One of the funny things that spinners do is go on quests to find spinning wheels in all sorts of places. Those of us who collect spinning wheels as much for form as function can get into some interesting situations. I have to admit that I almost didn’t write this story, because after doing some research to freshen up my facts, I found some things I did not know at the time, which makes the whole thing just a bit dark and strange.
A couple of years ago, I had been hunting for a Kromski Polonaise, which is a particular brand of spinning wheel. The Polonaise is the queen of the Kromski line, which are hand-made in Poland by some serious craftsmen. They are beautiful wheels. And since at the time I lived in a house with cherry hardwood floors, of course I wanted the cherry one. All of this loveliness put it into a very spendy price range, especially for a new spinner who already had one wheel and didn’t really need another. (Of course, need is an interesting word and probably a topic for a whole other post….another time). So, I put it on my list of ‘Things I’d Love to Have Some Day’ and went on with my life.
Until a few weeks later, that is, when a spinning friend of mine saw the exact wheel I was seeking on eBay, local to Illinois (where I lived at the time), and at a very good price. Needless to say, I snatched it up. A few hours later, I got the email from the seller to arrange payment and pickup, which is when things started to get a little scary.
You see, looking through this seller’s other items on eBay, I started to think that I had purchased a spinning wheel from a man who had robbed a monastery. He was selling Bibles, candle holders and all other sorts of things that clearly had come from a church. I had a terrible moment of “Oh my God, what have I done?” That was until I realized that I had not purchased this from someone who had robbed a monastery, but rather someone who was the Abbott of one. Picking up my wheel was going to be interesting.
A few days later, we arrived at the monastery, greeted by a barefoot Father Ryan at the front door. He showed us the wheel and graciously gave us a tour of the public areas of the facility. He also introduced us to their llamas. You see, one of the ways that Father Ryan and his flock pay their expenses is by raising miniature llamas for breeding stock. So, the spinning wheels were for spinning the fleece from their flock. He even gave us a tour of the paddocks and introduced us to several of the llamas. They are surprisingly gentle creatures and really just wanted to be petted.
So, in the end, I got more than just a spinning wheel that day, I also got to meet some lovely animals and came home with an interesting story. I’ve since come to find out that this monastery’s story is much more complicated than I realized because Father Ryan may not actually be a priest at all. At least the Catholic church doesn’t think so, and they have officially announced multiple times that his abbey is not recognized by the Holy See. Depending on who you talk to, this guy is either a saint or a con man. So, it’s odd, this magical day where we petted the llamas and went home with a lovely new spinning wheel, and yet interpreted in hind sight, seems a bit surreal.
I guess things aren’t always what they seem to be.