What Travel Wheels Are There?

By Amelia

I sit here today waiting for the UPS man to show up ... because the new SpinOlution Bee is slated to arrive today or tomorrow, and I can hardly wait!

My majacraft alpaca wheelThe topic of travel wheels comes up a fair bit in the spinning community. We like to go to spin-ins, so a semi-portable wheel helps there. I was pleasantly surprised how portable my Majacraft Alpaca wheel was -- it folds over and in doing so, presents a handle for picking it up! Sure, it's about 16 pounds, but that's actually close to the Lendrum's weight; the soft wood used in its construction is more of an issue, as each trip leaves its own memento (= dent!) in my wheel. Click on the photo to see a note on where the handle pops up.

Pocket Wheel and bobbinsThat didn't stop me from loving my Pocket Wheel, though. And as my years as a spinner progress, I love trying out the "new things" to see how they stack up, and if they are better than what I have already.

Here is the list of travel wheels I've compiled -- if you know of another, I'd love to hear of it! Links are generally to the makers' websites, where available.

These are the "really small" ones:
  • Pocket Wheel (Doug Dodd/Jon McCoy) (To see Doug's original website (note, he no longer makes the wheel, so please use the new website for inquiries!), try google's cached version)
  • Hitchhiker (Merlin Tree)
  • Louet Hatbox (not being made, show up second hand sometimes)
  • SpinAway Holiday Wheel (just announced/released at Rhinebeck 2008 - search ravelry's forums for SpinAway, Holiday, or Mary Oates for more details)
  • The Bee by SpinOlution (coming March 2009 - mine'll be here soon!!)
  • rumors of Schacht’s travel-wheel-to-be (... release date unknown ...)
And then there are other not-quite-as-small wheels but they fold or are relatively small and are considered travel wheels. What do you think? how do they stack up to the list above? Then there are the 'borderline' wheels, like my Majacraft, the Jensen Tina II, the Louet S-10 and cousins, the Ashford Traveller (thanks Minerva!), the Fidelis and cousins (thanks Anon!), the Schacht Ladybug -- all of which are well under 20 pounds and fit in a car seat pretty nicely. One thing to consider in picking a travel wheel, is how you intend to travel. I generally travel with a wheel by car. For suitcase travel, I stick with my spindles -- more room for fiber that way :) Journey Wheel -- at restI've tried quite a few of these; to be more clear, I currently own a Pocket Wheel and a Journey Wheel, and have in the past owned a Lendrum, a Little Gem, and a Louet S-45. I've also borrowed a Hitchhiker and a Joy from friends, and gotten to treadle on a Hatbox, a Sonata and a Victoria at spin-ins. With so many choices, why am I excited about the Bee? First off, the Mach 1, SpinOlution's flagship wheel, has super-easy treadling, and I expect the same of the Bee, or close too it. Second, the Bee has seven ratios from 5:1 to 35:1 ... all on the wheel as it comes out of the box! That is amazing on a travel wheel. I believe the S-45 has the highest out-of-the-box ratio of my list above, at 20:1. I have high hopes of the combination -- easy treadling and high ratios -- that could supplant my Majacraft Alpaca wheel in the "workhorse" category, as its accelerated head gives me about 32:1, but with a fairly effort-full treadle. I have fiber and plying jobs at the ready ... stay tuned for more news of the Bee as soon as it buzzes on in! ~~ For related posts on specific wheels, see the topic Wheels, or see: What is a Pocket Wheel? (comparison with Hitchhiker) Would you recommend an Ashford Joy? Spin-off, on their new on-line community, have a copy of their very useful article (did I mention it was useful?) on currently manufactured spinning wheels, downloadable (click on "Download", not the Adobe PDF icon...) from here. You do have to make an account to get to that page, but that's free, and you needn't be a subscriber. ~~ posted 9 March 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/. Last updated March 10, 2010: links updated for Pocket Wheel and SpinAway.


Anonymous said...

For lightweight, you need to also include Heavenly Handspinning wheels, both the Fidelis and the Otium.

Artis-Anne said...

WOW I want a Beeeee :)and what ratios packed into it !!!!! An amazing travel wheel , shame we can't get them over here in the UK :(
I am with you re the soft wood on the Majacraft :( its the only thing so far that I am disappointed in with my Suzie Pro

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

@anonymous, oh yes, those are fairly light as well -- are they similar in size to the Louet S-10 model?

@Artis-Anne -- I ship internationally. I'm not sure what customs fees there would be, but shipping from The Bellwether to the UK is $75.50 for the Bee.

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow, is that Bee one of the coolest little wheels ever! I LOVE creative wheels, and it's so cute! I can't wait to hear more...

Minerva said...

I'm fond of my Ashford Traveller. I bought it as an inexperienced spinner knowing that I wanted to be able to take it with me to visit other spinners and also not have it dominate a small room at home when it wasn't in use. It's quite substantial but still easy to lift with one hand. I'd definitely recommend it as a reasonably inexpensive, easily available (in UK) wheel to start on, particularly if you're not sure how into spinning you're going to be.
Thanks for all your hard work on the blog, Amelia, I've found lots of useful and interesting things.

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

@Deb me too, me too ... a new toy came yesterday, but not the Bee, yet. I'm waiting, fiber at the ready!

@Minerva, thanks for that -- I've added the Traveller and Anon's Fidelis & cousins to the "almost" list in the post ... maybe some on the "real" list belong there too, I'm not sure. Also Spin-off has a terrific wheel roundup, so I linked to that too, to give people more information.

Unknown said...

I think it's a good idea to keep the Ashford Traveller on the "almost" list. I also bought this as a beginner and it has been great to learn on and even has a decent ratio range. I definitely plan on keeping it when I get my Pocket Wheel. I'd have to say that the Traveller hasn't been very easy to haul around at the guild meetings and festivals like Madrona. Last year I was able to tie a guitar strap onto it, but it was still awkward to get through doorways and the screws all had to be tightened when I got home because the mother-of-all would get all wobbly. Not a super-portable wheel in my humble opinion... but a good wheel as far as aesthetics and versatility go.