This spinning wheel has been sitting at my aunt’s house for many years as decoration. Turns out, it is older than the 1870’s. We know this because, that was the year my great great grandmother carried it out west in her covered wagon for homesteading.
My aunt had decided to clean out her house and wanted to know if my mom wanted the “decorative” relic. It is astounding to think of what precious few things they would have been able to pack in a wagon. What essentials they chose to start a new life by homesteading in the Dakotas. This wheel must have been the KitchenAid mixer of it’s day. (except it only comes in one color)
Mom proudly showed me a table linen she has held onto for years. It was made of flax grown and spun by great great grandmother on this very wheel. She also had embroidered the edges and corners with little cotton flowers. (Those pioneer women were some hard-workering, all purpose ladies!)
Sadly, the little wheel had some problems. Her flyer was cracked. Her leather pieces long rotted away, and she was missing her drive band. All of this was simple to replace and the wheel itself was in excellent condition. I wanted to get her spinning again.
But the flyer was the hard part. Being so old, you can’t just order replacement parts. Modern flyers wouldn’t fit and I am not a blacksmith/wood carver. Where could we scour for such a piece?
While at the farmer’s market, that very morning, we happened upon a lady who was spinning. She sold wool, yarn, and other products from her sheep farm. We were looking at her wheel and trying to decide if a modern flyer might actually fit on our old one? We explained our problem and she told us that flyers were very specific and we wouldn’t be able to use one not made for our wheel.
I was deflated, then she mentioned that she knew a man who fixed old spinning wheels and she even just happened to have his business card! Ask and yea shall receive! Where else but an Indiana farmer’s markets do you run into people who can give you a referral to a spinning wheel repair man?
Long story short, we found the man. He fixed the flyer. I replaced the other parts and cleaned her up.
For the first time in over a 100 years, she was spinning again! Mom and I were running our hands through time, making the same whirls and twists that my pioneer great great grandmother had made.
Now I doubt that I am going to plant and harvest my own flax next year…but you never know. I am of a hardworking and multi-purpose stock!