Thursday, August 19, 2010

"What goes up, must come down. Spinnin' wheel, got to go round..."

I learned to spin on an Ashford Kiwi in 2001. The Kiwi is a fun little machine and I really like the entire line of Ashford products. So, I was pleased when I found a great deal on a second-hand Ashford Traveller. Over the years, I upgraded it from a single treadle to a double treadle and purchased a jumbo plying head along with a matching lazy kate for the jumbo bobbins. I'm not a big fan of the jumbo head and seldom use it.

Ashford Traveller

After the Traveller, I bought this great Columbine wheel from some lady off of a truck! Several years ago, Iowa State University's Fiber Arts Dept. had an auction of all their weaving equipment. Some of the looms came in lots with miscellaneous items from benches to...a Columbine wheel. I was bidding on a lot that did not contain the Columbine, but I saw this woman loading it onto a truck and said: "I see you won my wheel." She sold it to me right then and there. This one may very well be a prototype, because it only has hooks on one side of the flyer. The orange color is an indication that it is one of the earliest Columbine wheels. This wheel was in perfect condition when I got it. I used the wheel a lot but prefer the Traveller, so when I found myself unemployed last year, it went on EBay. She now lives a very happy life in Burbank. Yeah, as in California. It's kind of fitting that an orange and metal spinning wheel should be on the West Coast.

Columbine Wheel
Some days I regret selling the Columbine but it was becoming a dust collector. Then, as if by magic, a dear friend of mine decided to downsize her collection of wheels and offered me first crack at her Lehigh Valley spinning wheel. Like the Columbine, the Lehigh Valley is no longer produced. This one was in spectacular shape and is truly one of a kind. It's the "Italian" model and was custom painted for my friend using milk paint colors she selected. She also had the producer sign the wheel underneath--for all I know it may be the only wheel he ever signed. And yes, I purchased the darn wheel! I might be unemployed, but I'm not stupid...or wait, maybe I am?! The Italian is a GREAT wheel to spin on because of its weight and proportions.

Spinning wheels and their histories are fascinating. I highly recommend you do a Google search to learn more about the Columbine and Lehigh Valley.

Lehigh Valley "Italian"


  1. Ohhhh, your Lehigh is a sexy little wheel, isn't she?
    BTW, welcome to the world of blogging, you are off to a fabulous start! I have added you on my blog roll : ).
    I was just looking at the picture of Genevieve in your other post...why was it that I sold her???? She looks great!

  2. Oh - now I see you have MY wheel;). I'd been salivating over the Lehigh Valley Italian wheel for a long time, and finally decided to buy one. When I went to the site - they were no longer there. Bummer!
    Another lesson in 'get it when you find it, don't wait'.

    Oh well, too soon old, too late smart - that's me .

    Gwen S.

    1. The Italian is a great wheel. And they are around. My neighbor has one in black!

    2. would you sell the Italian?