Friday, September 21, 2007

Field Observer

This is a report from the Panopticon Mobile Unit, on assignment in Indiana. I arrived safely after a mostly uneventful bus ride. I say "mostly" because at one point I set aside the Tomten Jacket and took a snooze, then woke up to find my ball of Cascade 220 had jumped off the seat and rolled to the front of the bus. And then to the back of the bus. And then to the front of the bus. And then to the back of the bus. Etcetera, until it was no longer a ball.

The lady across the aisle saw my startled look upon awakening and said, "You dropped your string."

Oh, thanks. Thanks very much.

In comments to the last post, reader Knit Wit took exception to my apparent comparison of the fine city of Indianapolis to a cornfield. I can well understand, and must clarify. Although I took the bus to Indy, it was not my ultimate destination. My parents live on the far outskirts of Kokomo, a city barely large enough to have skirts at all. This is the view from their front porch.

Mailbox and  Bean Field

The views to the rear, right and left are similar. When I said I'd be reporting from the fields, I wasn't being cute. I meant I'd be reporting from the fields. Mind you, the farmer went and rotated the crops on me so instead of corn fields they're bean fields. I swear there was corn there last year.

I've done a bit of knitting since I arrived but not much, as there's a great deal of work around the house to help with. In return, my father has promised before I leave to photograph the steps in working Garter Stitch Jacquard. His help is vital, since of course one can do many things while one is knitting but shooting photos of my own hands at work is beyond my present capabilities.

This is not to say there has been no time for fiber-related excitement. Au contraire. On the first night I was here, the neighbors dropped by as they often do of an evening in Mayberry, and said they'd be bringing by an "old piece of junk" from the garage for me to look at.

This is what showed up the next morning.

Wheel, Before

I almost passed out. On closer inspection, I was fairly stunned. The entire flyer mechanism, including an original bobbin, was intact. Dirty and beat up, but intact.

Flyer, Before

In fact, aside from the distaff and a few pegs the only thing missing was the footman. The wheel is out of true and has a clumsy repair to the rim, but the spokes and joins are still tight.

Several hours, much love and a bottle of lemon oil later, here's what they have.

Wheel, After

Since I took this picture, the owner has made up a beautiful new footman out of oak. I've attached it and the wheel runs perfectly. They'll be getting it back along with instructions for future preservation, and a warning that if it ever sees the inside of the garage again I will make a citizen's arrest and place the wheel in foster care.

Someday perhaps there will be courses in proper wheel parenting in the schools. Until then, we can but be vigilant and save those that chance to come our way.

Flyer and Drive, After

73 comments:

Desiknitter said...

Didn't you also find a spinning wheel at a flea market or something a while ago? This one looks great.

Nancy said...

She's Gee-ore-gee-ous! I really, really wish I was surrounded by farmer's fields like that...don't suppose there's a nearby house for sale reasonably economically affordable that's also surrounded by fields and therein Quiet....

Saisquoi said...

Jesus, that's a gorgeous wheel. Why don't my neighbors inflict this sort of junk on me? It's amazing what a little love can do, isn't it?

Anna-Liza said...

Wow, what a wonderful find, and what a wonderful save! I sure hope the neighbors understand what a treasure they have--if not, you're totally justified putting it in foster care.

I used to live in the middle of cornfields out here in Colorado. It was so quiet we could often hear the electric lines hum. We had a nest of kestrels in the tree just outside of our bedroom. I still miss that place sometimes.

The only drawbacks were the proximity to crop dusting and the fact that we needed to drive at least half an hour to get anywhere to do anything.

Crop dusters do some spectacular flying, but you don't want to breathe that stuff.

knitography said...

Oops, I laughed out loud at work at your 'dropped string' fiasco. How to explain what is funny to my co-workers. I knit on the bus frequently and live in constant fear of having that exact thing happen to me, especially when the driver happens to have a lead foot on both the brake and the gas. I hope your wool didn't pick up too much nasty bus schmutz.
PS: Nice job on the wheel!

Anonymous said...

