Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wheels, Wheels, Everywhere!

Man, do I feel sorry for folks that don't live here! First day of Farmers' Market, and we had temps in the high 60s-low 70s! All you poor slobs still slogging through the snow, check out our SIP (spinning in public) loveliness yesterday.

Elena (on the left) and I have been meeting Saturdays for the last few months to SIP at HumBrews, and we decided that when Farmers' Market started back up, we'd change our venue. Couldn't have *asked* for better weather, and we had a couple Purl 'n Hurler knitters (Bea, Marianne, & Autumn) join us. Plans are to make this a regular thing, so come out if you're a loc.

When I got home, Cole had a big surprise for me: he'd repaired the Pirtle wheel I bought waaaay back in December, and she's ready to spin on! Freakin' UPS dropped or otherwise destroyed the box it was shipped in, and for some inexplicable reason *disassembled* the damn thing before delivering it, and in the process broke the connector between the footman and the treadle. Anyway, Cole fabricated a new one for me yesterday, of jatoba (Brazilian cherry) - much prettier than the original, which looked like plywood. So, I present Myrtle, my lovely Pirtle Bulky Spinner in gorgeous shedua wood (I want to say the light-colored wood is maple or ash, but I can't remember).

She's an Irish tension wheel, bobbin-driven rather than flyer-driven like Harry, my Lendrum, so will take some getting used to. After trying to spin on her last night, I discovered that her wood seems to be swollen from the humidity here, so her yarn guides don't slide and her flyer doesn't turn. My personal Pirtle expert, Janice, tells me Vaseline is the answer to all her ills, but know-it-all that I am, I think I'll try some wood wax first.

For those of you who don't know about Pirtle wheels (I didn't), they were designed and made in the 1970s by a husband/wife team, in Huntington Beach, CA, Paul & Beverly Pirtle. The rumor about these wheels, only about 200 of which were ever produced, was that they were made by hippies on a commune using whatever wood scraps were lying around at hand. Sadly, this isn't the case (how cool would that have been?); Paul is a retired Air Force engineer, and he built them in his garage. :)

These wheels have amazing capabilities: the orifice and sliding yarn guides are 1", and the bobbins can hold up to 2.2 POUNDS of yarn. I have both the regular (huge) and bulky (ginormous) bobbin/flyer setups. What I'd love to find someday is the matching lazy kate. And hopefully when Cole masters his new lathe, he can make me some extra bobbins, because I only have one of each, so no plying for now. I'm excited about the possibilities of spinning on this wheel, and you can be sure you'll see the results here.

18 comments:

  1. That is a Freaking cool Wheel. I haven't ever seen one. Are you going to bring it out in public. I hope you get it going it sounds like a fun way to spend some time getting to know a wheel.

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  2. Oh sure love yours too!! and looks like I am missing a couple of things on mine like the 2nd yarn guide and looks like you have a wood piece at the end of the flyer where it goes into the side board?? I have none there!! also ?? where footman bar hooks into the wheel itself is that flush up against the wheel?? and is there a nut holding it on the other side?? am playing but still not drawing like think it should and so hoping Janice our hero Pirtle expert can help there!! let me know how you get along with yours!!
    hugs Linda

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  3. thanks, a. no plans to bring her out; she doesn't break down and is *very* heavy.

    pd - yes, 2 guides. and the extra wood piece is a ring that keeps the bobbin from sliding back and forth. don't know what you mean on your footman question... hmm, maybe can you rephrase? have fun!!

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  4. Birgith6:53 AM

    What an interesting wheel.I just wonder where you sit when spinning on the wheel. I suppose you'll sit fronting the tredle but the flyers eye is to the left? Isn't it a bit odd?
    You must hold the yarn in a 90 degree angel to the eye. Or...
    Would you like to show a photo of yourself spinning on the wheel?

    I'm an addicted spinner myself and have a bunch of spinning wheels in my home in Sweden.

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  5. Hi Birgith! Yes, you sit facing the treadles, with the orifice to your left. It is a new (to me) wheel, and I've not spun on it a lot yet, so it is still a bit awkward, but not causing any real problems. I'll try to remember to get a shot or two of me spinning on it.

    Thanks for the visit - it's such a pleasure knowing there are real people out there reading.

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  6. Velma, I have a Pirtle too, with original documentation (tension adjustment, maintainance, etc). I could try to get the info into PDF & email it to you.... let me know.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous11:13 AM

      Dear Hanna, I just bought a Pirtle Wheel and need Instructions in a bad way!!! is there a way if I beg you, you would be so kind to E-mail them to me? Kalmarse4@aol.com

      Delete
  7. Anonymous2:00 AM

    My dad built those wheels many years ago, and I'm glad to see that it's in such great condition. I'll make sure to pass along this site as I'm sure he'd get a kick out of seeing your wheel.

    Sean Pirtle

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous6:09 PM

      I just got one of his spinning wheels!! Is it possible to find a user manual or any info for it? Thanks jyoungsfd@aol.com

      Delete
  8. That is so great that your Myrtle got fixed and I am a bit envious of the amount of yardage you can spin on her! That's awesome! I hope you get it going and show us yer yarn! Nice ta see ya in the sunshine too! Happy Spinning!
    xo, calamity k

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  9. Anonymous6:27 PM

    I have two pirtles that i am thinking of selling//one in mahagony, the other, shedua...any interest?
    pam
    jesamie@supernet.com

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  10. I have one too from way back. I haven't tried it in years. I recently brought it out from storage. I'm getting inspired to try it after so many years. I have spun many pounds of all kinds of animal fibers on this wheel.

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  11. This is to Hanna. Is it possible for you to send a PDF of instructions and care to me if you make a PDF? My email address is

    fromfawn@gmail.com

    Thank you so much!, Fawn

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  12. Anonymous10:44 PM

    I own one of these wheels (bought it back in the early 80's) and have spun all kinds of fiber on it from alpaca to cotton (you have to treadle really fast for cotton) but it has always done a great job. Mine is all one wood, this one looks like a combination.
    Hanna, if you read this I too would love a copy of the instructions - czumpft@gmail.com!

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  13. I don't know if this thread is active but if there is any information on the Purtle wheel I would be interested in receiving it too. Email is bob.les.abbott@gmail.com Thanks

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  14. i just got a pirtle wheel on a lark and i'm trying to figure out how to use it. if you have any photos of how to sit and how to spin on it, i'd be most appreciative. it didn't come with any documentation. found it at an antique store. do i sit feeding the roving straight on and straddle the side to get to the treadle or do i use my left hand along to feed the roving in? i'm a little confused onhow to manage it. any help would be very appreciated. thanks

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  15. i just got a pirtle wheel on a lark and i'm trying to figure out how to use it. if you have any photos of how to sit and how to spin on it, i'd be most appreciative. it didn't come with any documentation. found it at an antique store. do i sit feeding the roving straight on and straddle the side to get to the treadle or do i use my left hand along to feed the roving in? i'm a little confused onhow to manage it. any help would be very appreciated. thanks

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous2:18 PM

    I bought my Pirtle from Paul when we were both members of the Greater Los Angeles Spinning Guild. I have the lazy kate and both heads, as well as multiple bobbins. Love it. It does break down, but is a bit heavy to travel often. Glad to hear he is still alive, and a shout out to both of them from the GLASG.

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