As you may know, I am a member of the East Sussex Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers. I don’t do any of those things even though I do work with wool. I joined a guild as I thought it would be a good way of meeting wooly minded people in my area. There are a couple of ladies in the guild that live in my town. I just don’t have any contact details for anyone yet though. I do want to learn how to dye and occasionally there will be a workshop on that. Plenty of the ladies bring their wheels in to meetings and you can usually find someone to show you how to use a wheel. I have a shedload of wool and spinning yarn from leftovers, and from the load of alpaca I have, is another way of using it up to use in other projects.
I had been thinking about getting a wheel for some time. There are so many different types it can be difficult to choose. Also, buying a new one is a huge investment as they are not inexpensive items to purchase. I currently don’t have the luxury of trying out a wheel from my guild as meetings have been cancelled for the time being. I belong to a FB group called Wool Spinners UK Unite. Everyone there is very helpful and generous with information. The consensus was that the Ashford wheel was the way to go. The Ashford is not quite the Rolls-Royce of spinning wheels, but pretty close. They are quite expensive as they are made in New Zealand. Most people have started out with the traditional wheel and then they get something smaller to travel with. I researched many wheels. I don’t have a lot of space in my house, so I needed something smallish. I just happened to look at FB Marketplace for spinning wheels. Lo and behold, there was one for sale not far from me! Yikes! I went back to my FB group to ask what to look out for, and they told me! The wheel was a very good price. Even though I swore that I wasn’t spending money on any more wool, this was really a bargain for something that would last a lifetime. Also, I just had my birthday! My husband and I don’t do presents anymore as we pretty much have everything we need. We tend to have an experience instead. So, I justified a purchase. 🙂
I watched a load of spinning videos, as I do, ordered some spinning books, and made an offer on the wheel. After grilling the lady about her wheel and why she was selling (she said she had good intentions, but it never took off), I agreed to go and have a look at it. When I arrived, I was amazed at how small it was. For some reason, I expected it to be larger. It is also quite light and easily fits in the car. I can only imagine then how small the travel models are! The wheel came with 3 bobbins, a lazy Kate, and a few spare parts. There were no squeaks or wobbles. Apart from being a little worn on the treadle, the wheel is in excellent condition. It was made anywhere from 2008 according to the timeline. The lady I purchased from was really lovely. It turns out that they have a small holding with some sheep and other animals and she thought she might spin the wool from her sheep. As she said, she had good intentions but she hadn’t used it in over 18 months and the hubs was tired of looking at it doing nothing. So I am now the proud owner of a new to me spinning wheel! She is so pretty!
I downloaded and printed off the assembly instructions to get familiar with my wheel. I am having to learn a whole new set of vocabulary. I looked at everything and it turns out the Scotch tension wasn’t set up properly, so I remedied that. I ordered some more spare parts and oil. Otherwise, everything was good to go. So, this is where the fun, or frustration starts. It take a little while to get the hang of treadling the wheel. She pretty much has a life of her own. (Yes, the wheel is a she, I just need a name for her.) I also need to figure out how to deal with the tension. Although the videos make spinning look easy, it isn’t necessarily so. You need to use your feet and hands at the same time. Sort of like rubbing your belly in one direction and tapping the top of your head as we tried when we were kids to check our coordination! I decided to try spinning a pink batt I made from leftover wool. It is 100% merino, but not dear enough to me as my other roving. I won’t show it to you until I ‘fixed’ the yarn as it is not necessarily a thing of beauty. I know that it is probably too tight in areas. I have a long way to go before I make some decent yarn, but it is a start. I just need to practice a little bit every day.