Spinnin’ wheel, spinnin’ true

Meet Jean — a fantastic stitcher and quite a historian.

Jean is a volunteer at the Millinery Shop at mega retro Colonial Williamsburg.

She stitches by using the same materials that were used during the colonial days, and buys hand-dyed silks and wool for her pieces from merchants who adhere to historical standards.

You can see examples of her stitching above, including the beautiful chatelaine and the scissor case.

Earlier today, Jean was at Needlepoint Land to hang out and stitch while I gave her friend, Patty, a start-up lesson, as she has just taken up needlepoint.

Anyway, Jean was discussing what she did and the techniques she used and I mentioned my spinning wheel that’s the star of the right window display in my shop.

Jean actually collects spinning wheels and she dated mine to the mid-to-late 1700’s. She said it was made in New England, and is called a Grand Wheel. Who knew?

When I was told by my grandmother a long time ago that it was a very old spinning wheel, I thought, oh, this is one of those family legend things, maybe it’s just 100 years old — not the genuine antique it turned out to be!

Jean looked at the wheel, said it was mounted backwards and proceeded to fix it for me. She is also is making a wooden dowel (like they did in the olden days) to lock it into place. At some point, Jean said, I must take off the metal brackets that are now part of the piece because that is NOT authentic.

She also told me to stick a piece of cork at the end of the wheel’s wicked-looking spindle so that it doesn’t brain someone. I’ll look around the house to see if I’ve saved the cork from a wine or champagne bottle.

One last thing that Jean explained about spinning wheels is that they were made to be portable and they come apart very easily and are a snap to re-assemble. A lot of them wound up in attics of houses when the gentle art of spinning threads became mechanized.

Jean also volunteered to teach me to spin, since the wheel is functional. I don’t know, but I may take her up on the offer if this Needlepoint Land thingie doesn’t pan out.

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2 thoughts on “Spinnin’ wheel, spinnin’ true

  1. I’m anxious every day I walk in the front the door of Needlepoint Land, Pauline. You never know what’s going to happen in that Plaza!

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