You might remember that all of a sudden on my birthday a while ago I thought about buying a new spinning wheel. My “old” wheel at that point was almost exactly a year old. I was quite content with it, an Ashford Kiwi but that didn’t keep me from looking at other wheels. I fell for a Schacht Ladybug because it’s so cute, I admired the Majacraft wheels from afar, especially the Suzie Pro, and the Little Gem, but I kept coming back to the Ashford Joy.
That wheel would have been my first choice even a year ago if I had been certain to love spinning. But then I decided to be sensible, and since the Kiwi is only two thirds the price of a Joy, and since the only difference is that the Joy is foldable I thought, “I won’t take my wheel anywhere anyway.” and bought the Kiwi.
Of course, next thing I know I start going to spinner’s meetings. Not that often but often enough to contemplate making myself a bag for my wheel. And then, with some unexpected cash on my hand, and my husband’s instructions to use it for spinning equipment I just went and bought a Joy. And I love it dearly. It’s cute, it’s small, it’s sturdy, it can do all the things my Kiwi could do without even needing a high speed whorl. It folds easily, and I have a nice bag for storage and for carrying it around.
It arrived and I didn’t even have to assemble it much. screw in a couple of hooks, tie some fishing line to some springs, and off I went. And once again something happened that happens all the time: there were things I just couldn’t get right about spinning, and then I found out it wasn’t me – it was the wheel.
You’d think that two wheels that similar in ratios, made by the same manufacturer, using the same bobbins and construction would be like twins but they aren’t. The pull of the Joy is much smoother than that of the Kiwi. With the Kiwi I never had to use the brake but with the Joy I do need it. One very unexpected blessing is that the Joy makes almost no noise. You hear the flyer stirring the air, and that’s pretty much it. Whereas the Kiwi was always a bit louder, and mine in particular had this tendency to start creaking out of the blue. Very annoying. The Joy’s treadles, on the other hand, did take a bit of adjustment. They are smaller so I have to position my feet carefully, I have to sit farther away from the wheel, and need a bit more force to keep it going. I don’t mind though because all of a sudden my goal of spinning lace-weight yarn doesn’t seem as far away as before.
That’s what I have been aiming for right from the start. So far it hasn’t happened. I’m getting better though, I just have finished spinning a 2-ply yarn that’s almost fingering weight. And I have some hand-dyed roving that I’m currently spinning that might become Aeolian.
The last time I went to the spinner’s meeting in Tutzing someone said, “What are you spinning there? Sewing thread?” If only. I had had hopes of getting that to become a lace shawl but then it turned out to be too thick again. The yarn is nice though, and I already knit it all up into a nice shawl.
Something I also really like about the Joy is that it’s so small, it sits there innocently in its bag without screaming spinning wheel at everybody. When my students enter my room, the room I teach in, the wheel is the first thing they see. Only very few people have asked me about the wheel because you know how almost nobody really looks at things or people. But still. The Joy in its bag almost looks like an unusual musical instrument, so that’s a plus. Also I often take the wheel to the kitchen in the evenings so my son can hear me while he goes to sleep. The spinning wheel makes a nice regular sound that tells him I’m nearby. And while I did that with the Kiwi too it’s so much nicer to have the wheel, and the fiber, and everything I need in one bag that I can carry over my shoulder.
So all of a sudden I had two spinning wheels. This seems to be a very common occurrence, there are a lot of spinners out there with a lot of wheels. And that does make more sense than you would think at first because spinning wheels are tools, and some are good for a particular job, and others are good for other jobs. Like, if you want to spin very fine very even yarn you’ll look for something different than if you want to spin art yarn for example. And the most versatile wheels usually are not that easy to carry around so you might want a big wheel at home, and a light, small folding wheel for traveling.
But I looked at my two spinning wheels with a feeling of unease. They have the very same ratios. Since I got my Joy I haven’t used the Kiwi at all. I thought about this, and some people told me to use the Kiwi for plying and the Joy for spinning but then I still didn’t have all the money for the Joy, I only got the money for half a wheel for my birthday. I thought some more. The only option the Kiwi has and the Joy doesn’t is that you can get a real big flyer for it which is better for plying and for making art yarn, which means crazy yarn that’s often bulky and has things like beads, and feathers, and flowers in it.
I don’t see myself making art yarn in the near future. I’m still on the quest for “thin and even”. So I thought about selling the Kiwi. In my mind keeping it for plying would have been like buying a 200 € plying machine. And I can ply yarn as well with the new wheel. And so far in spinning at least I’m all “one project at a time”-girl. So I took a picture of the Kiwi, and told people on the spinner’s forum and on ravelry that I had a Kiwi to sell. I truthfully told that the treadles are stained with dark oil from the inside, and just 15 minutes after putting the offer in I had a buyer. And the next day I could have had four more.
It took a bit to figure out how to get the wheel to her since she lives in Northern Germany but in the end I took screwdriver to wheel, partly disassembled it, used every shred of wrapping material I had in the house, put the wheel into a box and sent it to her. It has arrived safely, and she is very happy about it. When she wrote me she already had spun two bobbin full of singles, and said she loved it.
And I’m happy too. An unused wheel would have weighed on me. Seeing it sitting there made me sad. And it’s not as if I have that much space here, it’s much better this way.
I’m enjoying my Joy (it’s named after a woman named Joy by the way). Of course that doesn’t mean I haven’t been looking at other wheels, there’s still the Ladybug, and the Suzie, or the Matchless maybe, possibilities are endless. But so far this wheel is enough.