On a recent afternoon my Hansen miniSpinner stopped working. My heart stopped working too. I was rushing some yarn trying to ply as fast as I could – all of the knobs turned to eleven. And my wonderful spinner just powered down. I got on the Hansen Ravelry group and tried all of the things, nothing worked. I emailed Kevin Hansen and he told me lots of things, but the one that stuck is ,” I think your trying to go to fast, dial back the uptake”. I did and it worked.
I love a strong pull when I spin, and I tend to do the same thing in my life, lots of deadlines, lots of pressure on myself, and it backfires in my life just like it did in my spinning. I took up yoga and meditation to help slow down the rest of my life. But I forget.
Now the uptake on my Hansen is set on barely. I think about it like breathing, my wind on is like an exhalation, slow and steady and I’m getting a lot more spinning done. I also have found my way back to my yoga mat and life has become slow and steady again too. I never failed to be amazed by what spinning teaches me.
Did you see my review of my Hansen miniSpinner in the latest Knitty? Here it is in case you missed it:
Buy now from Hansen
Hansen flyer & WooLee Winder tested
Weight: approx 4 pounds
Size: 5.5 inches wide, 9 inches long, 9.25 high at highest point of the flyer
Finishes: 9 different wood and mixed wood options.
— your choice of flyer (Hansen or WooLee Winder)
— one jumbo bobbin
— 100-240 VAC universal 12-volt power supply
— foot switch
— 12-volt cigarette lighter adapter
— orifice threader
— carry bag
$775-1095 with Hansen flyer
$875-$1175 with WooLee Winder
depending on wood choice
Hansen $35 / WooLee Winder $49-$59
Hansen miniSpinners are almost mythical in the spinning world — have you tried one? Are you going to buy one?
Until about a year ago they were mostly seen in the wild on the west coast since they are made in Port Townsend, Washington. The year I was lucky enough to go to Madrona. They made up almost half of the spinning wheels used by fellow students in my classes. The miniSpinners are slowly making their way east. The last spinning class I took in Michigan, three out of the eighteen wheels were miniSpinners, with one on order.
The miniSpinner comes fully assembled and tested. They even include a little puff of fiber and an orifice threader, so I could just plug it in and spin.
But how does it spin?
For me it spins like a dream, pretty much perfect. I’ve had mine since February and I’ll admit that some of my other wheels are getting a little dusty. I was a little overwhelmed spinning on it at first. Partially because I tried to spin all of the types of yarn I know how to spin simultaneously. Once I relaxed and focused on my default yarn, I really started to enjoy it.
The mechanics of the spinner are pretty simple. There is a foot switch that turns it off and on. It has two settings — tap on/off or deadman switch (take your foot off the switch and it stops the spinner, sort of like a sewing machine foot control). There is a toggle switch to choose S or Z spinning. There is a knob for brake tension and a knob for speed control. The miniSpinner spins with Scotch tension.
Bobbins are easy to change. The back of the spinner opens with the flick of a latch. Slip off the brake band, slide the old bobbin off and the new one on, put the band on and off you go. The bobbins are enormous! Both the Hansen and the WooLee Winder bobbins are the size of jumbo bulky or plying bobbins on other wheels. I’ve spun 10 oz of fiber on a single bobbin and it wasn’t full.
Flyers are easy to change too, in a similar process as the bobbin change. I have both the Hansen flyer and the WooLee Winder flyer. The Hansen flyer works easily. The yarn guides are smooth as silk and easy to move.
I am a fan of the WooLee Winder, but I know some spinners feel like they have less control with it. It works and feels exactly the same as the WooLee Winder on my Schacht. Plying with a WooLee Winder on the miniSpinner is a magical experience: fast, smooth and even.
It took a bit of spinning time to get the right balance of speed and take up on the miniSpinner. I use what feels like a lot less take up on the miniSpinner than I do my other wheels, because it pulls so consistently. Playing with the speed is fun. When I first started, I was spinning with the knob at 9 o’clock (if it were a analog clock) now I’m spinning at 1 or 2 o’clock.
I bought orifice reducers (see below) for spinning finer yarn. They are inexpensive and work great for reducing the vibration that happens when spinning a fine yarn in a big orifice. An amazing thing about the miniSpinner is how quiet it is. I don’t have to turn up the volume on the tv when I’m spinning and I can hold a conversation at a normal level.
Orifice regular size is 5/8″. Insert in photo at right is 1/4″
I love the portability of the miniSpinner. I bought a Zuca bag for mine (see below), the wheelie kind. It holds all of my bobbins and parts and fiber. It also works as a spinning table to hold the miniSpinner as I use it, but any flat surface that’s the right height for your spinning will work, too. When I’m meeting friends at a coffee shop, I put my miniSpinner in a big knitting bag and go.
Bag shown above is the Offhand Designs Marcella
There is an amazing Ravelry group for Hansen miniSpinners. I stalked it before I got mine and have been back frequently with questions. It is all there. The members are passionate spinners and miniSpinner lovers.
There are spinners who claim that using an electric wheel is cheating. Well, it’s still spinning, no cheats. I can say from my own experience that spinning with the miniSpinner has improved my spinning on my non-electric wheels. Really, it has. I can spin faster on my treadle wheels and my worsted style of spinning has become much more consistent and controlled.
The Hansen miniSpinner is worth saving your spinning money for. It is an excellent and well-built spinning machine.