I have been wanting an original Orkney wheel for a long time. Then back in the summer I saw one on Ebay which looked to be what I was after. I bought it, and it came home in September.
I took it straight over to Granville Swanney, the only person making Orkney wheels today, who happens to live on Flotta! He agreed to do the bits of work needed to get it back into a working state. The main problem was that someone had put the wheel on the wrong way round, and the wheel rim and flyer whorls didn’t line up:
There were also some little things which needed doing, like straightening the hooks on the flyer:
I met Granville in the shop yesterday and he said the wheel was ready. And this is what I brought home:
It has the three characteristics which, together with elegant lines, denote an Orkney-derived wheel. The treadle is chamfered:
The spokes are thickest at the rim:
And most importantly, the wheel rim has two deep grooves for two separate drive bands (not one figure of eight):
The wheel is now aligned with the flyer and bobbin whorls:
The hooks are straight and the orifice has been cleaned out:
And just to show the size of the tiny orifice:
Since I brought it back, I have been oiling everything in sight, and setting the wheel up to spin. Like all old Orkney wheels, you have to get used to the best speed to treadle and the best position EXACTLY to have your foot. Once I worked that out, I started spinning – and it immediately produced a nice. fine yarn!
I am very busy on other things at present so am being very good and not spending all day spinning. But once I get this other stuff out of the way, I am going to thoroughly enjoy using it. Meanwhile, my friend Cathy got to know it, supervised by two dogs!
Then, when the Heritage Centre on the island opens, the wheel will go down there and will sit in the corner, ready for me (or others) to use to demonstrate spinning.