Saturday, November 24, 2007

Paula Simmons' Rover No. 1 finds a new home

I called Paula Simmons inquiring about the Cottage Industry Rover made by her husband, Pat Green. She informed me that Pat no longer made them and she suggested I look for a secondhand one. I said there was no way I would consider buying a secondhand as it's a delicate machine and I was concerned not just about its provenance, but also about its history. Then she offered her very own machine, 15 years old and which she said hadn't been used in 10 years.

It took about two months before I finally got it. First there was the weight: 360 lbs. They had to find a way to take down the machine from upstairs their house. Then Paula agonized over parting with it. She said on the phone, "Once it came down the stairs, there was no turning back. I loved it. It even has my name on it. It wasn't easy." [True enough, on the infeed tray is a metal plate that reads: "Paula's Rover #1".]

Finally, before calling the shipper, Pat took it apart to make sure it was in excellent working condition and called Mr. JumpSheep to give detailed instructions about uncrating and putting it in functioning order. The crate, once empty, was to be turned upside-down to provide a convenient table. There were more technical instructions that just went over my head. The phone call took two hours because the conversation eventually drifted into political and economic philosophy.

Just right now, the machine is still sitting in the garage because the house has been undergoing a much-delayed improvement (14 years!). I have made a number of center-pull balls that I'm sending to Sandrine of Alysse Créations in France to test. I would love to do loose rovings, but since the machine is sitting very low right now, the center-pull ball was the way to go. Once it's put on a table, I could put a basket underneath and create the loose rovings.

Initial attempt: