Friday, August 29, 2014

Francis, the Rescue Wheel, a very happy new beginning

Incredibly, the story of restoring the Rick Reeves' wheel that Karen Ford found at a garage sale is over (see Francis, the Rescue Wheel, Part 1 to read from the beginning)! Here is what has happened since the last installment, where Carl had finished the flyer...

Carl Spriggs finished the rest of the new parts:

(Photo by Carl Spriggs)

Then the package arrived at Karen's home...

(Photo by Karen Ford)

You can see the two uprights that will hold the drive wheel. The upright on the left is from the original wheel. Karen had sent that to Carl so he could make the new one, which is on the right.

I was lucky to get to help Karen put the new parts on the old wheel (I'm Mary Spanos), and honored to get to spin on the beautifully restored Rick Reeves' wheel, after Karen, of course. (Karen dyed the bright green wool that she is spinning.)

(Photo by Mary Spanos)

Seeing the wheel work now, I was reminded of how it looked when I first saw a photo of it. This wonderful wheel came in to our lives as an incomplete collection of wheel parts at a garage sale.

(Photo by Nancy Wooldridge)

They were just parts, but they were beautiful. Karen found the Ravelry group devoted to Rick Reeves wheels (Reeves Rock) and through that group found Rick Reeves (who has retired from wheel making after supplying 1,000s of handspinners with beautiful wheels that spin really well). Rick Reeves assured Karen that Carl Spriggs would do a fine job of making new parts (you can find Carl on Etsy). So, Karen took a leap of faith, brought the wheel parts home, cleaned off the duck tape (yes, duck tape!), and started the process of giving this wheel a new life.

Restored wheel, front. The rear upright, the flyer and bobbin, and several small parts that aren't visible, are all new, made by Carl Spriggs. The remaining parts are original and made by Rick Reeves (this and the following photos by Mary Spanos).

The back of the restored wheel.
 Karen started calling this wheel "Francis" as soon as it moved from the St. Francis garage sale to her home. Now, Francis is a great spinner, easy to adjust to the perfect tension, and the treadle action is just right. With the wheel placed so that treadling with my right foot was comfortable, the orifice was right in front of me, more like a castle-style wheel rather than off to the left like many saxony wheels. So, it felt like everything was in just the right place, very comfortable. Karen is going to have many, many happy hours and years of spinning on this wheel.

A few other note-worthy actors participated in this adventure: Skip Ford, Karen's husband; Marge Reeves, Rick Reeves' wife who did the finishing on the wheels back when Karen's wheel was made; Nancy Wooldridge, Karen's friend who volunteered at the St. Francis Xavier garage sale and called Karen to ask her about this wheel when it showed up at the sale; and the other helpful residents at Karen's home: Chester, Emma, Gus, (the corgis), and Lizzy and Molly (the cats).

Chester, resting up from his job as a therapy dog.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Francis, the Rescue Wheel, Part 3

The new flyer and one of the new bobbins have been completed! They are absolutely beautiful!

Photo by Carl Spriggs

You can read this story from the beginning at Francis, the Rescue Wheel, Part 1.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Francis, the Rescue Wheel, Part 2

Work is progressing on the replacement parts for Karen's Rick Reeves wheel. Carl Spriggs, the woodworker who is making the replacement parts, sent Karen the following photos of the work in progress.

The flyer on the left shows what the finished flyer will look like and the pieces on the right are Karen's flyer parts that are partially finished. The metal shaft looks ready (and beautiful) and the walnut wood that the flyer will be shaped from are glued up. The grain in the wood is really lovely (photo by Carl Spriggs).

Karen sent the one upright that was found with her wheel (two of these hold the drive wheel) to Carl so he could match the new replacement upright exactly. In this photo, the new piece of walnut wood is still chucked in the lathe and Carl is holding the original Rick Reeves upright next to it to see if the one he is turning matches the original. You can see the metal tool rest in front, that is where Carl rests the turning tools as the lathe spins the wood and he shapes the new upright (photo by Carl Spriggs).

