I’m making a note here: HUGE success.

Gwendolyn was finished on the train to Rhinebeck – the weaving in of ends, the sewing on of buttons. Temporary buttons, alas – I was so wrapped up in the actual spinning and knitting that buttoning got pushed to the back burner until it was much too late to do anything serious about it. So, I can’t really call this project finished-finished until I find some worthy buttons for it… but this will do for now.

It’s a great pattern, and I’d happily knit it again – it goes really fast when you actually work at it, instead of leaving it in a basket in the vain hope that the knitting faeries will come by and finish it for you before the deadline. I’m glad I pushed myself at the end and managed to get it done.

This is the first real garment I’ve ever made with my handspun – sure, there’ve been small things like hats and scarves and such, but this is actual clothing we’re talking about here. Serious business, that. I learned a few lessons along the way about swatching (handspun swatches lie even more than commercial yarn swatches) and spinning enough yarn for a whole project (don’t spin too much until you’re sure you’re hitting gauge on the garment itself). Along the way, I developed an even deeper love for my trusty old Spin-Well wheel.


I can see why these wheels were so popular on the Canadian prairies; at one point, in 1938, Spin-Well was shipping 20 wheels a day – a mind-boggling number of them for the time and place. The Spin-Well label still survives on mine, which means that it was made in Sifton, Manitoba sometime between the early ’30s and 1946; after that, they were sold under the Made-Well name. It’s a superb wheel for just this type of spinning – good, sturdy worsted-weight yarn for clothing. The bobbins are absolutely huge, and I was lucky enough to get the complete original set with my wheel – two lower-speed bobbins for spinning, one higher-speed bobbin for plying.

It delights me beyond all measure to use this wheel for making a warm winter sweater, just the way the first owner would have used it more than 60 years ago. I can imagine her excitement as she uncrated her new wheel for the first time and set it up to spin on; the giant bobbins and the smooth, heavy treadling action must have made her rub her hands together with glee. I can tell that it was well-used, from the wear marks on the flyer, and from the softly-worn bare spots on the treadle where she placed her feet… exactly where I place mine.

Pattern: Gwendolyn, from Fiona Ellis. Twist Collective Fall 2010

Fibre: Natural Dark Blue-Faced Leicester, from Louet via ACME Fibres.

Ravelry project page link: Potteryfreak’s Rhinebeck project

Oh look! it’s on the Twist Collective blog too! (blushing)

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