Just how many wheels do you have?

Majacraft wheel kate, improvedBy Amelia

Arianne asked: I would like to know how many wheels you have and what wheels they are. Clever Arianne, figuring out I have several-to-many :-)

I got to wondering, why it might be of interest ... I mean, perhaps I have the-miracle-wheel-to-top-all-wheels. Or something interesting and not mainstream. Or have a focus of wheel-to-purpose. Ha! Not so lucky, I'm afraid. I have this and that, my attention wanders from interest to interest as I myself find more wheel makers or come across interesting wheels either new or second hand.

But in any case, here's a current inventory, with some more free advice at the end...

The wheel shot's been done already ... Habetrot's post of the old and the new collections, and besides, it's so grey here, and the wheels are tucked hither and yon. Maybe in the summer ...

But you may remember this bobbin shot, which is just as telling:
All bobbins, all the time

From left to right, this identifies the wheels in my house:

  • Majacraft standard
  • Majacraft WooLee Winder
  • Majacraft Plying (new style)

    Theses are all used on my Majacraft Suzie Alpaca Wheel. I purchased this, with the accelerator head and a WooLee Winder, after selling my Schacht Matchless (with a WW) and Little Gem. It combines the excellent features of both. This is my current favorite production wheel.

  • Pocket Wheel

    okay, there are TWO of these in my house -- DD loves it to bits, and I do too. An amazing travel wheel, terrific for workshops and also for teaching, because participants can clearly see my hands.

  • Van Eaton Fold N'Tote (applewood)

    This is very much a treasure, and my son loves it! It's "his when he moves out", as he bounces between this and the Mach 1.

  • Journey Wheel

    This is the most gorgeous wheel I own. Lovely action, lovely appearance. Ahhhh.

  • SpinOlution Mach 1

    My son adores this wheel; very much a terrific production wheel, for anything from laceweight to art yarns. Unique construction and treadling make it really handy for folks who can't stand a normal double treadle.

  • Ashford Jumbo (for my Butterfly e-spinner)
  • Lendrum WooLee Winder (for my Butterfly e-spinner)

    The Butterfly has been a wonderful e-spinner for me -- electric yet quiet. What a combination!! It trained me to spin faster than the WooLee Winder, and is a terrific plying horse.

  • Jensen Tina II

    This "fell" into my lap last year. It's soooo lovely, cherry wood. It's slated for DD when she leaves home, and just a delight to have on hand to look at, not to mention spin on. I got the high speed kit for it too, you know me, I love the speed!

So, that's eight wheels. Shhh, there's a Watson Martha being made for me now too.

I also have two charkas -- a Bosworth book charka, and a Reeves charka, and another being custom built (oops, that's a stealth project of mine...)

It's interesting also to contemplate the wheels I have owned in the past, and what they taught me...
  • Louet S-10: my absolute first wheel; second-hand, came with a lesson. A total workhorse, and really I should have kept it, but the wheels were multiplying like mad!
  • Ashford Traditional: I had two of these, a relatively new one and an older kit wheel. Worked nice; I learned about double drive and spinning angora on these. But, they too eventually went to new spinners themselves to make room for the rest of the wheels. The S-10 and these made room for the Schacht Matchless.
  • Louet S-45: really cute, super-fast, fun to spin on, but it moved on to make room for the Little Gem.
  • Shacht Matchless: truly the Cadillac of spinning wheels.
  • Little Gem: marvelously compact, always fondly remembered as my first Majacraft. Terrific enjoyment of the delta orifice, that really was an eye-opener.
  • Lendrum DT Complete: another wheel I desired; but it wasn't really stable on its base for me, I guess I push too hard? well, a nicely made wheel and a terrific travel bag with it, so it moved on to a new home fairly quickly and happily.
  • Clemes & Clemes: this was a real desire of mine, I tracked it down and had fun on it. I loved having double drive, and the look of this is unique. But it had to go, to make room for the in-progress Martha.
  • Betty Roberts upright: an amazingly gorgeous wheel, too, and so high speed. I'd though nothing could match it, but the Majacraft does a really good job, and with the Martha coming, this one found a new forever home too :).
  • Electric spin-it from Woolworks, precursor to the Fricke e-spinner. A nice little electric wheel, and fit Majacraft bobbins too. But a bit loud for me, sigh. Sold for a newer Fricke e-spinner...
  • Fricke e-spinner. Purchased in the hopes it would be quieter than the spin-it. It was, but not quite enough (sigh). So sold to help the Butterfly fund :)
  • An antique great wheel -- lovely, but soooo large! it went when I needed more room for just living (moved into a smaller house)
  • A variety of charkas -- Ashford accelerated, Indian book charka, cigar box charka, and Elliott charka; that last was the hardest to part with, but really so many charkas was just silly; two is the right number (okay, okay, three :) I have my reasons, you'll see!)
  • Louet S-17: this was my son's wheel, but he was so in love with the Mach 1, we sold it to keep a Mach 1 for him.

