Welcome to our blog about life with six alpaca "fiber boys" in the Colorado foothills! We post once a week, usually on the weekend, when life slows down to sweet, slow dance. ~ Gib & Lisa

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Drum-Carder Wedding Gift

I was lucky enough during the January meeting (and auction) of the Northern Colorado Weavers Guild to have the winning bid on this great drum carder.  For those of you who are new to the fiber world, this handy gadget takes fleece and "combs" it all in one direction, making it possible to spin the fibers.  This particular model is missing a drive band, but I've ordered one and will be carding those fleeces we just cleaned. The best part of this card, though, is that little plate on the back.

It reads,"Made for Collyer by Warren Ekholm in Barrow, Alaska  December 1985."  I was so intrigued by the names and place that I starting searching the Internet.  Sadly, I found Mr. Ekholm's obituary ~ he passed away last November.  I was able to contact his family through the funeral home, however, and have connected with his sweet daughter-in-law, Collyer, for whom he made the carder.  Here's the story from Collyer:

Yes, the drum carder you have was made by my father-in-law.  It was a wedding gift.  I really wanted a drum carder but could not afford one.  We were living in Kansas City , KS in a duplex that was only a little better than student housing.  The loom I was using at the time was rented from the Kansas City Weavers Guild. 

My father-in-law offered to make me a drum carder after I found out that plans were available and that you could still buy carding cloth.  My in-laws were  living in the northernmost inhabited town in Alaska to make their retirement nest egg.  Warren worked as a janitor and general handyman for the school department.  This drum carder would have been made in one of the shops the school department owned. 

Most of Warren's coworkers were Inuit ~ what we used to call Eskimo.  They were really puzzled by the drum carder.  The Inuits have no tradition of any type of spinning or weaving.  They do work with leather, hides, sinew, beading, etc but no real fiber animals mean no fiber work. Few of them had been down to the lower 48 states.  They kept asking him if was used to shuffle playing cards or was some kind of joke.  I recall he found some old wool from a tanned sheepskin or something and showed them how it would straighten the fibers. 

Warren brought it down with his luggage to the wedding.  We played with it at the reception.  My mother-in-law was a rug weaver.  Her parting words to me as we left for our honeymoon were "Don't let Steve (my husband) tell you he cannot crank a sectional beam."

I used the drum carder for a number of years until knitting and spinning started to bother both my wrists.  I also found that I could weave so much faster than I could spin so that spinning was taking up too much time.  I eventually gave to a friend of mine, Helen Hart (Lisa's Note: A wonderful lady who I am happy to say is still a member of the guild, and with whom I have had the pleasure of also becoming a friend!),  who eventually donated it to the Fort Collins Weavers Guild.  I hope you enjoy using it.

Thank you so much sending us a note about the drum carder.  It is always hard to move from the phase of missing someone to the phase of being glad that you once knew someone and that they enriched your life.  So many of my recent memories of my father-in-law are bad memories of his trouble with Parkinson's disease and his inability to make things with his hands.  Thank you for reminding me of the good memories when Warren made me a drum carder, a warping board, a niddy noddy, fixed a vertical warping mill, restored the family spinning wheel and made me a hundred weights for doing Japanese braiding.

Collyer Ekholm

And to honor Mr. Ekholm, here's the information on his interesting life, from his obituary:

Jared LaWarren Ekholm, 84, of Swisher, Iowa, passed away on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010 at the Honey Creek Cottages in Swisher. He was born on Feb. 26, 1926 on a farm 12 and ½ miles northwest of Holdrege, the eldest of five children born to Jared Wilhelm and Mae (Epping) Ekholm. Jared received his education from Holdrege Public Schools, graduating from Holdrege High School with the class of 1944. On Aug. 25, 1944 he was inducted into the U.S. Army and served with the 34th Division in Italy until the end of the war when he was honorably discharged on Aug. 20, 1946.

On May 28, 1948 he was united in marriage to Alberta Bernice Orsborn of Elm Creek, Neb. The couple was blessed with one son, Steven. Jared worked on road construction for the Phillips Company of McCook, Neb. The family made their home in western Nebraska, where Jared continued working in construction and Alberta taught school. Eventually the couple relocated to Iowa for 17 years. Before retirement the couple moved to Barrow, Alaska for three years, where Jared worked in maintenance for the school district.

Upon retirement in 1991, Jared and Alberta moved to a home he and his son built in the mountains west of Fort Collins, Colo., where they spent many happy years. When Alberta became ill he moved to Swisher, where he lived with his son until moving to Honey Creek Cottage two years ago.

Here are two more photos of my wonderful new-to-me machine.  My husband, a woodworker, is planning to build a special mounting box for the carder, and we're going to put all the information we've found in that box, so that someday, when it passes on again, its history will live on.

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