Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Hypocritical Hippo-Critic

So, my good readers, today we are having Wheel review part 1! Today I'm going to focus on ashford wheels, long-trusted and well known workhorses for most of the people who own them. All ashford wheels have add-on kits, such as lace flyers, jumbo flyers, distaffs and quill spindles.

Single drive VS Double drive. A great explanation on how to choose, though I would go if single drive if possible. Changing bobbins is already enough of a chore.

With single treadle wheels, you use only one foot on the treadle. This can lead to a terrible affliction, in avid spinners, known as SLS, or Spinner's Limp Syndrome. Not that while you can shift your body position and treadle with the opposite leg, this can put you at odds with the way you normally use your hands to draft. With double treadle wheels, instead of sitting on an angle, you Usually sit more or less straight on, depending on the wheel. You can use only one foot to operate a double treadle, if you so choose. SLS is not prevalent in spinners who use double treadle wheels, though it should be noted that sitting down to spin after jogging in a town set entirely on a 45° angle will cause leg cramps.

First up, the Ashford Elizabeth 2.
As we can see, this is a very pretty wheel. The Elizabeth only comes in double drive and single treadle. as with all ashford wheels, you can buy a distaff, lace flyer, and jumbo flyer. starts at $615 USD. I personally have never used this wheel, but i have been told by several people that it is "tricky", and not a beginner wheel. More of a looker than an easy-to-use, take anywhere wheel.

Next is my personal favorite, the Ashford Traveller.
The Traveller has been available as a double treadle option only for several years, though if you come across an older, single treadly model, there is an upgrade kit. It's a nice, compact and sturdy wheel, and mine has served me well these past 2 years. I chose the single drive model. I can spin chunky to fine laceweight on the flyer it comes with, and as a bonus there is a built-in lazy kate. This seemed odd and a slight hassle at first but after hauling her to a spin-in the park and having people ask to "borrow" my lazy kate (while I was spinning) I understood how useful it is! I would definitely reccomend this wheel to a beginner, or someone who needs a wheel for more than to look at. Starts at $385 USD.

Ashford Traditional
Affectionately known as the "traddy" this wheel is the kind people find for 25$ at a garage sale, because someone's grandmother has moved to a home and no one knows how to use her spinning wheel she bought in the 70's. I've tried a few, and always found treadling more difficult than on the traveller. It seemed to have a tendency to stop on a whim, but that could have been my fault, since all the traddies I've tried were single treadly, though it is available in double. Note, though, that people have loved this wheel for a Long time, and the wheels from 35 years ago still work competently today, even if they've been beat up. Lots of beginners choose this wheel, not quite as portable as the traveller, but still good for transport. Starts at $365 USD.

Ashford Joy
I didn't get to spin long on this wheel Very long. Treadling was easy, It's not very high off the ground though. If you're tall, it could be awkward. Very portable, folds up and has an optional carrying bag. I've heard that Plying on a Joy can be tricky, and you really can't overfill the bobbins at all, like you can on other wheels. I wouldn't recommend this wheel if you have the ability to keep one in a more permanent location. come sin both single and double treadle, but unfortunately has no add-ons. starts at $495 USD.

Ashford Country Spinner
If you're looking for big and bulky yarns, this is not your wheel. Unless of course, you could lift a cow above your head with your legs. This wheel is enormously difficult to treadle, and has really wacky take up. I really would not recommend this wheel to anyone, it makes spinning very difficult, and if you're a beginner, probably very frustrating. Starts at $475 USD

If anyone Has had experiences different than mine on any of these wheels, do tell! Also, does anyone else's traveller have one unmarked spoke?

More wheel reviews next time!


At Thursday, September 07, 2006 4:46:00 AM, Anonymous malin said...

I can´t believe all the birdies flying around... Thanks for your ideas on vegan treats! I´ve done some baking in that area, but since I´m now trying to cut out (wheat)flour in my diet, that´s harder. I found a book at my library, which had a lot of interesting things, some must be tried (no sugar, no fat, no flour, just dried fruits and nuts for sweet and fat), and I´m looking for raw food recipes. Actually, I´m going back to your mails, I remember you had some good ideas on healthy sweets.

At Sunday, September 24, 2006 8:34:00 AM, Blogger Rachel said...

The Joy is particularly good if you don't own a car. I carry it on the bus and train. I did end up buying a Kiwi for plying bulky yarn (and its two peddles are fantastic).



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