a couple of months ago, i fell in love with a wheel on Swedish craigslist. she was an incredible price by US standards, but the seller didn't speak English, so i appealed to my friend CJ, an embroidery artist in Stockholm, to rescue her for me. he went to all the trouble of calling and meeting with the seller, carting home the wheel (who I had started calling "Sunny" because she looked yellow in the initial photo), finding a flat-screen tv box, disassembling her every so carefully, packing her up and shipping her to me. i waited most impatiently for Sunny the spinnrock to arrive. i am so indebted to CJ! but i had to have her.

unfortunately she showed up in many more pieces than she should have been. the poor girl. of course her wood is brittle, she is from 1846! there are a bunch of pics in my flickr from the day she arrived, and then a bunch more today.

i've been learning and following recommendations from the wheelrights on the antique wheels forum on ravelry. here she is after murphy's and a couple doses of lemon oil, some provisional repairs and a lot of tinkering:

i'm as proud as a new mama that she is actually starting to spin!!

but, she still has ever so many issues. the biggest problem may be the warped drive wheel. i used hide glue and clamped as best i could her three major breaks - but each of them had been repaired in the past and all seemed to have missing bits so that there isn't a whole lot of wood-to-wood contact.

i know these look awful. i hope i didn't muggle* her too terribly. but what can you do if this is the best they will go together? there were a couple of nails poking out here and there that i tried to remove, but felt the wood start to crumble, so i let them be.

so it's not surprising that she won't turn true. she scrapes both sides of the uprights when she turns. so i shimmed a little, and it did help, although i'm still working on them. i also put some bits of leather under the axles to try to make her wobble less.

it's amazing though that if i spin counterclockwise, she mostly holds onto her drive band. definitely not clockwise though. i haven't used this sort of drive wheel that doesn't keep the band separated. (not to mention all the nails and breaks that want to snag the band..)

the chips in her bobbin whorl don't help her keep the band on either, unless we go along very carefully. her bobbin is so tiny - only 3.5" total! there are two grooves in the flyer whorl, which i haven't seen either - they are slightly different sizes, so i'm guessing that's for different ratios. the flyer whorl doesn't exactly want to stay put in its threads either.

another issue is the flyer scraping this peg in the MOA, which sent her tiny hook flying. i'm working on stabilizing her maidens so that they sit up higher so this doesn't happen.

i've considered sending her off to a skilled wheel repairer, but she is so delicate that i'm not sure she should be shipped again. new bobbins and even a new flyer might be in order though.

Sunny is a little overwhelming, but very much a labour of love for me. did anyone ever have the feeling that they knew a wheel in a past life (or wished they did)?

*muggle is both a noun and a verb that spinners use to describe non-spinners and their repair efforts.



I learned to stitch by the ocean.  An old woman named Sis taught me.  She lived across the canal with her brother Del who raised orchids.  I sat on Sis's porch for many summers while we talked and knitted and watched water rats run back and forth under the docks.

I still think of the process of working with fiber as rat-time, and I am still entranced.  Fiber work is industrious, rhythmic; its labour tactile, sensual.  Stitches also engages the workings of memory, establishing new narratives and connexions.  Besides, surrounding ourselves with animal fibers can be transformative.

I create handspun yarns, batts and decorative arts out of material remnants of animal life.  These materials come from the animals on my farm, other local and animal-friendly farms, and thrift shops and yard sales.  I also wildcraft and hand-dye fibers from natural dyestuffs gathered in the beautiful woods and meadows of North Carolina.

I share my fiber art and vintage finds here on my blog and in my shop, and announcements on facebook.  Say hi at drucillapettibone@gmail.com.

My work has been featured at these lovely online places:

Spin Artiste

Durham Arts Council

BikBik & Roro

LaiGrai & Friends


Ozma of Odds

Self-Guided Art Therapy

Needle Exchange with Penny Nickels

Arteries by Arlee Barr

Folk Reveries


Under the Pyramids

Little Yellow Birds



this week, i will be updating my vintage etsy shop with tons of adorable vintage aprons!

i just have to repost this from the lovely heather of true stitches:

I don’t think our kids
know what an apron is.
The principal use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few and because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons required less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing
hot pans from the oven.
It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.
From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.
When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.
And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms.
Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.
Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.
From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.
After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.
In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.
When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.
When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.
It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes.
Send this to those who would know (and love) the story about Grandma’s aprons.

Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.

I don't think I ever caught anything from an apron - but love...

— from Heather’s Mom


her name is clara

i've been surprised with my descent into the rabbit-hole. that's what they call it on the antique spinning wheels forum on ravelry. once you get the bug for antique wheels, it's as if you have dropped down to wonderland, and your wheels multiply as fast as rabbits. every time i meet someone there who seems to have a lot of wheels, then i meet someone who makes their collection look very.very.small. one ravelry friend has 35 wheels. some people think getting a new wheel for every year you've been spinning is very reasonable.

i've been in kind of a minimalist mode since we moved to NC. minimal for me, anyway. i love stuff, but the old house just got completely unmanageable, so i wanted our new home a bit more streamlined and modern, but still cosy. all that seems to have gone out the window now as i indulge my passions for second/third/whatever-hand quilts, and now wheels. one good thing about all this rabbit-hole is that much of my time there has been spent reading, and so i'm learning a *lot* about wheels, and consequently about spinning.

so i'm shyly introducing my new muse, clara. she's an antique swiss production wheel. i adopted her from a spinner in oregon.

she has so many lovely details, and so much to teach me. she's one of those wheels where you sit sideways, treadle with your right foot and the wheel spins toward you! i like being able to watch the bobbin fill, and once she gets going, i get quite a breeze off the flyer! she also has "captive rings" on her spokes, which clatter when you're spinning slowly!

i've been spinning since around 1998, but i've never been technical about it at all. i usually just do whatever i like and what works for my projects. now i'm very interested in learning all the "rules" of spinning because i want to understand everything about it. with clara's help i've been spinning woolen, long-draw, which is wild, and also means having to learn more about wool prep. spinning is truly its own universe.

i love you, clara.