Recently in Spinning Wheels Category

Of WooLee Winders


Rember a couple of days ago when I mentioned the lovely pencil roving that I had purchased from Crown Mountain Farms? I mentioned also that I was waiting for a few things to happen before I started spinning it up. One of those things was getting through the madder/cochineal dyed Corriedale that I had already gotten started (this project is finally getting close to the plying stage). The other was waiting for the arrival of a new tool for my wheel: a WooLee Winder. I got to play with one of these at MS&W, but convinced myself that I could wait on it. But the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to wait. So in early June I got myself on line and placed my order.

Friday night my new toy arrived on my doorstep. So I did what any sensible spinning blogger would do: I took pictures and then I tried it out.

WooLee Winder Flyer Compared to Standard Lendrum Flyer

Even though both flyers are the same length and fit into the same mother of all, the WooLee Winder is deeper than the standard Lendrum flyer and accomodates a rather larger bobbin. The more I spin the more I think "the bigger the better" when it comes to bobbins. In addition to the one you see in the assembly on the left, I also bought myself two additional bobbins so that I could make a three ply yarn. I'll probably invest in more bobbins later, but at $25/bobbin, I decided I'd be conservative as I got started.

Flyer to Wheel Ratios Compared

The depth of the flyer isn't the only difference for the WooLee Winder compared to the Lendrum Standard Flyer. It also has a different set of Flyer/Wheel ratios. The WooLee Winder has 6:1, 10:1 and 19:1 while the Lendrum Standard flyer has 6:1, 8:1 and 10:1 (I can get higher ratios with my "Lendrum Fast Flyer"). So the WooLee Winder should be quite flexible for spinning lace weight as well as bulkier yarns -- assuming I can ever figure out how to spin anything besides what is becomming my "standard" single.

WooLee Winder and CVM

So how does it affect the spinning experience? For me, it's like a world of difference. You can just spin and spin and spin. I thought it might be noisy, but the mechanism that distributes the single evenly over the bobbin is quite quiet once you get things started. I did find that I had to increase the scotch tension higher for the WooLee bobbins than I did for the Lendrum bobbins, but that probably makes sense given that they are rather larger. I really liked getting started on this bobbin. With my Lendrum bobbins, when you move the single to an open space on the bobbin that doesn't already have yarn on it, it usually starts hoovering that single in quite agressively until empty wood gets covered over with yarn. The draw on the WooLee Winder is smooth all the time.

A few other notes from my short spinning session. 1) The increased depth of the WooLee Winder Flyer has one other issue -- you have to position the Lendrum orifice hook "just so" so that the WW doesn't hit the hook. I was a little worried for the first few moments that I'd have to find another place to put my orifice hook (which I wouldn't like because I like to have the hook handy for both use and for wrapping the single around when I pause) but after I got it positioned right, everything worked out fine. 2) While I didn't have to worry about the distribution of the single over the bobbin, I did find that I had to adjust my scotch tension more frequently with the WW than I did with my standard flyer. Not sure whether that is just due to the weight of the bobbin or some other spinning physics bit that I still have to figure out. 3) The single is packed much more tightly on the bobbin. So not only are you getting a bigger bobbin to put more single on, but the simple act of even distribution gives you even more space for fiber.

Overall I'm very happy with my new purchase. Now if I could only get finished with that madder/cochineal Corriedale so that I could get on to using my WooLee Winder in earnest!

An Old Wheel Gets a New Twist


My parents came to visit this weekend to help me celebrate my birthday. I asked my dad to bring his toolkit with him so that he could help get Mom's Ashford Traditional (circa 1982) back into better shape. Initially the idea was to remove the hooks that had broken off in the wood, put some new wood plugs in the holes and then replace all the hooks with nice new hooks, making this wheel nicer to work with and giving it something of a new lease on life.

But then I introduced Dad to my Lendrum, and dad was as taken with that pinch clamp that slides up and down one of the arms of the flyer as I was. It didn't take him long to decide that he liked that clamp better than the hooks. So not only did the flyer on the Ashford get some spiffy new wood plugs, it also got some more significant alterations that allowed it to use that pinch clamp to feed the yarn onto the bobbin.

An Ashford Traditional Gets A Canadian Accent

Of course, the process of improving and modifying the flyer led to a lot of discussion about spinning wheels and spinning wheel mechanics. It was a good discussion because the process of explaining what I knew helped me to think about what wheels do, and it led to Dad discovering some things about the Ashford that I hadn't figured out yet (like how to properly use the higher spinning ratio). From the scientist/engineer perspective, a spinning wheel is a lovely machine. It's simple enough so that you can understand all it's parts but still complex enough that you can be excited about understanding more about why something was designed the way it was. Even better, they offer much tinkering potential for a guy with some wood working skills and a few good tools.

I thought I was going to be teaching my mother to use the wheel this trip (we did get a drop spindling lesson in and she took too it like a natural), but as it turned out, someone else got a lesson in the magic of twist.

Dad at the Wheel

Doesn't he look like a pro? Dad figured out the basics pretty quickly and now it's just a matter of getting in some practice. He's already ordered his own pound of Blue Faced Leicester from Copper Moose so that he and my mother can play with the wheel (and I sent him home with a little extra BFL that he can work with in the meantime). It looks like I'll definitely have my wheel in the trunk next time we head off to Ann Arbor! How cool is that? Hopefully I'll be able to spin with both of my crafty parents someday!

