Putting the Pedal to the Treadle

Thinking about spinning wheels today. I own a second-hand Louet S-10 wheel. I like it, especially given that I paid $125 for it when I bought it last year. It is a good, plain looking, functional wheel.

It also, unfortunately, has a slightly warped wheel. It spins fine enough, but well…it isn’t optimal; the treadling isn’t all that smooth. It also came to me with only a single bobbin and no kate. Given that replacement bobbins run right about $30 a piece, and I would really like 3 more, I have not been anxious to go out and buy more bobbins.

And I have also been thinking about the future of spinning for myself. As I am improving my skills, I am finding my wheel lacking more and more, and would like one day, to save up and buy a new wheel. Once, I was in absolute love with the Ashford Elizabeth (scroll down a bit). When you look at it, you instantly think of Sleeping Beauty’s spinning wheel or what the girl in Rumplestiltskin spun straw into gold with. It just has that Fairy Tale look that is hard not to love.

Since the early, halcyon days when all I had was a few spindles and many dreams of a wheel, my desires have changed. Those fairy-tale type wheels are gorgeous, but their length and height require a dedicated space for them to live in your home. Now I find myself wanting something practical and compact; something that doesnt take up too much space in my already crowded home; something I can toss in the truck or van, and go somewhere with. The Louet travels well thanks to it being so sturdy, and even at 18 pounds, I find it manageable, but I am glad I don’t travel to weekly gathers with it. All these requirement leave me looking primarily for Castle style spinning wheels.

At the same time, I want something somewhat prettier than I have been working with, though that is not my main priority; I would sacrifice form for function to some extent, for the right price. For example, the Majacraft Little Gem 2 is only 10 pounds, and a little mite of a spinning wheel that I am sure works beautifully, but for almost $700, I would rather find something more visually appealing.

So if my desires are for something less than 15 pounds; in the Castle style to save space; something not too short and I find many traveling/folding wheels are too short; something not ultra-mod looking; something fairly portable, though it does not specifically have to be a folding wheel; and most preferably, something around the world of $500; I would almost have better luck convincing Antionio Banderas to run away with me than get all this, right?

That being said, I am starting to zero in on Kromski. They have some of the most beautiful finishes. Their bobbins run about half price of Louet (though more than Ashford). Parts seem easily purchased anywhere on the web, and they have two wheels that seem to meet my criteria.

They have the ultra-portable carrying bag included Sonata. It’s 11.5 pounds, folds very small, and has an elastic drive band which I am used to and, in my “I fear change” way, prefer. I particularly like the mahogany finish. It is only 19″ wide and could easily pack up and sit next to the bed, totally out of the way. It is similar to what I have now, but for the double treadle. It is not unattractive and while very similar to the S-10, it has a slightly more traditional look.

Then, there is the Mazurka. The design of the wheel is stunning. It is smaller than the Sonata, slightly less expensive. I like the single treadle as it is simply what I am used to. It is only 9 pounds. I wouldn’t be uncomfortable spinning on this at an SCA event (as I am with the too-modern looking Louet), but that being said, I would be a little concerned about traveling with it due to its light weight and the smaller wooden legs and all the detail work in the wheels (I LOVE the Wheel Inside a Wheel!). I also don’t know how I feel about the tripod feet; I saw one reviewer mention that it got to rocking a bit when she was “lead footing” it, and I tend to be a “lead foot” on my wheel.

It is a tricky kind of choice between these two wheels. I know nothing of double drive, so while you can switch from double drive to scotch tension on the Mazurka, you only have scotch tension on the Sonata; I could not “grow into” double drive with Sonata. I also prefer (at this moment) a single treadle just because it is what I know and my left ankle complains all the time anyway. In reading reviews across the web, especially over at Ravelry, there is not a lot of criticism of either wheel. Comments range from the Mazurka rocking a bit when treadling very fast to it being too small. Others rave about it and how much fiber it holds (up to a full 4 ounces) and just plain how much they love their wheel. I saw no complaints, only raving reviews of the Sonata, and a couple of folks who just outright didn’t like it in general. I suspect this is a case of YMMV.

I don’t know how to choose, and it doesn’t matter because I have some time to do so. When am I going to have $500 to drop on a spinning wheel? Not any time immediately. As we are paying down our debt at a dizzying pace, we have had not much in the way of extra cash, but there is a light at the end of the debt tunnel, and I know Byram and I both dream about what we can do with the money not going into credit card debt. He has mentioned a flat screen television. I think I want a spinning wheel. I think those are two great flavors that belong together. I would love to see what his thoughts on this idea are…any comments, My Love?

I am also going to try again to make some Etsy sales to help contribute to the New Wheel Fund this Fall and Winter. Maybe a yardsale the one weekend in October when we aren’t going somewhere as well. Plus, if I got within range of the money needed to buy the Kromski, I would offer up my S-10 for sale.

In the meantime, I joined the Handspinners Market and Kromski Owners groups on Ravelry to keep my ear to the ground for used wheels going cheaply, and also for more information on the wheels I am considering. I asked on the Richmond Knitters group if anyone had one of these wheels, for their comments, and possibly if I could test-spin on it. For now, I will stand by my first love, my trusty, sturdy, reliable, if slightly off-kilter, Louet S-10.


One response to this post.

  1. I’ve heard good things about the Kromski Minstrel – that’s the one I’m currently hankering after. But, like you, I don’t have a whole lot of spare cash currently, so I have some time to do my research. I think your idea of trying out the wheels you’re looking at is a good one – I plan to do that in December when I take a class at the Mannings in PA. I will just have to keep practicing with my spindles until then. :-)


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