Work is certainly progressing quickly. We'll be christening Francis into her new life very soon!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Francis, the Rescue Wheel, Part 1

Karen Ford's latest fiber-related adventure began with a call a few weeks ago from one of the volunteers preparing for the St. Francis Xavier garage sale. Someone had donated a spinning wheel and they asked Karen to come by and tell them if all of the parts were there. 

Photo by Nancy Wooldridge, a St. Francis Xavier volunteer

They told Karen that there were parts in the bag that was duct-taped to the treadle, which you can just barely see in the photograph above. Karen forwarded the pictures on to me (Mary Spanos) and I was skeptical. I thought it was unlikely that all of the parts would be there, I doubted that there was room in a bag that could be taped to a treadle for three bobbins and all of the other missing parts. I also thought it was unlikely that Karen could find a woodworker who would have experience working on wheels and who would be willing to make replacement parts. Fortunately, Karen did not listen to me. 

Even without all of its parts, this walnut wheel is a beauty (this and the remaining photos by Mary Spanos).
Karen had noticed that the small brass placque on the far side of the wheel's table said that the wheel had been made by Rick Reeves. She called the Schacht company, who makes a version of the Reeves wheels now, and they told her that the parts they are currently making wouldn't fit, but they gave her the name of a woodworker who makes replacement parts for old Reeves wheels, Carl Spriggs.

Karen has the wheel at her home now. She has been working to get the adhesive residue from the duct-tape off of the wood and has been corresponding with Rick Reeves. Rick told Karen that this was one of his early 24-inch wheels, prior to this he had made only smaller wheels.

Karen has also been corresponding with Carl Spriggs (see his Etsy shop), who says there shouldn't be any problem with making the replacement parts. The wheel is missing the flyer, whorls, bobbins, and one of the uprights that hold the wheel.

There is a mystery about this wheel. There is a carving on the top of the table with "1976 SJK." From Rick Reeves carvings on the bottom of the table, this wheel was made in 1976. "SJK" may have been the owner and she (or he) may have loved it enough to have her initials carved into it.


Karen has decided to call this wheel, Francis, because Karen found her after she was donated to the St. Francis Xaviar church garage sale. I've been very lucky to get to tag along on this first part of the "Francis, the Rescue Wheel" journey. We'll post Karen's and Francis' progress here, as important events happen, so you can follow along on this adventure, too.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Guild Newsletter, August 2014

President’s Column


Hello Fiber Friends!

I hope this finds everyone enjoying their summer! What a delightful one it's been! The polar vortex can visit anytime in my book!

I have been in a de-stash mood this summer! I usually have no trouble pitching things but yarn and fiber are's almost like admitting failure or defeat since THAT project never came to pass! It is also like a trip down memory lane seeing the souvenir yarn that I had purchased various places! Books are also difficult for me to get rid of but honestly if I need a pattern anymore I just go to Ravelry and wander around! I'm gratefull Nancy is doing a program on Ravelry this meeting since I know I don't use it to its fullest!

I have promised myself to visit my stash again in 2 weeks to see if anything else can be let go. I hope to have a big pile to share at the September meeting. This will be good if I can keep from taking from someone else's pile!

Remember your articles for the Homewood Show!

See you at the meeting!

Karen Ford


August Meeting - 'Why I Love Ravelry'
Nancy Clemmons

Saturday, August 9, 10:00 am
St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church
2061 Patton Chapel Rd
Birmingham, AL  (205) 822-4480


This month, at our meeting on Saturday, August 9, Nancy Clemmons will help us to navigate the mysterious and wonderful world of Ravelry.  This website for knitters, spinners, crocheters and weavers boasts over a million users and is being called the Facebook of fiber arts.  Sometimes, however, using its vast resources can seem challenging, especially for those of us who didn’t grow up with smart phones, so Nancy had graciously volunteered to guide us through.

She will show us basic search techniques for finding patterns, yarns, and groups with similar interests.  She will also show us how to use the site to keep trace of projects, yarn, books, needles and favorite ideas.  She’ll show us how we can follow friends and their projects, and how to send and receive messages within the site.   And finally, she’ll show us where on the site to find help when we get stuck.

Nancy is asking each member to bring a tip learned in his or
her experience with Ravelry, or a question on how to use the site most effectively.  We hope to have an internet connection, so we can project the site and have real-time demonstrations.

