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.
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:
- Majacraft – but I need at least an hour with that offset orifice to know for sure if it’s a contender at all
- 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?