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:
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……