Hope to see you there!


Mary Kaiser




Saturday, September 13th


Fiber Frenzy
will be held September 13th, at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Hoover, AL, from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Try to arrive when the workshop begins at 10:00.   We have decided that lunch will be catered, offering you one less thing to worry about.  The guild will provide coffee and bottled water. 

So, what the heck is
Fiber Frenzy
?  This is an opportunity for all guild members to come and learn about a fiber activity they know very little about or want to learn.  This is a hands-on workshop for you to be a part of. We will also have 2 tables set-up where there will be free fiber items for you to take and a trade/sell table for those interested in possibly trading or selling a fiber related item.  


The following stations will be available for you to come and learn:






All leaders for each station will be wearing Name Tags with the following saying: 'Ask me about...'

You may go to any or all stations.   If you have a drop spindle and want to ask questions about it, bring it.  We ask anyone who wants to bring fiber to card with the drum carder to bring washed and clean fiber only.


We ask that if you plan on attending to let us know no later than September 1st.
Please send an email to Debbie Scott, - letting her know if you plan to attend.

Interesting Fiber Item to Read and Check Out...

From Nancy Clemmons...
This is the link to the page for the wood turner who made my little supported spindle.  Beautiful work! Look at the galleries and other sections of her page.  I think she would give a fabulous program or workshop in the future.  Right now her day job at the hospital is requiring more time than usual, but she said life should settle down before too long. She is cute as a button and a great teacher -

From Pat Donald...
This summer I had an opportunity to visit the retail portion of a silk cooperative in Stellenbosch, South Africa. I was prepared for literature and demonstration on rearing Bombyx mori but was not expecting to meet a woman sitting on the sidewalk spinning Mopani worm (Gonimbrasea belina) silk. This silk is from the native African silk worm and yet to be cultivated. The store had items produced by both types of silk worms and specialized in duvets. I did not have enough room in the suitcase to bring something like that back. Interestingly to me, they indicated that they make as much or more money from the sericin byproduct of boiling the cocoons as they did from the scarves and other garments.  I bought yarn and two scarves. One scarf was woven on a loom similar to the one sitting beside the spinner on the sidewalk. They told me that they had to bind the silk with cotton to better manage the fiber. I wish I would have kept the recently processed silk the spinner handed me but I gave it back. It felt and looked similar to recently ginned brown cotton. I wore the scarf once and it was so warm that I had to take it off even in an overly air conditioned building. Read more about this silk cooperative at



Georgia Alpaca FiberFest
Columbus, GA Convention & Trade Center
Classes, Shopping and a Fiber Fashion Show September 12–14

Fall into fiber this September as the Georgia FiberFest comes to its new venue at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center with classes, shopping and special events. This year’s event will be held Friday, September 12 through Sunday, September 14.

Now in its third year, the Georgia Alpaca FiberFest’s mission is to introduce fiber lovers to the wonders of alpaca and other natural fibers with a weekend of classes, demonstrations and a vendor market. Alpaca is a truly sustainable fiber offering something for every fiber lover.

Choose from 50 different classes in the areas of knitting, crocheting, felting, dyeing, carding, spinning, and weaving. Registration for classes is open now. Visitors can also shop the free vendor market area for all things fiber- and gift-related, such as coffee, tea, purses, jewelry, handcrafted soap, and ready-made garments and accessories, etc., to get a start on holiday shopping and enjoy free demonstrations.

The Festival hours are Friday, 2:00-6:00 p.m., Saturday 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., and Sunday 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. The market vendor area is free to the public.

Highlights during this fiber-filled weekend include:

Friday, September 12 at 7:00 p.m. -   Alpaca Fiber Fashion Show

Come see what luscious fibers can do! The FiberFest is bringing its own version of Fashion Week to Columbus! See our vendors’ and teachers' runway fashions made from alpaca fleece and other wonderful natural fibers. See some eco-friendly ways to use materials that otherwise would have been discarded. The Fashion Show is free to the public.

