Tilt o Wheel!

I think the best kind of adventures are sometimes the spontaneous.  Late Friday night, Rosanne suggested that I might pop up for lunch and to swap up the completed shop sample for another to cast on.  Of course, we lunched at It’s About Thyme.  I had the steak salad and finished with the citrus cheesecake.  Heaven.  Love the wait staff there too. 

But you want to hear about the shop!  It’s very close to ready.  It’s bright, it’s cheery, and the big chair closest to the door is MINE, so vacate it when I walk in, okay?!  No, no, I’ll share.  I know my way to the back, and the chairs at the table in the classroom aren’t uncomfortable either. 

Photo from Gypsyknit's Etsy site

I can’t wait to share it with the rest of you.  There are bags EVERYWHERE, in splashes of color.  Kathy‘s Sock It bags are sprinkled all around, and I love the new addition to her line, the larger bag for larger projects.   LINK to Dog House Yarn’s blog post about the bags…

However, the bulk of our time was spent on my first visit to Misty Mountain Farm, not at all to be confused with Misty Mountain Campground.  (Oh Robin… isn’t it time to camp there again?  Gretchen needs a Rudy fix, and I think I’ll soon have a new wheel that wants to sit and spin with you…)

I don’t have photos for you because we got a special treat of which I cannot speak until next weekend or later.  (Remind me.  It’s worth the wait and I apologize for the tease.)  Because not a single online photo exists of said secret, I felt it best to be a nice guest and leave my camera in my purse.

Luckily, the internet will fill in most of the voids.  You won’t get to see Leanna at work, creating hank blanks to get dyed up for those of you headed to Maryland Sheep & Wool, but I can show you photos of the wheels I tried.

Get food and water (or your beverage of choice), because this is going to be a looooong post.  If wheels aren’t your thing, we’ll chat tomorrow.

We’ll start with the Kromski Fantasia that stole my heart a week ago.  I actually spun on the walnut version, which is dark where this one is light, and then the “swoosh” in the middle is light. 

Pros:  Smooth, beautiful and user-friendly.  The magnetic flyer attachment is fun and practical!   I was able to thread the leader through the orifice without a hook, which ALWAYS makes me happy for some stupid reason.

Cons:  Quirky as it is uniquely beautiful.  The flyer is square where others are more rounded.  (See page 3 of the assembly instructions if you really are interested.)  Even the flyer hooks are square, and slide on little pieces of leather. 

Verdict:  Oh, it’s lovely to look at.  I wouldn’t be disappointed if I’d ordered one without spinning on it, but it’s not my dream wheel.  I don’t know what it is about Kromski’s treadle braces (that honey-colored piece in the VERY bottom of the photo), but both Rosanne and I have consistently found them to put our legs in uncomfortable positions with every Kromski we’ve tried.  I did readjust my seat height and closeness before I spun on the wheel, and that helped enough that for the few minutes I enjoyed a test spin, it wasn’t bad. 

There was also a bit of a vibration at the flyer that I was aware of, but this was a brand new wheel, assembled in anticipation of next weekend’s big event.  For the price  – just under $500 – I don’t think there’s a prettier wheel on the market. 

Oh – one other thing.  The wheel AND the flyer are weighted, so that flyer will keep going forever once you stop spinning.  I had trouble remembering to keep my feet on the treadles until both hands were on the flyer.  Okay, I’m blowing it out of proportion, but not much.  Still, worth noting, as is the wheel’s striking beauty.  If ever the Knight builds me a fiber room, don’t be surprised to see a walnut Fantasia on the wall as art, if nothing else.

Anita giving a Majacraft Suzie a whirl at Stony Mountain Fibers, fall 2009

I should stop here and note how I test spin.  First, it’s all about the looks.  I open the doors and try the radio – oops!  wrong product.  I do check the baby out and try to figure out where all the nobs and such I might want to adjust are.  Then, I treadle.  If my feet and legs aren’t happy, ain’t nobody gonna’ be happy for long.  Then, after several minutes of the foot test, I move on to spinning fiber.  I like to spin fine and fast, and all the wheels I tried yesterday did that with great ease. 

I think that’s a pretty standard approach.  Do you do anything differently?

