And the winner is...

Well, look who decided to jump into the back seat of my car on the way up to San Francisco last week.

I decided to keep her. Her name is "Ren" which is short for renaissance (not the other 1/2 of Ren & Stimpy, although that would've been awesome!). I'm sure I have intelligent readers, so I'll let you fill in the blank on the meaning behind the name ;)

Picking the perfect wheel wasn't really a hard decision. Actually, it was pretty easy. The wheel was already decided on weeks ago (everything worked out nicely on paper), and on hold for me at the shop. When we walked into Village Spinning & Weaving, the wheel was already set up for me and ready to spin on. The owner (actually, one of the owners, John) gave me the usual quick intro to the wheel and it's parts, set-up/fold down, let me spin on it (which was a breeze! I made yarn!!!) and then we stared at each other for a few minutes, because the wheel was designed to be simple.

We got all of our "business" handled in probably less than 10 minutes! :O The wheel was designed by an engineer (mechanical) so the ultimate goal is function. Form (imo) was not sacrificed by function - I find it appealing to look at. And like a typical engineer in a conversation, there really wasn't much to talk about hahaaaa So I felt a little robbed because I guess in my head I expected a little more foreplay and the damn wheel just left me hanging. Done showing me what was up before I even got started *sigh* Hope that's not to graphic for you, but it was the best description I could come up with at the moment :D

Anyway, there was no need for any explanation at all, everything on the wheel is pretty intuitive, and this is ultimately why I picked it. I was not in the market for something frilly or fussy. I sure as hell was not in the market for something that had a book of instructions that I had to read through! Boooorrrring!

I did however, to be fair, try 5 other wheels for good measure. I mean, I couldn't really just spend 20 minutes in that shop and then leave. I had to the side trip worth my time (and money). I spent a total of 2 hrs in the shop, which is exactly the amount of time the d.h. and I had budgeted. Below are the wheels I tried (in order) along with a quick little synopsis on my likes/dislikes.

  • Ashford Traveler
    • Felt cheap - construction-wise and aesthetic-wise
    • Noisy - could've been the user (nah!) but I kept telling the wheel to sshhh while I was trying to concentrate!
    • Ornate - there is just way too much going on visually with this wheel for my liking. Less is more.
  • Kromski Mazurka
    • Top heavy (equating to a high center of gravity) with a small footprint = tip overs are inevitable
    • Ornate design (not my taste)
  • Kromski Minstrel - For the record, this is similar to the above wheel but has a larger footprint & wheel.
    • Less ornate, kind of.
    • Sturdy - as mentioned above, larger wheel, larger footprint
    • Easy treadling, easy to start spinning
    • Quiet - purred like a kitten
    • Old school features (same as wheel above) - leather bearings - were interesting to play on
  • Schacht Matchless -
    •  Aesthetics - Clean & simple. Maybe a little too simple. Looked super plain in person. Not in a bad way, I just thought it would look a little more like the price tag attached : \
    • Beefy, Sturdy & Heavy- I like something I can sink my teeth into. This wheel felt solidly built.
    • Challenging - this wheel made work for that yard of yarn I spun on it. Treadling was a workout (could've been the settings) but all in all, I liked the feel of the wheel.
 And last, certainly not at all on my register but the owner insisted I try it:
  • Majacraft Suzie - Daaaaammmmmnnnnnn! All I have to say here is that I'm glad I tried it!
    • Quiet - Not even a hum out of this wheel. Just silky smooth spinning.
    • Easy breezy, smooth treadling - What a dream to spin on for a rookie. Made me feel like a seasoned pro! It's the kind of wheel that helped an insecure, rookie spinners self esteem. Me likey!
    • Aesthetically - On a scale of 1-5 (5 being orgasmic) this wheel is barely registering at a 1, but it functions. It's not aesthetically an eye sore to me either, it's just kind of meh. I'm totally indifferent about its appearance. I tend to lean more towards function over form. If I get both, then that's even better. So I said all that to say that it looks "aight" lol
    • Construction - Up there with the Lendrum; Designed by an engineer (aerospace) for his wife, so it's got nice details that a regular spinner who likes to take their wheel on trips would appreciate like a built-in, rotating handle. After I saw the handle, I was done lol Very clever. There are also metal details on the wheel that are all kinds of "high tech"  and aerospace looking. They were at the back of the wheel, so they didn't bother me either. The only concern is the material it is made out of - New Zealand Rimu (soft) - which from what I've heard dings easily. I'm pretty particular about my possessions but I don't know if I can handle a wheel that can't take a nice knocking around. And I do have to rambunctious dogs in the house : | Something's bound to get banged up!
So all in all, I had a very successful trip to Village. Unsuccessful if you count the money I had coming into the shop, and the amount of money I was left with once we departed lol. [That's ok, I saved up months in advance, putting aside a little bit each paycheck. It was not a spur of the moment purchase! I very seldom do those anymore.] I even left thinking about how I was going to fund the 2nd wheel, and I don't even know if I like this whole spinning thing yet! From my review, I'm sure you will be able to figure out which 2 wheels (minus the inclusion of a Lendrum saxony *drool*) will be in the running for 4th sibling (first 2 are the dogs, slowpoke!). Let's not get ahead of ourselves though :D But a girl can dream.

We strapped the Lendrum into the backseat like a passenger and we were on our way to S.F. Once I got into the room, I immediately plopped down on the couch, kicked my shoes off and started spinning. How fun!!! The d.h. even hopped on for a spin, and was successful! He's totally fascinated with this whole spinning thing. Easy, breezy. I'm very happy with my purchase! No regrets at all *phew*

 [There is no vodka in the orange juice in case if you were wondering ;)]

I also got way ahead of myself (per usual) and played with different ratios (8:1 and 6:1 on the standard flyer) to complete fail! So, yeah... I put the drive band back to the original setting (10:1), and everything was great back in spinning land. [Side salad: I'm not going to show a picture of the current bobbin, because it is truly a mess hahahaaaa This is the practice round... you know... the "art" yarn stage :D] I've also decided that I'm going to need lots of practice before I start jumping around and playing with the different settings. Perfect one first, then move on to the next. I need discipline! Otherwise I will be all over the place and discouraged with this new hobby. I'm using "The Intentional Spinner" as my reference and have played around with a couple of drafting techniques (short draw, aka "inch-worming" and spinning from the fold). Who knows if I'm actually doing either right. All I know is that I'm producing singles, so to me, that is a success! I'm also starting to get a feel for coordination... well, the treadling is working out ok, and the drafting is working out ok... but remembering to move the thread guide, yeah, that's another story *doh!* Woolee Winder, anyone? hahahaaa I should start saving now! But for now, we deal.

I also grabbed a few bags of fiber to play around with for when I figure out what I'm doing lol! Clockwise from the top left: Brown Cotton (meaning, undyed/unbleached), Bast Bamboo (soft and shiny like silk), generic Merino (teal), generic Merino (multi color - Mojave - d.h. picked this), and Polwarth top, which is what I'm currently spinning. Gotta love a med-long staple fiber ;) The Polwarth is somewhere between 4-5" long, so I'm finding it very rookie friendly. I also have a few bags of fiber at home (BFL,Jacob, and Finn).

Anyway... till next time!

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