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And Now, for Something Completely Different

October 1, 2006

I am writing up the pattern for Sarah’s wedding shawl, but it may take me a little time. The charts are done, but I lack the discipline required to sit and write instead of casting on something new.
Shifting out of lace mode and moving on to texture, Starmore’s Fern from the Stillwater book is on the needles at last. Here is my gauge swatch:

Just kidding. It took me a while to be convinced that the fabric would draw in enough to fit me. I started with a provisional cast on because I didn’t want to have to rip out a bunch of ribbing. At 2″ long, the “swatch” was about 25″ wide – too big for me. However, at 6″ long, it had drawn in to 22″ wide, which I can live with. I am going to cardiganize (is that a word?) Fern and may finish the bottom edge with i-cord. Since I’ll have plenty of ease, I’m considering adding side seam pockets.
The yarn is handspun Perendale, not spun specifically for this project, so it’s fingering weight. I’m using a doubled strand to get worsted weight gauge. I knew there were colour variations in the yarn, but when I first started knitting this piece and could see that it was striping a bit, it really made me twitchy. Now it seems to have grown on me.

Thrift store find:

One of my sweetie’s “scouts” came acrss this bulky spinner at the thrift shop and snagged it for me. Hubby has all of his friends who go to garage sales on the lookout for spinning related paraphernalia. This man understands and feeds myobsession. What a guy, eh?

This poor wheel has been neglected for quite some time. The wood is bone dry and it looks as though it may have been standing in water at some point. The wood is splitting in places and some of the nuts and bolts are missing. Its label is still intact, though.

The label is shiny and was hard to photograph. It says “Harris Spinner, designed and crafted by H. C. Harris”. I have searched the internet without finding any reference to the Harris Spinner, so perhaps Mr. Harris was a local Pacific North West, BC or Vancouver area craftsman. If anyone can tell me anything at all about this wheel, please email me at I spent a couple of hours this afternoon cleaning the wheel up and giving it a rub down with lemon oil. I think I heard it sigh once or twice. I’m not a bulky yarn kind of gal, but I’d like to see this baby feeling useful once again.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. October 1, 2006 11:17 pm

    I lurve how Fern is turning out! It’s gorgeous in the Per ‘n Dale – I think the color variations are subtle and just right.

  2. October 2, 2006 6:42 am

    Wow Fern looks great, and what a lovely shade of grey. I like the idea of the i cord edge.
    Your spinner is very interesting, I hope you find out more about it!

  3. October 2, 2006 6:59 am

    i’m so happy the fern drew in enough šŸ™‚

  4. October 2, 2006 12:00 pm

    Gorgeous knitting!
    Have you tried the Spindler’s List Yahoo group? Somehow that name rings a bell in my mind, and I probably read about it there.

  5. sam permalink
    October 2, 2006 12:43 pm

    Mel, Fern is turning out stunningly! The perendale is just perfect for the project – congratulations! And what a cool spinner – I’ve been on a spinning wheel sleuth this past couple of months for an acquaintance – I hope you have better luck than I did, but it’s sure fun to take the ride. šŸ™‚

  6. October 2, 2006 4:38 pm

    What a beautiful addition to your spinning wheel collection! And I love your “swatch”. Very pretty!

  7. Jan permalink
    October 3, 2006 10:10 am

    I seem to recall that those big spinners are part of a regional tradition of the PNW.
    Fern is gorgeous.

  8. October 3, 2006 11:24 am

    Hey, that Harris looks a lot like my H. Darnel ;0
    We’ll have to swap photos. What are you considering using as your drive band? I am thinking of going to MEC and getting some mountain climbing cording.
    Fern looks gorgeous, please bring tonight for me to pet šŸ™‚

  9. October 3, 2006 12:48 pm

    Fern looks beautiful–
    but I am drooling over your thrift store present! This looks remarkably like the PNW spinning wheels designed for use in spinning bulky weight, single ply low twist yarns either for Cowichan sweaters or when the spinning craze began again in the 1970’s and ’80’s with the back to the land movement. Mabel Ross’ books have photos of all kinds of spinning wheels, although they are outrageously pricey and hard to find because they are out of print. I’d try the Spinning Wheel sleuth, the spinlist listserv, the spindlers, and any other local resources you have to get some ideas about what you’ve got.
    Whatever it is, when it starts spinning again, let us know. It is gorgeous!

  10. Sara in WI permalink
    October 3, 2006 8:45 pm

    I’ve thought about making Fern myself. It is looking really fine there. I have some DK weight that I spun and just finished the dye process this AM. Do you think that would work? It was a medium grey Wensleydale roving, spun and then overdyed with Country Classic Turkey Red. I love it! And I’m also drooling over the old wheel! Send it my way if you can’t give it enough loving care!

  11. October 4, 2006 1:37 pm

    Echoing that Fern looks great! I’m nervous that the size changed so damatically the more you swatched. You think it was the yarn, or just the nature of the pattern? Either way, it’s looking great. Love the silver shade too.

  12. October 5, 2006 7:08 am

    Late to the party as usual, but wanted to chime in about Fern! Absolute perfection!

  13. October 5, 2006 7:20 am

    The spinning wheel is a GREAT find. I’m sure it loved the lemon oil but might I suggest linseed oil?
    My husband does alot of carpentry and he swears by it and its what I use on mine about once a year to really ..feed it. Plus its cheap. Teak oil is more expensive but works very well also.
    I’m dieing to know how much it cost.

  14. October 5, 2006 11:54 am

    Fern is looking gorgeous! The subtle striping doesn’t seem to detract from the texture pattern at all. Your hubby sounds like a real keeper. Looking forward to hearing the results of your sleuthing efforts on the new wheel.

  15. October 6, 2006 11:26 am

    Fern is really eye-catching. I like the striping too.

  16. October 11, 2006 11:06 am

    I just love your old spinner. It definitely needed your special attention. What a great find!! On it’s end….for sure!!! It’s got great character.

  17. October 19, 2006 5:33 pm

    Gorgeous Fern, Mel! I love that sweater. Congrats on the great find!

  18. February 2, 2014 9:37 pm

    Do you still have this wheel and would you be willing to sell it? I’m in love and really want to find an art yarn wheel to buy or trade for.

  19. Mara Statnekov permalink
    August 7, 2015 1:52 pm

    just came upon your Harris Spinner posting from 9 years ago. it seems to be only one of two mentions of this sweet old bulky wheel. I bought one new from Mr. Harris (British Columbia) in 1970. it was my trust wheel for many years. nice to see the photo. thanks!

  20. threadbender permalink
    August 7, 2015 2:31 pm

    Hi Mara, you’re the first person who actually knows the origin of this wheel! I’m so happy you left a comment. I have never been able to find where or when it was made. I live in BC and it’s nice to know it was created locally and what era it belongs to, give or take. Can you tell me where Mr. Harris did his work? Thanks so much for commenting.

    • August 7, 2015 4:06 pm

      Hi Melanie – it’s been 45 years since I bought it, and at the time it was called “the Harris Indian Spinner”. I lived in Northern California and all of my friends and I loved those big bulky sweaters from handspun wool, knitted in B.C. I was just learning to spin, and I thought it would allow me the widest range of spinning possibilities. It was $40 new plus shipping.

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