Books are better than websites, because of their permanence. A website can disappear into thin air at any time, for all sorts of reasons, but a book is unchanging (exception: not in Jasper fforde’s entertaining The Eyre Affair).
Websites are better than books, because they can be changed. New information and ideas can be added at any time, so they can grow as knowledge of the subject grows.
That is why I have both. www.nzspinningwheels.info was started in response to enquiries about New Zealand spinning wheels, and New Zealand Spinning Wheels and their makers grew out of the realisation that the information is valuable and needs to outlive me.
New information still arrives, though it’s a trickle now compared with the flood when I started. I’m not as conscientious as I should be in updating the page of additions and corrections to the book, but I hope everyone who has the book checks it occasionally.
Discoveries go into the website. On the home page there is always a list of recent additions. Some are minor, such as when better photos have been sent by helpful people. Occasionally there is extra information, or even a totally new maker. A distinctive group of spinning wheels that had been tantalising me for years was finally identified last year by a communication out of the blue, so Eric Phillips is now added to the list of makers.
There’s also that intriguing new snippet about Schofield wheels, which as far as we know originated the flyer frame which developed over time into the most striking feature of Philip Poore’s much-loved Wendy. Was Euan McEwan making them to Schofield’s design in the South Island (perhaps to save on transport costs?) or was he perhaps the innovator of the design?
Then there are the mystery wheels. Frustrating me at the moment is a group I’ve called, for now, “wide table wheels“. They are heavy, but smaller than they look in photos, at not much over 1m top to toe (they vary a bit). They turn up on Trademe and occasionally in person, with never a clue as to origin – until recently, when one was said to have been made in Napier about 42 years ago for a lady named Addis. It is quite well engineered, with oiling holes in the wood for flyer shaft and main bearing. It originally had a leather belt with no tension adjustment and a single ratio.
I have been able to find out that a Nina Addis was an expert spinner years ago in Napier. Was it hers? Who made it for her? Will we ever know? Time will tell.
There has been a lengthy search for the maker(s) of the beautiful and mysterious Hamilton wheels. Maybe I’ll talk about them another time.
Do check the “NEW” list on the home page of the website once or twice a year – there might be a miraculous solution to one of these puzzles! And needless to say, if you can shed any light, please get in touch!