Choosing a spinning wheel is like choosing a wedding dress; with so many wheels from manufacturers all over the world, it takes time and research to decide what is the right wheel for you.
Finding the “right” wheel for you means choosing a wheel that (a) feels comfortable and (b) includes the necessary design features (above) to spin the yarns you want to use or sell.
Purchasing a wheel from your local manufacturer not only supports your local economy - but often lowers the cost of future maintenance and repairs. It’s always cheaper to ship parts or repairs to a domestic manufacturer, than internationally.
I recommend test driving wheels, even after you make a purchase that you’re happy with, so you can feel the design features and learn what makes each brand / model special.
SPINNING WHEEL COMPARISON CHECKLIST:
- Manufacturer / Location:
- Lowest / Highest Ratio Speed:
- Number of Speeds:
- Flyer / Bobbin Size(s):
- Orifice Size & Styles:
- Accessories & Options:
- Treadling Style / Feel:
- My budget is:
- My domestic spinning wheel manufacturer(s) are:
- I use this weight of yarn the most:
- I want to use my handspun yarn for:
- I feel limited by my current wheel because:
- I want to bring my wheel to:
ASK THE MANUFACTURER OR YOUR LOCAL DEALER.
After you have narrowed down your options using the above criteria, then look more into the manufacturer who makes the wheel you are considering.
If a spinning wheel manufacturer or their dealer doesn’t respond within 2 weeks to a potential sale, they might take even longer to respond to problems or service/manufacturing issues.
Email the company or your local dealer asking about which wheel they would recommend in your budget to spin the weight of yarn you want to spin. Ask them what their best seller is within your price range. Give them at least 2 weeks to respond (especially during festival season and the holidays).
Look into the company’s return policy and warranty.
Does the company have user guides? Is it easy to find/replace parts? How high maintenance are the wheels?
Does the company have a reputation for friendly customer service? Note: I recommend looking at the past 2-3 years of customer service, as I am aware of several spinning wheel manufacturers have been re-staffed & are under new management within the past 5 years. A lot can change in a year, much more 5 years. Any situation over 5 years old should not be considered, as it likely would be handled differently under current business management.
Do not trust or listen to spinners who defame or libel ANY spinning wheel manufacturer online in a public forum; while refusing to contact the manufacturer directly, professionally, and kindly to seek a resolution.
ASK THE COMMUNITY.
If you have narrowed down your wheel search to 2 or 3 brands/models, have contacted the manufacturers, and are still having a hard time making a decision - I recommend asking unbiased groups on Facebook or Ravelry for their opinions based on your research. However: take their opinion lightly because you are looking for your spinning wheel, and they will have different preferences than you do.
Post a discussion along the lines of, “I’ve narrowed down my next wheel purchase to Wheel A or Wheel B. I’ve contacted both manufacturers and am happy with how they answered my questions. If you have experience spinning on both of these wheel models, which did you prefer and why?”
MY EXPERIENCE +$0.02
I have owned and enjoyed spinning on Louet, Ashford, and SpinOlution wheels. I have also test driven Schacht, Majacraft, Bluebonnet, Lendrum, Kromski, Babe, Clemes, and many other brands. When I attend Sheep & Wool Festivals, I go from booth to booth trying as many wheels as possible so I can learn who they are designed for. I love trying new wheels. Each wheel is designed for a specific customer - just like wedding dresses. Test driving a spinning wheel is like trying on a wedding dress. It’s fun, even if you’re not seriously shopping that day.
MY SPINNING EXPERIENCE
2003-2004: I spun on a Louet S17 KIT for about a year, and after that time I found the small orifice and bobbin size limiting. This is because I spin really bulky yarn with a lot of embellishments. There were beads I wanted to try that wouldn’t fit thru the orifice. And I could only get about 40 yards per bobbin. Not many people spin yarn as bulky as I do, so not many spinners are limited in the same way I am by wheels.
2005-2015: I invested in an Ashford Country Spinner (A-Frame Style, now discontinued) and spun on that wheel “The Black Purl” for 10 years. That wheel was part of my branding. I included this wheel in my book, my earliest videos, and recommended it to everyone who asked me what it was and where they could get one. I inquired about being an Ashford dealer so I could earn a small income in my promotion of their company, but I didn’t meet their criteria at the time.
2015-Present: Mike Pauly sent me a Firefly spinning wheel in 2015 as a portion of bartering for re-designing their website - and I told him it was going to be impossible to get me off of my Ashford and onto a Firefly. After a month of spinning on the Firefly I called him, “You were right. This wheel is perfect for me.” I sold my Ashford Country Spinner, and I’ve been spinning on a SpinOlution ever since.
AM I BIASED?
Is it biased to work with a company that listens and responds? I don’t think so. Consider my experience with other brands:
I contacted [Company A] via their website with a wheel concept design years ago, and never got a response. In 2015 I explained this same wheel concept to Mike, that concept wheel became the Pollywog, and it’s now SpinOlution’s best seller.
I contacted [Company B] and offered a website redesign in exchange for product. They never responded. In 2015 Mike and I quickly worked out a fair barter in to update their branding, and their sales increased 200% the following year.
I contacted [Company C] and inquired about teaching classes on their equipment. No response. In 2018 SpinOlution gave me their entire line of Golden Whorl wheels for teaching and touring. Wow.
Is it biased to work with a company that responds and serves their customers? You tell me. I could tell you many other stories of SpinOlution going above and beyond in their customer service policies and business practices - but those stories will wait to be told another day.
Working behind-the-scenes with Mike Pauly & SpinOlution has been the best business & spinning education I could ever receive. The knowledge I have gleaned about spinning wheel design, engineering, and function has been just incredible. I still have much more to learn, but I will always be grateful to Mike for listening to my ideas, trusting my vision, and giving me the tools to spin the yarns I want to spin. I am proud to be a dealer of their products, and work on their customer service team.
And that’s my $0.02 on choosing a spinning wheel. Thank you for reading.