Wheel Reviews

What’s so special about YOUR wheel?
In the February 2007 issue of the newsletter we started a section for members to share about their particular wheel.

Do you have a review you’d like to share or one already published you’d like to update? If so, please consider taking a moment to use our wheel review submission form!

(Also, we seem to get a lot of Google searches looking for Jensen wheels for sale — unless one is specifically posted for sale by a TVH member your best bet is to visit the Jensen Junkies group on Ravelry for suggestions.)

Lendrum Double Treadle:
Review by Charlotte Iverson

I bought my Lendrum Double Treadle wheel in 2000 after several years of searching, checking out, and pondering. (I had spun on my Ashford for many years and was on the hunt for a double treadle) I had seen several fiber friends in the Asheville area that had the Lendrum double treadle wheel. What initially impressed me about it was that I saw CHILDREN (who had never spun ever before!) sit down and immediately start spinning!

When I tried it, I found that (with properly prepared roving) the wool almost spun itself!! And the action on it—I kept saying—“it’s like spinning butter”—so smooth!! This really allowed me to concentrate on spinning consistent yarns, rather than fiddling with the function of my wheel. I liked the fact that I could fold up the wheel and transport it easier and safer (I used to have to kind of force my Ashford through the door opening of my car!). I also like that you can more gradually “load” your bobbin with the spring action guide on the flyer.

After just a little practice you can get the feel of being able to restart your wheel with your feet, rather than stopping and starting each time. These are just a few of my favorite things about this wheel. You may have the same wheel and like other things about it. Don’t hesitate to send in your thoughts.

Schacht Matchless Double Treadle:
Review by Martha Weaver

I have 2 wheels, a Schacht double treadle, and an Ashford Joy. I had my Schacht 5 years before I ever learned to spin. I didn’t have any contacts to teach me or the time since I was in the process of raising 6 children, but the purchase was a promise to myself that one day I would learn.

Janis Garwood taught me (who met my mother by coincidence at a Crossville doctor’s office waiting room). Mom noticed Janis knitting and got into a conversation with her, telling her that I raised sheep and was Janis excited!

Well things progressed from there and now I love spinning and love my spinning group. I am a member of the Kindred Spirits spinning group that meets every other Thursday in the Crossville area. When I first attended, they informed me that I had to name my Schacht wheel. I named her “Hope” because I hoped for five years that I would one day finally learn to spin.

I enjoy my Schacht wheel. I am an active person so the double treadle keeps both legs amoving. It is versatile, spins fine wool extremely well, bobbins are decent size, and it is very solid. It is a little heavy for transporting, so I have enjoyed my Ashford Joy when needing to carry a wheel. I have had no trouble with either of them.

Schacht Matchless Double Treadle:
Review by Barb Keyes

My Favorite Workhorse is my Schacht double treadle wheel. I had my initials burned into it for a reason….it’s my favorite wheel, the one I’ll keep forever! I’ve tried many of the 100+ wheels on the market and this one just worked for me in so many ways.

I have 4 working wheels: a Shaker Great wheel that needs a new home (hint, hint), an Ashford Elizabeth that I use for flax spinning and demos at historic sites, a Butterfly Electric with the Woolee winder that is the best plying machine I’ve ever seen or used (good for spinning singles, too, but I prefer non-electrics for that) and the Schacht.

My first wheel was an Ashford Traveler that I upgraded to a double treadle when the kit came out. I sold that reluctantly, since it was an anniversary gift from my husband, to get the money to buy the Schacht.