At least your parents' front porch still looks out on fields. Over the past couple of years, the bean fields across a very similar country road in Idaho (all states that begin with I have these roads, you know) have been taken over by multistory mega-homes. I miss the beans.

Diane (now in Salt Lake City)
Blogfree since 1955

funfairiegirl said...

I hope you also left them with the warning that should they ever get rid of that you will adopt it for them. I think I peed a little when I saw that wheel. We saw a similar wheel in worse condition at an antique mall a few weeks ago for $150.

ellipsisknits said...

Oh wow, I would have been hard-pressed not to keep a wheel like that all to myself.

I know what you mean about the corn though. I think it's cute and rural, but when my husband moved to Ohio (which isn't even quite as bad as Indiana) he had nightmares about the corn taking over and smothering him. (and if he ever reads this blog he will be very upset that I shared this)

Cindy G said...

I'm convinced it's karma

KnitNana said...

I'm so glad my office is well away from the rest of our staff...I would have had trouble explaining my fit of hysterics over your yarn rolling around on the bus floor!
(((hugs)))

Alwen said...

Yargh. The people who think "quiet" & "fields" are equivalent haven't been here during manure-spreading season, seeding-the-fields-while-the-weather-holds season, spraying-goddess-knows-what-from-a cropduster season, or quick-harvest-the-soybeans-ahead-of-the -rain season.

There's nothing like three combines beating their way around 900 acres of soybeans at 3am to define "quiet" -- quiet is when they STOP.

dale-harriet said...

Aaah, now see - I try to knit a few inches of toque quickly, then I put the ball of yarn *inside*; don't even ask me how I know to do this. I happen to be hugely partial to "fields"...corn, beans, wheat -- have you ever heard the corn growing, in the heat of a stilly-August night? Mazel Tov on that wheel; if the owner made the new part I can only assume that he DOES know what he has and its value. A thing of beauty! I'm awfully tempted to get a wheel because I find them so extraordinarily magickal - but then I'll be tempted to start spinning...not quite there.....yet.

Grumpy said...

Your such a lovley guy Franklin. I just love reading what you write. Long may your string remain ravelled.

Rachel H said...

Beautiful little wheel. I'm halfway through a bottle of orange oil in my preliminary work on fixing up an old walking wheel. The wood of the wheel rim is so dry I have to work to get some moisture back in before I risk taking sandpaper glue and nails to it.

I've been meaning to mention - have you popped over to look at the designs on knitspot? Anne's got a couple of simple but lovely baby dresses on there that your niece would show off beautifully.

braeden said...

Sigh. I wish someone would show up with an old piece of junk for ME to look at...

David said...

Ya know, people talk about rude New Yorkers and the friendly and open people of the Midwest, but I know I would never have let someone's yarn roll back and forth on a bus like your inconsiderate fellow travelers did.

I think we need to improve basic math scores before we start introducing proper spinning wheel care in our school classrooms, but it's nice thought.

Em said...

Oh, that wheel is just beautiful! I hope now that she's all cleaned up she gets the love, care, and *use* that she deserves!

Cherice said...

What a gorgeous spinning wheel!

I grew up in California and now live in Colorado along the Front Range. I thought that the drive across Nevada and Utah (and New Mexico and Arizona) was flat, but it's positively hilly compared to your picture!

~Knitting Addict~ said...

Oh my, I so wish I lived there! Looks like paradise to me!

And that wheel! OMG -- Old piece of junk indeed! I think you need to arrest them for even uttering those words about such a beautiful piece -- even before it was cleaned up it was lovely.

I think one of us (or you) need to adopt it immediately -- and give it the love it deserves!

Ted said...

Omigawd. I'm guessing it's a Quebec production wheel. Amazing.

Wasn't it on your last bus trip that you were asked if you'd learned to knit in prison?

amanda @ lorna's laces said...

kokomo...well i have met many many a fella from kokomo in my day and none of them were anything but trouble! i loved them all very dearly but they were trouble! i think it might be something in the water there.

the wheel is quite lovely good job bring it back from garage junk!

MonicaPDX said...

Yeesh! I'm not from NY City, but I agree with David. Not one person on the bus thought to pick up your string?!? I hope it was superwash Cascade 220...