Image courtesy of Spinners Choice

Next up was a used Schacht Matchless, single treadle.  Pre-owned is truly more accurate here.  Linda, the shop owner, isn’t even sure this wheel was broken in by its previous owner.  Even though I love a double treadle, I very nearly came home with this baby.  I treadled on it in double drive, but I spun on in Scotch, because that’s what I know best, and that’s what the other wheels I tried were.

Pros:  Another beauty.  See the slips of walnut in there?  It really does spin like a dream.  If you’re going to be at MDSW, visit Linda early, because if the price she gave me – $500 – is the festival price, this baby is leaving the dance early with a happy partner, I’d bet.

Cons:  It wasn’t silent.  Again, it wasn’t broken in, but I also had trouble making the treadle do precisely what I wanted it to at the precise moment I wanted it to happen.  I know it’s rude to talk about a lady’s weight, but this wheel is hefty.  She definitely wouldn’t want to travel much, not with my back problems.

Verdict:  Did I mention I very nearly brought it home anyway?  Nothing at all wrong with this wheel, and I can see why it’s so highly praised.  The Ladybug  with her red plastic wheel is a distant memory right now.  I want to try her once more, but she really is this grand lady’s kid sister, at least in appearances.  The Ladybug is much lighter though, so…

Julia, Julia.  I didn’t love Julie & Julia the movie as much as some of you did, and I don’t even like the Louet Julia.   At $750, she’s not in the same price range as the other wheels I tried, and I’d say that’s ridiculous. 

Pros:  Lightweight.

Cons:  Priced far above her value, in my eyes.  No visual appeal, and I found her less stable (because of her weight, I’m sure) than my Bellus.  

Verdict:  She’s adequate, but really, for the price, there’s SO much more out there.  Unless you really need a really light, full-sized wheel, I can’t see why she’d appeal to anyone.

Photo courtesy of Misty Mountain

Last, but to my surprise, far from least, is the leaning Lendrum

Pros:  Spins almost silently, right out of the box.  Folds nearly flat for storage or transport.  Because of the lean, you can see the bobbin quite clearly as you spin.  Orifice hook has a great little hole, right on the wheel.

Cons:  Crickets chirping…  The lean, maybe, when I’m not spinning?  It is a little heavy, but not prohibitively so.

Verdict:  I like him very, very much.  (Yeah.  Masculine.  Don’t ask.  I don’t know.)  For the price – less than $500 – I seriously don’t think there’s a better wheel on the market, lean and all.  Anything else is going to have to out-perform him, or I’m going to join the ranks and own a wheel that tilts at spinners.

So, today Lendrum is the most likely candidate, but I still want to try a Schacht Matchless double treadle, the Schacht Ladybug again, the Majacraft Rose and I think that’s it.  I’m a little put off by Majacraft’s off-center orifices, but I love the way they look and treadle.  Still, those wheels (except the Ladybug) cost a lot more than the leaning Lendrum, so they’re going to have be THAT much better than him to make the final cut.

I didn’t talk about bobbin size.  That’s in part because nearly everything pales to my Bellus, and I will likely ply on the Bellus, so… 

Here’s a quick ranking, as to where my head is on the wheel search at this very moment:

  1. Lendrum
  2. Majacraft – but I need at least an hour with that offset orifice to know for sure if it’s a contender at all
  3. Schacht – something double treadle

Photo from Schacht

What will knock the leaner out of purchase’s way?  Beauty, frankly.  I don’t find the Lendrum repulsive, but it doesn’t make me swoon the way the Fantasia does either.  The Ladybug and the Lendrum are in the same mess.  Some days, the red makes me want to whistle, as in whistle while I whirl, not a catcall.  Other days, it makes me think cute and castle wheels don’t go together.  Still, both are top contenders, along with the more expensive, beautiful Majacrafts and the Matchless.  Go figure.

I am hoping to make it to the Maryland Sheep & Wool festival, but I don’t have firm plans yet.  We have plans Saturday evening, so that would be a very long day, and the Knight would have to drive me up on Saturday morning and we’d have to leave after a late lunch.  Sunday would still make for a long day after our Saturday night out.  My back is always a wild card too.  Are you going?

18 comments on “Tilt o Wheel!

  1. AlisonH says:

    The Schacht Matchless double treadle has been my dream wheel all along. It’s a gorgeous, wonderful wheel–but it is heavy, and the treadling a bit so after awhile.

