Tag Archives: Spinning Equipment

Spinning Wheels: The Specifics of Style

Not too long ago, one of our guest bloggers shared some tips for choosing your next spinning wheel (click here if you missed it!). We’d like to continue the conversation by discussing the different styles of wheels which you will come across in your search in greater detail on today’s blog post, and why you might want to give them a try!

When we discuss spinning wheels with our customers, we begin the conversation by talking about the first level of classification: general appearance. While there are always exceptions to the rule, the basic spinning wheel classifications include Saxony, Castle, Norwegian, Modern, and Spindle.

Saxony Wheel - Ashford TraditionalThe most traditional style is the Saxony wheel – think of fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty or Rumplestiltskin, and you know what we’re talking about! These wheels are horizontal, with the wheel on one end and the flyer on the other; typically, the frame slopes and is supported by 3 legs. One of the benefits of this style is that the orifice is lower to the ground, making it ideal for those who are shorter in stature and find taller styles of wheels more difficult to work with.

castleCastle wheels are a popular style, especially amongst those with limited space – in general, these wheels are more compact than other styles. The flyer is positioned above the wheel, and this vertical orientation requires less working space for the user – it also encourages the spinner to sit up straight as they work, so if you have back issues, this might be a more optimal choice.

norwegianThe Norwegian wheel is a cousin to the Saxony in that it has a horizontal orientation, but it is usually very ornate with a large wheel and a horizontal bench. This style is typically supported by 3-4 legs, and it’s a very traditional-looking wheel which is quite beautiful to look at, too!

modernThen next style of wheels can take on many forms, and are usually hybrids of the traditional types listed above. Folding wheel and electric spinners are all considered to be Modern style wheels, though this term can be applied to any sort of spinning wheel which attempts to take advantage of better engineering: side-to-side treadling, lightweight PVC pipe bodies, and other innovations would certainly fit into this category! These wheels are ideal for folks with limited space or who like to take their spinning with them wherever they go.

ESpinnerThough Electric Spinners do not actually have a wheel, we include them in the Modern category because they are a treadle-less option which is ideal for those who are unable to treadle (or simply wish not to). They are extremely portable and can be set on a table and started manually, and it is important to note that they are not completely automatic since the spinner must determine the size of the yarn and must stop the flyer to change hooks throughout the spinning process in order to fill the bobbin evenly. Due to its potential speed capabilities, they are a great choice for cotton spinning, much like a Charkha, which belongs to our final category of wheel styles covered on this blog post.


charkhaLast but not least, Spindle style wheels refer to those which use a spindle to hold the spun yarn rather than a bobbin – they work much like a Great Wheel, and the Indian Charkha is a good example of this style. For those of you looking to spin silk or cotton this Spring, a Charkha is an excellent choice due to the high-speed ratios which make working with short-stapled fibers much easier!

Thanks for joining us on your spinning journey!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team



Stay Spinning This Summer!

A well-maintained spinning wheel can provide years of service, and keeping your wheel in tip-top shape is easier than you think! It’s a good idea to perform routine maintenance a few times a year by giving your wheel a thorough cleaning, tightening screws and any other loose parts such as legs and wheel supports, and replacing any worn-out parts such as leather conrod joints, drive bands, or brake bands.wheelmainttools

Believe it or not, this maintenance can be easily done with just a few tools and other supplies you’re likely to already have on hand – click here for a list of items and easy-to-follow instructions from our blog archive!applyingoil

However, there is something you can do each time you spin to keep your wheel in good working order: applying oil! In our latest video in the Ask the Woolery series, we demonstrate all of the possible areas which could benefit from a drop of oil at the start of each spinning session. Of course, each wheel is different, so you will want to refer to your wheel’s manual for specific instructions on where to apply oil on your particular make and model. In the video below, you can get a closer look at how and where oil should be applied to keep squeaks and rattles at bay:

Thanks for joining us!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team


Take it With You: Spin + Weave On-the-go for WWKIP Week (& Beyond)!

WWKIPWorldwide Knit in Public week kicked off this past Saturday; it’s the world’s largest event run by knitters and is a great way to meet your fellow fiber enthusiasts within your own community! We don’t see any reason why knitters get to have all the fun, however – why not spin or weave in public this week, too?

pegloomThere are a variety of small looms that are not only user-friendly for beginners, but they are perfectly portable for weavers on-the-go. You may remember the old-fashioned potholder looms from your childhood; they are great for whipping up colorful projects quickly. There are several other types of peg-style looms which can be used to create woven items using a tapestry needle and some yarn.

Rigid heddle weavers may want to turn the time-consuming process of warping their loom into a real conversation starter at their local WWKIP event. Jim Hokett’s handmade Mini Warping Reel is a shop favorite that’s handy, not to mention high on the “cute” factor. Be prepared for lots of weaving questions when you take this on your next public weaving adventure! warpingreel

Have you ever thought about spinning in public? Many wheels are designed with the traveling spinner in mind and feature built-in handles and foldable parts for ease of transportation (and, of course, you can always purchase a padded bag that’s made for your model).

spindlesHowever, if you’d prefer not to take your wheel when you’re out and about, consider packing a drop spindle for your next fibery outing! If you are normally a wheel spinner, this can be a great time rediscover the joy of spinning with a drop spindle!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team

Art Yarns + Spinning On The Go

Those of you who are relatively new to handspinning may be intimidated at the thought of spinning art yarns, but you easily create your own unique works of art!  Here are a few simple ways to get started:

handspunartyarnthreadPly your handspun single with commercial thread or textured yarn such as boucle or eyelash. This is an ideal approach for  fluffy thick and thin handspun singles especially; be sure to match the direction you spin your singles with the direction of the thread or yarn you’ll be plying it with.

ewelashHave you ever had too much twist in your single, causing it to periodically twist back upon itself? When plying two singles together, periodically stop to allow one of them to twist back on itself, then continue to ply with even tension. The result is your very own “ewelash” yarn!

handspunartyarnThere’s no need to buy expensive yarns with beads or sequins when you can make your own! Using either two handspun singles or one handspun single with one commercial thread (see above), string beads or sequins to add periodically as you ply. Other add-in ideas: Feather, locks, fabric pieces, silk flowers, or pom pons. Be creative!

