Long draw

Barb is from New York and Sam is from Ghana. They were our across-the-street-neighbors for fifteen years when Sam decided to retire and he and Barb were off to Africa to raise poultry. Before she left, Barb bestowed upon Joanna a gift of her Walking Wheel.  Joanna had always wanted one and we were forever stopping to look at antique shops, farm sales, and auctions. Not one that we ever found was in very good shape, either the wheel was cracked or what we call the business end (the spindle assembly, including the Miner’s Head) was either broken or missing. As it happened, Barb’s wheel was missing its spindle assembly and we were fortunate to have been able to get Ken Lennox of Grand Rapids to turn a replacement for us. Watching Joanna use her wheel is really something to behold. She turns the large wheel with her right hand. This moves a band which drives the Miner’s Head which, via action of another drive band, turns the spindle. It is the rotation of the spindle that twists and spins the wool. As this is happening Joanna walks away from the spindle in a motion called drafting. As she walks she sweeps her left hand back, slowly, while allowing little bits of wool to pass through her fingers. Because wool fibers are rough and grab on to one another the fibers form a continuous, lengthening, thread. With her left arm now in back of her she sweeps it to the right, across her body and toward the wheel, such that rather than adding additional twist to  the wool the rotating spindle now acts to wind-on the completed length of thread. She walks toward the spindle and the thread accumulates there. Now she is ready to long draw, away from the spindle, once more … and then toward the spindle to wind-on. And back, and forth, and back, and forth … and thus the name of this wonderful contraption … a Walking Wheel. It really is a treat to watch. I do not yet have the capacity to post videos on this Pairodox blog, and I don’t think Joanna would be too keen to be filmed in any case, so click this link to view a YouTube video of a women demonstrating the long draw.

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