The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Food & crafts => Crafts => Topic started by: mojocafa on November 05, 2015, 07:04:26 am

Title: What Spinning wheel for novice
Post by: mojocafa on November 05, 2015, 07:04:26 am
What spinning wheel would you recommend for a complete novice.

Title: Re: What Spinning wheel for novice
Post by: Bionic on November 05, 2015, 07:12:36 am
Well, that depends.... Do you want to buy new or second hand? Have you tried a wheel previously? Do you need it to be transportable?


If you are buying new you can take your pick of something that looks pleasing to you. If you are buying second hand you are more limited to whats available. Ashford traditionals seem to be the most readily available. I learnt to spin on one and we have one at our group for new spinners to use before they buy their own.


If you need to be able to take it in the car to a group you might prefer something smaller like a Traveller. There are lots of other small wheels in different makes.


Sallyintnorth knows a lot more about different wheels so hopefully she will respond on this thread.
Title: Re: What Spinning wheel for novice
Post by: Buttermilk on November 05, 2015, 08:03:09 am
It helps to try several wheels before buying if new.  Single treadle or double is where I look first as although I can use both a double treadle is more comfortable for me.  Many guilds have wheels that can be loaned. Avoid getting a flax wheel as a starter wheel as they are very limited in what you can spin on them.  A brand like Ashford/Kronski/Louet/Majacraft are all easy to get spare parts for.  Avoid unknown, homemade wheels as they can be one offs and difficult to put small things right.

I went to a guild meeting and people let me try out their wheels so I sampled a range of wheels.  For two months I had an Ashford traditional on loan from the guild and then I bought a Majacraft Rose with a legacy.

One of my best investments was a two day spinning course which set me up with the basics, plus as the tutor sold wheels I got to play on new wheels.
Title: Re: What Spinning wheel for novice
Post by: Anke on November 05, 2015, 08:06:26 am
If you can find a local spinners guild it may be best if you can go along and see what others use and have a go. Any wheel you want to buy you should try out beforehand, just so it feels comfortable. Many groups have wheels that novices can borrow to learn on. I used an Ashford traveller to learn, but don't like the traditional look, so went to buy a modern Lendrum and love it.

Double-treadle is much easier than single.

Addictive this spinning malarkey....

Cross-posted with Buttermilk...
Title: Re: What Spinning wheel for novice
Post by: Louise Gaunt on November 05, 2015, 08:58:30 am
I taught myself on a second hand Ashford traditional, then bought a new Lendrum, that I really enjoy spinning on, and recently I acquired an Ashford traveller, which is great for spinning long draw. As others have said, try a few if you can, and see what feels most comfortable. It is an addictive habit, I have gone from no wheel to three in four years, and have many bags of fleece waiting to be spun into woolly goodies!! :spin:
Title: Re: What Spinning wheel for novice
Post by: SallyintNorth on November 05, 2015, 11:07:56 am
As others have said, try a few if you can and see what feels comfortable - but of course you can't really tell until you can spin...  :-\

Single/double treadle can be one of the most important features.  I can spin on both but wouldn't buy a double; they make you sit too straight-on for me and I get very uncomfortable if I spin for a long time.  Others will only buy double treadle...

Upright ("castle") wheels are a safer bet than Saxony style (where the flyer and bobbin are offset, usually to the left of the wheel, sometimes to the right) because they are easy to use no matter which way round you use your hands.  If you find you spin with your right hand forward, nearer the wheel, and your left hand holding the fibre, you may find it more comfortable to either have an inline castle wheel (where the flyer is directly above the wheel) or one that's adjustable (all the Majacraft wheels, and the Timbertops Lonsdale), or a Saxony where the flyer is on the right.  (They do exist; I have a Traddy like this, spinningfishwife had her Timbertops Leicester converted, although some were made this way round, and Freyalyn has had her Haldane Lewis converted.)

You need to love the look of your wheel, so see if traditional-looking or modern styling suits you, whether you only like upright wheels or only Saxonies...

Material and colouring too; most wheels are made of wood, some light some dark; some wheels use modern materials. 

