Kenmore 158-540

November 17, 2014 - 2:32 pm

Today I’ve got so many things to talk about.

I’m excited about Curls and want to show off Jasper McTavish and the spinning I’m doing, but I haven’t gotten good pics yet, so I’ll settle for a teaser from The Artful Ewe, a favorite fiber store we visited this weekend:


I finished up the Hex quilt top section, and cleaned up the living room. Again, here’s a teaser:

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I still need to figure out how to work this into a full or queen sized bed quilt.

I could talk about the tree we had taken out this morning, but I think that’s mostly just a story in pictures.

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So I’m going to talk about my Kenmore 158-540.

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I haven’t reworked this machine yet, nor named it, but it’s high on the list of machines to get fixed up. It came with all the gee-gaws:

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And I have it in a lovely cabinet (please ignore the tile stuff and the new toilet staged for the bathroom remodel):

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The cabinet has an inkwell:

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See, it fits here:

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And the next drawer down has spool pins and a pincushion:

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It also came with a knee lever, which I haven’t ever used:

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I haven’t cleaned it yet, but it was nearly spotless:

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It was missing its bobbin case and spool pins, but I found spares while I had it out. 

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I love the lavender and purple bits.

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and its antennae:

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It’s biggest problem is the electrics. The plug was cracked. I glued it up:

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And then I found a replacement on ebay:

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The wiring looks ok, but I’ll give it a hard once-over when I’m putting it together:

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It’s a JA-4 casting:

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Or possibly a J-C16. It has both.

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And takes cams, of which I have a full set:

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But for now it’s put away in the cabinet, waiting for the studio to be put together:

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Just Couldn’t Help Myself

November 14, 2014 - 11:21 am

I just couldn’t help myself. Twice, in the past 24 hrs.

I needed to spin on the new wheel. Needed. Tom did such a beautiful job; it felt like an insult not to put the wheel to immediate use. So last night after sewing and ripping the same seam on the quilt three times I decided I could spin. A little. I kept it to half an hour to wind down, then put myself to bed.

I wanted to wait til I’d spun on him to settle on his name, but I was pretty sure before I picked him up that he would be “Jasper.” I’ve added his last name too now, so please meet Jasper McTavish, fresh from his first spin:


That’s four ounces of Huckleberry Knits BFL silk on the bobbin:


Not that you can really tell from these photos, but it’s delicious, and the bobbins are ample. 4 oz spun point of twist doesn’t even come close to filling them.

The details of this wheel are amazing. I love how the two woods play with each other:


The wheel is part Dogwood and part Walnut:


and pure joy. Four oz spun up effortlessly in about two hours all together. I have another four to spin, and that should be ample for my Curl. I still have to decide which one. Today I’m thinking Icterine:


It looks so lush and cuddly with those big cables, and I think the blue-green BFL silk would show well. 

But that was only half of my falling down.

So there was this machine on Ebay that was local. It was a Franklin Rotary, and stunning. Here’s a photo I blatantly stole from the listing:

Three quarters shot

I love Art Nouveau and Art Deco like no other movement, and the decalcomania of the early 20th century plays beautifully with the graphic flowing lines. Love. It was initially listed for $5, but of course didn’t stay there. I got a notice as I was pulling into my local Goodwill that the auction had settled at $125. I mourned a little, and went inside to browse the fabrics and look for good sheets to use as muslins.

Nothing seemed to need to come home with me, and as I wandered out I walked through the furniture section to look at the machines in cabinets. Our Goodwill gets All The Machines. There was something so nondescript I don’t remember what it was, a lavender Kenmore for $15 that would have been hard to leave if it had its bobbin case, but sadly it was without, and this:

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Please pardon the crappy low light cell phone pic, but note this is in my studio. Which is a mess. Because this Franklin, with the identical decals, was also $15. So it got to come home with me, with David’s blessing. 

It’s also missing a bobbin case, but I didn’t care. I’m trying to track one down now, and if none of my friends has a spare there are plenty to be had on Ebay.

I’m also contemplating whether there were two decal color palettes, as with the Singer Lotus decals, or perhaps the secondary colors were hand applied after the gold bits were transferred to the machine, or if perhaps through some accident of cleaning or light exposure some of them faded from the green and purple on the Ebay machine to the goldenrod and rust of the one I brought home.

Whichever is the case, I’m seriously considering picking up some Testors and coloring in the decals on this one to match the Ebay machine as part of the restoration. I’m also fully intending to follow this tutorial to restore the Japanning. Amusingly I had bookmarked it weeks ago to use when I restore the finish on my Davis, and to apply shellac to Charlotte the Free, but it’s also being demonstrated on the same Franklin. Some things are meant to be.

So. If this is falling down I dun wanna get up. 😉

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