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Spinning wheel: new or used?

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Claudia Segal's picture
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I sold my Kromski Sonata and am sharing a Schacht Sidekick with a friend.  I am seriously considering buying my own spinning wheel and am unsure if I should go new or used.  It does not need to be portable because we have the Sidekick which is great.  I loved buying a new wheel but my friend uses it much more than I do and I hate to disturb her project to start one of my own.  Taking bobbins off and on is difficult to get the tension exactly the same each time and I'm not sure it really matters.  

One other factor, Maryland Sheep and Wool festival is coming soon so I can try out several new wheels there to help me decide.  I am looking for suggestions as to new or used and what wheel you like and why.  I have been spinning for about 3 years.

Claudia

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Joined: 05/29/2009
If you choose to looki for a

If you choose to looki for a used wheel, do try it and make sure it hasn't been "abused". I'd say that most of the wheels out there are pretty well made, but after a while all of them show sigs of wear.

Some of the new wheels out there that are not at the high end of pricing, but spin well are:

Ashford: Traditional, Traveler or Kiwi

Louet: S17 - comes only single treadle, but much less than the S10 with the same spinning ability

I'd avoid any of the "portable" wheels. They all have weak spots where they fold to make them smaller. The concept of the Ashford Traveler or the Louet S17 is that you pick them up by the flyer and throw them on the back seat or in the trunk and off you go. The upright Lendrums are much the same.

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Kade1301's picture
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Why did you sell your Sonata?

Why did you sell your Sonata? Something about it you didn't like? Something that would put you off other Kromski wheels? Or other folding wheels? And what do you want to spin? There's not much point in going for an old-style (flyer-brake) Louet if you want to spin mainly laceweight. Neither will you be happy with a Mazurka for super-bulky yarn.

I have experience with

- The older Louets (S10, S51) - great for midweight to bulky yarn. I think you could buy one of them used, they are pretty indestructable.

- Kromski Mazurka - pretty, delicate, marked dead spots = if you can treadle it, you can treadle anything, almost no inertia = stops on a dime, highest ratio is pretty low at 12:1, but effortless treadling all day long, light-weight and easy to take along. I use mine A LOT (a lot more than I thought at first, when I was shocked by its "primitiveness")

- Kromski Polonaise - pretty, rather untransportable and I hate to think what would happen if it were to tip over, expensive, highest ratio is around 18/20:1 but rather hard to treadle. I use it, a fellow spinner sold hers because she couldn't (but the Interlude she replaced it with is even worse - slower and harder to treadle)

- single-treadle Ashford Countryspinner - don't do it (double-treadle should be better, if you absolutely need to have two pounds of finger-thick yarn on your bobbin. For less than that, a Louet S10 or similar should do.)

- Ashford Traditional - I only spun briefly on a friend's "antique" but it strikes me as a very nice wheel. Main point against is the small size of the normal bobbins (have a look at The Woolery page on bobbin comparison) - btw. that also goes for other Ashford wheels.

- Louet Victoria - again, I only borrowed a friends for half a minute, but it seems a very nice wheel. Btw, I don't think folding wheels are to be avoided - unlike a loom a spinning wheel does not need to be rock-solid. It's enough if it holds together, and it's nice if it doesn't wobble too much. On the other hand, I've never seen the point of a folding wheel - I drive a van, and if I'm flyeing I take a spindle. And of course, you don't THROW either an Ashford Traveller or a Louet S17 anywhere - neither do you throw folding wheels around, but they are easier to find a place where you can put them, without risk of them falling over.

- Ashford Traveller - unfortunately I only spun briefly on two badly maintained (thrown around?) ones and I wouldn't take either if it was given to me! (well, of course I'd TAKE them, but I wouldn't spin on them without a very thorough overhaul - and then I might decide to pass them on.)

Bear in mind that Ashford and Kromski wheels are sold as kits (as was the Louet S17, if I'm not mistaken) and they don't spin better than they are put together. I wouldn't buy either as a used wheel without test spinning it.

If you like double-treadle and have the budget, I think the Majacrafts are definitely worth a look. Most definitely worth a look is the Lendrum Upright - I've never used one, or even seen one in use, but I only hear wonderful things about it. And while you are at Maryland, have a go at a Schacht Matchless (and tell me afterwards how it was - for a long time I'(ve) wanted to have one of them.)

I would hope that a used wheel from a reputable dealer - or a spinner friend - should be a safe buy. After all, there's a lot fewer things to go wrong (and most of them are easier to repair) than with a car ;) I could also imagine that one of the high-end wheels - Schacht Matchless, Majacraft Rose - would have been taken care of by their owners - maybe better care than a "lowly" Ashford (apparantly quite a lot of them are still being found in attics...)

