His name is Wheezy and I gave birth to him in August. On Friday, the heinous virus culminated with a diagnosis of RSV for the wee one. He's getting inhaler treatments, but he's doing great and we may have gotten through the worst of it without even knowing it.
Anyway, it was this diagnosis that made me almost not go to Spinner's Group on Friday night. After days of being home with sick people, though, sheer desperation (and the fact that I was taking Laura the loom I've had in my basement for too long) made me force myself to go. Didn't plan to spin, didn't even take a wheel with me.
It was a small group on Friday, three and a half, not counting me. (The "half" is Caroline's daughter Emily, and is a regular part of the group.) After talk of the loom and normal catchup talk, somehow talk turned to an orphan wheel that had been left at the shop with a note "Clemson Clemes Wheel / Free to a Good Home."
Curiousity got the best of me, particularly because Clemes & Clemes wheels seem to have a bit of a cult following. After taking off the ratty old stinky nasty wool on the bobbin and getting some help from Caroline about the wheel's double-drive tension, I got her going. Not a bad spin. So my home was good enough for the wheel, and it came home as a restoration project. My husband's face was priceless. But, as he always is when curious machinery is involved, he too was sucked in at some level of interest. I've been wiping and oiling and investigating and here's what I know so far, besides the fact that I seriously doubt it is a Clemes & Clemes
Look at this flyer. The eye bolts are clever, and almost Woolee-Winder-esque. They'll need new nuts to make sure they stay in place when I'm spinning (tension on the yarn pulls them towards me too fast and the yarn fills at the front faster than anywhere). But they're neat and old looking.
This wheel is sturdy, and I mean SOLID. I don't know what type of wood it is is made of, but it has held up well.
There are a few rough patches on the wheel, and some knicks on the knobs and over the Mother of All, but nothing a little sanding won't take care of.
The leather parts need some conditioning (the maiden has a leader thong-type assemble that the orifice slides into to hold the bobbin in place and it looks a little dry, as does the piece that attaches the footman to the wheel itself).
But above all, what I know more than anything is this: This wheel has POWER. It was obviously made for production! It may simply be that it's a double-drive wheel (my Traditional is single-drive and the Hitchiker has no drive), but this thing can twist. And the yarn it turned out was a respectable worsted that -- once I weigh it down to set the massive twist -- will be usable and strong.
It's a worthwhile addition to the spinning corner. Even though it makes my Traditional look downright dainty.