October 2008


I seem to have come down with “Languishing Heroine Disorder” (LHD). You know, those Victorian damsels (and sometimes secondary male characters) who suffer from long-term unspecified ailments whose only notable symptoms are etherial beauty, frailty, frequent swooning, and the ability to survive for decades on the occasional spoonful of milky tea? Usually they die, either fevered and raving, or after making long-winded sweet and forgiving speeches – cause of death usually being their approaching marriage, presumably because swooning damsels are fine, but a matron confined to a couch is not a sympathetic character at all.

I don’t think my case is terminal: I must have a light dose, because I’m still getting by on mugs of black coffee, there hasn’t been any more feverish raving than usual, and my last chance at “etherial beauty” evaporated around the age of twelve.

See? It’s been all downhill from there. Anyway, I’m already married, and so I’m much more of a Thackeresque figure of fun than a swooning beauty. Although Raven has promised that if I can’t pull my act together soon I can have a fainting couch on which to languish picturesquely. Personally, although the couch is a serious temptation, I would much rather just wake the heck up and get my energy back.

So these last few days of Victorian recline/decline have been the reason that I haven’t already posted these barnyard pictures I was promising Red Kate.  Baby chickens have recently decided that sheep are cool.  Or more accurately, that sheep are warm.  And soft.

Even the hens are starting to get in on it.

That little one on Blackie’s head in the first picture is our best sheep-wrangler – he can even stay on when she shakes, and he rides around the yard on her head or neck.

In fact, though, I’m not certain whether it is the sheep specifically that attract them, or if the sheep just happen to be in the way.  They’ll climb on any one/thing.

There has been some spinning, and next time I’ll post the finished wheel mod, since I’ve done some more tweaking and balancing – no major changes, although a couple of the things I’ve done look big.  Also, Raven took a very nice close up of Phil the Goose, which is still in the camera, which is over there.  I am over here, languishing.  So I’ll get that up next time as well.  Now excuse me while I go try and give my head a shake.  Maybe I should try some of that milky tea?

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One of the things I have been griping about wanting is a plying wheel. You know, nice big orefice for bulky yarns, embarrassingly ginormous bobbin to overcompensate for the fact that the bobbin I’ve been using only holds 2oz of fibre…

I was going to make one this summer, that was supposed to be my big stupid summer project. Except the only ‘project’ that got accomplished this summer was paving the kitchen floor, and in the meantime my stupid brain decided that although I do very much want a large orefice and overcompensatingly huge bobbin, it would be really cool to build a wheel-in-a-box like the gorgeous Journey Wheels. Not that I expect it would turn out that gorgeous, but I’m pretty sure I can do it, and it would be awful neat to try. So the wheel that I already have cut is probably going to that project, and I’ve been staring at my wheel instead, trying to figure out what I can do to modify it.

Then Sunday, my in-laws came out and my FIL helped me put our broken roof back together. And as an extra-super-bonus favor, he used his much-bigger-than-mine stepladder to patch the hole in the wall of my studio! This was so exciting that in a burst of confidence and accomplishment (and also probably some leftover adrenaline from climbing on my scary slippery roof) I started attacking the wheel.

As usual, the equipment used was mostly in the “some stuff I found” category. Total cost was about four dollars, because I bought wooden discs at Michaels, and I got a bunch of them. (They’re like 35 cents each.) If you had to purchase any of the other stuff I used, the cost would probably go up to about ten bucks.

First I added a big ugly front support to my wheel, so that I could extend the flyer and spindle:

Granted, that’s not too pretty, but some sanding and painting will clean it up and make it look more like an actual unit, as opposed to some Frankenstein’s wheel. Strange as it may seem, I’m more concerned with function than with form on this one!

Then I had to build a flyer. This was startlingly easy – mostly. Some chunks of wood, a whackload (18) of little brass hooks (we have a big jar of these, I’m finally starting to run low) – and bent nails would work too, if you haven’t got an inexplicably big jar of shiny brass hooks, and a length of dowel:

The orefice is a 1/2 inch PVC pipe join that I got (also 35 cents) a while ago, because I always look at things in hardware stores with an eye to what they might be able to become, and it looked like a big ol’ orefice to me.

I just put a big long screw straight through the pipe, the crossbar of the flyer and into the dowel to hold everything centered and together. I sanded a light groove for the pipe to sit in, angled slightly so the yarn will be guided up and out over the crossbar to the hooks. The edges of the crosspiece are sanded too, so as not to snag the yarn.

The flyer wheel is three discs (one small sandwiched between two large) glued together. Then I drilled out the centre, did a little dance of celebration because I totally expected it to shatter when I did that, and it didn’t; and then pounded a nut into the centre of the piece.

That little nut is actually really important to the only bit that was really hard in this project. See, I wanted to use dowel for the spindle, because a) I had some and b) the some I had was conveniently the right size for the bobbin I made:

Which bobbin in turn is the size it is because when I made those naked costumes a while ago, the fat lady’s boobs were stuffed with two plunger heads that I got at the dollar store, and the plastic handles of the plungers were just the right size to make four bobbins of a length and circumference to go on the dowel that I happened to have. So you see it all came together brilliantly. And using wooden dowel meant that I could screw on that orefice as mentioned above and have only the one big solid join.

Problem is – the other end. The flyer wheel needs to be fixed when spinning, but removable to get the bobbin off. (At least with this design, which is based on the one I’ve already got and is working well for me.) I considered squaring the dowel, drilling a square hole in the flyer wheel and then trying to shape the very end as a smaller round, which would look like this if I could draw:

but the opportunities for my messing that up were just SO VERY big, that I figured there had to be a better way. I tried sinking a bolt into the dowel, (hence the nut on the wheel) but I couldn’t get it in very far and so it kept popping out and causing disaster. So this morning as I was tearing apart the Hardware Stuff Shelf looking for a solution, I found this:

It is supposed to attach your toilet to the floor. We don’t have a toilet, so I figured nobody would miss it. Voila!

The screw half is really long, so it’s in the dowel good. The nut in the wheel can only go down so far on the bolt half, and then it stops on the unthreaded middle bit.  I ground off the threads from the bottom part of the bolt, so the spindle will turn freely in its mounting hole.  (Be careful with that part, you don’t want to mess up the threads on the upper half!)

And look!  Yarn!

I’m feeling very smug about this.  Fortunately I hear a chainsaw, which means it’s time for me to go stack some wood – a nice, practical, humble exercise!