I am now the happy owner of an Ashford Traveller spinning wheel. Recently, on the run up to a big ‘0’ birthday, Mr ‘L’ asked me ‘Could you think of something that you would like my family to buy for your birthday – they’d like club together to buy you something’. I replied ‘I don’t know, I’m not sure that I need things, I need time and lots of it’. I then proceeded with a long list of what I wanted to do with my time. Mr ‘L’, ever the sensible one, said ‘No really, you need to think of a thing, it would more helpful – a significant, could be, big-ticket item’.

So, I had a think back to other significant birthdays and landmarks in time, and what came to mind was a present bought for my 18th birthday. A sewing machine. I still have it and it still does the job for me after all these years. It’s been worth every penny. It has done some hours chugging along making these curtains. I realise I have not yet posted a picture of the finished item mentioned in A crafter’s hallowed ground.

patchwork curtains
Kaffe Fasset style patchwork curtains

So what else might I need? Well, of course, it’s in the picture. I have deliberated for some time on this. I already have an antique flax wheel, but it’s hard work to spin wool on this, and I’ve been spinning well on drop spindles.

What I needed was something set up well for the spinning wool. There are many reasons why I like drop spindles, mentioned in Spinning and watching the water levels fall  and they still stand, but I wanted to try a wheel too. I wanted something fairly compact that would fit in a car for occasional journeys away from home without too much trouble, and most of all has some flexibility to spin fine yarn, thick yarn and long staple or thin staple wool or fibres. For that (I eventually realised) more than one ‘drive ratio‘ is helpful. So here I am with my new wheel – 4 drive ratios, lightweight – only 7 kg or 15 lbs, oh, and it’s a reasonable price too.

My drop spindles will still do the work of being my portable spinning tool, for when I’m very ‘in the zone’ and want to make use of time away from home, and no doubt because sometimes I like to switch tools.

Here’s my stash of raw materials, ready to go – much of it a welcome birthday present to go with the wheel.

I’ve been practising with regular grey before trying adventurous colour combinations – uneven and with not very balanced twist, but production has started.

grey ryeland yarn