Monday, May 03, 2004

Spinning Wheels

Without time to experiment with my two flat-bed knitting machines, and my antique circular sock knitting machine, I have no right to be considering spinning as a new hobby.

Wheel Purchase Strategy
I went to MDS&W with the thought that I would start to learn more and more about spinning wheels for that time in my life when I decided to take up a new addiction.

What I realized when I got there, is that it's necessary to try out the wheels to feel what's comfortable.

Without know how to spin, that makes test-driving wheels a little difficult.

I did sit down and try out a double treadle Ashford Traveler. I was highly embarrassed at the twisted knot of a mess I left on that poor woman's machine, but I'm glad to say I did learn something.

The Traveler is a very light machine and moved way too easily under my clumsy foot.

After that experience, I opted to just look at machines and begin to learn as much as I could about each model. I checked out all the Ashford models, some Wyatt wheels, Robin wheels, Schacht and Louet.

Now I understand a lot more about the different kinds of tensioning and wheel ratios.

Over the next few months, I plan on asking my neighbor (or someone else, if she won't) if I can borrow her wheel for a while and start playing with it. She owns an Ashford Traveler, which I've already pretty much decided I don't like, but at least I can learn to get the action of spinning down, so test-driving a wheel won't be so traumatic.

I will also take Carol S.'s advice and check out The Woolery's web page. They do have a nice summary of how to choose a spinning wheel as well. Thanks Carol.

Wheel Purchase Temptation
Thaddeus and I spent a good deal of time with the guy who builds Robin wheels.

He described how his tension system worked differently than most others (Charles told me it was what he calls Irish tensioning, like the Louet wheels). He showed us how carefully he makes each wheel and showed us a number of different wheels in the various woods he uses.

His basic wheel was a cherry wheel with golden maple inset into the treadles. It was quite beautiful, and I thought inexpensive at around $700 (and a two year waiting list). Thaddeus tried to convince me to order one immediately, but I opted to investigate a little further before ordering.

In some ways I wish I had just ordered one, and in other more practical ways, I'm glad I didn't.

Interim Knitting
I got to what I'm thinking will be the top of the first sock and started on the second one.

I put the stitches for the first one on a think blocking wire, and started taking yarn off the outside of the ball of wool for the second sock. That way, when they're both the same size, I can just add on more lenght until the yarn is used up, or I get tired of knitting ribbing.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Marilyn and Kathy both mentioned they bought the same Dzined yarn.

We all have such good taste! Now we need a group project for this cool yarn.