What kind of spinning wheel would you recommend?

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I took a spinning class a few years ago,have a loom, and finally have a couple sheep-seems the next step is a spinning wheel. As a real beginner I am not sure what features to look for in a wheel. About all I remember is if buying used make sure that it has a couple bobbins(is that right?)with it. I was looking on ebay, they were pretty pricey. I did find a site that sold new ones for about $250 that looked ok. Now I dont remember that brand. So any advice? Thanks Tami in WI

-- Tami Bowser (windridg@chorus.net), September 09, 2000


This is a great site for used equipment. http://homepages.together.net/~kbruce/kbbspin.html I would suggest going to a spinning shop or spinning guild meeting (the proprietor of any spinning shop should be able to tell you where and when the meetings are held) and getting familiar with a few different wheels. Then you can price them retail and look on this site to see how much of a bargain you can get. Expect to spend at least between $100 and $200 for a decent used wheel. Try to get a wheel that has at least a couple of different speeds. It's no good trying just to pedal faster to turn a 7:1 wheel into a 10:1 wheel, and you'll go crazy trying to do a thinner yarn on a slow wheel. Feel free to email me if you have more specific questions.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. You can get a lot of good experience spinning with a drop spindle. Most go between $10 and $20 new. I highly recommend what's called a top-whorl spindle. MUCH easier to use for most people I have talked to. With a drop spindle, you can get a good feel for drafting and producing consistent yarn. Then when you get a wheel, you'll only have to learn to keep the speed where you want it, and you're set! I've seen some incredible spindle work, very fine and controlled, and I've done some pretty decent work myself. Plus with a drop spindle, you can spin anywhere, anytime, and put it away pretty much instantly. You can really get a lot done during those otherwise wasted minutes, and it's a great conversation starter.

There's a book called "High Whorling" by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts that is excellent. It is considered by myself and others to be THE book on drop spindling. It covers everything from fiber preparation to winding skeins, and illustrates most, if not all, of the tricks and simple tools of the trade. Have fun!!

-- Laura Jensen (lrjensen@nwlink.com), September 09, 2000.

I have an Ashford traveler. It costs about $300 new. It is compact and is a good all around spinning wheel for all types of wool and yarn.

-- R. (thor610@yahoo.com), September 09, 2000.

I agree with the above posts on the drop spindles etc. but I was an accomplished wheel spinner before I could do diddly on a drop spindle. Go figure. My only modern wheel is an Ashford Traveler. I had it adapted from 2 speeds to 3 before Ashford came out with this feature and I can make very fine cotton, angora or wool threads or coarser yarns just by changing my drafting and whorl size.

If you are looking for a new Ashford or related equipment, contact MidStates Wool Growers at 1-800-835-9665. They have the kitsets and are a bit cheaper than the shops. They used to be much cheaper than the shops but....One thing to keep in mind though, is that if you have a shop nearby where you hope to get advice or help, you might be better off paying the bit extra just for the "good will."

Additionally, Tami, I would suggest the book HANDS ON SPINNING by Lee Raven. She goes into great detail on how to troubleshoot problems with both wheel adjustment and "spinner" adjustment. Also, I'm sure other responders feel the same, but feel free to email me if I can help further. I don't know everything but I do have 15 years as a spinner behind me. I just finished a wonderful 2 day flax spinning class at the Sheep Festival at Bethel MO and had a ball.

-- marilyn (rainbow@ktis.net), September 09, 2000.

My first wheel is a Shaker Chair wheel that has a double drive and scotch tension drive. I love it and it is the only wheel I own. I spin singles in double drive and ply in scotch tension. Go to some of the wool festivals where vendors are set up and try as many wheels as you can before buying. Unless you are very familiar with the function of the wheel and have/are an experienced woodworker, I would streer clear of any old wheels being auctioned. Also, look for fiber guilds in you area and visit them. They are great folks and are excited to share their knowledge.

-- Patricia Ramsey (woolspin@aol.com), September 09, 2000.

My all time favorite is my Schacht. It is a castle wheel, with built in clips to attach a carry strap, so it is easy to transport. It also has several different removable disks that allow you to change the ratios, as well as different sizes on the bobbin ends, so you can spin just about anything on it. It is a double drive, with the ability to go to Scotch tension if that is what you prefer. I would definitely stay away from anything at the antique malls, unless you have someone with you that knows wheels. If it has been sitting for a long time, there is a very real possibility that the main wheel is warped, which will cause it to throw the drive belt constantly. Also, unless it was made by someone still in the business, you will find it nearly impossible to get compatible parts. (extra bobbins, etc.)