Maybe no corn, but least the fields have flowers. ;) (Though yeah, flat. I get nervous in flatness like that. [g]) And that wheel - ahhh, much good karma, there. What a piece of luck they decided to show her to you! She looks gorgeous after some love.

Amy said...

I believe you that it was corn! Usually farmers rotate the fields every few years. So when the corn is growing, the nutrients the beans like better build back up, and when the beans grow, the corn's favorite nutrients and minerals are being stored up. That way we don't exhaust the soil as quickly.

Sarah said...

Make sure you pack a yarn bra for the ride home -- bus floor gunk and fiber arts just don't mix!

maegwynn said...

Is there any chance that that wheel made by I. Leight? It looks like my quite like my antique wheel. I am lucky enough to have my great-grandmother's spinning wheel. Guess I come by that fiber gene honest ; )

Nancy said...

Post #2 in response to commenter --

By the way...Quiet Does equal fields when you've had to put up with traffic noise, etc. I Love the sound of farm equipment. Have been raised with it. Lived in Colorado with it. I almost desperately miss it here in PA. Give me all those farm sounds Any day. I hate city and suburban noise.

k. said...

I "have kin" in Howard Cty and in Kokomo, so when you said you'd be reporting from a cornfield, I did not doubt for a second. In fact, I took your story about "dropped yer string" as evidence that, yes, you were certainly no longer in Chicago.

And I love that your parent's neighbors knew that the wheel was the sort of junk you'd be interested in. "Looks high-falutin'. I bet that Habit boy'll know what to do with it."

Kate said...

...and that is the very reason I made my knitting bag with an interior pocket, to hold the yarn and keep it safe and clean.
What a beautiful old wheel! Perhaps you should do a home visit and set up some sort of Nanny-cam, just to make sure she is well-treated.

Teresa said...

Gotta love a week in the Indiana countryside!

Mindy said...

This was prompted by Cherice's "flatness" comment--it reminded me of this bit of research I'd heard of:

"Kansans have always fondly claimed that their state, in the heart of America's Great Plains, is "as flat as a pancake." Using modern analytical techniques, geographers Mark Fonstad, William Pugatch, and Brandon Vogt measured the flatness of Kansas, and contrasted it with the flatness of a pancake. Their results demonstrate that, of the two, Kansas is considerably flatter. Barring the acquisition of either a Kansas-sized pancake or a pancake-sized Kansas, mathematical techniques were needed to do a proper comparison..." (I Googled "prove Kansas flatter pancake" to find this text, in the first Google result; full story is much better, of course)

Amy O'Neill Houck said...

I'm sure the spinning gods will reward you for rehabilitating the neighbor's wheel. I looked up garter jaquard in the book you mentioned and the mention is so small, I'm sure you must have invented your own way to do it or come up with an exciting technique that I can't wait to see--the photo you took looked amazing. Have fun in Indiana!

Donna Lee said...

I did the next worst thing to dropping a ball of yarn, I dropped a dpn on a train that made frequent stops and took on lots of passengers. I could hear it rolling back and forth for the whole ride. One "helpful" individual said "it rolled back there". In other words, he saw it and couldn't be bothered to bend over and pick it up. I never got it back. Some employee probably found it and wondered what it was and thought a terrorist was on the train....

shell said...

Wow - that looks great- what I wonderful find! Love how the shine brings it all to life again after the years of neglect.

DianeS said...

Nice save!

Kristen said...

Oh man. I keep hoping someday someone will say, "I got this thingamajig in the garage--you want it?" and it will be something like this.

I grew up in close proximity to corn and beans. I know the landscape well. On really quiet nights we could hear cows...

Deniasha said...

What a great treasure! If any every abandoned spinning wheel was as lucky to have you as a foster father!

janna said...

Beautiful wheel! And even moreso when you got done with it!

I love the view from your parents' front door. I really missed those flat, flat, flat fields of corn and beans, and the idea of being closer to them was one small part of my moving back to the Midwest. Little did I know that Iowa has a lot more hills than central Illinois/Indiana! (Yes, I grew up in Illinois and had never been to Iowa....)

FiberQat said...

