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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?