What’s your favorite fiber tool? I have several that I absolutely love: my Katie A-Go-Go (a portable tensioned lazy kate made by Nancy’s Knit Knacks), my sweet little Reeves upright wheel (that I bought used shortly after Rick Reeves retired from making his fabulous wheels), and most especially my bowl table. Here’s a picture of my bowl table and my Reeves wheel. I took this picture on a deck overlooking the Platte River near Honor, Michigan.
I found the bowl table a few years ago as I wandered the aisles at a local antiques fair. I spotted a large maple wood bowl on three pine wood legs. Rustic in style, this bowl table was about the height of a typical end table, and seemed to beg to be filled with yarn or fiber. I asked the vendor what it was originally designed for. He said he’d seen pictures in a catalog of it containing either apples or balls of yarn. After hearing that, I just had to buy it.
The vendor then gave me additional information. The piece is called an “Exeter table” and it was built by a furniture company that had been based in Bay City, Michigan called the Habitant Furniture Company. The word “habitant” refers to the early French explorers of this part of North America. Habitant-style furniture has a characteristically rough-hewn nature. These bowl-tables, I was told, historically had been made out of old wood mixing bowls that had outlived their kitchen usefulness They were then attached to 3 legs and used as side “tables”.
My use for this piece has been to hold fiber while I spin at my wheel. The bowl is a perfect height from which to draw pre-drafted roving or top. The fiber doesn’t get snagged on my leg; it flows right from the bowl to my hands to my wheel. It holds a respectable amount of fiber, allowing me to spin uninterrupted for a good long time. I can move it downstairs and upstairs, depending on where I’m spinning, but I don’t take it to spinning group meetings. On those days, I miss my bowl. I’m much happier when the spinning meeting is at my house. Besides, all the spinners in the group admire this bowl. One spinner even took pictures of it to show her son, hoping to persuade him to build her one.
There may come a day when other spinners can have an Exeter table, but for now, I’m pleased to have this unique piece as one of my favorite tools.