Why do I like it? In no particular order:

It’s sturdy…no delicate parts to break …I tend to be clumsy and rather non-frilly, if you know what I mean.
I love the steam-bent supports made of different laminated woods…the middle one holds my ball winder, another tool I use often.
The height of the orifice fits me better than any other wheel. I’m tall; many wheels are too short for me.
It has many whorl sizes available (I have most of them) making spinning everything from sewing thread to boat anchor easy.
I got to meet Barry Schacht during a dyeing class at the Estes Park Wool Market in 1996…okay this really has nothing to do with the purchase, but he is an interesting critter.
It’s got 2 fat treadles for my 2 wide feet!
I like the diameter of the drive wheel….nothing bothers me more than a tiny drive wheel. If I wanted THAT type of spinning, I’d stick to my bicycle!
It’s portable, but I prefer spindles on the road and at meetings….they don’t take up so much space in the bag. It has gone to many workshops and classes with no trouble at all.
Nice sized bobbins….not so small that they seem to fill up immediately, producing tiny skeins, and not so big that you seem to never fill them. And finally…
The drive string STAYS where I put it….another big gripe of mine with the Majacraft-type wheels.
Again, these are just my personal preferences. Your mileage may vary.

Ashford Traditional Single Treadle:
Review by Sherry Nichols

I use an Ashford Traditional single treadle to spin with. This was purchased by first contacting an individual at the “Spinners and Handweaver’s Housecleaning” pages. I traveled to her home to pick it up, which was a few hours away, and used my birthday money to pay $200 for it. It retails for $365.

It was in excellent condition for being 20 yrs. old, and I stained it a Colonial red, which is more of an orange-ish brown. I don’t recommend the stain with polyurethane included, as the color tended to pool up in areas, and it dries too fast for vertical surfaces such as the spokes and wheel. I stripped it off, and started over with the stain first, then the polyurethane. That has always done the best in the past for other furniture, and did so for this.

I really like the simplicity of the wheel (not too many knobs or things to adjust or mess up), and I think it is well suited for beginners and beyond. I understand you can purchase attachments for making it double treadled, or for making the diameter of your yarn smaller or larger. The only trouble I have with mine is not keeping the treadle moving smoothly. It may be a problem with my leg not getting the rhythm, or the worn leather that connects the treadle.

Ashford Traveler:
Review by Nancy Shedden

I own an Ashford Traveler. This wheel was purchased with a small inheritance that I received from a dear family friend. Therefore, it has great sentimental value to me.

I looked at several other wheels (Louett-too funky for my taste; the Babe – made out of PVC—too impersonal for my taste; the Ashford Joy and Majacraft Gem and Suzie–out of my price range) before deciding on the Ashford Traveler.

I like this wheel because it has both a traditional and compact style. I love the wheel itself with the beautiful spoked wheel. My husband put it together and stained the Silver Beech wood a natural cherry which gives it a pretty quaint look. It has a Lazy Kate right in front and is a single drive, double treadle. I like the double treadle because I like having both my feet working at the same time.

I don’t know much about the mechanics of spinning but this wheel is easy to set up, spin, and adjust the tension. My wheel fits easily into the back seat of my vehicle and is relatively light – ~ 15 lbs. therefore, making it a convenient piece to “travel” with. The Traveler also takes up minimal space in our living area.

Ashford Traveler:
Review by Janis Garwood

I own a Majacraft Rose and Suzie Pro. They spin like a hot knife through warm butter and I can spin very fine with them. What does this have to do with my Ashford Traveler? I find that I can not spin thick enough for some yarns on my Majacraft (to suit me). I love the lower speeds I can get on my Traveler (5.5 ratio) and I can get a nice thick single on it.

The Traveler is an upright or castle style wheel. My first wheel was an Ashford Kiwi (another upright) that I would loan out to new spinners. Someone talked me into selling it so I replaced it with the Traveler. I was lucky enough to buy mine for a fabulous price when Melissa at Knit ‘n Purl went out of business. I am using the scotch tension on my single treadle Traveler but I do have the double drive unit when I get inspired to use it. It does require that you use double drive bobbins which are different from the ‘regular’ bobbin.

I love my built in lazy kate because I’m a lazy old thing that hates to drag along another piece of equipment if I don’t have to. It also keeps me from losing my lazy kate.

Having had an Ashford before, I knew about the wonderful customer service provided by Ashford. If you need more bobbins or accessories, you can find them anywhere and for a reasonable price.

For more information on Ashford Traveler and their other products, check out their web site.
There is a wealth of information on their site.

