I’m getting a new wheel soon. It will be my fifth wheel. I spin as my job and I feel like one lucky woman.

When I feel it’s time to get a new wheel it takes me a bit to figure out what wheel I’d like, where the holes are in my team of wheels. I’m not telling you which one I’m getting yet. It’s taken me a year to figure that out.

I can tell you how I chose each of my wheels and why I love them.

My entry wheel I bought because it was cheap and I could get it right that second. It was a Reeves little castle wheel and that was about 18 years ago. I don’t have it anymore, we never gelled. I never even tried it before I bought it. I was a new, new, new spinner.

My first wheel that I still have was love at first sight.

Matchless!
Matchless!

As soon as I saw a Schacht Matchless, I knew I had to have one. The wheel I was looking for at the time was one I could never outgrow. I was willing to have a big learning curve and  spend a bit of money (as long as there was layaway!). I was still a beginning spinner and this wheel is so full of spinning possibilities and adjustments, that it scared the hell out of me. It was way more wheel than I needed at the time. But I was in love. I had her on layaway for months before I brought her home.

At the time I had been weaving for awhile on a Schacht loom and I knew I couldn’t go wrong buying a Schacht wheel, it would last forever and spin like a dream. It took me years to get really comfortable with her, but she is my ‘I can adjust and spin with my eyes shut’ wheel. As I became I better spinner I began to appreciate all that she can do. There is no yarn that I can’t spin on her. If I had to own only one wheel, it would be this one.

 

My second wheel is a workhorse. I traded my Reeves wheel for her.

suzie_pro_side
Majacraft Suzi Pro!

Aww Suzi, once she starts spinning she never stops. The wheel I was looking for when I got Suzi was one to spin super texture yarn on, I needed a big orafice, something besides hooks as a yarn guides and huge bobbins. I bought the Wild Flyer and love making super textured yarn on her, but I can spin really fine too. I had to get used to her treadles, they are different than the Matchless, a harder push and also taller. I can’t comfortably spin on the couch with Suzi, but I tend to like sitting taller when I spin arty yarns, rather than lounge spinning. I love her heavy wheel (so easy to keep spinning) and her HUGE bobbins. The fact that her head moves from side to side is fantastic when I adjust to spin different yarns.

 

I decided I needed a travel wheel right about the time Schacht released the Sidekick. Convenient, no?

Sidekick!
Sidekick!

The Sidekick folds up tiny, teeny tiny. She fits in a suitcase and I can squeeze her into almost any leftover spot when I pack the car for a road trip. I have the bulky flyer for this too. I like how it goes on and comes off of my Sidekick better than my Matchless so I just use it on this wheel. For me it had a learning curve and a little bit of break in time. The learning for me was about adjusting her on set up. I expected her to snap together like Legos and that is not the case. But it is exactly those I adjustments I have to make on set up that make her a remarkably sensitive wheel, an excellent piece of spinning equipment.  It’s great being able to take a wheel almost anywhere. She spins like a dream, better than most travel wheels I’ve tried. The big bonus is all bobbins, the bulky flyer and my WooLee Winder are interchangeable with my Sidekick and my Matchless. Win!

 

Wheel number four is a wheel I never liked much until I finally broke down and spun on her.

Lendrum!

Lendrum!

My Lendrum confession is this: I never liked the way they looked, so I never spun on one. I thought that how the wheel leans towards the spinner would be claustrophobic. Weird, I know, but there you have it. The day I finally broke down and tried one I became a woman possessed. She’s a smooth wheel, lighter than I usually like, but she travels too. I wasn’t really looking for another wheel, but I thought maybe I might want another all around wheel. This is the wheel I wish I had bought first. No disrespect to my Matchless. The learning curve on this wheel is really, really short, the most confusing thing is remembering how to break her down and put her back together. There is only one way to set her up. She is never feisty, never complains, just spins – a basic yarn? of course! Fat yarn? You bet! Fine yarn? Bring it! Super textured craziness? A piece of cake! I just change her head and spin. This wheel wins the anti-Diva award.

By the time I was on my second wheel I knew a few things about the type of wheels I liked. I like castle wheels. It’s mostly aesthetic, I just like how they look. But they are also easier to store, they fit into corners and spots that a saxony wheel wouldn’t.  I like heavy wheels. I’m a hard treadler and I will push a light wheel across the floor. I like a double treadle wheel, I can get into a spinning rhythm easier with both of my feet going.

