Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

NH Wool Arts Tour, Conclusion: The Wheel Deal

Filed under: Craft Shopping,Shopping Adventures,Special Events,Spinning — folkcat at 2:24 pm on Thursday, October 12, 2006

The final two stops on the Wool Arts Tour were hardly picture worthy. Western View Farm had several vendors under tents in the back yard of a farmhouse; The Fiber Studio had a few vendors selling hand-dyed yarns and personal care items like lotion and soap.

The only story left to tell about took place at The Fiber Studio. Gryphon and I had already examined multiple spinning wheels at Mirage Alpacas, and were beginning to get a feel for what I wanted. At the Fiber Studio, Gryphon decided to stay in the car and rest while I took a look around.

I headed for the wheels on display, and began treadling. And conclusions were reached.

I recognize that every wheel does its job reasonably well, and that wheels that don’t suit me are probably perfect for someone else. The following opinions are purely based on the suitability of the wheels for me, so please don’t take them as a blanket generalization.

There were Kromski wheels. There were Ashford wheels.There was a Louet.

I put my feet to the Kromski treadles. Each Kromski wheel struck me as relatively noisy as it spun. There was a persistent rattle and hum. While many would not be bothered by the low level of noise, I am easily disturbed by extraneous noises in my environment, and I already live in a downtown apartment location with lots of traffic sounds, and fairly noisy neighbors. So Kromski went off my personal list, as I couldn’t tolerate the noise.

I tried the Louet. It was – okay. The footman attached to the wheel so close to the hub that getting it started took a lot of effort. So beginning to treadle tended to be jerky, and getting it to go in the direction of your choice was a little tricky. I’m looking for smooth, easy to operate action – strike the Louet.

I had seen most of the Ashford wheels at Mirage Alpacas, and found treadling them to be a little jerky. Several had treadles small enough to be an uncomfortable fit for my size 10 extra-wide feet. But there was an Ashford Traveller on display at The Fiber Studio, so to be fair, I gave it a try. It seemed to treadle smoothly enough, even changing directions fairly well. But even through my heavy walking shoe soles, I could feel a little *click* in my feet with every step. That would drive me insane as it was – and in use at home, it would be worse, since I’d almost certainly be treadling barefoot 99% of the time. That was the final nail in the coffin for Ashfords for me.

At last, I turned to the remaining wheel in the room – a Lendrum Double Treadle (DT). At a glance, it was apparent this was a well-built piece of woodwork. You know how it is when you’re looking at two nearly identical pieces, same materials, same pattern – yet you can tell immediately which was made by a master of the craft? That’s how it was when I looked at the Lendrum.

I put my feet to the treadles. Good size. Began pumping. Smooth action, the best of any wheel I’d tried that day. Direction changed easily. I listened – only a mere whisper of sound as the wheel whipped around.

The Lendrum also met my criteria for appearance – clean lines, not overly frilly, yet not so Modern Art-ish that you felt it should be in the Guggenheim instead of your living room. Kromski’s had always looked to me like they had too much gingerbread; there are certain Louet models that are so stark as to be outright ugly. I wanted a wheel that would be a pleasure to look at as I worked, since I’d be looking at it a lot.

But did the Lendrum have the features I needed? My desire to spin laceweight demands those capabilities, and my budget insists that whatever wheel I settle on be able to fill my needs for a long, long time. I asked the owner for some documentation I could look at, and she pulled out some pages listing the specifications and the optional add-ons.

The Lendrum as purchased (in the regular package) does not include the Fast Flyer that gives laceweight ratios. The Complete package for $115 more adds both that and the plying head, but doesn’t give a break on the price when you buy the bundle. Since the Fast Flyer only costs about $30, it’s easy for me to add that now, and worry about the plying head later.

I got Gryphon from the car and told him what I’d found – and that I was as sure as I could be that this was the one. He came in with me, and we talked to the owners of the shop.

They said that they had two Lendrum DT’s in stock, and that if they needed to order one from the manufacturer for me it could take six months or longer to come in. But they didn’t want me to lock in my decision until I’ve taken the spinning class at their store at the end of the month. So how do we deal with this – what if it happened that the class confirmed my conviction that the Lendrum is the wheel for me, but they’ve sold both of their stock wheels in the meantime? Not likely to happen, perhaps, but it was still a possibility.

I couldn’t swear that they’d do this for everyone, so please don’t try to make them offer you the same plan. The Fiber Studio does do layaways as a regular policy. But in this case, they insisted that they would let me put money down on the Lendrum, and they’d hold one for me – but that I could change my mind and get a different wheel if, after the class, I felt differently.

How cool is that?

So we plopped a down payment on the counter, and made the Wheel Deal. I have a Lendrum DT in reserve, to be confirmed or not when I take the spinning class, and to be paid in full no later than when Gryphon gets his Christmas bonus at the beginning of December.

There WILL be a wheel in this house before the end of the year.

It gets worse – she’s already got a name. Dizzy Lizzy Lendrum.

I think this spinning thing just might take.



Comment by Cheryl

October 13, 2006 @ 8:08 am

Good choice! The Lendrum is a great wheel, I’ve had the pleasure of spinning on several of them. I’ve even considered getting one for a “travel” wheel, since my other wheels aren’t very portable. I think you’ll love it.


Comment by witchypoo

October 17, 2006 @ 5:24 pm

I love my Lendrum DT! It spins like a dream! If I get my wooly winder for Christmas as I hope I will sell you my plying head with 2 plying bobbins.

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