Monday, December 3, 2012

The Spinning Wheel Lady

This is Betty Roberts and one of her inlaid spinning wheels. She's a remarkable lady who builds these wheels, of her own design, from scratch, by hand.


Her shop is a treasure trove of modern and antique machines, woods of every variety, and drawers of rattlesnake rattles, dried flowers and insects, and other objects she uses in her inlays around the wheels. She's an expert on the flora of the mountains and plains, and gives flower tours of the area. Did you know there are numerous orchid varieties growing in the mountains?


She raises her own sheep, and cards and spins the wool. You should see her go on one of her wheels. And she can crochet, and knit, and she has a big loom she weaves on.

She's able to support herself with the orders that come in from all over the world. You can see a brief description of her work and achievements here. And you can visit her fan club yahoo group here. 


She also happens to be a flint knapper. I got this knife from her a few years ago. That's an obsidian blade set in a bobcat jaw and displayed on a piece of saguaro cactus rib.


I've also collected a few of her arrowheads, and some of her jewelry.


She was born and raised here, and is a true pioneer woman who has hunted and fished all her life. If you ever meet her, ask her to tell you the story of how she took an old man with a heart condition out for his last deer hunt, and on the last day of the hunt took the shot on the only deer they saw, because he didn't think he could make it. She brought it down with a lung shot, then paced off the distance: 500 yards.

She lives on the river, and gives me frequent fishing reports when her regulars start showing up to fish for steelhead behind her house. The last time I saw her she asked if maybe I could use wool to tie flies. I said, Yep. So the other day she brought me a bagful of raw wool, died wool, and various spun wools. She threw in some peacock feathers for good measure.


So I'm thinking about flies. There are lots of things I can use this wool on. But I'd also like to come up with something special, a design that incorporates the best of these materials. I already have a name for it. I think I'll call it "The Spinning Wheel Lady."

1 comment:

  1. What a fascinating lady! I would love to explore and visit her workshop someday. Spinning wheels, how the imagination runs with them! (Perhaps due to the many fairy stories I was read as a child).

    I can't wait to see the fly. Sounds perfect.

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