What sort of spinning will you want to be doing?  Fleece?  Tops?  Fine yarns or bulky?  Art yarns or simple?  Will you spin at home or will you want to take your wheel with you to spinning groups?

Looking at your location map, you've got Angus Spinners in Forfar nearest to you.  It's not an affiliated Guild, I think, but that doesn't mean it's not good.  In fact, I think @Magnusmog is a member there; she sat with me in Spinners' Corner at the very first Scottish Smallholders Show, in Forfar, giving people a go.  (And we've remained friends ever since  :))

If you can't or don't want to go to a group, then my advice would be to buy a secondhand Traddy (Ashford Traditional) to learn on, because they are easy to come by, extremely easy to fix if there's anything amiss, a current wheel so parts and accessories are very easy to get; there are gazillions of people on the internet who can help you, and if you subsequently decide you want a different wheel, you'll sell the Traddy for what you paid for it, no bother.  (Assuming you buy at the right price, of course - but we can help on that too.)

All the above also apply to the Ashford Traveller, which is a castle wheel.  (The flyer is quite offset to the left of the midline of the wheel, though, much more so than on most castle wheels.)  Secondhand Travellers tend to be a little bit more pricey than Traddies, but provided you pay the right price to begin with, you'd sell for the same if and when you decided to change.

(Despite all I've said about offset flyers, you won't discover a problem, if you have one, for a while anyway, so buying a secondhand Traddy or Traveller at the outset is still a good idea.)

Oh, and Traddies and Travellers have conversion kits for double treadle, so if you decide you want two treadles and don't want to part with your first wheel, you can upgrade :).  (All but the very oldest models, that is.)

Traddies come in pre-1982 1-speed versions, which will usually set you back 80-110; 1982 to 1988 2-speed, lovely wheels, usually fetch 125-160; 1989-2010(ish) 3-speed, anything from 160 to 250, and the recent 4-speed wheels, currently retailing at 350-430.  If you buy an older wheel and want more ratios (it's like bicycle gears, you can ride anywhere on a single-speed bike, but it's easier to have a few gears ;)), you can buy a new 4-speed flyer for 35.

I know the Ashford wheels pretty well, but another popular choice which would similarly be easy to get help with and to resell if necessary would be the Kromski Sonata.

There are other makes and types that would be suitable but which are no longer made, so may be a little more tricky to get parts for.  Two that are certainly good first wheels are the Haldane Lewis and the Westbury, both of which are saxonies (in fact they are very similar) and both of which usually sell for well under 100.  I say good first wheels, but they are not limited in what they can do, and are not only useful to beginners.  (I mentioned Freyalyn having one - she's a tremendously experienced spinner, but she loves her Lewis. :))

Shout up if I can help further :)   And let us know how you get on!   :excited: :spin:

Title: Re: What Spinning wheel for novice
Post by: Fleecewife on November 05, 2015, 12:47:24 pm
....after all the above is said, I would still recommend an Ashford Traveller, double treadle, scotch tension for a beginner.  They are not going to break the bank, are great to spin on, they don't take up too much space in your house, you can take them around in your car, strapped into a seat belt, they look good and when you want to move on they have good resale value.
Title: Re: What Spinning wheel for novice
Post by: mojocafa on November 05, 2015, 12:52:46 pm
Thank you all , will try and get in touch with magnusmog  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: What Spinning wheel for novice
Post by: SallyintNorth on November 05, 2015, 06:49:22 pm
Thank you all , will try and get in touch with magnusmog  :thumbsup:

She's away on a photographic venture at the moment, so don't be perturbed if she doesn't get straight back to you.
Title: Re: What Spinning wheel for novice
Post by: Blackbird on November 16, 2015, 01:16:04 pm
I would echo Sally's comments re. Haldane Lewis - I have had mine for a year and learned on it and have found it pretty easy to use. I gave up on scotch tension after an hour - couldn't get on with it at all. It is a single treadle wheel, but I treadle with both feet on it as I found that helped the tendency for the wheel to spin backwards! I bought it from the Chair of our local Guild - a good idea to join and try out different sorts - this is what I did. Let us know how you get on!