Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Gwen Steege: Pop Goes the Weasel

As Spinning and Weaving Week continues, we’ve got fleece on the brain. Here’s a sweet little bit of spinning trivia that will leave you whistling a familiar tune.

“All around the mulberry bush…”

The origin of this old English and American nursery rhyme is loaded with controversy, in part because there are so many versions depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re from.

I like the spinning-related version best. A spinner’s weasel, also called a clock reel, is a device designed to measure yarn. At the time I picked mine up at a yard sale many years ago, I had no idea that it would be useful beyond the fact that I could wind off handspun yarn into skeins straight from the bobbin onto its four “arms.”
Yarn winder

I later stumbled on the specs for a weasel: arms that measure skeins that are two yards in circumference, and a gear with a device that clicks when the desired 80 yards are wound on. At 80 yards (about 40 turns of the reel), the small peg on the gear knocks against a flexible strip of wood on weasel frame with a little “pop,” that telltale sound referenced in the childhood song. 

The tiny peg (at left) that creates the "pop"!
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For Spinning and Weaving Week, Storey Publishing is participating in Spinzilla, a contest to see how much yarn teams of spinners can spin in the course of a week. Find out more about Spinzilla in yesterday's post.

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