Now I want a wheel
It was obvious that this day would arrive: I want to start spinning my own yarn! I have been eyeing handspun yarns for a while because I link them so much: The long color changes, the heathered look, the interesting interaction between colors. Have you seen a
Baby Surprise Jacket in handspun? When Jared Flood (Brooklyntweed) showed these beauties on his blog six years ago, I wanted to make one, too. But I did not have any handspun, I did not know anyone who spun, I did not have any clue how to spin and, most importantly, living with two little kids in a tiny Hamburg apartment, I did not have any space for a wheel and a fiber stash. I bought a skein of handspun from a spinner in the US and made a baby surprise jacket for my daughter, but it somehow was not exactly what I had imagined. I decided to put the topic of spinning away for a while, because there are plenty of beautiful yarn out there which may not have the long color changes that I desired, but they are great anyway. I was not even tempted when Peter got me this wonderful book as a gift, which is about knitting with handspun yarns.
(A Fine Fleece: Knitting with Handspun Yarns by Lisa Lloyd)
He was kind of hinting that he would not really mind me taking up another woolly hobby, and I very much appreciate that. But it still was not the time, and there still was not enough space.
As you may know, we have moved into an old pub in a small village, and now there is one thing we have plenty: room. So much room which you only can afford if you decide that you want to live a one-hour-drive away from the next big city. I kind of got the idea that I could take up spinning now while folding laundry and listening to the Knitmore Girls Podcast. In Episode 298 they are talking about visiting a fiber auction, about the quality of fleeces, about spinning, and I was smitten. I knew: Now is the time to try out spinning. I called a friend in Hamburg (beautiful Julia who modeled my Joanie pullover), because I knew she had a spinning wheel. Last Friday she showed me the ropes on her Ashford traditional over a cup of tea, and it was really fun. (Thanks Julia!)
I spun a couple of yards, and I have to say: Yes, it’s fun. Great fun, and I think I will be able to learn it. It’s a great exercise to really take your mind off other things because you really have to pay attention to your hands and your work, even more than with knitting (but that may be because I am a beginner). On Craftsy I found a beginners’ spinning class with Amy King that I watched and liked a lot.
And now there’s the big question: Which wheel to get? If you look around on Ravelry, most experienced spinners will say that it does not really matter and is just personal preference. You will be able to spin yarn on almost any functioning wheel out there, no matter whether it has two or one treadles, is upright or not, traditional or modern-looking. But I have kind of made up my mind about some features I want: at least 3 different tensions, double treadle, not too expensive, preferably made in Europe and available immediately. Unfortunately, some really nice wheels that spinning pros love are ruled out by my criteria, like the Schacht Matchless (just too pricey here in Germany), the great wheels by Tom Walther (you will have to wait 18 months until your wheel is ready) and the very cute Schacht Ladybug (still too expensive). It’s kind of sad because I think the Ladybug is really the most beautiful spinning wheel out there. The Bliss by Woolmakers is from the Netherlands, looks like a good deal and has lots of fans although it has been around for only one year. However, I know they had some problems with their double treadle wheels and I am not sure they have resolved them. It looks very clean and modern, but the looks (I am sorry to say) do not really warm my heart. So I am kind of leaning towards the
Kromski Minstrel, which has a good reputation, has been around for many years, has four different tensions, big bobbins and inexpensive spare parts. It looks more natural than the Bliss, which I like, though it’s just a teeny bit more traditional-looking than I would like. But I have kind of made a deal with Peter: I will get the unfinished version and he will stain and assemble it for me as a Christmas present. Maybe the main wheel in a Martina’s-favorite-dark-pink color? Let’s see. I still have not decided for good and am also not sure whether I will be able to wait until Christmas!
If there are spinners among my readers (especially those who own multiple wheels) I would be very interested in hearing your recommendations in the comments!