Ashford Kiwi:
Review by Darlene Laverdure

I learned to spin on a friend’s wheel and fell in love with spinning. I never thought I would have my own wheel because they are so expensive and hard to find used. Then one day after a guild meeting we went to Knit n’ Purl and she had the Kiwi on sale at cost. Well, I called my husband and he agreed to let me buy it. Yippee!!

It came in the box so I had to finish it myself. I put a coat of clear polyurethane on it and I think it is beautiful. I have not had experience with other wheels but I like the Kiwi. I like the double treadle although I have never spun on a single. It is pretty easy to carry out to the porch and it doesn’t take up much space. It is not as pretty as some of the wheels I have seen.

I do not know much about the tension and moving the drive band to get different ratios. I spin thin and thick yarn all on the same setting. It works for me. I hope to someday learn how to use it to its full potential but for now we get along good together.

It is a good beginner wheel. It came with 3 bobbins and a lazy Kate. Nothing fancy.

Jensen Production Wheel:
Review by Jenny Bennett

The Jensen Production Wheel is my wheel of choice. This is a 30” wheel (meaning the diameter of the wheel itself is 30” across) Jensen actually makes 2 of these, a ‘plain vanilla’ version and a ‘fancier’ one with ½ length spokes around the wheel I chose this wheel (Santa brought the fancy one seven years ago) because it spins fast and smooth and is so pretty!

This double treadle wheel comes with 4 bobbins and 3 different drive whorl sizes that allows you to change the ratios between the ‘drive’ side and the ‘bobbin’ or ‘take up’ side of the drive band, so that it spins more or less revolutions per peddle push. The 2 you are not using mount on the side of the wheel’s ‘table’, out of the way, but handy – they won’t get lost. It will work equally well as a double drive or scotch tension. I like the idea of the flexibility, but the reality is, I just use the double drive, and the fastest whorl, and adjust my peddling and fiber drafting as needed.

The treadling draft of the double treadle on this wheel fits me very nicely. Some wheels require a pretty long draft (that is, from the top position to bottom of the treadle as you peddle is a long way) and some very short (requiring a little more precision with the peddling because a little push goes all the way). I like this one – not too big or small. With 2 treadles, I can use either one or both, giving my different body parts rest or stretches. And with double treadles it is easy to stop and start without using your hands to get the wheel going the right direction.

The two things I don’t like about this wheel are the shaft that the treadles ride on is a 2 part deal, with a ‘joint’ in the middle, and the hooks on the flyer are pretty flimsy. If the floor is not very flat, it squeaks and groans no matter how much oil you use, because of that 2 part treadle shaft. It really (Jenny Bennett continued) wants a flat, level floor. The hooks on the flyer are across from each other on the same side, which is handy when spinning extra fine, but they are so flimsy that after the first year of spinning, my yarns had cut all the way thru 6 of them. I replaced them with brass cup holder hooks from the hardware store and they have not shown any wear yet!

This wheel spins so smooth. It feels very nice. And it is so pretty – isn’t it nice to use pretty ‘tools’?

Jensen Tina II:
Review by Linda Frank

I have a Jensen Tina II spinning wheel that I have only had for less than a year. Before that I had a Majacraft Rose and before that an Ashford traditional, which I still have.

The reason I got the Tina II was because I liked the flexibility in options that I can use. It is both direct drive or scotch tension and very easy to switch between the two. I had never spun on a direct drive before and have found that I really like it. It spins with very little resistance and spins fast! It also has many whorl options that I change out myself, meaning I have to think a little! I like that challenge because it has made me understand the spinning wheel a bit more.

I also like the looks of the wheel- it is a beautiful cherry wood with spokes. The craftsmanship is amazing AND it is made in Wisconsin, all wheels are made by one person, and each one is signed. Plus it costs less than the Majacraft Rose!