I've been searching the web, but I haven't found many good sites that have a really good discussion of how to spin on a wheel. I did find this intro to spinning and twist from Interweave and this site which has some nice short videos of drafting techniques. But it seems like most of the "learn to spin" references on the web are for the drop spindle (which Dad didn't find very appealing). Any other good suggestions for web-based learning to spin on a spinning wheel references?

It All Starts with A Cardboard Box


Well, actually, it starts with a trip to Marengo and a visit with Toni Neil at the Fold (I'm just going to gush for a second and say again how awesome both she and her store are. If you need a wheel or fiber and you're in Illinois, you really shouldn't miss out on a trip to visit her!). But the adventure at home starts with this:

A Cardboard Box from Canada

Those of you who have also been on this trip probably know what is in this box, even though you don't have a good clear image of the label. For those who don't, a couple of hints: 1) It comes from Canada but will be making it's permanent residence in the US; 2) It's bretheren are well loved by many spinners and 3) I waxed poetic about it in last Monday's post.

Lendrum Spinning Wheel, Some Assembly Required

Nothing quite like getting one's birthday present just a little bit early and then getting the joy of bringing it to life in your home office. At first, I didn't think it was possible for a whole spinning wheel, two different flyers a lazy kate and 4 bobbins to fit into this box. But, lo and behold, my compact wheel, is, in fact, compact.

Fully Assembled Lendrum DT Wheel

And it assembles quite quickly. Screwing down two pegs (the one at the base of the wheel and the one that holds the mother of all to the top of the wheel) and putting the drive band in place is all you need to do to assemble this wheel. Even the husband was a bit surprised at how quickly it came together. The mother of all you see works with both the standard flyer and the fast flyer. There's also a separate unit for the plying flyer that has an enormous orifice and works with some very large bobbins (I also got 2 extra regular sized bobbins and an extra plying bobbin because I know myself fairly well when it comes to projects. I can never work on just one). In addition to portability and storability, I also wanted a wheel that I could grow with. The extra flyers give this wheel a lot of growth potential for me.

You'd think that that would be enough goodies for one day, but when you buy a wheel from the Fold, Toni also makes sure you get a few extra goodies. One of them is a Lendrum niddy noddy (which I am going to need to finish before I use since it doesn't come sealed; if you look closely, you can see it behind the wheel in the picture above), which comes with two different sized center bars so that it can be either a small or a big niddy. As luck would have it, the large version is bigger than the large niddy noddy I already have, which will be a big plus now that I have that big ol' plying head at my disposal. The other thing she sent me home with was this:

A Brick of Chocolate Brown Merino & Alpaca

Good golly, Miss Molly! It's a whole lot of a merino and alpaca blend in a fabulous chocolate brown. When Toni told me she was going to send me home with some fiber, I thought it would just be a few ounces. But after I picked, she just pulled down everything she had in the bin and packed it in a bag for me. There has got to be at least 2 pounds of the stuff. To quote Toni When you get bored with it, pass it along!*. Even more surprising was the fact that someone laid claim to the yarn almost even before we left the store. It seems that chocolate brown merino and alpaca yarn is acceptable when it comes to man sweaters. Clearly this will become one of those long term labor of love spinning projecfs -- to create enough DK weight yarn to make John a fabulous sweater. Good thing the man I live with is patient.

In addition to the wheel and the fiber, I also left with another yarn stash addition.

Socks that Rock in Beryl and Amber Waves

Because one can never have enough Socks that Rock! Actually, though, the Beryl color is for John and the Amber Waves will also become gift socks. So even though I was buying more yarn, it wasn't for me!

Like every trip out to the Fold, I also learned some new things. I now understand how the Winsome Timbers/Lennox wheel (that I couldn't figure out last weekend) works. Because it has both Scotch tensioning and can be a true double drive wheel it's a little more complicated. But I did find it to be a pleasure to spin on. Not sure that it overtakes the Lendrum Saxony for first place in my "dream wheel" list, but I certainly wouldn't turn one out in the cold either!

And speaking of spinning well, I am very happy with the Lendrum! I spun a little from the brown brick and I got out some of the natural colored wool and silk blend and was a happy spinnner with both of them. Not only does this wheel spin smoothly, but it's very quiet. Even John commented on this. The tensioning is easy to adjust and I love the control I get from the double treadle. And, of course, it's a real treat to be able to spin onto the entire bobbin. I think it's going to be a long time before I want to go back to a wheel with those hooks!

In honor of my new friend, I thought I would engage in a little polling. I know that I this is probably not exhaustive, and I haven't listed specific types, but now that I've taken the plunge, I'm curious to hear about what kind and how many wheels the rest of you have.

How Many Spinning Wheels Do You Own?
None (I need another fiber-related hobby like I need a hole in the head!)
None (But I can feel the spinning bug beginning to bite...)
Five or More (There's no such thing as too many spinning wheels!)
Free polls from
What Kind of Spinning Wheels Do You Own?
Lennox/Winsome Timbers
Antique Wheel
Free polls from

*I think she's doing some store cleaning and this stuff has sat around for a while and this was a good way to see it on it's way. But it was still an amazing thing to receive and I'm definitely feeling a little gobsmacked by this.