    The Ashford Trad doesn’t win any modern-art awards, but it’s a good usefully adaptable wheel.

  2. Nichole says:

    Always LOVE Kathy’s bags… must check out the new larger ones! So glad to hear the shop is coming along… but how dare you tease us like that? SO not fair!!! 😦 lol

  3. Amy says:

    I have been drooling over the Majacraft Rose for a year now … one day, maybe. One day.

  4. gmarie says:

    Love Kathy’s new bag – thanks for sharing. Should be downstairs sewing up some of my own.

    Love the way the wheels look. But unless you send me some handspun and I decided I can’t live without it – I still have no interest. I did not tell you that we went to an estate sale last weekend (in the market for a buffet to turn into a bathroom vanity – I know it’s sacriligeous). Anyway – there was a lovely antique wheel in the corner and I would have brought it home just for art if they weren’t asking $2,500!!

    Enjoy your Sunday – I think I’m finally going clothes shopping! g

  5. Marjie says:

    I don’t know diddly about spinning, but I do know that if you buy something that doesn’t feel good when you use it, you’ll just be wasting your money. It’s easy to be practical when it’s not your art you’re discussing, isn’t it? But I’m glad you had a good time checking them all out. And we’ll be looking forward to the surprise later in the week – as if you’ll really need us to remind you to tell us about it, you silly girl!

  6. Anita says:

    Love the wheel reviews! But I don’t see why Cute & castle style wheels can’t go together…. our HH wheels are cute & they are castle style. LOL

  7. Grace says:

    when you don’t know a thing about spinning reading all that stuff can make your wheels spin (ha ha ha)

    No sheep & wool for me, the back couldn’t handle it, it hasn’t been able to handle Foodtown so I know it couldn’t do a festival

  8. Ummm…glad you had fun? LOL..you know I don’t speak Spinning!

  9. enjoyed reading your post…

  10. Susan says:

    If the lean on the Lendrum bothers you, think of is as HIM BOWING to you as you work!! Who can resist a man who bows??? 😉

  11. Sue says:

    Hmmm… I wonder where my comment from yesterday went. Oh well, I repeat it.

    I don’t know anything about spinning, but I once fell in love with a sewing machine that had beautiful lines. It was just so pretty that I bought it for way too much money. When I got it home I admired how lovely it looked on my table, but the thing was a piece of junk that spent more time in the repair shop than at home. I finally gave up on it after months of trying to make it work and bought an ugly old workhorse of a machine. It’s still running perfectly twenty some years later.

    Now I have a brand new machine that is gorgeous and functional. The perfect combination.

  12. km says:

    Love the multi wheel review. A loom and a wheel are both on my someday list.

    MS&W…not this year…but someday…

  13. anniebananie says:

    I love that bag and I can’t wait to see the shop – does she have an opening date yet???

  14. Kathy says:

    WOW! I’ll know what review to read if I’m ever ready to purchase another wheel. Thanks :). Worth the read in gold…or is it….wool? lol

    Am I going to MDS&W? ahem. Since I received quite a few cautious emails from certain people (who shall remain nameless)I suppose I must pass (pout. double pout). First time in 19 years that I won’t make it but I guess it’s better that I don’t go this year. I’ll be crying in my soup.
    So here’s the plan, Shenandoah Wool Festival in Sept. Are you up for it?

  15. Kathy says:

    OH oh oh….I was so wrapped up in the wheels I forgot to say thanks for the bag review as well 😉

  16. Susan says:

    Interesting to see some wheels in your review that are new to me. I appreciated your comment on my blog post about the Lendrum and you prompted me to do a comparison on today’s post. Hope it’s helpful to you as you decide on a new wheel! Love the doggies and horses on your blog.


  17. Dianne says:

    That first wheel – Fantasia – it is just so….sexy! Love the looks of it! I bought the first wheel I tried – it was the Majacraft Rose. I love it! The only problem is that I can’t seem to use any of the yarn I spin. I keep saving it for a special project. How silly is that? I have baskets of handspun yarn sitting around and I am on a self-imposed spinning-diet right now. No more spinning until I use at least SOME of what I’ve already spun.

  18. […] I also owe you a secret.  It’s not a secret anymore though.  The Majacraft Aura made its debut at Maryland Sheep […]

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