Now, I have a confession to make. I have purchased an electric spinning wheel. In fact, if I’m being 100% honest, it came into my life, brand new, last summer. OK, well it feels good to get it off my chest. Why did I get an espinner? Well, it’s the foot thing again AND portability when going away in the car. I really can’t cope without spinning even on holiday, but Tess (the Aura) is a heavy and space taking wheel when the car is full. So an espinner is a good option, as long as you have electricity (which makes me feel really guilty when I have two usable legs).
Therefore let me introduce Peter
Peter is an Ashford espinner mark 2. Now, as you can imagine, one is a little miffed (read pretty cross) that just two months after my investment, the espinner mark 3 is brought out and much smaller. Still, let’s not stop our enjoyment because of it shall we? *rage building up*
At first when I started using it, I giggled a lot, because I was making yarn with my legs crossed. Now I am past that stage!
The good points are the obvious. Portability; ability to make yarn even when you’re legs can’t do the treadling (knee issues, arthritis etc); ease of use; constant speed for “normal” spinning (ie each day you come to a project doesn’t depend on how fast/slow you treadle)
The not so good.
Control (not using your feet to slow down/stop when you want is not as easy as you would think); noise (certainly not as quiet as Tess); using electricity (as a green person, this one is big, even though I’m told it doesn’t use much juice) and this last one is really attached to control, but I’ll make special mention. I have the foot pedal for stop/starting, which I wouldn’t be without, but doing art yarns, which at times need you to stop treadling many times, are just a pain to try and do. Plus when you switch back on, it is to full speed, whereas your feet would ease back in. However, I didn’t buy her to do fancy art yarns, so that’s fine, I’m just saying, some types would be too difficult, therefore I am grateful I don’t have to rely on him.
Peter lives on a small, low, ikea table with wheels on the base, so he can be wheeled around. I have to say that I sit back on our deep sofas, mostly crossed legged, and spin in a fairly meditative (read vegetative) state. It is delicious. And when we go on holiday, he happily doesn’t take up much room.
For plying, it is an absolute revelation. Set the speed and feed it in for very fast consistent ply. When doing a simple yarn, it is a joy.
So there you go. Peter has good points and flaws, but overall, I wouldn’t be without him in the spinning wheel family.
Well, it appears it’s happened again. Life has got in the way of art! Now, don’t get me wrong, spinning never stops - never! But blogging, well, that gets shoved to the side whilst life gets in the way. So, to rectify this, I am going to try and post at least once a month next year (yes I know, a dreaded resolution, except now they are intentions for me - very different!) I do tweet about my spinning as well, so now I just need to expand that into a blog post, that will record my work, if nothing else!
Reflecting on this year, it has been difficult personally. I won’t go into the details, but I am finishing it a happier person than when this year started. As far as crafting is concerned though, I feel it has been very positive and I am looking forward to moving all areas forward next year.
So, definite positivity about the future, and yes, excitement.
Below are a couple of projects lately, and soon, I will tell you about an electric wheel I bought earlier this year. Plenty to talk about there. You see, started my New Years res - erm intentions early.
This is a piccie of some Christmas beads I did recently. Just playing, but love how they turned out.
and this, which looks a lot like tinsel, is actually a Navajo plied wool yarn, which, because I wasn’t concentrating on what I was doing, was not good at all. So I plied it with eyelash yarn, and created this lovely “tinsel”.
There have been two new wheels in the house in the last couple of months. I will deal with one of them here today, and move onto the other soon.
I wanted a single treadle for myself that I don't have to take my ongoing project off when I teach (very indulgent with 6 wheels here already I know). The trads are absolutely lovely wheels, and I adore them, but I have a slight problem with my right leg/foot. I was in a car accident about 12 years ago, when someone ran me off the road and I ended up in a ditch. I braked hard when I realised what was happening and in doing so, had my right leg locked straight as the impact happened. For the first few years the pain was in my hip, but now it is more in my foot and ankle. This can cause problems sometimes with treadling with this foot, so I wanted a single treadle wheel.
Whilst treadling with one foot on the trad, I am slightly twisted, as the maiden and flyer are to the left of the treadle. This is ok for a while, but not long term, and sometimes I spin for days on end. Of course this is all a bit of an excuse to get a new wheel!
I fancied something really new, and a couple of students gave excellent reports on the Woolmakers Bliss wheel. When I looked, I liked that the single treadle was large and in the middle, so each foot could do the treadling separately if I wanted, or together. Also being white was so different and pretty. So I ordered one.
I have to say this is a wonderful wheel. It has near silent operation, and is very easy to spin. I love that I don't need an orifice threader (minor point I know) and the orifice has a small reducer if you are doing fine yarns. The scotch tension is very easy to use and again, small, but I love the hooks are coated - looks lovely and smooth to not catch yarn. I ordered the extra bobbins, so I have 6 bobbins in total, which will be enough for anything I want to do. The built in lazy kate down the side is really clever for keeping all the bobbins together.
I am not sure yet whether I will exclusively use the lazy kate for plying, as the singles are coming in at an unusual angle, or is it just not what I am used to and will be fine? Only time will tell. So far I have predominantly plyed from the side and it has been fine. Again, another lovely design element is that each bobbin has a centre pin which slots into the hole in the side of the wheel.
The flyer is another different feature that I am not used to. The front is magnetically attached, and just pulls off. It is so easy to change bobbins. The drive band even stays on when changing the bobbin as well, so there is a lot less fuss than I am used to. In fact, that would adequately describe how I find this wheel. Less fuss, more spin!
Now for the slightly negative bits.
It is a tiny bit light. I like a meaty wheel. I don't mean delicate - she doesn't feel like she will break - just not weighty. There are a good number of ratios on the wheel, but with the smaller ones, she doesn't feel quite comfortable doing it, so I don't use the fastest any more - bit too much vibration. Also, as Louet don't have time to develop this wheel further at the moment, there is no jumbo flyer. So for doing normal yarn, it is fine, but if you think you may want to do more than that, then there are no more bits for the time being. Now, I only spun "normal" yarn for years, and didn't need a jumbo flyer, but as we don't know when they will develop one, it is not totally future proofing at the moment. However, if you can afford two, and use this one as a main work horse, then I would still advise it.
Overall, it is the simplest, quietest, easiest wheel I have ever had the pleasure to spin on. I heartily recommend it, subject to the caveats above. She is called Grace.
On another note, I already have an Ashford drum carder, but how cute is the Hero drum carder by the same people. It is narrower than mine, but a girl can always make way for more. Just not at the moment....
Love and light