that he left behind a wife and children amongst them my 3 great grandfather John.

Now for the fun here. In Daniel’s probate inventory are listed amongst the items “1 Loom and gears” “2 Cotten wheels” and “2 pare Cotten Cards”.

Loom and gears, cotton wheels, cotton cards

Next comes the sale of Daniel’s effects. The loom and gears sold for 50 cents, the 2 cotten wheels for $2.50 and the 2 cotten cards for $1.They were all bought back by Dolly (Dorothy Copeland Cummins), Daniel’s wife. Interesting note – the loom and gears were worth the same as one pair of cotton cards. I wonder if cards were as precious in North Carolina in 1819 as they were to become during the Civil War in the South and especially in Texas where I’ve found several references about this?

Dolly bought them each back

The next bit I find interesting in the set of accounts is that there was then a committee set up to apportion to Dolly and the children a years worth of supplies. These supplies included for food items corn, pork, sugar, coffee, and salt, Then is listed 200 lbs. of seed cotton and 10 lbs of clean flax.


It is obvious to me that Dolly and the girls were providing the family’s textile needs. I would love to know how long this continued and whether or not they continued this when they moved to Indiana. Alas and alack is that information still to be found somewhere or lost in time?

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