Monday, June 22, 2009

"Pop!" Goes the Weasel

"All around the mulberry bush,
the monkey chased the weasel.
The monkey thought 'twas all in fun...
POP! goes the weasel."

When I was a kid, my folks volunteered at a restored colonial farmhouse in New Jersey, called the Miller-Cory place. We would go there on Sundays after church, dressed in our costumes. Us kids would basically run around the place, adding color. The adults did demonstrations, and other boring adult things. Some of the adult talks sunk in, though. I remember them talking about the 'weasel', which counted yarn. 40 times turning around, and the weasel would make a popping noise to let you know you had a full skein. I, at the time, was the little monkey that was getting in to everything. :)

Years later, and I am what passes for an adult. I've done the research, and what I knew as a weasel is technically known as a clock reel and may or may not actually be the source of the nursery rhyme. But it is a very useful piece of equipment, none the less! I was thrilled when I found my own weasel a month or so ago, in a second hand store. The poor old lady had been totally gutted, and had plastic daisies coming out of her. Can you believe that?! Screws had been added, so the arms didn't turn any more. She was marketed as a planter, for $27 dollars. Poor thing!!

Well! I rescued her, ripped out the planter and removed the offending screws, then poked and prodded and oiled until the arms spun correctly again. The clock innards are still missing, so unfortunately she doesn't POP any more. But each time yarn winds around the arms is exactly 2 1/2 yards. When I wind my yarn off of my spinning wheel into a skein, I simply count how many times around we go, multiply by 2.5, and I have the yardage in the skein.

I think my old lady weasel is quite happy to be back at her original task. Sometimes, I almost hear a the tune of a certain nursery rhyme, floating through the air...


  1. That is so cool! I am going to start going into antique stores! I went in one once that had old street signs from all over the US...I spent an hour looking for my name, to no avail, and haven't been back to one since :) Now I shall rethink my visiting such places! haha

  2. She was actually tucked in the corner of a second hand clothing store. I suspect an antique store might have actually known what they had. :) I love treasure hunting like that, though. You never know what you will stumble across.

  3. It's wonderful to find a lovely treasure and restore it back to it original beauty

  4. Yes, you can almost hear them breathe a sigh of relief to be back at work. I haven't quite gotten up the guts to actually use the medieval era spindle whorls I have, though.

  5. I love it when things are used as they're meant to be. I have an old wash tub that was used for a planter, now used for washing laundry again :)

    Now if I could juet live in a colonial farmhouse ...

    What a wonderful experience to have had as a child !

  6. I have an antique great wheel, too. Maybe someday soon I'll post pictures of her. The lady who had her before me never let anyone touch her--she was just a dust catcher. A little work, and she's spinning good as new again. :)

    Thanks for dropping by!

  7. You should so use your medieval whorls! Mel loves to use his!

  8. I may just do that. What does he use for a spindle shaft?