BFGB.detailFinally, pre-made art yarn batts such as those by Butterfly Girl combine various fibers, locks and nepps with a hint of sparkle, making one-of-a-kind handspun art yarns a breeze. We’ll be giving away one of these wonderful batts here in our Ravelry group this month, too!

Spinning Wheel Spotlight: Bluebonnet Wheels

allmyloveWe’re proud to carry these handcrafted wheels from Bluebonnet that are beautiful, affordable, and great for traveling, too! They are made in the USA using solid hardwood. Each wheel is lightweight, making it ultra-portable for spin-ins and even air travel: the Thimble Spinning Wheel will fit into a “roller board” suitcase! This portable wheel is available in 4 attractive styles including the “All My Love” design (pictured at right), which is currently on special for Valentine’s day!

honeybeeIf today’s post makes you excited to give art yarns a try, the CraftyBee Wheel was designed especially for spinning art and chunky yarns. What makes this wheel so special? The 7-inch diameter bobbin will hold a LOT of yarn! Another exciting feature is the wheel axle and flyer axle, which are each on two sealed bearings for ease of treadling and quiet operation.

Portability meets quality at a nice price!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team


The Drive To Spin + Discounted Floor Loom

Drives with play button.jpgPerhaps the most common question we get at The Woolery, is what spinning wheel drive system is best for me?  What is the difference between double drive and Scotch Tension?  What is Irish Tension?

That is the question we tackled in one of our most recent Ask The Woolery videos.  The drive system is what determines take-up or how fast the fiber is pulled from your hands.  Each drive system is made of the same parts—flyer, bobbin, mother-of-all, drive wheel, drive band, whorl (or pulley), and uprights. How these parts interact determines the kind of drive system.

Scotch Tension.jpg

This Lendrum is an example of a Scotch Tension drive system.

Scotch tension a “single drive” system, the drive band travels around the drive wheel and the flyer whorl. The brake band travels over the bobbin whorl. You can change the take-up by adjusting the brake band. Many folks like the minute control you get with this system.  You have to make micro-adjustments as you spin, particularly as the bobbin fills.

Irish Tension.jpg

This Louet runs an Irish tension or bobbin lead system.

Irish tension or bobbin lead is another single-drive system. The drive band travels over the drive wheel and the bobbin flange and the break band is on the flyer.  This create a very aggressive take-up that is great for plying and bulky yarns.

This Matchless wheel from Schacht is set up in double drive.

This Matchless wheel from Schacht is set up in double drive.

Double drive, as you may gather by now, is a double-drive system. The drive band travels around both the bobbin and the whorl. Take-up is adjusted by changing the tension on the drive band. Many spinners like the consistency of this system. It excels at making medium-weight and soft spun yarns.

There you have it in a nut shell.  Watch the video to see these systems in action.

Happy New Year! (For A Short Time Only)

sch-stdlcNow through January 31st, we are offering Schacht’s Standard Floor Loom in 36 or 46 inch width for 20% off list price with a free inserted eye heddle upgrade and free shipping.  Click here for more details!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team

Travel Wheels and You + We’ve Moved

The best way to find the wheel of your dreams is to try a lot of wheels. We don't have all of our boxes unpacked, but that doesn't stop us from inviting you in for a spin in our new classroom space.

At The Woolery, we get asked all the time, “which travel wheel is the best?” The answer is the same whether you are buying a wheel that folds, travels, or will stay in your living room. The wheel that suits your needs, is the wheel for you. The best way to find your wheel among the many, is to come on in and give them a spin. We encourage you to try as many wheels as you can—seek out wheels at guilds and other local spinning groups. Heck, try Ravelry to see if someone nearby has a brand want to try.

To get you started, we have updated our handy chart for you to compare folding double treadle spinning wheels side by side. Here are also a few things to think about when selecting a folding wheel.

Comfort Counts! Being comfortable at the wheel should be your primary consideration. It doesn’t matter how cute or how many options a wheel has if you can’t spin at it comfortably then it is not the wheel for you.

How Compact Does the Wheel Need to Be? Really ask yourself how you plan to use this wheel vs. how you think you are going to use it. (I’m going to go to the Bahamas and spin on the beach vs. I take my wheel to my local spin-in.) For some, being able to carry a wheel on a plane is the number one consideration when looking for a travel wheel. For others that have physical limitations, weight is primary consideration.  Generally speaking, to gain one thing you have to lose another, e.g. light vs stable.

Will the treadles fit my feet comfortably? This is where trying out a wheel will make a difference. It is sort of like trying on a pair of shoes. They may look cute, but are they comfy?  Make sure that the treadle configuration  allows you enough room to sit at your wheel comfortably. Torquing your feet too much can be bad for your body.

Spinning happens in your hands not at the orifice!

Does the Orifice Height Matter? Many authorities will tell you no. Your hands is where the action is happening not near the orifice. (Check out this video from Tim, one of the founders of The Woolery. This bit is about four minutes in.) That said some folks have personal preferences or ergonomic needs that make a perfectly valid reason to want your orifice at a certain height. Remember where we started. Comfort counts!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post or give us a call (800) 441-9665.  Better yet, if you are ever in the area, stop by and check out our new location. We have more space, more classrooms, and more fluff and stuff for you to buy!

Chris, Nancy and the entire Woolery team