Posts from the ‘Spinning Wheels’ category

Wheel Review: Pipy Wendy

The Facts:

– Made in New Zealand of Rimu wood by Philip Poore
– Double drive (I’ve seen what looks like a Scotch tensioning system in some photos, but it’s not on this one.)
– single treadle, comfy for either foot
– one whorl with ratios of approx. 7, 8, and 9 to 1
– approx. 3/8″ round orifice
– 16″ drive wheel
– 28″ tall with an orifice height of 24″ when flyer frame is horizontal
– wooden flyer with lovely metal hooks set in metal flyer frame
– on board lazy kate
– She’s an old wheel and not readily available. I’ve had my eye out for one for a good while and scored this one on eBay.

Wheel Info and My Opinion:

Aw, she’s lovely, isn’t she? I don’t know a whole lot about these wheels, other than that they were made in New Zealand on a small scale between 1962 and 1982. I’ve seen photos of other Wendys with slightly more sophisticated-looking wood-turning, so my guess is this one’s an earlier model.

Since this is an old wheel, I will tell you my experience with this particular specimen. This wheel has some serious dings and came to me in a pretty filthy state. There’s been some cleaning, some gluing, the addition of some leather washers Mr. HelloYarn made to keep the bolts from marring the wood further, and some oiling and waxing, but it didn’t take anything else to get her to spin like a top. It is a pleasure to use in addition to being so stinking cute I could scream.

This is a sturdy, solid wood wheel that, despite its small size, stands solidly when spun on.

Everything about this wheel seems pretty normal until you get to the flyer. It’s held in a metal frame that pivots on a brass rod, allowing tensioning of the double drive system by the turning of a wooden knob. This changes the height of the orifice, but it hasn’t been a problem for me. I’ve found the knob to be very handy and the tensioning to be responsive. The front maiden supports a metal bearing that’s built around the orifice, which isn’t something I’ve ever seen before. Once thoroughly oiled, it turned freely.

The whorl is solid wood and fits onto the steel flyer spindle, staying put with 2 notches fitting over two flanges. I would think this is excellent news for someone who wants to make new faster or slower whorls. There aren’t any machined metal parts to match.

The wheel treadles nicely, due in part to weights embedded in the rim of the drive wheel. I don’t know if someone added these or if they were built this way, but they really get rid of that dead spot.

Despite being older and small, this would make a great basic wheel for someone. The ratios are middle-of-the-road, the tensioning isn’t fiddly, and it treadles well. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it again.

This particular wheel isn’t readily available, so the info contained in this review isn’t going to come in handy for many, but there’s so little online about these that I figured someone would be happy to read this someday. If you have a Pipy, I’d love to hear about it and talk wheels.


Wheel Review: Majacraft Rose

I got a new Lazy Lady wheel for spinning on the couch. Want to see?


The Facts:

-Scotch tension
-double treadle
-two whorls with ratios of 4.25, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13.25, 16.5 and 19.5 to 1
-comes standard with two flyers, a regular one with delta orifice and a fine spinning one with regular round orifice
-both flyers have a sliding ring yarn guides instead of hooks
-comes with 4 plastic bobbins and bobbin box/lazy kate (not tensioned)
-head can be adjusted for height and to put the orifice on either right or left side
-retails for $655-please note that this was an August 2007 price-at The Woolery and up.

Info and My Opinion:

My wheel came straight from Majacraft in New Zealand by airmail and arrived in about a week. It was well-packed in a cardboard box with lots of foam board and New Zealand newspapers. Assembly instructions are easy to follow.

This wheel is suited to spinning most any kind of yarn right out of the box, but if you like to spin gigantic yarn or very fine yarn, you can get any number of attachments to get you there. There’s a high speed whorl that will get you ratios of 14, 16.5, 21 and 28 to 1 for around $21 and a wild flyer with very large orifice and ring. A plying flyer/bobbin set is also available and it’s a big one. A separate fast head is available that gets you ratios of up to (an inadvisable) 46:1. A lace kit is also available, which includes fat core bobbins and lace flyer There’s one brilliant thing I noticed straight away- the way the head is built, you can use any flyer or bobbin with any whorl. This is not the case with many wheels, where the size of your flyer and/or bobbin narrows your available ratios. Here’s a list of all accessories available.

The wheel, bar the drive wheel, which is MDF, is beautifully made from wonderfully patterned Rimu wood, which is native to New Zealand. Though it’s classed as a hardwood, it’s not the hardest wood I’ve met, so care should be taken not to bang the wheel around a lot. The finish is gorgeous, however, and the care instructions state that any ding can be disguised with a drop of furniture oil or polish. All movement, including treadling, is smooth, easy, and silent. There’s a slight whir from the bobbin, but that is it. The bearings are the sturdiest I’ve seen, and they’re sealed, so no need for oiling. The flyer can take a dab of Vaseline every now and then to ensure smooth turning of the bobbin. That’s it!

The wheel is quite heavy and stays right where I put it with no shimmy, shake, or wobble. It stands very firmly on four rubber feet. Everything feels very sturdy and well-made. With the loosening of a knob, the wheel fold at the center so that the flyer moves down near the treadles and a handle pops up for carrying. Very handy!

Bobbins hold approx. 6 oz. and are plastic and boilable, meaning you can set the twist in cotton or put it straight into a dyebath. I was a little put off by the appearance of the bobbins, but they’re made and work well and are inexpensive (it didn’t give me a heart attack to purchase 8 of them), so I’m pleased. Majacraft makes wooden bobbins, as well, if it’s a concern.

Both whorls have a range of ratios from high to low. One was designed to go with each flyer, but either will work with either flyer. The whorl is attached to the flyer rod behind the head with a screw and Allen key. The flyer is un-screwed from the flyer rod at the front for bobbin removal. The flyer rod stays in place at all times.

I’d sworn off Scotch tension and still bought this wheel, so that should give some indication of how much I liked it when I tried it. The tensioning system on this is a little different than any Scotch tension I’ve used before (Ashford, mostly). You can see in the photo above that the string is crossed. This results in the tensioning spring producing the same drag at all times. You never see the spring stretch or bounce. There is no jerking to the tension at all. It’s also easyand smooth to adjust with a lovely big wooden knob. If all Scotch tension felt like this, I’d have been more open to the wheel a long time ago.

Spinning is smooth and nearly silent at all speeds. The drive band is stretchy and a little rough, so it grips everything well.

The bobbin box/lazy kate holds 3 bobbins. It’s not tensioned, so I might replace it at some point with one of Majacraft’s tensioned models.

All in all, this is a great wheel for any spinning I can imagine doing. Even though it folds, I would not consider this a great travel wheel due to its weight (15+ lbs., according to my bathroom scale) and size. It can certainly travel in a car, however. This wheel is pretty much as good as it gets. I can’t imagine it limiting me in any way.

All that and it’s super comfy for spinning on the couch. :)

Any questions? Ask away.