By Amelia © October 23, 2009
Electric spinning wheels -- are they the poor little sister of the spinning wheel, even more snubbed than the simple spindle? Perhaps. But they have their place.
The decision to have an electric wheel is likely a pretty personal one. Here are a few reasons I've run across...
First, my own: clumsiness. Yes, "grace" is not my middle name. So very often I get horrid bruises on my legs from clocking my ankle against a staircase or doorjamb. Painful as they swell and for a week or two afterwards. At the height of it, this can make treadling a painful proposition. So, I pull out my electric wheel and spin away my troubles.
I have found, too, that the electric wheel is a quick way to fix an underplied skein. You know the one -- you worked hard on it, gorgeous fiber, and then you run it off on your skeiner or niddy. Only to have a visible chunk of it showing underplied-ness. Sigh. Wash it and ignore it? No, can't do that. So, I put my skeiner next to my trusty electric wheel and quicker-than-spit, run it through onto the bobbin, slowing the uptake only on those low-twist sections. It looks so much better! I feel so much better! The electric wheel enjoys helping me like this, I am sure.
But those are my reasons. I know not everyone is as clumsy or as prone to irregular plying as I am!
The RV/boat spinner: they look for a small wheel, one they can travel with. Yes, there are many traditional travel wheels out there, and some adopt them. Some go to their spindles. But others don't want a spindle, and can't spare the floor space for a wheel. So, they go electric. Most electric wheels are table-top style models.
The non-traditionalist: at least one person I know didn't really like the look of a wheel, but wanted to spin. So, she took to an electric wheel, like a fish to water. It suits her desire to spin without making her feel like someone from the pre-industrial age. I am glad that spinning gives us so many options -- yes, I love my wheels and spindles. But I'm happy to see someone spinning in a way that suits them, be it wheel, spindle, charka, or e-spinner.
The production spinner: many production spinners use wheels; but of those, many also look to e-spinners to aid with plying. And some production spinners do most of their work on e-spinners. It simplifies the process, definitely. Less to coordinate, more likely to be consistent, and plying becomes much simpler and potentially faster, too.
The less able spinner: let's face it, we all get older. And parts of us don't work like they used to. Will I want to keep spinning into my golden years? I don't know. But I know I would like to keep spinning as long as my hands can manage it. And I've no idea what I'll do when they give out. The e-spinner is a way for people with foot/ankle issues to be able to spin, no matter what their age. I know mine is a boon to me when I've once again bruised an ankle.
Why the focus on electric wheels? I've definitely owned my share, usually not more than two at a time. I had an older model Spin-It (shown here), then a more modern (same maker) Fricke e-spinner. Then, I purchased a Butterfly, a very nice, quiet e-spinner made in lovely woods (mine is spalted/quilted maple). Very recently, I purchased the even smaller Hansen mini-spinner. Part of that purchase was a visit to their workshop and home, and we got to talking about why people have electric wheels. Kevin Hansen designed the mini-spinner for his wife Beth, to enable her to spin on their boat during their travels. She originally picked up spinning in Tasmania, starting with spindles. The wheel really didn't click for her, and their boat had, of course, limited space -- thus the mini-spinner was created. It's Beth's favorite spinning tool now, and she has fun spinning yarn on it.
The new e-spinner means I had to let my beautiful Butterfly go, of course. It's nice to be able to mark its impact on my life with this blog post, reviewing what I did with it while it was mine.
Here is the Butterfly in operation:
And here are several of the lovely skeins-in-progress I have spun on the Butterfly:
If you have your own reasons to share for spinning on an electric wheel, do post them in the comments -- I enjoy learning why we choose the tools we use.
© 23 October 2009 by Ask The Bellwether, posted at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/