Wherein I actually go out tiger hunting. (I’ll leave my mom at home, although she is good to have around in an accident.) I started out talking about the circumstances of why I don’t have one already, and it just turned into a massive missive of petulance, and while it was definitely cathartic, it’s not really appropriate.
I’ve been spinning on a variety of spindles for about a year, on a variety of homemade and no-frills budget pieces. I have toyed with the idea of buying really nice pieces, but at the end of the day I feel like $50+ is too much to spend for such a basic tool. I understand that these are handcrafted, high-quality pieces, but I feel like that’s a lot to spend when I already have much more affordable tools that do the same thing. They may not do it as well as a Bosworth or Jensen, but I’ve never had the chance to try one and see. Plus, a lot of the high-end spindles are very ornate and decorative, and I’m more of a form-over-function kind of girl. (At least, I usually am. I’ll get into this more when I talk about Babe wheels.)
A wheel is a decent chunk of money, even on the lower end of the spectrum. When I’m purchasing a machine worth several hundred dollars, I want to research all my options and know the features, benefits, and drawbacks. (I even do this for inexpensive furniture and electronics. I think I just really like making spreadsheets.) But the first step, before I even started researching brands, was to ask myself why I wanted a wheel.
I enjoy spinning yarn, but my enjoyment is like a short, fast-burning fuse. I get very eager to start, I’ll spin for hours at a time, and then I’m fairly over whatever particular fiber I’m working on. I do like to spin fine, because I spin to knit, and I have more use for fine yarn. But spindling fine yarn is always going to take longer than spindling chunky yarns, and I don’t have the best attention span. I realize that if I took breaks and broke up my work instead of spinning for three or four hours at a time, I wouldn’t have the resultant achy shoulders and sore arms, and I wouldn’t feel so reluctant to get back to it. But it’s so hard to walk away when you get into a groove.
What I like more than the act of spinning, is the act of knitting with yarn that I spun, that looks more or less just how I want. A lot of it is pride, and I keep expecting it to go away, but every time I’ve picked up a knitted-with-handspun project (which, admittedly, hasn’t been a whole lot), I’ve thought “I can’t believe I made that.” I’ve never been that impressed with my own knitting, and I do wonder if it will fade in time with my spinning. I do feel a little bit like I should hold off on the wheel, and give spinning more time to see if the shine wears off.
But the shine wears off during every project, and I still come back to it. I feel like it would be less likely to fall out of love with my spinning if I could get it done faster.
Speed is probably my biggest impetus for wanting a wheel. I am both a project and a process knitter, and the same is true for spinning. I have never fit firmly into one camp or another, but I have bought knitting tools that have enhanced my enjoyment of the process and my ability to churn out more products; one reason I bought my HiyaHiyas and my Heavy Metals is because metal interchangeable needles would combine to make my knitting much faster. (I knit in the round a lot, and being able to put a smaller tip on the left makes it so much smoother.)
There are some things I knit for the experience of it, and some things I knit for the utility of it, and the same is true for spinning. (And some projects that combine both in varying degrees.) I spun a Merino batt because I wanted to try and spin Merino, and I probably wouldn’t do that on a wheel. I started a braid of sock-blend fiber because I wanted to try wearing handspun socks, and while I did start it on a Turkish because that’s what I have, I would definitely try that on a wheel, because that much yardage is becoming a bit of a slog. So I suppose I would say, I want a wheel for those situations when I want a large amount of yardage, but I would still use spindles for when I just wanted to enjoy a new and lovely fiber, or if I wanted a more portable project.
What I don’t want a wheel for is to replace spindles. Wheel spinning isn’t any better than spindling. I don’t feel like it necessarily has to be a progression from spindle to wheel, and honestly, it may not be for me; I won’t know until I actually have the experience of using a wheel. It would be more of a supplement, and even if I wasn’t crazy about spinning singles on a wheel, I would definitely want to use it for plying. I think bobbins on a tensioned Kate would be much preferable to fighting loops coming off a tennis ball. Plying on a spindle, is faster than spinning singles, but it’s also a lot less fun. Once the drafting is done, it’s all business, and why not have a more utilitarian way of plying, if you can?
This is getting fairly lengthy, so I’m going to go into more details on my research in a new post.