I showed my Granny my spinning wheel, last week. I should point out that it was once her spinning wheel, although she never did learn to use it. No one else in my family is terribly interested in the hows and whats of hand spinning. Don't get me wrong, they think it's cool. You should see my husband's face when he tells people I spin my own yarn. But if I go much further than, "look how soft this angora is" their eyes start to glaze over. I don't hold it against them. I get that way when they talk about video games or computer parts. But , with Granny it was a real treat to show my wheel and skills off to someone who knows a little about it, and at least understands why I love it. I should start with a little information about Granny. She is a very spry 94 and the healthiest, sharpest 94 year old you could ever meet. She also loves her family more than just about anything in the world. She grew up in a mill village in a small town in North Carolina, but my Granny never worked in the spinning room like so many girls of her generation. That was due to the determination of my great grandmother (the Original Granny). When most of the other girls in the village were dropping out of school at the ripe old age of twelve to go work in the mill, my great grandmother made sure that her children finished high school including her girls. So, when Granny graduated and went to work in the mill it was in the office, not on the floor. My grandfather on the other hand dropped out of school at twelve and began working to help support his family. He knew how to do just about every job in the mill. So, thirty years ago when my grandmother wanted a spinning wheel to spruce up her parlor, he wasn't going to buy her one that didn't work.
Flash forward thirty years and I've been drooling over spinning wheels and resisting shelling out $400+ for one in spite of my husbands repeated attempts to get me to buy one. I had settled on an Ashford Traditional and was just a few weeks away from ordering one, when I discovered Granny's wheel behind the sofa in the parlor. What do you know, it was an Ashford Traditional. It was also in need of some reconditioning and repairs. So at Granny's urging I brought it home and got myself an Ashford Maintenance Kit and some wood conditioner and went to work. It only took a couple of hours to recon the wood and replace some of the hardware. A few Youtube videos and spinning books later, I was in business.
So just last week, I was finally able to show my Granny what I had learned. So, I took the wheel up to my parents house where Granny was staying for the holiday and sat down to do two of my favorite things; spin and talk to Granny. I explained how the wheel worked and what parts I had replaced and then set to spinning. Granny was thrilled to see what I was able to do and naturally it sparked a lot of memories. She told me about how her mother used to load the warp for the looms, her aunt used to work in the spinning room and how my Grandad knew how to do almost every job in the mill. I told her about the different fibers and how each one spins differently.
I treasure those few hours in the mornings when I'm child free and able to do whatever I want. I usually reserve that time for writing. But that morning was one of the best I've had in a long time. I wouldn't trade it for anything.