Kromski Mazurka:
Review by Carmen Bonnell

There are varied opinions on love at first sight. I’m staunchly against the concept, and yet…The wheel I have is the one I fell in love with because I saw it in a picture, and now that it is my very own, I love it all the more. I have to admit it makes me question my own emotional responses – do I love my wheel because I want to love my wheel, or is it because it is actually deserving of all the time, money, and adoration I lavish on it? Ah, well – I guess as long as it is a spinning wheel, and not a living, breathing person, it can all be academic, right?

I own a Kromski Mazurka. The wheel itself is fairly small as wheels go, a mere 18 inches. It is a single treadle, with the option of either Scotch tension or double drive. It is a castle wheel, and weighs nine pounds – both of these features lend themselves to making it a very compact, lightweight model, both easy to move and efficient for floor space at home. I had a case made for it, with which I’m overwhelmingly pleased; the case allows me to backpack it, or carry it with a single hand, as well as to manipulate it easily into odd spaces when it is being moved.

As a novice spinner, I wanted to have the confidence that a warrantee afforded – I retailed harps for years, and I didn’t want to find myself in the position that I had seen other bright-eyed and overconfident bargain hunters in. I needed something on the low end of the price-spectrum, but I’m a terrible snob when it comes to esthetic appeal, and this wheel answered both needs. Thankfully, there are other benefits. My Mazurka, if kept well-oiled, runs very quietly, and very smoothly. The treadling is almost effortless, with an easy rhythm. My spinning is relatively consistent on it, without undue focus necessary. For the moment, I am thinking about controlling both the evenness and diameter of my yarn. If it doesn’t happen, it isn’t the wheel, it’s me; we’ll worry about ratios and other options, later.

After experimenting with both double-drive and Scotch tension, I prefer the latter on this wheel. Plying is the only time I miss the Ashford that I borrowed from the guild – for whatever reason, that process was easier on it. I use both feet for treadling, just not at the same time, this being my answer to the ergonomics of a double-treadle wheel!

My many thanks to Charlotte Keathley for encouraging me to consider a Kromski, against other (loudly) voiced advice. Please also note that this is not necessarily a monogamous relationship!

Lendrum Double Treadle:
Review by Tracy Farris

Lendrum Double Treadle (I would like to preface my comments with a note that I have absolutely no experience with any other kind of wheel, so my opinions are in no way comparisons to other wheels.)

The Lendrum DT has a clean “look”. Its style is non-traditional; while it is made in Canada, its simple lines remind me of Scandinavian furniture. I think it is important to like the way the wheel looks, as it really will be a piece of furniture in your home.

It has been an excellent beginner’s wheel, and given its multiple whorls, I believe it will grow with me. I really like the way my Lendrum “fits”. I am tall, and everything on the wheel is at a comfortable level for me.

It is extremely functional. It folds and travels easily, and is lightweight and easy to carry. Folding and unfolding are simple, requiring movement of only one bolt.

I bought the complete wheel, including the plying head, lazy kate and fast flyer. I do not think there is a huge financial advantage to doing this, except for saving on shipping costs if you plan to purchase these items later.

I had no problem locating and purchasing additional bobbins online. Replacement belts and other replacement parts also seemed to be readily available, in addition to a really nice carrying case.

Kromski Sonata:
Review by Penny Tschantz

I bought my wheel in November 2006, before I had learned to spin. My selection process defied conventional wisdom, which urges you to learn all about a wheel before buying it: talk to spinners who own one, get a sense of the wheel’s history of strengths and weaknesses, and above all, try it out to see whether, at the very least, you like the way it treadles. I couldn’t follow any of these intelligent suggestions because the Sonata, a brand-new model, was not yet available in the U.S. I learned about it only by chance.

I knew I wanted an upright folding wheel that I could travel with, I wanted a traditional-looking wheel, and I preferred a dark finish. I tried treadling an Ashford Joy at SAFF, but it didn’t feel right. I tried a Lendrum and liked the way it felt, but its looks just didn’t grab me. I did some research on the Internet and learned about the forthcoming Louet Victoria. When I called the Woolery, which was going to be selling it, the owner told me that he hadn’t been able to spin on it; he had only the information that Louet had provided. He had, however, tried another new folding wheel and could recommend it without hesitation. He suggested that I look it up online and call him back. So I did, and what I found convinced me that Kromski is a reputable company and its new wheel was just what I wanted.

