So it turns out choosing a spinning wheel is a lot like choosing a husband. You decide you’re interested so you start looking around, you check them out on the internet, see what kind of background information is out there on them, you arrange for a date, if you’re lucky, maybe you bring one home to meet the family, but in the end you know that you’re going to go through a few mates before you find the one. And the thing is, when you find the one, you know there’s no point in looking any further. All others will be compared back to this one. The one that has it all, looks, personality, all in all, you just know.
It really is a funny thing… I used to HATE the phrase “you’ll just know”. Back when I was single, it was the most absurd thing I think I’d ever heard. Seriously… How in the hell can you “just know”? Not possible. Then I met Rich. Five weeks later we were engaged. In four months time, we were shacking up and planning for the wedding. Thirteen years later, we’re still good. Life hasn’t always been kind, but we have weathered the storms and are looking forward to many more years as each others best enablers.
Choosing my spinning wheel was almost an identical process. I’ve been fascinated by spinning wheels for almost as long as I can remember. A few years back I learned to use a drop spindle and I found it hugely entertaining but too slow and unpredictable to create a usable finished product. My BFF’s MIL several times offered me a loaner wheel but I always resisted. I think I knew I’d fall in love and my palatial 900 square foot house is already overflowing with “stuff” and I couldn’t see how I’d manage to squash a spinning wheel in. Plus I didn’t use much yarn so what would be the point? Then 2 years ago I got bit by the knitting bug. Hard. So now I use a LOT of yarn. But wheels are an expensive date and the space problem hasn’t changed. Then Grandma died and I found out each of us grandkids was getting some money from her estate. A lot of luck and a few good choices have left us in a comfortable financial position so I don’t NEED the money to pay off bills or buy something “necessary” so I quickly established that the money from Grandma needed to be “bucket list” money. This is the money you use for things you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t quite justify the expense. And an idea was born…
I decided I’d take my time… First things first, I called a local fiber shop and arranged for lessons. Then I inquired with BFFs MIL on that loaner wheel. And I started surfing the web for wheels. And I KNEW just what I wanted- a classic looking wheel, maybe not the Cinderella style due to space considerations, but a Castle wheel for sure. All the beautifully turned maidens & whatnot. A spoked wheel. What’s not to love? So I did my research, thought about what I wanted to accomplish with my future spinning, what wheel would meet my desire to spin sock yarn, have a small footprint and be able to go reenacting with me. I went in to my first lesson ready to talk turkey on an Ashford Traveler or a Kromski Minstral.
And I was introduced to a Schacht Ladybug. And I turned my nose up at her. What was to like? Flat plywood, red plastic wheel. Yuck. And then I spun on her since that’s what Bridget had set up for me. And I had a crush. Oh how smooth and effortlessly she treadled! And with such easy tension adjustments. And suddenly I found myself questioning EVERYTHING I thought I wanted in a
I thought. And I surfed. And I reasoned. And I mulled. In all reality, I’m not going to take a wheel reenacting. I got nervous leaving free kittens alone in my tent, no way I’d want to leave my spinning wheel unattended! Not to mention weather conditions. I understand wheels don’t like humidity and, well, Wisconsin in July ain’t exactly the Sahara… And we won’t even begin to discuss the space limitations of both my truck and my tent. So maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to discount the clean, sleek lines of the more modern wheels. So I surfed. And I researched. And I did price comparisons. And I made arrangements to go to another fiber shop about 2 hours away to test drive wheels- this shop is to spinning what speed dating is to the modern gal- a little bit of everything in one convenient stop.
And then I had my second
date lesson. I could wait to put stocking foot to the Ladybug’s treadles again. Oh it was going to be so lovely. Three whole weeks I longed for my second date with her. We were going to make beautiful yarn together…. Really! This time the lesson was all about plying. And I got to the shop and Bridget had a Schacht Sidekick ready for me to test. And I turned up my nose. And I searched longly for my Ladybug. But I told myself my plan was to test drive many wheels and I couldn’t confirm my love for the Ladybug without trying something else first. So I relented. Only the little pest didn’t want to work right. So Bridget set me up on her Matchless and showed me what to do while she figured out what she’d done wrong with the Sidekick.
I plied m first skein. And I decided plying kinda sucks, even though it’s entirely necessary. It definitely did not help that I was plying from 2 center pull balls since I only had one bobbin for my loaner wheel and had to wind off every time I filled one. But I plugged away. And I filled a bobbin. And I learned how to use a Niddy Noddy to wind off my bobbin into a hank & tie it to prepare it for it’s bath. And I said I wanted to spin some more, try out the Sidekick (even though I knew I wasn’t going to like it) and put in a bit more time on the Ladybug, really get a feel for her before next weekend’s trip to Susan’s Fiber Shop in Columbus.
So I grabbed a hunk of roving and sat down at the Sidekick and after a few false starts, I got her going and, to my surprise… I liked her. This can’t be!! So I asked to switch to the Ladybug. And I grabbed a hunk of roving and I spun… But I didn’t love it. I liked it. It was OK. But I… Well… Ummm…. I wanted to switch back to the Sidekick. So I did. And I paid attention this time to just how easy and convenient it is to change bobbins. And I grabbed some more roving and I spun. And I spun. And I spun. And three hours later, I realized I was still spinning, not so much because I wanted to spin that much but because I knew stopping meant I’d have to go home to the loaner wheel. Don’t get me wrong, the loaner is a great wheel, but I was in LOVE! But stupid me, I’d left my wheel money at home. And Bridget said I could take the wheel with me and bring the money back next time if I really wanted. And I really wanted. But I had that date set up next weekend for a test drive of every wheel I no longer had any interest in. So I left. And I got 2 minutes up the road and I called my husband to see if I could talk him into coming back and looking at the wheel with me. Mind you, I have no idea why I did this. He wasn’t grumbling at the idea of the purchase but he really had no say in it either way… Can’t tell me I can’t use my inheritance money for any darn thing I want, right? But for some reason I felt like I needed to show him. So he said OK. And I went home, grabbed my wheel money & Rich and went back. And it took about 10 minutes to walk out the door with my very own brand spankin’ new sleek, smooth, lovely little Sidekick.
And I love her. I love her so much. I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since we left the shop. So far I’ve made 2 more 200ish yard hanks of two ply and spun yards and yards of single ply. Oh, and one short hank just to try it triple ply. I’ve bathed 4 skeins and have yarn hanging from three different places. Hubby’s already made me 3 Niddy Noddies and a tensioned lazy Kate
(he rocks. No doubt about it). And I’ve reluctantly set her aside for the night. Because much more spinning this weekend and I am not going to be able to walk tomorrow. Turns out spinning uses some interesting new muscle movements that are going to take some getting used to! But the best part about my Sidekick, besides just being my very own spinning wheel, is that she’s quiet. Whisper quiet. I can treadle myself silly without disturbing anyone! Well, except maybe the kittens but that’s more a distraction than a disturbance. And because of her tiny little footprint, she’s allowed to spend time in the living room! Guess what I’m going to do after work tomorrow?