I would most definitely stay away from "antique" wheels on E-Bay etc. - I have a collection of them (once upon a time I was young and stupid) and I don't use any of them. Even the old-style Kromskis with their non-ball bearings and old-fashioned technology come at least with several different ratios - four on my wheels - something old wheels generally don't have.

Have fun at Maryland Sheep and Wool! Klara

 

 

 

 

 

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Anja's picture
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If you travel now and then, I

If you travel now and then, I would avoid the solid wheels. I transported my Ladybug to a spinners meeting once a month and now decided to buy a second and this time portable wheel especially for these events (plus workshops, shows ...), because my "good one" suffered much by putting it in the car, putting it out, pushing against the frame of the car (I have a very small car), getting caught by passing doors, ... If it wasn't the money, I would have chosen a Sidekick, because I like spinning on my Ladybug very, very much and expect the same feeling with the Sidekick. But now, I opted for the Ashford Joy with the freedom flyer (I prefer spinning thick and art yarns) and double treadling. If the actual prices (here in Germany) for used spinning wheels were lower (and if there had been an offer at all), I would have bought a used one (of course not without seeing and testing the wheel before purchasing). Instead, however, I had to buy a new one. And, by the way, it should arrive in the next few days (probably tomorrow). :-D

I hope, this is not another beginning addiction. Here in germany, there is a saying: spinning wheels are gregarious animals. ;-)

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Joined: 02/26/2011
wheel

we just got a 30 year old ashford traditional off of someone that had it in storage for over 20 years
its in great condidtion
I would go used if you can check it out
We had to order a few parts for it - but I had local spinners look at it and said it was good
i traded it for 2 table runners that i wove

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mrdubyah's picture
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Schacht Sharing

The Schacht Matchless uses the same flyer assembly and bobbins as the Sidekick.  They are intentionally interchangeable.  So, if you are lucky enough to find an affordable Matchless, you can continue to share with your friend.  Schacht Matchless wheels are not cheap, but they're sturdy, fit in a normal car seat, and are very versatile.  Mine is my #1 production wheel. Look for a used one for the best value.*

* Is this about weaving? Yes, it is. Spinning wheels are the tools that weavers use to ply yarns.  We ply for color, for the perfect warp or weft size, for texture, for tensile strength, and sometimes just for the heck of it!  Every studio needs a wheel... (and maybe a little handspun too.)

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Claudia Segal's picture
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Thanks for the help

Lots more to consider.  We sold the Sonata because we thought one spinning wheel would be enough for us to share.  Now that I have been spinning on the Sidekick, I would love to have one for myself.  It's much smoother and easier to use than the Sonata.  I don't have anything against Kromski, per se, I just prefer the Schacht.

I am looking forward to trying the wheels you suggest.  I am hoping to save enough in the next 6-9 months to buy new.

I am hoping to start spinning for use in my weaving.  I weave more than I spin right now.  I may be able to strike a better balance if I have my own wheel and don't have to keep removing bobbins and setting mine up.  Just a thought.

Claudia

PS-I put this in the chat forum rather than Weaving since it is not exactly about weaving but I know lots of weavers who also spin and I am very fond of the Weavo community being a co-founder.

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ReedGuy's picture
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Joined: 01/13/2012
My uncle has a couple old

My uncle has a couple old wheels my great grandmother used on the old homestead. She spun her own wool and such. The wheels I beleive are on loan in the local museum in town. They still work just fine. One is a smaller wheel, the size that you see mostly, and the other is a much larger wheel. He also has a lot of her old furniture made of hardwood that was about to be tossed when mom's uncle moved into the old house to look after the old woman. Being newly married, well you know the wife wants new stuff.

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mneligh's picture
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drop spindles?

For travel, I use drop spindles.  Over time you need to gather an assortment of different weights.

Of my 3 wheels, I have used my Louet S10 daily for more than 30 years.  As said above, they are indestructable.  There is a speed flyer and bobbin (kit or sold individually) for fine yarns, giving the old wheel one of the higher spin ratios around.  They are not suitable for re-enactors, though.

One of the qualities that makes them indestructable, though, can be said of many/most of the major manufacturer's wheels like the Ashford traditional:  if anything breaks or wears out, you can just get a replacement part over the internet.  While I have also gotten fixes made to non-standard wheels, it may take years to find someone that can and will machine a new flyer, for example. 

Given this, I would say that you are perfectly safe buying a used wheel provided you stick to the major brands.

