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Monday, October 5, 2009

Spinning Wheel Anatomist

When I was shopping for my first spinning wheel I had absolutely no interest in a wheel that came as a "kit" or needed "assembling." I was horrified at the thought of having to "finish" the wheel, as well as put it all together. What kind of manufacturer would make customers do all that work? And what kind of crazy people would WANT to do all that work? Think of all those parts! Think of all the screws and bits.

Well, I have joined the crazies.

I found an Ashford Traveller on Ebay, single treadle, still in the box. Ashford doesn't make these anymore, and apparently it had sat in someone's craft room untouched. (See? if you buy a kit it MIGHT NOT turn into a wheel!) The wheel was part of an estate sale. The box was beat up but everything was intact except for a couple of washers and one screw. Not bad for a ten-year-old spinning wheel! And for some reason, now that I'm putting together Majacrafts all the time, the idea of finishing and assembling was kind of fun. I've been wanting some practice on a single treadle anyway, and then this came along.

I've spent all weekend finishing this wheel and I have to say it has really been FUN. The stain I chose is called "Red Chestnut". I had no idea staining a new piece of furniture was so easy! After two coats of stain I applied two coats of wipe-on polyurethane finish. I learned how to sand with steel wool! And I found a use for my collection of straight knitting needles, which I never use but couldn't throw out.

As I've been working I've learned what every part of this spinning wheel is, and what it is for. I've gone over in my head how it all fits together and when I'm ready to assemble it I don't think I'll have any trouble. The other day I assembled a Majacraft wheel for a customer - now I wish she'd had the chance to assemble it herself. Yeah, it would have been a bit of a hassle, but she would have learned valuable anatomical lessons, and she would also know how the wheel comes apart, as well as knowing how it went together.

I am now wholly in favor of spinning wheel kits, and of customers putting together their own wheels. It is satisfying AND educational. And it adds to the bond of spinner and wheel. I was thinking I'd finish this Ashford and sell it. Now I am not sure I'll be able to part with it.


  1. kris,
    i put together my suzie when i got it. im so happy i did! when there was a prob with the drive wheel, i knew immediately how to take off the drive wheel. i had actually especially asked for my wheel to be left in the box you see.

    Longdrawjames :)

  2. You're right, James. Putting it together really helps later on down the road. Even a squeak is easier to diagnose if one knows the parts!

  3. Your new wheel is hanging there so rich in color and cuteness! How will you part with it after putting in all that elbow grease?

  4. What an amazing treasure you have.
    I have an older Traveller also and love it. You are right, putting it together helps later on.