Wednesday, 17 July 2013


So I think its time you met Princess. Princess is my spinning wheel. She has a lovely little history and even the story of how she came to be mine is a nice little one. So this post is all about her. 

Let me state this first off, I was not looking for a wheel. Absolutely not. I was happy spindling and I held out and maintained this for the longest time even while my Ravelry friends said I should try wheel spinning. But my husband wasn't keen and we had nowhere to put a wheel. Though admittedly I did look at wheels on ebay and the likes. Mainly thinking about what I would do if money were no object. As there are wheels that could be collapsed and put into a bag beneath the sofa. That was my plan. if I ever, ever had the money. Then Princess came onto my radar. 

She was mentioned in the UK spinners Ravelry group. They have a thread for quirky wheels that end up on ebay. Some listings are funny, some are for rare wheels. Mine was one of the latter. I had already discerned that my preference style wise is for a castle wheel. Small foot print, everything upright, and they just appeal to me visually. So when I clicked on the link to Princess... well let's say she was the prettiest castle wheel I had ever laid eyes on, to my mind at least. And it was love at first sight. Oh dear.

Alright, I was in love, so now I had to figure out a few things. Where I would put her if I managed to acquire her, and talking the husband round. I did manage to bargain my way round it, in return for making some room by decluttering and dismantling an old TV unit we weren't using. I agreed. So I got watching the auction and got ready to bid. I had a simple plan, wait till the end, bid my maximum and let the dice roll. Also, Ravelry being the fab place it was, I had declared there that I was going to go for her as my very first wheel (and still only), so a few people who were interested but already had wheels, pulled out of the bidding! Because we are all enablers like that.

I stuck to the plan, and won! £6 under my maximum, but I managed it. She was evidently meant to be mine. So I paid, contacted the seller about pick up, kept my end of the bargain clearing out to give her somewhere to live, and arranged to go collect. I was rather big and pregnant with my daughter at the time, so hubby insisted on me using his sat nav, but off I went one evening and entered the house of the lovely couple living there. Obviously both keen on spinning and fibre arts and medieval reenactors. The lady I was purchasing from sat me down with Princess and taught me how she worked, what bits to oil and all the important stuff, told me some of her history, which wasn't much, and gave me a quick spinning lesson. Astonishingly within five minutes I was spinning a bumpy fingering thickness single longdraw. We were meant to be!

So this is Princess.

Dressed in 4 bobbins on her on board Lazy Kate, one full of the singles I showed in my catch up post, and fifth loaded on the flyer. She came with four bobbins, I have had two more made to fit her, they were copied and made by the Woodland Turnery who are awesome at all these kinds of things. So I have a total of six. Basically because they are dinky compared to modern wheels, and only hold approx 60g of fibre spun up.

So the lady I bough Princess from was the daughter of her only other owner. Her mother recently passed away, and while she learned to spin on Princess, she had a more modern wheel of her own she got on well with and it seemed best to pass her on. She was bought new, from Frank Herring and Son's as you can see from my heading picture, who are still in business today. She didn't know until we turned Princess over (I cannot recall why) that her mother had recorded a little history in red ball point pen on her base.

She was bought, as new, on the 10th of Novermber 1970, for the princely sum of £21 and £1 in carriage! Very different from what I paid for her, but that said, taking inflation into account, it seems fair. Anyone who knows spinning wheels may have also noted one other little quirk, the hooks on her flyer have been set up left handed, as her owner was left handed. Being somewhat both handed, this has proven no hassle to me whatsoever. I think I would feel strange with a right handed flyer now! But the owner knew no more than that. I bought Princess home, made her comfy and happy and started digging. There was so little mentioned on the web and even the all knowing Ravellers knew very little of her. The only clue I had were the plate for Frank Herring and Son's where she was bought from, and a screen capture of a very old advert mentioning the 'Norwegian Princess' as she was sold ass through them. So... I phone them up and spoke to the current Mr Herring, and he told me what he knew of the Norwegian Princess.

They were made by one man who lived in the Norwegian fjords. Every year the winter weather would close down where he lived and there was nothing to do but make wheels. So he manufactured these unique little wheels. He made them from pine, which is probably the very last wood you should make a wheel from because it warps badly. But it was all he had, surrounded by pine forests. So he developed a unique construction method that meant that if the wheel warped, it all warped together and the wheel runs true regardless. Amazing! And when the weather cleared he would ship over the wheels he had made to them and sell them on. He has long since passed away, in the early 80's, so none are younger than that. I have an older model from 1970. Mr Herring also told me that occasionally they get one of these wheels back for various reasons from people who no longer what them, probably like how I acquired her. And when they do... they sell for twice the price I bought her for easily. Sheesh, I never knew she was a bargain!

So there you are, the Norwegian Princess wheel as sold by Frank Herring and Son's. She is a Scandinavian wheel in all ways in that she is set up for the fine spinning their traditions are known for, and she does a fine job of it. I am working on spinning ever finer on her, as the latest batch of singles prove.

So there's Princess, my spinning best friend. You can bet that if I am not on holiday when I am spinning, this is what I am spinning on. For the spinners out there reading, who is your spinning best friend?

Till next time.

Kat xxx

Feel free to follow me on twitter @sticks_n_string

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