Sheesh, over a month has passed since I've posted to this blog, time flies! In that time, however, I got a spinning wheel! Squeeeeeeeeeeeeee! (Gee, that really does explain a feeling, doesn't it.) Anyway, it's a sweetheart. I only looked at Kromski's. I know others are cheaper, but there was just something I didn't like about every one that I looked at, except the Kromski's. And I tried the Symphony (a gorgeous fairytale wheel) but found it awkward to feed yarn toward the orifice which is located on the far left of the operating space. My forward hand is my right, and I just knew that I'd start getting a crimp in my right wrist.
(The Minstrel has a center orifice).
Also, reality was I'd be spinning mostly in my kitchen, and there just isn't room for the Symphony's footprint.
(The Minstrel is an upright wheel, it has a very small footprint.)
Third, I want to be able to take my wheel with me. The Symphony scared me in that regard, plus it would be pretty awkward to carry.
(The Minstrel is an easy-carry, and lays down on its front side).
Get the idea? I was built for a Minstrel. Or the Minstrel was built for me. Or for somebody I have a lot in common with. I LOVED the Minstrel. I was very, very, very, very, very sad to say goodbye to the Saxony style, a/k/a fairytale wheel. But it just wasn't meant to be.
The only thing I did NOT like about the Kromski wheels is the factory finish. Now I know that's just wrong of me. And there've been exceptions, because I like Jenny's wheel's finish, and there's a Symphony in a store where I like its finish. And I LOVE the finish on my mahogany-stained Kromski niddy noddy. But I've seen Kromski factory finishes that I just don't like. And once you order a wheel in a particular finish, it's pretty much yours because otherwise it becomes involuntary stock inventory at a store that may not want to store it. So rejecting it because "I don't like its finish" when you ORDERED it in that finish, and the shopkeep sees nothing wrong with its finish... let's just don't even go there.
They sell the Minstrel unfinished. I ordered mine unfinished. Long, long story short, I could write paragraphs trying to describe what I was after in terms of finish, but I'd never get there. It's a feeling more than a look. I normally hate light-stained wood, too, but it so happened that the feeling I was after resided in a stain called Puritan Pine, which happens to be a light wood stain.
For the next step, I didn't want shiny. Nothing with Urathane (or poly-anything, or acrylic-anything). Well, I did a lot of research. I found out that tung oil yellows over time (even PURE tung oil which is not what you get from hardware stores, pffft, but the "real" pure tung oil, made by Milk Paint Co. Eventually I found that lo and behold, everything I wanted in a finish was in a product called Briwax. It's a combo of beeswax (soft) and carneuba wax (hard), it's mostly natural except for a solvent additive (which I CAN justify) and it goes on hand-rubbed, where you can dictate the patina. And you get PATINA. Not "shine." So I now had the feeling I was after.
This is just one part of it, but it's the only photo I got that captured the look and personality of the finish I was after.
This is the wheel, finished and assembled. Total time, a little over a week.
The color shown below is NOT accurate. In fact, it's nothing LIKE what my wheel looks like. It doesn't show the variations, it doesn't show the tone. But it shows the wheel's design and all its beautiful wood turnings. Straight from SmallTown, Poland where the Kromskis have been making spinning wheels for eons.
People tend to name their wheels, and I totally understand that. If I had never known that, I still would have wanted to name my wheel. Well, there seems to be a big tendency toward the name Melissa. I can't tell you how many times I've read "I named her Melissa." Well, unfortunately every friend Jenny had growing up whose name was Melissa was a snitty little brat. Then there are people who name their wheels something like Victoria. Oh, I could see that for a Polonaise, you'd almost have to name a Polonaise something like Victoria. Victoria is elegant, she's aloof and slightly untouchable. She's complex. And you'd never throw her in the back of your minivan.
I named my wheel Annie. I can take Annie with me. I don't feel compelled toward (drum roll) "I must take off my shoes" when I spin Annie. From the very first git-go, Annie was meant to be friends with scuffs and scratches because Annie might even get taken camping. But once finished and taken to Jenny's house for unveiling, Jenny said Annie looks like a comfy, very old Western saddle. And that's Annie, because scuffs and scratches are supposed to ADD to Annie's patina and personality. Annie is meant to be a comfy friend. If I ever get a Polonaise (and I admit, a huge attraction), then maybe we'll consider Victoria.