What a lovely little wheel. I'm surprised you didn't slap the neighbor silly and took off with it for the next bus out of town.

elan said...

How do we apply to become a foster parent?

Lorraine said...

Up here (in Canada) the fallow fields are planted with beans when they are doing crop rotation every 3 years or so.
The wheel does look like a Quebec one. You did a splendid job in restoring it.

Anonymous said...

I thought the footman was a person. Sort of Cinderella's butler.

KristenJ said...

I have that wheel! (Hmm, so that's what the intact flyer is supposed to look like...) I won't tell you how cheap it was, but it did come from somebody's garage, and it works too. Woop!

QuoterGal said...

I just happened upon your (very well-written) blog - I am neither a knitter nor photographer, but was led here by another blog's (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/) coverage of your Spring '06 medal kerfuffle (btw, your responses to the offending two were hi-larious.)

I felt compelled to comment when I saw that gorgeous spinning wheel, your work on it, and your generosity and forbearance in letting the neighbors retain it. *grin* What a thing of beauty - how envious I was when I heard the story. Living in major urban areas for most of my life, I have never lucked upon something quite like this in anyone's garage or yard sale or junk shop - they are simply too rare and sought-after.

We have an old wheel - the wheel only - that came down in the family, and my grandmother was an antique dealer, so I am accustomed to the cherishing of these kinds of tools, but honestly, what a lovely and meaningful piece of "junk." Thanks for letting me see it, and for sharing your story.

Sandy said...

Franklin --

I grew up in Joliet and lived in Lowell, IN for a few years. I know people from Kokomo and yes, it is a cornfield/beanfield. It is pretty in it's own way, but I traded it in for a mountain view.

I almost spit coffee when I saw a picture of that spinning wheel. My grandmother had one just like it. I'd completely forgotten about it! Thanks for sharing. It took me way down memory lane....

I'm glad you could fix it.

KellyD said...

OMG that's gorgeous!! You lucky,, lucky man. And your restoration work was awesome as well. Soooooooo... how are you going to get it back home while riding the bus? Buy it it's own ticket? Hmmmmmmmm.......

Penny said...

@#($*&@#$ these wonder wheel stories keep happening to the rest of the world. i'll keep dreaming and trying to make my money grow. it's beautiful. :)

Nic said...

I can't believe nobody woke you to stop your yarn escaping!

I hope you don't mind, I've just added you as a friend on Ravelry (so hang me, I'm playing!!!) Love reading your blog, you have so many interesting tales to tell.

Nic

Ginger said...

I wanted to learn to spin for a long time and ignored the urge until I got a drop spindle and I'm hooked. I was showing my new toy to my mother and she mentioned my grandmother's two spinning wheels and she thought my cousin had one of them - a small one. She asked my cousin and his reply was 'so that's what those TWO things in the attic are. Do you want both of them? No charge.' A small wheel and a walking wheel. Both old when my grandmother had them 50 years ago. Even if they don't work, I'm planning on trying to restore them when I get them. (and I've had two offers from people to buy them from me, sight unseen)
Ginger

KathyMarie said...

Stunning wheel. I'm not a spinner (yet?), but I love seeing antiques refurbished and made beautiful again.

I grew up on the edges of a cornfield with all the quiet and the bullfrogs and coyotes at night. I'm enjoying living now in the downtown of a small city/big town, but sometimes I miss that country stillness. Enjoy your stay!

Roxie said...

Sometimes, yarn just wants to take itself for a walk. Imagine the sights it saw! It kept coming back to check on you, and since you were sleeping still, it wandered off again. What an adventure that ball of yarn had.

The wheel leaves me speechless!

Terri said...

That wheel is beautiful thanks to your loving care - GOOD JOB! I grew up out in a near skirtless rural area of Missouri. The rural life is not without its charm, but give me the city, and a place within 25 miles to buy everyday items any time and I am fine.

Enjoy your trip.

Kirstin said...

Would the foster care be enforced by the Knitting Police? You know, the ones who ticket for yarn abuse, pattern alterations, and independent fiber thought?

Bloomington, IN said...

