I have occasionally mentioned the Barnett Drum Carder in my posts. As a result, I sometimes get enquiries from spinners and fans of the machine around the world who are looking for advice or spare parts. So I’ve dedicated a new page on my blog to the Barnett Drum Carder. David Barnett is my Uncle (my mother’s brother) and although I’m not a spinner (yet!) I am so proud to be part of the family handcrafting tradition. Uncle David made the giant double pins and circular needles which enabled me to start my adventures in Extreme Knitting back in 2012. I am also the proud guardian of the Great Wheel which he made back in the 1970s.
My cousin Libby demonstrating the ‘Long Draw’ method
Here is a picture of me with my Uncle David and Aunt Sonia in Sheffield Botanical Gardens, on the occasion that they visited from Sussex to deliver the Great Wheel.
One day I will learn to spin, as I think that will be a whole new world….but for now I’ll be knitting, with the tools that have passed through my Uncle’s hands, and the collection of knitting needles inherited from my Aunt and Grandmother.
I am now the proud guardian of my Uncle David’s Great Wheel. I spent a lovely afternoon with my Aunt and Uncle, when they delivered the wheel and set it up for me. They also gave me the last ever Barnett Drum Carder, so I’m all set to learn how to spin.
The wheel before assembly
Attaching the spindle
Wheel goes on base
A quick demo
The ‘long draw’ method
The Great Wheel was built in 1979 with my Uncle adding his own design improvements, one of which was the hand-welded circular steel rim. The extra weight makes it turn better. This is the way yarn was spun before someone invented the familiar treadle spinning wheel, so that spinners could sit down and use both hands to work the fleece. So the Great Wheel harks back to ancient times, and even features in Sleeping Beauty, when she ‘pricks her finger on a spindle’!
We all went for a walk in Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens before they had to go. It was great to show my relatives that Sheffield isn’t all industrial smog and grime!
As for learning to spin, when o when o when will I be able to do that? Some serious time management is needed. I may have to wait until I retire…until then, I give the Great Wheel a little spin every day.
Till next time,
My Uncle David has offered me his Great Wheel to have for keeps. I am thrilled and honoured. I remember his Great Wheel from my childhood and it is an awesome creation. Here is a picture of it from many years ago, with my cousin Libby demonstrating:
My Uncle, David Barnett, is an amazing engineer, carpenter and woodturner and he has designed and built all sorts of looms and spinning equipment over the years, in his spare time, as a hobby. He has made all of my giant knitting needles for my extreme knitting projects. He is best known for the Barnett Drum Carder, which was very sought-after by the spinning community for its superior design. Now he’s retired and he doesn’t make them any more, although they occasionally come up for sale on ebay and he can still supply spare parts.
I have wonderful childhood memories of family visits when I was encouraged to have a go at spinning, weaving, knitting, rug making, and embroidery. Obviously knitting became my thing and it’s never left me. But with my family history of old-time creative textile arts, I have always wanted to learn to spin. One of my Aunts was an expert spinner and weaver, and she used to teach spinning classes. She taught me to spin as a child, but that lesson is a distant memory now and sadly she is no longer here to teach me. But I’m sure my Uncle will show me how to get started.
As the only knitter in the family, they would like the Great Wheel to have a good home. It’s a very large thing so gawd knows where I’ll put it, but I will find a spot for it. My OH is fascinated and thinks it’s a wonderful thing to accommodate, and anyway, he has a nine and a half foot piano in the living room so is hardly in a position to object!
I found this video on YouTube showing a Great Wheel in action. It’s rather lovely…
Till next time,
A package of beautiful organic cotton yarn arrived this week:
It really is very soft and lovely to handle.
Time to get to work on my 100% reversible face cloths. Knocked out two so far:
I love how this yarn catches the light and really shows off the textures created by the stitches.
There are a few more patterns to try, all reversible. I am loving having two right sides and no wrong side. There’s something very agreeable about it.
Meanwhile…sad news about my spinning wheel. I took it apart and sent it off to my uncle for his expert verdict. I had hoped it wasn’t beyond repair and that he would be able to work his magic on it. But sadly it was not to be. ‘I don’t understand how it has ever worked’, he said. ‘It’s a mystery how it came to be built like this. It’s totally unusable I’m afraid. Even if I rebuilt it, you would only be able to spin very fine yarns on it, as the orifice is so small’. This is not ideal for a total beginner like myself, and anyway, I would like the option of spinning different yarn weights, including chunky. Well, at least while I had it, my spinning wheel looked pretty and romantic…but I would prefer one that was functional too. So the spinning project is shelved…for now.
However, my lovely uncle has made some enormous circular needles for me, and they are winging their way to me in the post. Extreme knitting, here I come!
Till next time,
To be creative, you need the time, space and inspiration to express yourself in your chosen medium. If you are trying to create around a full time job and other commitments, that time and space are all the more precious. I am loving my new workroom!
Due to a massive re-organisation of stuff upstairs, I now have a whole room for my creative space. You don’t really need a lot of room to knit in, but it makes a difference when you are surrounded by the yarn and objects of your choice, rather than someone else’s gear relating to their project. This room was previously a music studio, but that has gradually been moved downstairs. A few bulky bits of gear were left, but after nearly 2 years of no use at all, we decided to clear it all out. OH built me a worktable using the leftover piece of beech kitchen worktop and beeswaxed the surface. I re-organised my yarn stash and gathered all my knitting books and resources together on the shelves. It’s a fantastic hangout for me and the lads, when music stuff is happening downstairs.
From my chair I can see every ball of yarn in the stash. Which tells me that I’m going to need more shelves.
I also have space for my spinning wheel. I haven’t learned how to spin yet, and my wheel needs some attention, but for now it’s a beautiful and inspirational object and I love it.
The stand next to it is a 1930’s cake stand. I can just imagine it loaded with cakes, and the waitress in a frilly apron…. So where better to keep my knitted cake samples, in cake tins, on the cake stand.
Having said that, I feel that I’ve ‘done’ cakes, and it’s time I moved on. I have a few ideas in the pipeline, but creative decisions take me a long time. Hopefully my new creative space will help me to get moving.
Till next time,