Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Is pre-loved wanton consumerism?

I'll be honest, this past few weeks there has been wanton consumerism in my fiber hobby purchases, or at least a level of consumerism that feels wanton. Oh its all been bought with money that was available, not credit or the grocery money, we can pay the bills and have savings, but the items bought have been extras, 2nd- helpings, or 3rds, put another way its all been things not essential to daily life. Oh yes, they do enhance the quality of my life - now that is an entirely different issue, but I could have lived, and knit and spun without any of them. Bear suggested that because these things were 2nd hand, or pre-loved, that big business was not making horrendous profits on them, and as such it was a return to village idealised trade between equals. That got me thinking, I do think we live in a bigger, better, newer is best kind of world. I do think that there is incredible pressure in various media and by default imagined from peers to have and own and be an achiever on a consumerist scale. At the same time is a weird dual pressure from the media, first to have all the 'stuff' (adverts and product placement), and second to resist the 'stuff' and live a simpler life (media reporter of the big bad capitalist producers and pressure of such). It all leaves me much confused and slightly guilty for buying anything not really essential.

But one of the reasons I keep this blog, is as a kind of public workbook of my knitting (and now spinning), and as such there needs to be an honesty to the posts, as much for me as for you. At this point you are all wondering what I have bought. What are the items that I so wantonly purchased? Well - two more spinning wheels - yes 2. That is two more spinning wheels, not just the one that I told you we were off to adopt, but another as well, making my total collection 3. When I blogged last I had just bought on an on line auction site, a mid to late 20thC wheel of unknown origin in the upright or castle style. Even before the auction for that wheel closed I fell in love with a Saxony wheel listed on the same auction site, a Pipy wheel. I fell in love, I found and I read owners reports, I developed a severe case of want for the Pipy, even though I had not seen one in the flesh or used one. I can't explain it, but it was soooo pretty. Bear, always an enabler, decided that the Pipy was a perfect 20th Wedding anniversary present, and so we bid, and we won the auction for it. As we drive away to collect wheel number two, we both knew that as soon as we got home, we had to organise shipping from the north island for wheel number 3. So now we have 2 wheels in the house and one on the way. And thats not all, recently I've also acquired a 2nd hand drum carder, and the bits to make it all new again.

So this is the first of my vintage or pre-loved wheels, sitting next to the Ashford Travellor Mk II. We think the older wheel was made by Mr S C Wing in Christchurch (NZ) in the 1970's, but have only a brief description and a few photographs here to guide us (you have to scroll down to see a good image of his upright wheel). It looks the same, but that is the only proof we have. It really doesn't matter, it was relatively cheap (compared to my brand new ashford and some of the designer name brand wheels that are traded on-line), and it is a double drive. Double drives seem scarce in the 2nd hand market, but I've found mine so simple to adjust that if I was buying I wanted double drive again. The two wheels look about the same, but the Wing is slightly shorter, and has a much smaller wheel. Bear was impressed, it has oil holes strategically placed where you need them, and it is nicely made. In fact Bear was so impressed he decided to become spinning wheel technician, he is an engineer and that side just took over.

And a closer look at the double drive set up, the wheel is much wider than the wheel on the Ashford, and the wheel has a lovely set of 4 bobbins, 3 store down the back of the wheel out of the way on a turned wooden rack. The wheel has a nice 'handle' just made to pick it up by, and despite a long trip in a hot car runs well. This wheel has a canter levered flyer, so there is no orifice, only a guide hook, just like on a spindle. We do need to rub a little wax on some of the threads, especially the two that adjust the double drive tension. The 'Wing' is heavier to treadle than my Ashford, which is nearly new, but Bear says with a little time and tweaking - he can make it sing.

