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 Day in the Wairarapa Region

One of the wonderful things about the internet for me is connecting with like-minded people. It’s opened up a whole new world when it comes to my yarn and fibre hobbies of knitting and spinning. I discovered Ravelry and then discovered so many knowledgeable people who know so much about spinning wheels. One in particular is Mary Knox who is the creator of the New Zealand spinning wheels website. I contacted Mary a couple of years ago when I bought my Little Peggy spinning wheel. Being a complete novice, I had no idea about it and whether it was complete. Mary gave me so much information and really helped me identify bits and pieces on my wheel. Since then I have kept in contact with Mary and she’s provided me with bits of paperwork that relate to other wheels I’ve acquired.

When Mary knew I was cruising around New Zealand and would be spending a day in Wellington we hatched a plan whereby we could meet up. As there was no suitable train available for me to travel to her hometown, Mary and and her husband Fred very kindly picked me up from Wellington where the ship docked. It was so exciting to finally meet Mary and her husband. Fred very kindly sat in the back of their car while Mary and I spent the next 1½ hours chatting on the drive to the beautiful Wairarapa region.

Welling-Sth-Wairarapa-mapWe arrived at The Wool Shed in Masterton where the Wairarapa Spinners & Weavers Guild were having their Wednesday meeting.

Wool Shed 18How opportune that I should be in the area on the same day! I loved being amongst all those lovely spinners and knitters.

Wool Shed 14Wool Shed 15The surrounds they meet in are just stunning. It really was like stepping back in time. The Wool Shed is two authentic wool sheds trucked in from real farms, full of new and historic shearing equipment and sheep farm gear. There are also displays describing the history of sheep farming and its importance to New Zealand, samples of wool types and wool end-products, spinning and weaving demonstrations, the story of shearing – its beginnings and how it became an international sport, shearing demonstrations in the historic wool shed and a shop with its wide range of wool garments and souvenirs.

Wool Shed 19Wool Shed 01Don’t these sheep look like the real deal?

Wool Shed 03Different types of wool.

Wool Shed 35It’s fantastic see the history of The Wool Shed retained and used by the community at the same time.

I loved looking at the spinning wheels on display and particularly the mystery wheel.

Wool Shed 09Wool Shed 07Wool Shed 06I even managed to snap a couple of photos of the Guild’s storage cupboard with all those lovely wheels 🙂

Wool Shed 25And I couldn’t resist looking in the shop at the goods sold by the Wairarapa Spinners Guild. I bought this cute little crocheted wool sheep as a memento of my visit.

Crocheted Sheep 04Wool Shed 10Lunch was spent at a nearby cafe within walking distance and then it was back to The Wool Shed for a bit more knitting before we set off for Paua World near Mary’s home. I managed to buy some more souvenirs. I love the paua shell; no two pieces are the same and the colours are magnificent. We also dropped into a local yarn shop and I bought a ball of Opal sock yarn (couldn’t help myself!)

Opan Sock YarnAt Mary and Fred’s home we had a cuppa and muffins and Mary showed me her spinning wheels. I wanted to pack them in my suitcase and bring them home! Particularly the miniature Rappard Wee Peggy wheel. It is just so unique.

DSC07381DSC07383Wool Shed 27Wool Shed 28And then it was back in the car and the 1½ hours drive back to the docks to board my ship for its journey onto Akaroa and Christchurch.

What a simply magical day with such kind New Zealand hospitality. I love this country so much. It’s my second visit there in the last nine years and I’ve just re-booked myself on the same cruise departing Brisbane in October 2016; that’s how much I’m keen to get back plus I enjoy the cruising experience. It’s also good to have something to look forward to don’t you think?

NZ Cruise mapAnd I might add as I boarded the ship everyone was talking about how wet and windy it was in Wellington. Not in Masterton it wasn’t 🙂 The rain held off and it certainly wasn’t cold. I was truly blessed.

Thank you so much Mary and Fred. And thank you so much Mary for your CD book ‘New Zealand Spinning Wheels and their Makers’.

Here’s a photo of Mary (right) and me (left).

Melanie Mary 01This was a trip and a day I’ll treasure and remember forever.

Until next time…