Saturday, September 13 at 7:00 p.m.  - Guest Speaker Matt Tommey and Dinner
Matt Tommey, a native of Columbus, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author, creator of sculptural art baskets and encourager to creative people of every artistic medium. His engaging style, contagious energy and practical approach leaves audiences with the practical tools and motivation to succeed at whatever they have a vision to pursue in their creative life. Join us for a dinner and special talk by this talented artisan. Reservations for dinner are required and can be made on website.

The Columbus Convention & Trade Center is located at 801 Front Avenue, Columbus, Georgia 31901.

For information or to sign up for classes or the dinner, please visit, or visit Ravelry - and Facebook - for more information and updates.

Homewood Library Guild Show

September, 2014


For more than fifteen years, the Homewood Library has hosted our annual Guild exhibit.  This is a great opportunity to have our best work on display in a well-attended, museum-quality setting for an entire month.

The Homewood Show provides our guild with multiple opportunities. It allows professional fiber artists to show their work, but even more importantly, it’s a chance for those of us who don’t sell our work to display the beautiful things we make where they can inspire the public and attract new guild members.

This year’s theme is the use of natural fibers, including wool, cotton and other plant fibers, silk, rayon, and tencel.  Pieces can be knitted, handwoven,
handspun, felted, tatted, embroidered, crocheted, or in bobbin lace.

Please bring your finished piece or pieces (no limit), with an exhibit form (see link below), to the August guild meeting.   Forms will be available for you to identify your work, and  will prepare a museum-quality label for each piece, based on the information on your form.  That information will also allow us to track and protect your work, and get it back safely to you at the October guild meeting.

Form link:

We will be setting up the show on Friday, August 29, and taking the show down on Tuesday, September 30.  If you would like to help with either day, we’d welcome you.

Photos from places near and far...


From the Dover Market, NYC: What a great way to decorate with scrap fabrics and yarns!


Knitting With Class, Sitka, AS: Anyone have a pattern to knit this ottoman?


     (Thanks Janice for sending me the pattern, see what happens when you ask for what you want??!!!) -

From NYC (Susie's cousin's apartment) - felted balls hot pad


Study Groups Meet Monthly

  • Spinning Study Group:  4th Wednesday of the month from 10 a.m to 2 pm at St. Peter’s Church in Hoover.  Please check out the GBFG Blog  for cancellations or schedule changes.
  • Nancy Clemmons is interested in sharing her love of tatting with others by teaching one or more in her home. Please contact her if you are interested.
  • More groups may meet in the future.  Watch the newsletter for more information and let a board member know if you are interested in a study group.

Newsletter News...
Each month, I am planning to have items coming from YOU, our Guild members. These will include short book reviews related to any fiber art; a tip you have discovered and used that make your fiber art a little bit easier to execute; any fiber related articles; and a fiber question you would love answers or suggestions from other guild members. Please send your ideas, suggestions, book recommendations, questions to me (Susie Strauss) by the 20th of the month to go into the following month's newsletter.
Email me at and put GBFG Newsletter in the subject line.

Greater Birmingham Fiber Guild
The Greater Birmingham Fiber Guild is comprised of individuals dedicated to the dissemination and preservation of fiber arts.  Meetings are the second Saturday of the month, 10:00-12:00 (no meeting in July). Visitors are welcome.  The Guild offers programs almost monthly, focused workshops several times a year, and equipment rental (see below). 
 2014 Officers and Board 
Karen Ford – President
Mary Kaiser – Program
Debbie Scott – Workshops
Emily Levitan - Membership
Nancy Lavender – Treasurer
Janice Weinstein - Secretary
Mary Spanos – Website
Susie Strauss - Newsletter
Janelle Zorko Schultz - Past President


Rental of Guild Equipment & Materials

The Guild has available, for rental to members, the following:
  • Looms of various types (floor, table, rigid heddle, tapestry), spinning wheels, drum carder, and more. Rental fee is $10 dollars per month with a deposit of $100 per item. Deposits will be returned when equipment is returned in good condition. 
  • Lucy Neatby's DVD knitting collection. Deposit of $30 per DVD. This is the current replacement cost. One-month checkout. See for description of DVD contents.
  • See inventory list and photos of Guild equipment in the Yahoo group folders section (you must be a paid member to access the Yahoo Group files and photos)