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Today we went to Solvang to look at spinning wheels.  Four of us relatively newly addicted spinners went, Michelle and Marya already have wheels, and Cindy and I don’t.  Cindy was the driving force behind the trip, and I told her husband that I was 99.9999% sure that she would be coming back with a wheel.  :)  We headed to Village Spinning and Weaving, which we are quite lucky to have within driving distance.  John and Marsha have a big selection of wheels, and were extraordinarily helpful and kind enough to let us try out several.

I had been contemplating the kind of wheel that I want to get, and decided on a castle-style with Scotch tension.  I’ve spun on two Saxony-style wheels, including the Ashford Elizabeth 2 which was my favorite so far.  Here’s a pic of it from Ashford’s website:

Very classic, very Cindarella.  I enjoy the juxtaposition of its looks and my personality greatly!  So I like the Saxonys, I’m fine with single treadles, but I’d really like something that’s a little more portable and takes up less space.  So castle-style it is!

I already treadled Marya’s Lendrum and Michelle’s Kromski Sonata a little and liked them both.  Unfortuantely, Village was out of Lendrums, but John was kind enough to assemble a Sonata on the spot for us.  They had a Majacraft Suzie in the window, which was just beautiful, and a Louet S10 which also looked interesting.  Here are pix from the manufacturer’s website of each:


Kromski Sonata:

Louet S10:

Majacraft Suzie:

From the moment Marsha brought out the Majacraft, I was in love.  It’s built out of solid Australian hardwood, with these bitchin’ industrial-looking ball joints and steel tie rods.  Plus there were at least 4 gears on the actual drivewheel, plus 4 more on the flywheel.  Awesome!  Then Marsha mentioned that it was made by an aerospace engineer and everything became clear.  Michelle sat down to treadle and was instantly in love.  I just knew it was the wheel for me.  I patiently waited my turn.  I sat down.  I took a deep breath, and treadled.

And it was hard.  And uncomfortable.  Years of climbing have been a bit hard on the old feet, and my ankle flexibility isn’t what it used to be.  This wheel doesn’t treadle all the way to horizontal — your ankles are bent up to start with, then just bend up more.  As much as I wanted this to be the perfect wheel, it just wasn’t.  I tried several times, kept coming back to it, kept wanting to love it the most….and just couldn’t.  Sigh.

The Louet was better, much better angle for treadling, and treadled like a dream.  But changing bobbins was really annoying – you have to take the drive band off to get the bobbin off.  Then re-string the drive band when you put the next one on.  It’s just irksome.

The Sonata was really nice.  It kind of has the spoke-ish look of a Saxony, but treadles awesomely!  Your ankles actually extend and little past 90 degrees because the treadles are set in a frame that sits above the ground.  The treadle distance is also a bit longer, which felt better to me and allowed much greater control over speed.  You do have to take the drive band off to change the bobbin – but there’s a little post with a divet that catches it perfectly, so you never completely relax the tension and never have to re-string it.  Plus it’s light, folds up compactly, and comes with a padded carrying case.  It was clearly the most comfortable.

But I was still heartbroken over the Suzie.  Sealed ball bearings!  Steel tie rods!  Solid hardwood recycled from furniture factories!  And uncomfortable as all get-out.  Big sigh.

Plus they didn’t have a Lendrum handy.  But Marya happens to have a Lendrum and Michelle happens to have a Sonata.  So we’re going to have a wheel show-down at the Adobe tomorrow at 11.  Be there or be yellow!  I’ll be bringing my loaner wheel that I have for one more day – an Ashford Traveller.  I’m distinctly “meh” about the Ashfords.  Decent wheels, but cumbersome to change bobbins and the bobbins are pretty small.  But that’s OK, because I know either a Lendrum or a Sonata will be in my future.  Plus Village Spinning and Weaving has a Sonata in stock……

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