The Camelot

Ever since I stumbled across my Crofter spinning wheel I’ve wanted a Camelot as they’re almost twins. My luck changed a couple of weeks ago when I found this advertisement on Gumtree.

Camelot wheel 23

Not only did I manage to snag the Camelot wheel but another spinning chair too.

My Camelot is slightly different from others as it has no front maiden and the orifice just rests on a piece of leather.

Camelot wheel 08

Another difference is it has bobbin-holder spikes at the back of the table instead of a kate in front, and does not have provision for scotch tension (which suits me just fine as I prefer double drive). You can just see the two bobbins behind the wheel.

Camelot wheel 13

What I really love about buying a second hand wheel is the cleaning process. I gave this wheel a couple of coats of a 50/50 mix of boiled linseed oil and pure gum turpentine which has given the wood a beautiful sheen.

Camelot wheel 22

Camelot wheel 15

Here’s an except from New Zealand Spinning Wheels and Their Makers by Mary Knox, which is a culmination of five years’ work. This book is a tribute to the inventiveness and skill of New Zealand spinning wheel makers and the astonishing variety of their wheels.

Contents include: Introduction – Saxony style wheels – Upright wheels – Double table (Norwegian-style) wheels – Some interesting makers – Discussion and speculation – Conclusion.

Camelot: Sharp and Page began making these in their Mount Roskill (Auckland) factory in 1978. They exported most of their Camelots to Australia, the UK and the USA. The one in photograph 3-16 has no front maiden, the orifice resting on a piece of leather. There are two spikes at the back to hold bobbins. Some other Camelots have two maidens, provision to be converted to Scotch tension, and a built-in kate at the front. The wheel in photograph 3-17 is in the USA. It has an attractive inlay of light wood in the flyer.  

A thesis prepared in 1985 for the Diploma of Export by Jean McDonnell says “Sharp and Page market an upright wheel (Camelot) for export and for the Wheel and the Loom. The wheel was produced on the suggestion of the Department of Trade and Industry. It is a planned strategy operation using distributors and exporting to Australia, UK and USA (in that order”. (The Wheel and Loom was a craft shop in Auckland).

Camelot wheel 05

The similarities between the Crofter (L) and the Camelot (R) are amazing. Those grooves in the wheel and even the colour of the wood. The main difference is the Crofter has an in-built kate at the front whereas the Camelot has two spikes behind the wheel to accommodate two bobbins.

Crofter 09-horz

The flyers are practically the same; only the bobbins are slightly different. The Camelot (R) bobbin is rounded on one end whereas the Crofter (L) bobbin is not.

Crofter Wheel 07-horz

The treadles: Crofter (L) and Camelot (R). The Camelot treadle is slightly narrower.

Crofter Wheel 04-horz

While we don’t know for sure the relationship between Camelot and Crofter they both seem to have been made by Sharp and Page.

I believe the chair may have been made by the spinning wheel maker as the wood turning on the legs is practically a match.

Camelot wheel 20

I particularly love the flower carved into the top of the chair. I now have three spinning chairs; all of them are different.

Camelot wheel 17
Here’s my Camelot ready and waiting for me to spin on her. As I have three other wheels with UFOs on them, I am restraining myself because I must finish those UFOs first!

Camelot wheel 21

I might add that the original advertisement on Gumtree only showed the one bobbin on the flyer so I contacted the seller to ask  whether there were any more bobbins. She advised there were some more somewhere and she’d have a look. When I arrived she handed a package to me which contained these bobbins, a hardly used Ashford niddy noddy and an egg sock darner.

Camelot bobbins

Yes, that’s right, eight extra bobbins and nine in total!! Just goes to show that it doesn’t hurt to ask sellers if they have extras as a large percentage of people selling wheels don’t know what they’re selling. They’ve either inherited or been given the wheel and just want to get rid of it.

That’s my news for now 🙂

Until next time…


New Zealand Spinning Wheels and Their Makers

In April this year I was very fortunate to cruise around New Zealand, stopping at many wonderful towns and cities. In Wellington I was privileged to be greeted by Mary and Fred Knox. Mary is the creator of the New Zealand spinning wheels website and author of the book New Zealand Spinning Wheels and Their Makers.

coverMary and Fred drove me to the beautiful Wairarapa region where they live and I spent most of the day with Mary and the Wairarapa Spinners & Weavers at their spectacular meeting place, The Wool Shed in Masterston. Mary also gave me a CD copy of her book.

I have just discovered that due to the closure of the printing company and the exorbitant postage costs involved these days, Mary has decided to provide her book free of charge on a new website called New Zealand Spinning Wheels and Their Makers .

This is incredibly generous of Mary. Once you delve into each of the PDFs you will see how much research has been carried out to produce this incredibly detailed history of New Zealand’s spinning wheel makers.

Mary does state that the book was never intended to cover makers who only made a few wheels: generally the cut off was at a dozen.

Mary is now writing articles and adding to the website so the world now has this valuable resource at its fingertips.

As Mary states “I give it to you freely, and you are welcome to make and share copies, but please do not use anything in it for any commercial purpose. You may quote from it but please mention where the quotation comes from.” Please respect Mary’s words. You could even drop her an email to thank her for this wonderful gift if you feel so inclined via the contact page.

So, if you have one or more spinning wheels that were made in New Zealand, you can now read all about them.

