Martha describes the spinning wheels sold at Yarn Circle:
What do I spin on? Well you will have to come visit me at the store so I can tell you lots of stories about the wheel choice dilemma!
Ashford - A family business from New Zealand. Ashford makes a style wheel that many think of as the “Sleeping Beauty wheel.” This wheel has fed the revival of interest in spinning since the 1960s. When I started spinning the kit came unfinished for $99. (The lowest I have heard of was in 1967 at $67.) I wish I could tell you they are still so low...but the yarn store biz is affected by many factors. Ashord still makes replacement parts that serve the older wheels being used. Available in several styles, this wheel comes finished and unfinished, most with Scotch tension, but also double drive and bobbin lead. At Yarn Circle we can also get fibers, rovings and good supporting books.
Schacht - Schact wheels come from Boulder Colorado. The building process doesn’t begin until an order is placed. They begin with the hub of the wheel, and every part is hand sanded and rubbed with a Danish oil finish. The wheels are assembled, inspected, and spun on before they leave the shop. The range of smooth treadling wheels includes 1) the Matchless, single or double treadle, 2) the Ladybug, a more affordable wheel now available with characteristic solid construction and 3) the family of Reeves wheels, solid Saxony wheels from various kiln dried woods. Current lead time for a new order is eight to ten weeks. These are individually constructed artisan style wheels, very versatile, and beautiful.
Louet - Made in Holland. I have had a wheel like this since 1980. (Oops! I was going to make you come by the shop to learn what kind of wheels I own personally.) I find the Louet to be good for beginning spinners because it is sturdy and little adjustment is needed while spinning on it. I put it in the front seat of my car and tie it in with the seat belt. Louets have a large bobbin with steps to increase the ratios available. But many people tell me they think this is an ugly wheel. Streamlined Scandinavian styling, say I! Available finished and unfinished, single and double treadle, and with a spoked or plain drive wheel of birch ply wood. There are also two space-age styles. One with wheels that turn other wheels so it is quite short (sewing machine size), and one that has its own carrying backpack so that it will fit in the overhead baggage carrier on an airplane. “Have wheel, will travel.”
Kromski - A family business in Poland. This is the newest wheel to pop up on the horizon in the last ten or so years. Definitely an old world style but made with large bobbins (3 1/2 ounce capacity) and several ratios. The wheels are made in groups of around one hundred at a time and are shipped by container load to the United States. Each wheel has been spun on in Poland and is signed and packed in Polish newspapers so you can catch up on current events! The distributor, New Voyager Trading Company, is located in Georgia so we receive orders quickly. There are five styles currently, single and double treadle, available unfinished, in clear, walnut or mahogany stain. The newest in the line, the Sonata, is a full sized folding wheel that comes with a substantial carrying case. The Fantasia, Prelude, and Sonata are Scotch tension while the others are both Scotch tension and double drive. Kromski makes an exceptionally affordable “fancier” (with many turnings) family of wheels.
~A word about our silent partner Ronnie Howard: Ronnie very kindly agreed to assemble all the wheels we have on display. One of the great things about coming to see us is that you can test drive the wheels that this expert engineer, blacksmith and woodworker, has assembled for your use. I must tell you that Ronnie doesn’t come to your house to assemble the wheels! You must visit us here if you want this service provided for you! (Well, unless you live in a rare and exotic location and offer to pay for his plane fare and feed him well and agree to entertain the rest of us who will be so jealous that we will not let him travel by himself...) But never fear, we can always drop-ship any of these wheels to your home. The directions for construction are good on all of the wheels. I have done it several times with all these styles. I will also get you going on your wheel and improve your understanding of adjustment possibilities. Or sign up for Saturday Spinning.
Personal aesthetic: What do you like to see when you are at home with your new wheel? In one day I had two people talking about the same wheel as ugly vs. streamlined Scandinavian styling or lovely turnings vs. “a bit busy.” Decide what you like to look at and feel happy using.