And the prior purchase we picked up along the way? A naked Ashford Drum Carder. Well it wasn't naked when I bought it but it is now. This also was a Trade me purchase, from a few weeks ago, the seller was kind enough to drop it off at my dads house and save shipping to Dunedin. These things are serious money new, and this was old, and cheapish. I knew it had coarse cloth on it and I needed/wanted a fine clothed one, but I checked and Ashfords are very happy to sell fine carder cloth to re-cloth old carders. My Dad is a mechanic, and a handy person to visit, so together we removed the old rusty cloth, cleaned out all the fiber caught around the axles and gave it a light sanding and an now it is just like (almost) a new drum carder. Yes it is still naked, Bear wants to do a little more tidying up of it first before we put the new carder cloth on. Dad even fashioned me some of what have to be the most stylish carder clamps in the world as the original ones were not included in the sale. My new ones are stainless steel and have flamboyant wing nuts from some old motor bike, either a Matchless (his favourite), or a BSA or something else British. His hobby is restoring vintage motorbikes for others. All we need to make now are the little wooden blocks that protect the table, to put the carder cloth on and its all ready to go.

And fiber, on top of all the wanton spinning equipment purchases, I visited Wool Yarns and Fibers at the Arts Center in Christchurch, where local dyers, spinners, knitters, weavers and felters sell their wares. I found this little inexpensive 100g bag of Dyed ad carded Romney Mohair blend (90%/10%) which will be fun to play with for socks. I also had the opportunity to see hand spun on sale, and gosh it was beautiful. Evenly twisted, soft, light yarns in amazing colours, one day if I practice, mine might be like that.

And the knitting, despite the shopping this is a knitting blog. I did knit while away, and so Toby's possum merino sweater is very nearly finished, I backward engineered EZ'ds saddle shoulder formula to make it wider. I've found kids wear tee shirts and long sleeved tees and a snug neck seems wrong, not to mention garners complaints about scratchy necks. So I modify EZ's formula to give a loose fit at the neck. I've found 60-65% of the body stitches gives a good loose fit around a neck line that works with a tee shirt, while EZ recommends 40 - 50%. I left this neck a little wide knowing a twined band will draw it in a lot.

I've cast on for the neck band, and because I can't work out easily how to reverse the 3 strand cast on edge to get a cast off that matches it, I'm knitting the band top down. I plan to 3 needle bind off or graft it to the sweater. If I can draft a body of an adult sweater back together, I can graft a neck band on.

So, a little embarrassed by the excess of shopping, I'm off to take small bears to the park to ride their bikes. My dad also converted our old bike carrier that fitted only adult bikes to a form that holds up to 5 bikes, and will now take the bikes of small children. Toby and Poppy are almost insane with the waiting, so I will grab my knitting, load the car and make them very happy. Primary school starts tomorrow, so its all back to normal routines for a bit. What a relief!



Sarah said...

As long as you can afford it, I don't see why you should feel guilty! I think the real guilt should come from spending money taken from your parents, or that should be put into savings for impending summer poverty. Of course, I have no idea who I'm referring to;) Love the wheels, too! So pretty.

Knitting Linguist said...

No guilt! If you can afford it, and it improves the quality of your life, and you're increasing the useful lifespan of objects that might otherwise sit unused and dusty, then you're doing really well. The wheels are gorgeous!! Someday... Toby's sweater is also wonderful, and he looks very pleased whilst wearing it, which is always a good sign. I hope that the kids enjoyed the biking expedition, and that you got to knit while they rode!

KathyR said...

It is strange how spending, for me anyway, comes in batches - lots at one time then quite a while before further purchases are made. No need to feel guilty. The wheel is lovely and will be well used, I'm sure.

The carder is great, too. I hadn't thought of putting new carding cloth on an old carder. I have an Ashford mini-carder which isn't really big enough to be terribly useful and I have recently been trying to justify upgrading to a larger one. Maybe that is the way I should/could go.

Diantee said...

Looks to me as though you spent very wisely. I get worried that my children are well and truly on that everything must be new bandwagon. Maybe as few years as poor students might fix that. You have such useful and willing menfolk in your family don't you.

genny said...

ditto to everyone - I only wish I lived nearby so I could share your finds and unburden you of some guilt ;-)