And, because I teach, I get to try many makes/makers, from the well-known to the one or two. I've treadled the Ashford Joy, Schacht-Reeves (ah), Reeves production (ahh), Watson Marie (aahhh), Lendrum production (ah), Jensen Production (ah), Babe's Fiber Garden PVC, Ashford Traveller, Kromski Sonata, Hitchhiker, Columbine (metal), Fricke, Ashford Kiwi, Majacraft Rose, Roberta Electric, and a ton of others, branded, no-names, and antiques. I love walking up to a new-to-me wheel and seeing what it can do!

Let's not talk about the drum carders (ok, Supercarder and Duncan; had an Ashford fine cloth once, and big mill Exotica and Rover in the past) or the picker (triple, had a bare wood picker first, and a big mill powered picker in the past). Or hand cards/flickers (lots -- I teach, remember) and combs/hackles (ditto). Or tools -- skeiners, niddies, nostes, ball winder(s), .....

Two spindlesAnd then the spindles. Ahhhh. Love my spindles, all sorts there.

If you are trying to figure out what the right wheel for you is, by all means get to a fiber show or a big shop and try several makers out. At fiber shows you can try, if you're lucky, lesser-known wonder wheels like the Drudic Wheel (sigh, no longer being made) on the west coast, or a Robin Wheel on the east coast (USA); or an Ettrick Wind Wheel, in Australia (actually, I saw one at Black Sheep a year or so ago! Cool!!)

And if you're not certain, I'd say, start with an "entry" wheel like the Louet S-10 or Ashford Traditional. They are solid, and it may just be all the wheel you need. A local friend loves hers to bits, it's her only wheel and spins everything she wants.

If you're buying second hand, spin on the wheel -- new spinner? bring a spinner friend to try it out.

Abby gives great advice on choosing a first wheel on her blog, if you'd like more concrete tips.

For specific wheels, I've a few detailed blog posts, see the Wheels list.

posted 7 January 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/


Arianne said...

Haha. You answered my question! I must confess that the reason I asked is because I'm a terrible rubber-necker and I'm an even worse wheel-coveter. At the moment I have the basic Ashford Traditional model that I bought 2nd hand from a friend last July. I love it and it's been such a great learning tool, but I've got a whole list of wheels that I want to "collect". I'm a terrible collector (books, yarn, fibre, bookmarks, etc.) and I can't wait to find that farmhouse I've been looking for and convert the barn into a fibre studio with room for 100 wheels. Next on my list are a Majacraft (a Little Gem, perhaps?) and a Lendrum DT.

I'd been reading through your archives and seen so many wheel photos that I just had to ask. Your house seems like a dream to me! :)

Thanks for sharing!

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

Yay! Yes, I'm a collector too. It's just terrible that I've gotten into weaving, the looms are the current "rabbits" multiplying in the house. It will be interesting to see how that all ends up (grin).

I was pleasantly surprised how portable the Majacraft Suzie Alpaca is; almost as portable as the Little Gem though it weighs a bit more, as the wheel folds neatly in half, with a carry handle!

I noticed that you're in the UK ... there are some really interesting wheels in Europe right now, made by Thomas Walther, http://www.konsum-centrum.de/ -- there's a lady importing them in Oregon, so I'm hoping to see some in person at the fiber festivals this summer (grin) always ready for a new toy!

Marcy said...

Oh, dear, Amelia! You need to work harder at this wheel thing. What about BigWheels--the big Saxonies--Lendrum, Shacht-Reeves, Jensen, etc. You need some of those. And what about a Canadian production wheel? And antiques! What about antique wheels? You haven't even started with them. Get a move on, girl!

And before you can ask, the answer is: I don't know how many wheels I have. I decline to count. :D

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

Yeah, no big wheels here. I didn't get one as a kid either, my little brother did. (See that Mom? scarred for life!) Our house is pretty tiny, really, and I have to cart my wheel into and out of work position to use it -- a super-sweet Reeves production wheel would be AMAZING but pretty much impossible given those constraints. Sigh. Maybe in my future (grin).

Anonymous said...

I'm a new spinner and have been working with a spindle while researching spinning wheels. Your blog is wonderful and has given me a lot of really useful information. I just ordered a Watson Martha wheel for myself. I must have made a good decision, since you're getting one.


Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

You'll love the Martha. I admit, if I had a bigger house/less mobile lifestyle, I'd get the Marie. It treadled just a bit sweeter -- but don't get me wrong, the Martha treadles even sweeter than my Majacraft-plus-accelerator (which I chose after reading about on Abby's blog, so next someone will be choosing a wheel from your comments, grin!)