Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thumbelina -- all fixed up

A while ago I was looking for a wheel for my eldest daughter's 21st birthday. She actually asked for a wheel for her birthday, I kid you not.  So, I put out word amongst the guild members and even put an ad in our newsletter about wanting a second hand wheel.  Several offers came in:  one was perfect -- an Ashford Traditional in great shape, with bobbins, a lazy kate and a set of wool carders -- at a good price.  That's the one I purchased for her birthday.  There were other offers at either end of the spectrum - junk or way out of my price range.  One gal had an interesting box of wooden pieces that contained an entire wheel that she was willing to give away. A neighbour of hers, knowing she was in the guild, asked her to find a home for the sad thing.  I traded her a pound and a half of handspun for the box of bits.

I brought it home -- assembled it to the best of my knowledge and lo and behold, it was a lovely little wheel, a castle style wheel. Some internet research revealed that it was made in New Zealand, called the Thumbelina.  Thumbelinas were made by Baillie and Watts under the name Sleeping Beauty, probably in the 1970s.  I love the size and shape of it. 

After a bit of tinkering I got it to work and spun on it for a while.  Right before a spinning demonstration the leather piece attaching the wheel to the treadle broke.  As I was trying to fix it, the flyer broke.  This seemed like a bad omen.  The leather thingy I could fix, but the broken flyer, I was stuck.

It has sadly sat in the corner of the landing for the last two years.  Then, inspired by the other wheels I have brought into the house, I tried fixing this up.  Did the leather thing no problem.  Then tackled the broken flyer.  I drilled a hole in either side of the break, inserted a dowl into it, glued it like crazy, then clamped it for the week.  I took off the clamp, sanded it and to my amazement, it worked.  You can still the place where it broke, but that's like a scar.  A sign of being well worn, and loved enough to be repaired.

And here she is, nicely sanded up with a first coat of natural MinWax on her.  I can't believe what that stuff does to wood.  I brings it back to life in the most amazing way.  I am going to spin on her this afternoon.  Will let you know how things progress.


  1. I have a Thumbelina and the flyer broke as well, but glued up great. It was the only casualty in a big move, and in the evening after the actual move was done! I'd love to find more bobbins for it as I only have one.