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.
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,
Cable knit blanket or throw worked on 25mm wooden circular needles, using a double strand of super-chunky yarn.
The needles are very special because they were hand made by my Uncle David. Before he retired he used to make spinning and weaving equipment in his spare time, including looms and spinning wheels. Most notably he is the designer and maker of the Barnett Drum Carder, which became very popular in the UK spinning community. Second-hand models are still sought-after now. So when I was looking for large circulars and could not find any, not even on ebay, I knew who to call.
Uncle David rustled me up a pair of 25mm circulars out of scraps of beech wood: glued, turned, smoothed with 3 coats of matt varnish, and finished with brass fittings to hold the plastic piping in place. They are absolutely beautiful. It feels very much like I am continuing a family handcrafting tradition. Using the tools that my Uncle has made connects me with the past and with ancestors I never knew. At the same time, I am making things which will hopefully last a long way into the future.