Weasels and Wheels

Back to some Rhinebeck stories and the many encounters that made the weekend so special.

In Building E we met with Phil Nicholson (seated at loom below) and Hans Franzen (standing to left, below) of The Holy Trinity Weavers.

Holy Trinity Weavers

They had a beautiful two-colour pattern up on their loom and were demonstrating other spinning and weaving artefacts and techniques. They were a fascinating pair – indeed, I should say “couple”. With great delight Hans explained that he and Phil were recently married (in Connecticut, I think). I wish them a long and happy marriage.

Phil explained to us what this is:

It’s known as a weasel and is essentially a swift or skein-maker but with the added bonus that it measures the yarn for you as you wind-on the skein. It has a racheting mechanism – based on the mechanics devised by the Romans for their odometers – that clicks while the arms of the skein-holder rotate. The length of yarn that is wound on each turn is 2 yards. After 40 turns (80 yards) the mechanism makes a “pop” sound.

Phil explained that in days of old the pionneer farmer would spin and measure out any unsold fibre at the end of the season to make (weave) the winter clothes for the family. The job of winding-on the yarn ad nauseum was given to the children of the family and this was the basis for the nursery rhyme “Pop Goes the Weasel” (whereby the child is in the role of the “Monkey”): 

All around the mulberry bush
The monkey chased the weasel;
The monkey thought ’twas all in fun,
Pop! goes the weasel.



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