Friday, 22 July 2011


I've gone and done it now. I got a wheel. Sure, I told myself, I'll do a bit of spinning. Some lovely friends gave me spindles, and I got some fibre, and went at it. And enjoyed it. But spindling is so slow. I had all this lovely fibre I wanted to spin, and wasn't getting anywhere fast. Given practice (years of it) you can spin in very large quantities with a spindle, but me being me, I couldn't wait. Besides, I had planned to get a wheel eventually, and when I got a little extra one off chunk of money, I decided now was the time.

All this was helped along by Claire, a friend who takes me to knitting sessions, offered to let me try out her wheel. After spinning a rather bad example of the art (left), I was hooked, and started looking for wheels immediately. Ravelry has a wide variety of destash and for sale boards, but getting one there is problematic for three reasons - 1) they're often in the States, 2) they're very often out of my price range and 3) they often get picked up before I even know they exist. Claire had suggested ebay, so I went and had a look. I found a few that I liked the look of, and after a couple days of looking focused on two. One had a "buy it now" option and was selling for £110 (I wanted to spend no more than about £100) including 2 carders, 7 bobbins, a lazy kate, and a few books on spinning. They're very old books, but they look fairly interesting. It turns out the seller was getting rid of a wheel her mother had when she passed away, and from the looks of the yarn on the bobbins, she spun up until the day she died.

I ended up having to pay a fair bit extra for shipping, but even with that added on, the wheel was a steal. I got it this afternoon and spent a few hours getting acquainted with it; how it works, how to get everything sorted so the fibre will twist and go on the bobbin, and what kind of tension system it had so I could adjust that, and finally getting to know what kind of speed it had. Claire's wheel was very fast, and I ended up overspinning badly because I wasn't used to spinning slowly. (On a spindle, you have to go fast if you want the fibre to turn into yarn - otherwise it just drifts apart.) My wheel, on the other hand, seems a lot slower, and I'm having no trouble with overspinning. I'm so in love with my little wheel. It's not like many out there for sale today, and took me awhile to find out how to work it. Most have what we call scotch tension, which uses a spring, and are a single drive, with the drive band from the wheel to the spindle going around the spindle only. Mine is a tilt wheel with a double drive, where the band is made into a figure 8 and spread between the spindle and the bobbin. The angle of tilt provides the tension.

I've decided wheels can be complicated little things.
The spinning wheel

This is the bobbin, which sits on the spindle. Those hooks make sure the yarn is distributed evenly over the bobbin. Extra bobbins are stored nearby, on pegs next to the wheel.

The spinning area from the back. This shows the bobbin on the spindle.  The little lever below is how you twist the  peg around which controls how far back the wheel tilts.
The spinning area as looking at the wheel from the front. See the way it's tilting back?  That's how the tension is controlled.

Watch this space for more yarn-y goodness! As soon as I have pictures, my knitting wip and my crochet wips will be going up. And more handspun, if I have any say about that as well.

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