I LOVE that you say "of an evening." That is sooo hoosier.

Beth said...

Yeah, Kokomo may be rural, but it has the only Sonic for miles. They closed all of the ones here in Indy.

And looking out your folk's front door and seeing that would be a dream come true, as long as there was a sheep pen around somewhere.

Melissa said...

That may be the funniest post I've ever read (it was the "string" that really got me)

AliP said...

Oh the "dropped string" !!! Ohohoh so funny and sad.
You need a yarn caddy bag for your wrist, darlin'.

Jen W said...

So, wait a moment. Did that woman sit and watch your yarn unwind forwards and backwards on the floor of a BUS?? And did nothing? Some people, I tell you.

Lyssa said...

well done on that wheel! yowza! and i do hope that the warnings were well received. :)

Renee said...

My dad, an expert woodworker, recently restored a wheel for me with the help of some literature kindly supplied by Rachel H. The transformation is amazing. Now...if I could only stop spinning garbage we'd be allll set.

TO in SP said...

I can't wait to see you in that "yarn bra" one of the earlier comments suggested. I'll have to ask one of my straight buddies to tell me the best way to undo a bra strap. Never thought I'd need to know.

kalkette said...

Hey Franklin, I have been reading your blog for awhile and really like your style. I "friended" you on Ravelry. I hope that's okay. Let me know if it isn't.
Thanks for the great stories.

Ina said...

Ah, don't be too hard on them. Anyone who can make their own oak replacement footman gets leniency from me.

Hope you have a good visit with your folks!

Kate said...

Thanks for the great photos of your wheel!!I'm set to inherit my great grandmothers Saxony wheel this Friday. I am soooooo excited!!
Your pictures will be so helpful in seeing what's missing, damaged or broken on my wheel when I get it home and clean it up.
I can't spin as yet, but spent some time at Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg, ON getting a lesson from a spinner working in the wool room this past weekend as she worked on a Saxony wheel.
Knit on....

WeeBit Wonky said...

I am completely gobsmacked! It is gorgeous. Hmmm...my DD lives in Paris...Illinois (near Terre Haute) I am sending her out scavenging the area for me. Love your blog. I just found it today from a link at Ravelry.

Five Ferns Fibreholic said...

Ahhhh saving the world...one wheel at a time.

Lorre said...

Kokomo! Aigh! It was good to see a photo. I grew up in Marion but have not been back in ... *cough*... awhile. Those fields are fondly recalled.

Terri said...

Of late, there has been no "magic realism" from your spinning wheel. Are you still spinning?

Anonymous said...

You know... some of the best stuff I know was first described to me as "junk from the garage/ attic/ basement".

Midwesterners will save everything, even when they themselves don't know the value.

This is how you can tell I am truly from the Midwest.

I once heard a farmer say that crop rotation keeps them from getting too "bored".

carma
www.dorkybestfriend.typepad.com

Bethany said...

It's my first time to comment here! Love your site! The yarn Bra comments were the best! I'm a Chicago native and worked in Indiana briefly. Thought I was in another country!

knitty_kat said...

I have an old wheel that I rescued from my parents basement. It needs some serious TLC. It's missing a spoke but the bobin and spinner thingy are there. Any suggestions??

daniel said...

I also feel for you and the dropped string - once on the subway the ball of cotton from the blanket i was working on fell out of my bag - I didn't realize it until i'd made it out through the gate, and it was one of those evil exit-only gates so all I could do was stand there and re-wind the ball...

loraine said...

Think of the unwinding ball of yarn as the woman's therapy. Maybe she needed something even more mindless than riding on a bus to help her through the trip. Isn't that what cathartic means?

Forgot how I came here... oh, yeah, I "online know" Knit Wit, whom you mentioned. Big happenings in the needlework blog world.

I'm on Ravelry too now (simra). Exciting, isn't it? We're part of the beginning of the Revolution!!

Needleworkers Unite!!
or as the dyslexic would say (no offense, please, after all is fits sometimes)
Needleworkers Untie!!

Agen 338a said...

Hi my family member! I want to say that this post is amazing, nice written and include approximately all significant infos. I'd like to peer extra posts like this.