Sometimes you get the pleasure of trying out something a little bit special. A piece of our social history. Special thanks to wrigglefingers who owns the wheel, and is kind enough to let me play on her.
Meet Wilhelmina. She's a sort of form of Pendulum wheel, though given the arm swings from below rather than above pendulum is the wrong word to use. The other night we settled on Inverted Pendulum wheel, but further discussion on Ravelry reveals that it's true name is a New Dominion Wheel, patented in Canada in 1870.
Pendulum Wheels were a development on the Great Wheel, they allowed the spinner to be seated while spinning, and extended the length of the long draw which makes the thread more even in twist levels.
In this wheel though instead of the flyer arm being suspended from above, the pivot point is at the base. As ever, a video speaks louder than a thousand pictures, here's Wilhelmina in action. I'm definitely not brave enough to be filmed spinning on her yet, I naturally long draw with my right hand, and while I can do it left handed I am very rusty. Judith in these videos does historical re-enactment, and is an expert on a Great Wheel. Give me time though... because spinning on Wilhelmina is joyous and such fun.
At the base is still a foot lever, but instead of pressing down on it you slide your foot away from you, and then draw it back when you want to wind your length of yarn on to the spindle. Spinning on it is not dissimilar to patting your head and rubbing your tummy... find once you get in the rhythm, pause for a moment and actually think about what you're doing and all is lost!
Wilhelmina was built by the late Bill Gaylor who was a retired Switchgear Engineer. He built quite a few unique wheels, believe it or not this isn't the strangest of them. Jill owns another one of his wheels that's even more fabulous. What I particularly love about Wilhelmina is the obvious use of found bits of wood that have been squirrelled away for the perfect use...
The main base is very clearly a table leg, possibly off an old pub table judging by the colour and weigh of it. The swinging arm looks pretty much like a broom handle, or maybe a very long length of dowel. The knobs look suspiciously like drawer handles to me!
Even more wonderfully, the spindle still contained some yarn spun by Bill himself.
It has all the hallmarks of a length of yarn spun while demonstrating, we know Bill was an expert spinner from the other bobbins we have that are from the other wheel, this one clearly has bits where people have stopped and started, and he's discussed how the wheel works.
We're trying to work out how to get Wilhelmina out and about once more, for all her size she's actually pretty portable as she dismantles quite easily. First event could well be the Montgomeryshire Guild Open Day on November 14th, but we need to do some planning first.
The UK has a greta history of independent wheel makers, and Dot from YarnMaker is trying to build up a bit more of a database about them. If you own a 20th century British made wheel I'm sure she'd love to hear from you.
On a personal note I'm trying to find out more about my Easy Spin Wheel for the website,
It appears in a book by Eileen Hobden from the 1980’s, but at present I don’t have a makers name, though Eileen was a member of East Sussex Guild, does anyone know anything more?