One exception to this is that if you are spinning "novelty" yarn for weaving, it is convenient to have a great (walking) wheel next to the loom in order to precisely create yarns with design elements as you need them.  Great wheels offer fantastic control!  I don't know of anyone that makes them these days, though.

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Claudia Segal's picture
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I would love to try a Great

I would love to try a Great wheel but haven't seen any for sale nearby.  How does it work?

I am not interested in doing art yarns, just regular spinning.  I have a very nice collection of drop spindles-8 of them in different size and shape- and love using them. I did not enjoy a spinning wheel until we bought the Sidekick and I love it. I have a friend with a Matchless and a Sidekick and she says the Sidekick is almost as smooth and easy to spin on as the Matchless.  Quite a compliment.

Claudia

Claudia

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mneligh's picture
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walking wheel

The walking wheel does not have a flyer.  Hold the yarn towards you and it twists.  Hold the yarn towards the wheel and it winds on.  It's a walking wheel because you walk back and forth while spinning.  My husband's problem with them is that they take up a great deal of room and have a great visual impact, hence I don't own one -- only borrow them.

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mrdubyah's picture
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Walking wheels

Believe it or not, walking wheels (as in my photo above) are some of the least expensive wheels available, probably because their large size drives down demand.  Great wheels use a spindle, rather than a flyer and bobbin to impart twist.  I have one and love it.  They work very well, and are pretty much the only wheel made to use while standing up.  However, they do take a bit of practice to master and are definitely not very portable.

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Kade1301's picture
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Book/Box Charkha

The tool for people who are looking for a portable spindle wheel. Not for art yarn, though. Btw, in France they have smaller spindle wheels with a handcrank which you can use sitting down. A friend uses hers for winding bobbins, I keep mine for demonstrations of spinning history. Otherwise I really don't see any use for it - for cotton it's too slow, and all the textured yarns I make pass through the orifice of my Henkys or Louet.

As far as I know the Rio Grande Wheel is still being made - that's a big spindle wheel with a treadle (so you use it sitting down). As a last resort there's also quill spindles for Ashford wheels (or only the Elizabeth?) and Lendrum (don't know which one).

But really, I think the flyer was a VERY useful invention and I wouldn't want to be without it except for some really special applications.

 

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ReedGuy's picture
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Great grandmother's wheels

Great grandmother's wheels both had foot treadles. And they work of course, I've tried them years ago when my grandmother was alive. She never used the wheels, they were stored then in the house attic. Great grandmother had a treadle sewing machine to, that is in the museum to I beleive. I tried it as well and it worked to.  The old woman looked after stuff and for the times she was well off. The first phone in the local community was hers.

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Jen Brown's picture
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The spinning and weaving

The spinning and weaving equipment auction at Maryland Sheep & Wool is also a good spot to see a number of different wheels, though it is hard to actually try them out.  You can examine them closely though.

I've had a Schact Matchless for about 10 years and a Lendrum folding wheel.  I like both, but would keep the Schact if I had to pick one.  I find the Lendrum a little fincky at times.

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samuelr's picture
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I would love to buy used

I would love to buy used wheels, as they will be cheaper and run smoother.

_______________

spinning wheels

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loomyladi's picture
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Wheels

Claudia - good luck on the wheel hunt. I love my lendrum double treadle. It's awesome. My only complaint is the 2oz bobbin is just not big enough. I did purchase the plying head. Its very nice. Of course Maryland will offer the opportunity to try a variety of wheels. I always encourage people to try them at the auction. As Jen says it can be tricky to try them, as the tent can be busy at times. IF you want to try a piece of equipment, prior to sale time, ask for assistance and one of the volunteers will help. I want my buyers to know what they are buying! There is a vendor with great wheels down in the big building. We often get several through the auction, some work, some don't. If you are interested in a great wheel I can probably arrange for one, I know where there are several.

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Claudia Segal's picture
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Thanks for the offer on the

Thanks for the offer on the wheels. I ended up buying a brand new cherry Matchless double treadle. I adore it. It's a beautiful and well working wheel.
As a result, I became a Schacht dealer and am expecting two brand new cherry Matchless double treadle wheels this Spring. IT's a special edition cherry wheel with a maker's mark on the wheel to signify this unique run of wheels. They are only selling a very limited number of wheels and I feel lucky to have gotten two. Now, I need to find buyers for the wheels. People are welcome to try my cherry Matchless double treadle. The cherry is lighter weight than the maple and the spinning is different.
You will definitely find me in the auction tent first thing at MSWF. I have a few things in mind since I am doing more teaching.
Claudia

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Dawn McCarthy's picture
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Glad this conversation came

Glad this conversation came up - I have always resisted learning spinning (afraid to start a new hobby) My question - compare Schacht Ladybug & Ashford Traveller (I would like a wheel with the option of both scotch and double drive tension) will be taking classes soon so hope to try a couple of wheels.