A Wonderful Wind Wheel!

The spinning wheel Gods have been looking after me over the last couple of weeks as I’ve managed to pick up two more wheels to add to my burgeoning collection that now totals 11! Today I’m going to show you one of June 1981 Fenton Wind Wheel.

Wind wheel 01

Last Sunday morning I checked my emails and then checked the spinning wheels for sale on Ebay and Gumtree. This is becoming a bit of a daily habit which I must try and break! At the top of the list on Gumtree was this gorgeous Wind Wheel and it was within a comfortable driving distance to my home…about 40 minutes away. My first thought was NO! you have enough spinning wheels and you only have two hands!! I shut down the computer and moved away to do something else but this wheel kept niggling at me so it was back to the computer, log back on and retrieve the phone number of the seller. After a quick call I confirmed I’d be there within the hour. Yes, I can hear you….I can talk myself into anything!

After a couple of wrong turns (even with a Navman I still make wrong turns) I arrived at my destination feeling slightly stressed from the driving (I HATE driving especially to unfamiliar territory). I was shown the Wind Wheel which also came with a small Lazy Kate and a total of four bobbins.

Wind wheel bobbins 02

Now, I’ve never used a Wind Wheel so the owner showed me how she worked. Wow! I can’t believe how many types of spinning wheels there are, how differently they operate and yet the end result is the same: spun yarn. The little Wind Wheel is the weirdest looking wheel but so compact as it folds down.

windwheelfentonfolded(Photo from Australian Spinning Wheels website)

The hinge that allows the wheel to fold.

Wind wheel 10

The owner also had a small box which contained violin rosin which is used to rub the inside of the leather belt when it starts slipping. I have since been told by another spinner that I shouldn’t really need to use it. Any other feedback would be appreciated.

Wind wheel bobbins 03

As soon as I got my little wheel home, I took the obligatory photos and then hopped onto one of my all time favourite websites: Ravelry. I posted some pics on the Australian Spinning Wheel forum and the next day there were a few responses. Luckily I got to that little wheel first as two other people were interested in it but not as quick off the mark as I was! I also managed to find two pdf documents which show the assembly of the Wind Wheel and spinning instructions. One lovely Raveler also advised me she had an original instruction sheet which she photographed and emailed to me. I’ve also asked her if she’d send me a photocopied page so I can scan it and keep it forever! That’s one thing about the fibre / yarn community; everyone is so willing to help and share their knowledge and instruction sheets! Thank you Karen! If you look along the top banner of my website, you’ll find the Spinning Wheel Info icon. Simply hover over it and a drop down menu will appear which shows you all the instruction manuals I’ve found that relate to some of my wheels.

Windwheel instructions

I also checked out one of my other favourite websites administered by Mary Knox in New Zealand which contains heaps of fantastic information about all past and present New Zealand made spinning wheels and all Australian ones too. This website is continually updated as more people find it and are able to contribute meaningful information. I’ve used it quite a bit to identify some of my wheels. There’s also a section on New Zealand and Australian mystery spinning wheels. Perhaps you can identify some of them!!

There’s quite a bit of information about Wind Wheels on the site which I have reproduced here. This unusual folding wheel (pronounced like that which blows, not that which twists around) has had several makers. It was designed in 1977 by Geoffrey Fenton in Tasmania; the design was passed to Hans Kruger in South Australia; now it is made by Ettrick in Victoria. The early Wind Wheel made by Fenton is made of Huon Pine and has a black pulley wheel.

My wheel was made by Fenton in June 1981.

Wind wheel 04

The purpose of the metal hoop is to keep the belt in place when the wheel is folded.

Wind wheel 05

The Kruger wheel included changes to the colour of the pulley wheel, now brown. It is made of plywood, which gives interesting patterns on the flyer arms and other parts. The plywood Wind Wheel was called the “Explorer”. Fenton also offered a “Tasmanian Blackwood” model. Since Ettrick bought the manufacturing licence, they have made Wind Wheels available in Huon Pine, Blackwood and Tasmanian Myrtle, according to the website.

You can view pictures of other wind wheels on the website.

Mabel Ross owned one of the early ones, and wrote about it in her Encyclopedia of Hand Spinning: “Since it folds, it is extremely portable as well as elegant, if unusual. The principle is that of a single-band bobbin-brake type; the momentum usually provided by the driving wheel is vested in the heavy cylinder attached to the treadle and circular motion is transmitted to the spindle by a flexible band. Bobbin braking is provided by pressure of an adjustable spring which also holds the bobbin in place.”

Wind wheel 08

A while ago I had been toying with the idea of buying a new Wind Wheel so I checked out the Ettrick website. The prices stated were for Myrtle $1,320 and for Blackwood $1,430 plus postage and insurance so I put those plans on hold. When this Wind Wheel appeared on Gumtree for only $200 that was probably what pushed me to make that phone call. These wheels don’t often come up for sale; let alone nearby me in Brisbane and for such a reasonable price.

Wind wheel 02The wood is gorgeous.

Wind wheel 09

Oh and by the way the owner was getting rid of it as she’d bought a Majacraft wheel as she wanted to do finer lace spinning.

I’ll tell you about my other spinning wheel purchase in a future post; I’m just gathering some more information about it. Here’s a hint:…it’s a Brisbane made spinning wheel.

Until next time…