The Lord of the Rings and My Wheel’s History

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The Seawall Scarf by Elizabeth Prose

and Carol H. Rhoades

I was supposed to be writing this newsletter for you about the Fall 2011 issue of Spin-Off, but as I started browsing through the issue again, contemplating what do discuss with you, I found myself thoroughly distracted from writing and no longer browsing but studying articles I had previously read and reading the articles I hadn't yet had a chance to peruse. This might be my favorite issue this year! I'll share a bit about three of my favorite articles.

Cindy Hill takes us to Ashford Handicrafts in Ashburton, New Zealand. This little company has made quite a contribution to the world of spinning since it was founded in 1934. They have produced over 600,000 spinning wheels and looms, including my Ashford Traditional. In the 1940s, Ashford was approached by Home Journal magazine to create spinning wheels so that women could create yarn that would be used to handknit hats and socks for World War II servicemen. The basic design of the Ashford Traditional remains the same as those early wheels, but they continue to make technological changes to improve the Traditional as well as their other wheels. My wheel feels just a little more special now that I understand its ancestry.

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Alan Paterson and Gary Hocking

in front of the Ashford Factory in

Ashburton, New Zealand

Whether you have been spinning for four months or forty years, we all combat some of the same problems. The troubleshooting article by Denise Jackson is invaluable. She addresses eight common problems, from the wheel being hard to treadle or the yarn not winding onto the bobbin to joins not holding or the yarn pulling out of your hands and onto the wheel. I appreciate the fact that she not only explains what is causing these problems but offers several simple troubleshooting possibilities. I will be keeping this article handy, right next to my wheel.


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Stansborough Grey Fleece and Yarn.

And after reading Talia Sommer's article on Stansborough Grey sheep, I started a search for a fleece to spin myself. Not only does this longwool sheep boast a beautiful gray fleece with a blue tinge and none of the brown tips, guard hairs, or kemp sometimes found in their Gotland ancestry, but their wool was used to create the cloaks for the principle character in The Fellowship of the Rings movies. The Tolkien geek and the fiber lover in me both are enthralled by this article.


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Stansborough Grey Sheep

In this issue, you will also find information on early spinning in China, a textile trip to Denmark and Norway, five fabulous projects, scotch tension, and so much more. Subscribe to Spin-Off today and you'll never miss an issue. If you'll excuse me, I think I want to read that article on the Stansborough Grey one more time.


Best wishes,


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