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Sunday, July 4, 2010

CAMPING - visit to a tiny museum and making their spinning wheel feel useful again


Yesterday we hopped on the scooter and took a little ride through the woods.  

We ended up in Mountain, WI and stopped at a tiny log cabin museum.  

It was lovely and small and quaint.  A "Donations Accepted" kind of place with a cigar box on the table with a few bills and change in it.  A sweet older guy was on volunteer duty with stories of logging, fishing and historical facts of the past.  He had his friendly little dog along, tied out on the front step, who greeted anyone coming in.

Anyone who really knows me, knows what a fiberholic that I am.  I can not pass a skein of yarn without touching it, I can not look at a piece of woven fabric without determining the weave structure, sett and pattern.  I can not stand seeing a naked (unthreaded) loom or a pile of parts of some fiber toy laying there unused.

Lo and behold, in the corner of this museum was this misbegotten spinning wheel.   Someone had taken commercial acrylic yarn and twisted it around the whorls and a big loop of it around the wheel... my oh my.   Any spinner looks at that and just CRINGES inside.  The more I examined the wheel, with a few furtive touches and wiggles, I figured out that IF ---------------IF---------------IF he would let me, I could make it spin again!

After listening to him for a while, I posed the question to him about setting up the wheel so it was "correctly" portraying what a spinning wheel does.  I said I had just been spinning on my own wheel back at our RV, and I could be back in two shakes of a lamb's tail with some real wool and a leader string and cord for the drive band.  OH YES he said I could!!!!!

We hopped on the scooter and buzzed back the few miles, grabbed some pretty grey and brown natural colored wool (I had lots of dyed stuff in bright colors here in my stash in the motorhome., but I didn't think that was appropriate for mid 1800's log cabin!)  

I got back, mounted the drive band, and tied on a leader string to the bobbin.   It was sweltering hot in there and I was sweating like no tomorrow.  There was another couple there looking on, and elderly man on oxygen (which I wanted to borrow a whiff or two)  and his daughter.   He had been a young lad in a nearby CCC camp and she had brought him back to find the location.   They looked on in interest as I got that wheel a spinnin!  SUCCESS!!!

(I added this next section now in 2011 when being emailed
more information and a link about this particular wheel)

belinda christensen belclare69@yahoo.com to me
show details 11:43 AM (2 hours ago)

Hi Karen,
I just ran across your blog entry for 4th of July 2010 while doing some spinning wheel websearching.  
I wanted to let you know that the little spinning wheel that you found in the corner of that cabin museum was right where it was supposed to be.  It was manufactured about 130 miles south of Oconto in Mayville, WI.  There is a great article published by the Wisconsin Historical Society on spinning wheels that includes several pages of documention on this wheel (starts on p. 23) 
That area is what I fondly refer to as the "Wisconsin Spinning Wheel Triangle".  From Green Bay to Milwaukee and down to Madison is a hotbed for finding beautiful wheels. I have five wheels from that area.
Love your Blog and Etsy site.  I'm working at getting to where you are in the textile arts but I'm still several years away.
Belinda Christensen

The museum volunteer, Bob, asked me if I would come back and demonstrate on weekends if I am ever in the area, and thanked me again and again for setting it up.  He asked a whole bunch of questions of what parts were what and how the fleece was produced to get to this state, and what was done with the single yarn after it was spun, how many plies to make what type of product, whether it was knit into socks or clothing, or woven into blankets of yardage for heavy wool coats and pants the lumberjacks used.  He gathered the information from me to help further his knowledge.  Then he could accurately portray the right information to future attendees that might ask about the wheel.

Here are few other photos of the interior of the little log home:

Gosh that was such a nice way to spend part of my afternoon, to help along someone to learn more about fibers and making yarn. I hope future folks taking a gander at that spinning wheel have a better understanding of how it works.

Here is my wheel back at the campsite:
It's a Wee Peggy upright castle wheel from New Zealand, no longer made.. but such a nice wheel!

Once we got back, it was time to whip up some supper here.... tonight's fare was grilled BBQ chicken breasts, potatoe salad, grilled broccoli and cauliflower,  and topped off by leftover cheesecake pudding pie and strawberries.  Even better the second time around!

So now it's Sunday morning, hot and humid already at 8am.  We are due for some scattered showers today and a few storms rolling through.  But it should be nice by evening, and hope it clears up for all the fireworks celebrations going on throughout the country.




  1. Happy 4th of July, you really did great in getting that wheel to spin another day, and it will show others the right way. Looks like you guts are enjoying the weekend ot, and eating just great. Be safe out there. Sam & Donna..

  2. Happy 4th of July, you really did great in getting that wheel to spin another day, and it will show others the right way. Looks like you guts are enjoying the weekend ot, and eating just great. Be safe out there. Sam & Donna..

  3. I always wanted to learn to spin, but was sure I would become addicted!

  4. Happy 4th Karen... You must feel so good about what you did. It brought a big smile to my face, I can tell ya.
    Very interesting and I'm sure very appreciated.
    Enjoy the rest of your quiet time.

  5. Oh Karen...what a wonderful thing you did, not only for that museum, but for all the people that will be coming through that neat little place. Now they will be learning the history correctly!
    What a delicious supper you cooked up! Glad you all had another great camping trip!
    Happy 4th of July!
    Mike & Gerri (happytrails)

  6. Always so nice to hear a warm story like that where someone with a certain expertise is able to turn their hand for the common good & benefit of all around. Good stuff:))


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