I’ve been a handspinner for mumble years. Long enough to have worn out - literally - an Ashford Traditional and then an Ashford Traveller. I’ve had my production wheel, a Majacraft Susie, for about 25 years. And then … of all things … I got interested in antique wheels. It started with a Revolutionary War-era great wheel that I saw on Craigslist that just happened to be in a town where a friend lives. Then a mid-1800s flax wheel from Facebook Marketplace that also just happened to be a town over from where a different friend lives. And then, an early 1900s slanty wool wheel from Facebook Marketplace that just happened to be right around the corner from my brother-in-law! I mean … really … how’s a gal to say no? Now that I’ve spun on some of these old treasures, I’m totally in love with them. Anyone else?
Ohhhh those are beauties! I have not taken up spinning yet… I’ve been tempted and a few have been “threatening” to pull me in. Lol
I’m not a spinner but am wondering if you found a big difference between the antique and modern wheels? It seems the craftsmanship of the yesteryears is so much better in most things these days and the things last forever. Just curious.
Yep, me too. First wheel, a great wheel with bat’s head. Love it. Spun on it immediately with a few temporary repairs. Next, a modern wheel, a Lendrum DT - doesn’t count here but I did need a modern, versatile wheel that could fit in the car. Then, 4 more antique wheels at once, from someone who had to move. Each one is charming with all essential parts. But each has workarounds that limit the practicality of using them frequently or as go-to wheels. Your wheels are very appealing and I’m glad they have a good home. I will likely re-home 3 of mine eventually. What do you like to spin on yours?
The craftsmanship is AMAZING! The 250-year-old Great Wheel spins like a dream. It’s so well-balanced, the wheel turns effortlessly. Really incredible. And you can tell by the bend in one spoke - the master spoke - and the wear on the original quill that it was very well used.
The flax wheel is a little workhorse. It’s about 200 years old and has that same effortless motion. I had to have a footman made for it and I had a new flyer unit and bobbin made because the originals were quite frail. I didn’t have to tighten anything on it, just treated the wood. It spins like a dream.
The slanty Hutterite wheel - fairly new at around 100 years old - needs some TLC to get up and spinning. I have all the original parts and they are functional, but it’s pretty loosy-goosy in the joints and will take some shims to tighten.
As far as differences in spinning, I don’t have a modern flax wheel to compare to. Of course, I don’t have a modern Great Wheel either. My production wheel uses Scottish tension, so comparisons would be apples to oranges.
I don’t spin much on the Great Wheel only because of a lack of space in my little house. I hope when we move in a couple of years that I’ll have a place to both display and use it. I’ve been spinning wool on the flax wheel and I love how easy it is to spin lace-weight yarn on it. The slanty Hutterite will be a fairly slow wheel because of the ratios, so I’m thinking that will be more for thicker yarns.
It’s great to have these in use. I can see why collectors can’t resist.