I learned right away to spend time spinning on any wheel I considered buying and to talk to spinners who like and don’t like the wheel in question. If you already hang out with spinners they will be happy to let you try their wheels and tell you all of the things they love. If you live near a shop that sells a variety of wheels you are a lucky spinner! There are no more passionate spinners in the world than spinning shop owners.  They will spend lots of time with you and share knowledge that’s hard to find all in one place. They will watch you spin, ask a lot of questions and suggest wheels that match your spinning style and budget. Chances are, you’ll get a mini spinning lesson too.

***Soapbox Warning***

I need to get on my soapbox for a minute about buying from spinning shops. If a shop owner has spent hours, sometimes days and weeks with you, helping you pick out a wheel that’s just right, please buy your wheel from her. There is nothing worse than taking her time and years of knowledge and then buying somewhere else because you found a wheel $20 cheaper. That extra $20 or $100 spent at a spinning shop pays for the 20 years of experience your shop owners has.

The shop owner will be a resource for your lifetime of spinning, tuning up your spinning and wheel for as long as you spin. Help them stay in business by spending your money with them. I’ll put it bluntly, whatever your job is, would you do it for free, no matter how much you love it? By using their time and knowledge and buying your wheel elsewhere that’s exactly what you’re asking a shop owner to do. If spinners keep shopping for just for price and using local shops like a live catalog, spinning shops will go away.  ***End Rant***

I was first intrigued by my next wheel at Madrona last year [shout out to everyone going this weekend!]. I was sure I wouldn’t want one. I sat and spun a few times at one. I talked to the bazillion of people who had one at Madrona. Then I let it go. As this year has progressed I realized that I have to spin faster and more as I take on more spinning related work. I don’t have a lot of room for a new wheel and I’d like it to be travel and WooLee Winder friendly. It’s coming sometime in the next couple of weeks. I’ll be a tease and not tell until I have pictures to show.

How do you choose your wheels?

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21 Responses to Spinning Tuesdays: My Next Wheel, How Do I Choose?

  1. Natalie says:

    I’m actually in the rather different position of considering selling my Louet S10 and my Suzie Pro because I have realised I prefer spindles!

  2. Jan Smiley says:

    I too love my Matchless &my Suzie. Hubs was generous & gave me an eSpinner for Xmas recently.

    So which wood did you order your Hansen in? (I’m right, yes?)

  3. Sharon says:

    My first and only wheel is a Lendrum folding wheel. I had never even touched a wheel, but I knew I had to have one. Totally agree with your opinion above. Got some good advice from the woman who used to own Paradise Fibers, so I bought it from her. I actually love the way it looks :) And of course I love the way it spins . . .

  4. Gynnab says:

    Your new wheel sounds like my new wheel that is arriving tomorrow! I wonder if I am correct…. guess I will wait and see! Mine is extremely portable, has a woolee winder and goes VERY fast….

    Love your spinning posts, they get me through the work day to the evening when I can relax and spin!

  5. Renee Anne says:

    I spent time working on several wheels. I had never spun but I sat down and almost instinctively knew what I was doing. I’m an insanely fast treadler for someone that, at the time, was a new spinner…and I’m still a fast treadler. I tried single treadle, double treadle, the single treadle with the HUGE treadle that could be worked with both feet…I settled on a double treadle. I didn’t want something HUGE but I didn’t necessarily want something that folded up (though now I think that would have been nice). I wound up with a Majacraft Pioneer in the end. Viktor and I don’t have as many affairs as we should but every time I sit to work on him, he delivers :)

  6. LaurieM says:

    My first and only love is a Lendrum DT. For all the reasons you listed. I had tried a few wheels, even rented a few. But sitting at the Lendrum, she just purred. I feel like I’m in a committed relationship! :)

  7. I took a class from a local lady who has a spinning shop. She deals in Kromski and Ashford, so I was able to sample several of each. I liked the Ashford Kiwi best, so that is what I got. The treadle action felt “right”, I found I preferred an upright wheel, and while not exactly portable, it can be belted into the backseat of my car.

  8. Aileen Sitero says:

    Thank you for such an informative post. I’m a newbie spinner(just about a year) and own a Schacht Ladybug. I adore her and now want a travel wheel. I’m torn between the Sidekick and a Hansen espinner. Looking forward to seeing your new wheel! Happy Spinning :-)

  9. Nancy says:

    I’m with the others in guessing Hansencrafts mini-Spinner. Love mine! Just attended one of their retreats with Judith which was fabulous.

  10. Luna says:

    I really enjoyed reading about the evolution of your wheels! I’m going to venture a guess and say it’s a Hansen MiniSpinner as well! I have a Cherry WW mS and absolutely *adore* it, they’re such sweet and versatile little spinners.