-- Connie (Connie@lunehaven.com), September 09, 2000.

I learned on a Louet, it was very easy to use, simple to understand. I've used others since then, and they have been a lot harder to get used to, they seem to need much more adjusting.

-- Rebekah (daniel1@itss.net), September 09, 2000.

Im writing this on husbands work computer as I killed our home one, Hopfully It will be fixed in a week or two,my fav spinning wheel is my ashford tradicinal with fold up treadel, I can spin any thing on it, my fav spindel is my navajo spindel it makes great rug yarn. When you go to buy a spinning wheel take some one who knows alot about spinning with you as used wheels can have problems you might not notice.

-- kathy h (saddlebronc@msn.comkathy h), September 10, 2000.

I love my Asgford Traditional. They are a good, midpriced brand-- kinda like the Ford or Chevy of the spinning wheel world.

-- Leann Banta (thelionandlamb@hotmail.com), September 10, 2000.

I really like the Majacraft Saxony. Works really well with my Brecknock Hill wool. :O) Is very smooth running and is a double tredle design which is really good if you have bad knees.

-- Bergere (autumnhaus@aol.com), September 10, 2000.

Thank you so much for the advice. Laura, I love the website. I marked it in my favorites! Tami in WI

-- Tami Bowser (windridg@chorus.net), September 10, 2000.


When deciding what wheel to purchase, you may want to consider what you are looking for. Do you want it for its looks or for its use or for both? Do you want it to be changable allowing you to perform different things without needing a whole other wheel? I personally have a Lendrum wheel. I like it because I can fold it up, put it in a bag and take it with me. The easy of transportation was a huge selling point for me. I also like the fact that by only changing the head on it I can change the functions it can perform for me. I can spin finer yarn with the change of a head without having to treadle a lot. The Lendrum has 5 different heads available.

If you are looking at price and want a new one, a Babe wheel would be a good one to look at. They are made out of plastic but they do work. The website to look at is www.smartgate.com/yarnspin/ Check this site out.

Do try to find a group nearby that you can ask questions. Find a local guild or even attend a fiber related festival and talk to the people there. They are always willing to help a person get started in the fiber art world. If you want to make a trip, check out the Michigan Fiber Festival next year. Here's the web address for MFF www.mvcc.com/non/mff

I hope this helps.

-- Angela Hammer (park_lady@yahoo.com), September 11, 2000.

I love my Ashford Traditional. Got it new, in a trade, and have had it for about 9 years. I was way experienced with a wheel before I got okay (never advanced beyond okay) with the drop spindle. The advice above is great. Check around and find a guild for sure. Some of the older ladies are so helpful. They have so much knowledge to share. THe nearest spinning and weaving shop to me is an hour away, but such a special treat. They let me try out all the wheels, and looms in the shop, and are great help when looking for even used things, and fiber animals. Look for Spin off magazine...it is really good, and good luck!!

-- Jenny Pipes (auntjenny6@aol.com), September 15, 2000.

I've done most of my spinning on a drop spindle, only a little on a wheel. My husband has gotten us involved in historical reenactments, and I'd like to get a wheel that looks authentic to the 1700's but is new and works. I would be spinning wool on it, have plans to get Icelandic sheep next year or the year after. Does anyone have any suggestions for where to get the type of wheel I would need?

-- Kathleen Sanderson (stonycft@worldpath.net), September 15, 2000.

Good luck in your search! I would really suggest that you try several wheels before you make a purchase,if that is at all possible. I've found that one of the most popular wheels, the Ashford, gives me leg cramps everytime I spin on one (and I've spun on several different ones at different times). I chose a Louet S15 as my first wheel and have loved it. I raise English Angoras and had been warned that you couldn't spin fine enough of the Louet. I found that not to be the case. When I asked various fellow angora breeders which wheel they used (and most had several) they all said the Louet. One of the main reasons they & I like it is that it is so simple to learn and a real workhorse. It doesn't require the adjustments that many wheels do and is easy to take with you. I also liked the price. Beware of the Babe wheel. One poor woman showed up at a spinning retreat ready to settle down to some enjoyable spinning. She had recently moved and when her wheel was subjected to the heat in her car while she was moving, it warped out of shape. I now spin mainly on a Little Grace from New Zealand. It is lovely but a bit more pricey. I'm planning on selling my Louet as my son who used it is now away at college and I only use it once or twice a year at spinning demos. I hope to find a Jensen 24" wheel. Good luck in your search!

-- Dianne Atkins (dianne@transfig.org), October 31, 2001.

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