I’ve been on a whirlwind search for a new spinning wheel because A) I’m a compulsive researcher and B) timing. Here’s how it’s been going.
Step 1. Realize that for one reason or another, your current equipment is no longer meeting all of your needs. Man, this merino is being a major pain in the ass to spin. I’m kind of hating it. Isn’t this supposed to be fun?
Step 2. Understand why your current equipment isn’t cutting it anymore. Use these reasons as guidelines for your search. Ahha! Irish (bobbin-lead) tension systems often have strong takeup and are not the best for fine spinning (thought they’re great for longwools and plying). I need a Scotch (flyer-lead) or double drive (some kind of physics magic) tension system.
Step 3. Research, research, research.
- Abby Franquemont’s blog is a wealth of information, particularly this post on choosing your first wheel.
- Ravelry spinners are the best. Check out wheel-specific forums, fun-and-friendly spinning groups like Completely Twisted and Arbitrary, and threads containing wheel reviews.
- Don’t forget to google blog reviews to get a sense of what wheels are like. Here’s a good one on the Majacraft Rose and another all about Schacht wheels
Step 4. Start a spreadsheet. Totally not joking, it’ll help sort through all the information out there. Here is a list of all the info I compiled for the wheels that I was interested in (where it was available) so I could better compare between them:
Step 6. Seek out and try! (Hover over photos below for captions, click to enbiggen.)
The Fiasco and I made an impromptu visit to Madison Wool (in Madison, CT) over the weekend to give a few wheels a try. I cannot stress enough the importance of trying out wheels in person! They are all so different and there’s no better way to get a sense of what you want than to actually feel how the wheels work. The main reason I visited was to try the Majacraft Pioneer. Majacraft wheels have outstanding reputations and the Pioneer is supposed to be the ‘entry-level’ version of their more high-end wheels and it is the one the shop owner herself uses. I really, really liked the way the Pioneer treadled. It was smooth and effortless and ‘zippy’. I was not a big fan of the delta orifice (see the triangular metal piece at the front of the flyer). This shape made for a weird skip/bump with every rotation since I tend to hold my fiber supply off to the side when I spin. I could probably adapt my spinning style if I end up with this wheel, and I do believe the company offers a more typical orifice in their lace flyer, but it’s an important thing to know about the wheel nonetheless. I was pleasantly surprised with how nicely the Ashford Traveller spun, but have decided that I do not want a wheel designed for travel since some concessions must be made in sturdiness to allow for easy portability (usually). I also tried a Louet S10, and we did not get along. Part of it was likely because that model was a single treadle wheel, while I’m used to double treadle, and the wheel also has an Irish tension system, which I know I do not want.
Step 7. Find an incredibly good sale with an inconveniently short deadline that you absolutely cannot resist. Ok, this step is optional, and probably counterproductive.
Webs yarn store is participating in the Northampton Bag Day event this coming weekend (22-23) during which they are offering 20% off a single item (spinning wheels included). The kicker is that orders for large items (like equipment) need to be placed by Friday for in-store pickup over the weekend. Since the store only has so many wheels, they could feasibly be all sold out by the weekend, which could mean no wheels for me to try if I waited until the weekend to head up. I am now debating whether or not I should make two 3-hour-roundtrip drives: one to visit the wheels earlier in the week to give them a try and decide on one in time for the sale, and another to pick it up over the weekend. Sigh. I don’t want to be pressured into making a decision just for this sale, but 20% is a lot of cash to pass up! The wheels I’d like to try at Webs are the Lendrum DT, Schacht Ladybug, Schacht Matchless, and Louet Julia (if they have it, the site says backordered).
And that’s how you find yourself in a spinning wheel conundrum… wait, that wasn’t the title of this post, was it? Woops.