What Am I Looking At?

Beginner’s Info: Part 5

So, you’ve decided to get a spinning wheel, you lucky you. Spinning wheels are the sports cars of the fiber world. There’s just this aura around them. A feeling of mystery which can be very thrilling, but when it comes to picking out a wheel it can get in the way.

I’m going to try to sweep away some of the fog and reveal the spinning wheel in all its grandeur.

Parts Of A Spinning Wheel

First off, what are the different parts of a spinning wheel? Here is an excellent picture with handy little arrows. (If you’re wondering, it’s on quite a nice website. Feel free to explore.) Now, the business end is the “head,” which refers to the bobbin, flyer, orifice, and bobbin whorl. That’s where the yarn is actually made. When I first started researching spinning I had a vague idea that the fiber had to go around the big wheel – wrong. The big wheel is the power engine for the head. And your foot is the power engine for the big wheel, which brings us to the first option to be considered.

Single or Double Treadle?

You remember the treadle? That triangular piece down underneath? The one in the picture is a single treadle. You operate it by putting one foot on it and pumping up and down. This is my favorite. At least, it’s what I do. Not having more than wheel does tend to make you stick to what you have.

There is also the double treadle. It looks like this, and you put a foot on each pedal and pump alternately, rather like a bicycle. The best way to find out which you prefer is to go to a bricks and mortar (not online) store and test drive. I didn’t have the luxury, so I learned on a single treadle and love it.

Wheel Styles

You might have noticed that the two wheels pictured are very different. Good eye! There are also different configurations you can have. Here is a nice picture guide to the main types.

Drive Bands

Alright. So, you’ve waded through those options. There’s one more. And honestly, I don’t see a big deal over which one you chose. The thing that connects the flywheel (big wheel) to the head is called a drive band. There are two configurations for this. A single drive band, and a double drive band. (Do you sense a theme here?) I have a double drive band, and really, it doesn’t give me quite as much flexibility as I’d like, but then again, my wheel is an antique. If anyone has some good pointers on choosing a drive band, please share. That last thing I heard on the subject was that the double drive can’t do anything the single can’t, so there’s really no big reason to do a double instead of a single, or vice versa.

Where To Find One

Now, I bet you’re ready to rush out and start looking at spinning wheels. There are some nice websites that will help you find the kind of wheel you like. Once you have a brand in mind, shop around for the best price. Or, if you decide to go for an antique wheel, watch CraigsList and Ebay. A good, reasonable rate for an antique spinning wheel is $100 to $300. Usually in the $200 range. “But wait!” You who have done your research say, “That’s the same range as new wheels!” True. Very true. A new wheel gives you lots of extra gadgets and good warranties (as well as tech support). With an antique wheel, you’re on your own. It might run well, it might not.

If you want to get a good handle on options and price range, browse these sites to see what’s what.

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