Dawn

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jlread's picture
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Spinning wheels

WOW...I've just about had them all....the only one I have left is my Majacraft....it's the best...spins like a dream...heads above the high end wheels!

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Dawn McCarthy's picture
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I am considering a new

I am considering a new Ashford traditional (buying used would only be $100 savings for single drive).  I like tighter spun yarns so I like the option of double drive and scotch tension.  I am a little turned off by more plastic parts on the traveller - anyone out there have an opinion on the traveller vs traditional.  I would only be travelling for classes initially.

Dawn

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Joined: 10/21/2011
Spinning wheel new or used

Dawn, if you want a more tightly spun yarn, be sure to get a wheel that offers several pulley sizes.  The pulley size differential is what makes it easier to spin a tight or overtwisted yarn vs. a low twist yarn.  You can do either with a double drive or Scottish tension.  I have two wheels made by a local craftsman that allow me to spin very high twist or very soft with either type of tension.  I have bobbins with a small or large pulley, and four drive pulleys.  Many wheels have pulley ratios that are easy to learn on (low twist); if you want to spin linen on them, it will take forever.  I have a small diameter wheel for difficult fibers (bison) and a large wheel for fast work.

Sandra

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loomyladi's picture
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Congratulations!

A new wheel is a joy!  I love spending time with mine, even though it is a year old.  Looking forward to catching up with you at the Auction Tent!

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Dawn McCarthy's picture
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For weaving yarns I tend

For weaving yarns I tend towards higher/tighter twist - obviously I am entering a new large learning curve!

Dawn

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jlread's picture
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High twist spinning

Knowing you are a weaver first and foremost....keep in mind, any handspun used for a warp CANNOT be under the same tension as a commercial warp...so a hard twist is a matter if perspective.  You can spin  a hard twist on just about any wheel...as you can spin a softer yarn. 

it's getting to know the tool...aka...wheel...and using it to it's full potential....that's the key!

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mrdubyah's picture
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Handspun tension

Actually, it isn't hard for an experienced spinner to make a handspun yarn with more tensile strength than a typical commercial yarn.  Tightly twisted handspun is perfect for higher tension weaving applications precisely because it is so strong.  It only takes a little extra spin to add a lot of extra strength. 

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lisarothwell's picture
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Castle wheel

I have tried many wheels over the past 40 years. Nothing surpasses the Clemes and Clemes Castle wheel. Easy to transport. Compact. Have worked with silk, dog hair, flax, wool, and many other fibers. Wheel was retained by sister even though she doesn't spin or have any fiber sense.. Need to replace my wheel.. Anyone know who might have one they wish to sell? Also, Kessnick 4 harness loom complete was taken. (Short sell on home)... Just getting back on my feet. Finding employment after 5 years but will be in the El Paso area. thanks for any input.

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lisarothwell's picture
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Castle wheel

I have tried many wheels over the past 40 years. Nothing surpasses the Clemes and Clemes Castle wheel. Easy to transport. Compact. Have worked with silk, dog hair, flax, wool, and many other fibers. Wheel was retained by sister even though she doesn't spin or have any fiber sense.. Need to replace my wheel.. Anyone know who might have one they wish to sell? Also, Kessnick 4 harness loom complete was taken. (Short sell on home)... Just getting back on my feet. Finding employment after 5 years but will be in the El Paso area. thanks for any input.

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Dawn McCarthy's picture
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I tried a Majacraft but due

I tried a Majacraft but due to cost bought a new Fricke, it was ok but I was spoilt by the feel of the Majacraft.  I ended up buying a Susie used (not from a friend) and the drive wheel was bad, the seller worked with me on reducing the price and I replaced the drive wheel. I am NOT an experienced spinner but the Majacraft spins like butter and can be carried around easily. I am so very pleased with it.  If buying used, buy from someone you know and buy what youv'e tried and liked!

Dawn

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jlread's picture
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Suzie

Dawn...I've had a Suzie for 16 years and will never give it up....had lots of 'second' wheels...but I didn't keep them.  Nothing spins like a Maja.

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Dawn McCarthy's picture
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Thanks Judy, it was mainly on

Thanks Judy, it was mainly on your recommendation I tried the Majacraft and was immediately hooked.  It is a joy to spin on - very smooth and very quiet!

Dawn

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