Kromski is a fairly small, family-owned and operated business in Poland. They make a variety of wheels. I loved the look of the Sonata, and the price was right. At that time, I could get a free carrying bag as well. So I took a deep breath and ordered one. In the sixteen months since then, I have never regretted my rash decision.

The Sonata uses 4-oz. wood bobbins and has a 19-inch wheel. It has Scotch tension and a stretchy drive band, with drive ratios of 6.7, 12.5, and 14. A high-speed flyer and a jumbo plying flyer are available. So far I’ve been able to spin as fine a singles as I want with the standard flyer. I bought a Woollee Winder which is great for plying, but a bit fiddly for spinning singles. Though the Sonata’s instructions say that the drive band’s tension should not need adjustment once it’s set, I’ve found that I do have to adjust it when I change whorls; and certainly when I use the Woollee winder. Other than a fairly frequent need for oiling, my wheel has been trouble free. It folds easily for taking along to guild meetings, workshops, and demonstrations, although it’s too big to carry onto an airplane and rather heavy for lugging very far. A wide range of accessories is available; I have the spinning stool, a niddy-noddy, and a tensioned Lazy Kate.

As a beginning spinner, I’ve found the Sonata very easy to use. At this time, I can’t imagine needing another wheel unless I wanted a really small one or a double drive. I enjoy spinning on my walnut-finish Sonata as well as just looking at it, and I would recommend it to anyone.

Hansen MiniSpinner (Woolee Winder version):
Review by Jessica Martin

The Hansen MiniSpinner came to me after a lengthy search for a small footprint travel wheel. I had originally planned to purchase a Schacht Sidekick but, unfortunately, their initial production fell behind schedule because of part sourcing difficulties so I opted to put my wheel search on hold.

I ran across the MiniSpinners via a reference on a Ravelry message board and placed an order for one of the manual flyer versions after talking with Shereen, who also has one. At the time the manual flyer version’s hooks were undergoing production difficulties of their own , so I changed my order to the stock Woolee Winder version of the wheel.

First, let me say this is an amazing workhorse of a wheel. It’s tiny size is deceptive as it is well engineered and solidly crafted to handle just about any kind of spinning project you want to tackle. The orifice is large (over 1/2″) and the WW version bobbin will hold upwards of 10 oz of fiber. The scotch tension setup coupled with the Woolee Winder can make spinning cobweb and lace weight somewhat challenging because of the pull; however, I understand that the new (mid-2012) manual flyer version is incredibly well suited to fine spinning. The flyer and manual bobbins (which are even larger than the WW version ones) can be purchased separately to add on to an existing WW version MiniSpinner. I tend not to spin fine and find that I love the easy, even wind on the Woolee Winder provides so I’m content without the manual flyer (for the moment, at least).

Since the spinner is electric and has a variable speed control there are no whorls or pulleys to adjust ratios. To change the speed of the wheel you simply turn a dial to increase or decrease speed. It has a toggle switch to choose which direction you want to spin in (i.e. S or Z) and a foot pedal that, depending on when you plug it in, will either operate in on/off mode or deadman mode. Deadman mode means that so long as your foot is depressing the pedal the motor is on, otherwise the circuit is broken and the motor is off.

The Hansens also offer a great range of affordable accessories such as bobbins in different woods, quills, orifice reducers for fine spinning, firmware upgrade chips, maintenance kits and more. Although they do not directly sell batteries for the mS; however, they do provide battery suggestions on their Ravelry group and compatible ones can generally can be purchased from eBay resellers for around $40. I also like the fact the Hansens actively engage their customers and answer questions via their Ravelry group. Their support for the wheels is tremendous!

I adore my MiniSpinner. This is a wheel for those who want an ultra portable travel wheel, those who have knee or joint problems or those who are simply interested in a versatile “forever” wheel. It is a joy to use and versatile enough to either be used as a solo wheel or as a complement to treadle wheels already in your herd.