  11. TrulyTwisted says:

    First wheel and first love is a Lendrum DT – I just fell in love with the clean styling, ease of set-up and smooth spinning. I love them so much I had a second one (as you do!). This wheel hadn’t been out of the box much and as such was gorgeous and blonde. I have just sold her to a friend to start her spinning journey – and they do seem to have bonded!
    The second wheel is a Schacht Sidekick. I love her for her brilliant engineering and quirky looks. She never fails to get a conversation started when I spin in public!
    As an Ashford dealer I have a number of their wheels in my shop but I have a soft spot for the Joy.
    Having written this it would now appear that I’m slightly obsessed by folding wheels – oh well, there’s worse things to be obsessed by!

  12. eklectika says:

    Thank you for that little rant – I have felt that pain. I work part-time at a LYS and while I understand the desire to save a few dollars, it is somewhat frustrating when you spend an hour or more being asked various questions, to look up different things about the wheel, to demonstrate on the shop wheel and so on and then literally be told, “Ok, I have to get going. Thanks for all the info, I’m going to go buy it online.” It has happened more than once. :-(

    On a more positive note, I LOVE my Ashford Joy ST. I’ve had it for several years (and it’s be sorely neglected in the past year) and I love the portability as well as the compactness when I’m not using it. In fact, I’m planning to get a Double Treadle sometime in the near future (for me it is easier to control plying) and am excited to get to use the newer flyers!

  13. Michelle says:

    I’m guessing a Hansen miniSpinner is on its way to you. I have one; I love it and you will, too!!!

  14. Joanne says:

    I have four wheels and have bonded with every one of them (started spinning in 1974). Love my Matchless, it’s my workhorse. Newest is my Jensen Tina II, also wonderful, and the wheel I bought in place of a travel wheel (I don’t care for travel wheels, but wanted something lighter than the Matchless). Can’t beat my big Watson “Marie” for a saxony production wheel. But, the love of my life is my Magnus Drudik “Standard”…it is truly a piece of art. I agree…I think you’re getting a Hanson electric spinner. Everyone I know who has one loves them. Of course I’ll be at Madrona…I wouldn’t miss it!

  15. Rachelle says:

    My current wheel is a Little Grace Special, I got to try a few wheels and fell in love. She’s a castle wheel, artisan made and there was a six month waiting list when I got her. I considered a Majacraft, but I don’t much like the look of the Suzie and couldn’t find a Rose to try. Most of the other brands everyone has aren’t available retail in New Zealand, you have to order them from the US without getting to try them first.
    I also have an Ashford E-spinner and have just ordered a Woolee Winder for her, she’s my plying wheel.

  16. Maureen J says:

    I’m following the trend. My first wheel is a Matchless and I’m now getting familiar with my Hansen. It’s a great little machine, and I know I’m going to love it, but I won’t ignore my Matchless, which is so calming.

  17. Seanna Lea says:

    I don’t have a wheel, and I never really got into spindle spinning despite multiple classes. I think a wheel would be great for me, but I haven’t even tried one!

  18. Karrie says:

    Like everyone else here I’m guessing that you have a Hansen on the way. My wheel is a Ladybug, I purchased her locally from a lovely woman who had 6 wheels available for me to try. I’d try a wheel then ask to try the next,then the next ect until the Ladybug before I knew it I had spun half the fibre I brought with me, the saleswoman smiled and said ” I think you have found your wheel”. I was fortunate enough to try several Ashford, Majacraft, one Louet then the Ladybug. I felt very fortunate to have this selection close to home and rewarded her by buying from her, very happy I did.

  19. Joanie says:

    I’m willing to be the odd man out and guess Pocket Wheel. Seems to fit all the attributes.

  20. Melissa says:

    Need to chime in again that I hope you are teaching at Rhinebeck this year. I think could learn LOTS from you, like how to get my Matchless to behave!

  21. Deborah says:

    After going through a period of wheel evaluation, I decided on a Lendrum DT. I had tried the Matchless and Sidekick (treadling too heavy for me), and all the Ashford wheels. I was lucky to find a recent one used for a great price. Around the same time I bought a DD Ashford Traditional, similar to the borrowed one I learned on.

    Then I became an antique wheel collector. Now I own about 15 wheels. I have a Columbine for plying, a Great Wheel for woolen, a favorite antique saxony flax wheel for fine spinning, and a few others just for fun or who need some rehab before they can really do their work. I love to make old wheels work.

    Right now the only thing I have had trouble with on the Lendrum is spinning fine, high-twist singles (> 40 WPI with 30-degree twist). (I can make it work by padding the bobbin shaft, but it’s ugly. I just bought a Lendrum VFF today!) I am spinning those fine singles on the Traditional with a Kiwi high-speed pulley.

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