Overflowing Fiber Riches

Posted in spinning, toys by tchemgrrl on January 31, 2010

So for the first 4-and-a-bit years that I spun (until a few weeks ago), I had a very consistent set of spinning tools. There’s my Ashford Joy, and about 3 spindles that I handle with any regularity.

There are a lot of things I like about the Joy. It was really the ideal wheel for me when I bought it–an intermediate beginner with a love of fine yarns, no spinners in my social circle, a moderate budget, and almost zero space. It was easy to set up and learn. It folded down to a very small size. There’s tons of information and parts lists for Ashfords available out in the world. It is happy to spin very fine yarns. It looks amazingly cool.

But for the last year or so, I’ve been keeping an eye out for something different. I’ve got more space and money than I did as a grad student in our tiny Madison apartment, though I still have a fairly “compact” sensibility. I’ve become a much faster spinner since I bought the Joy, and spent a lot of time bored on the highest ratio (the highest ratio was also noticeably harder to treadle than the lower ones). I’m a bit more willing to deal with complexity–something that can be tuned a bit.

At the end of last summer, I decided to deal with this by getting on the waiting list for a Bosworth book charkha. A ratio of 70:1 makes my inner speed demon drool, and so does the craftsmanship and adorably teensy size, which I can easily toss in my backpack before I ride my bike to a guild meeting. I’ve done a little playing with cotton on a support spindle, and I think that this will be a really fun way to continue working on that. The charkha should be coming within the next week or two, and I’m wicked excited. Pictures and more details once it arrives.

The charkha is a pretty specialized tool, though. While I’ve been waiting for it I’ve still been spinning like crazy on the Joy, and spending most of that time close to the limits of our mutual mechanical abilities. I wasn’t in a rush for a new wheel, but I was keeping an eye out for something interesting.

And that something interesting popped up locally just a few weeks ago, in the form of a Schacht Matchless.

New wheel!

This particular wheel is 21 years old, although the Matchless is still in current production, so parts are easy to come by. I like the nice clean lines and castle wheel construction. The fact that it’s an older wheel gives it a bit of quirk (I’ll need to do some work on the bobbins before I can use the wheel in Scotch tension, frex), but it’s in excellent shape and when I have things arranged correctly it’s amazingly quiet. I’ll be buying some some new high-speed bobbins and whorls for higher ratios soon, but the current top speed I have is slightly faster than the Joy and not nearly as tiring.

Never rains but it pours, I suppose.

And what of the Joy? Well, within about a week of buying the Matchless I realized that I’m probably a one-spinning-wheel person. The Joy is already loaned out to a friend that’s a newer spinner–spreading those riches around, I suppose. If I don’t miss it and she likes it, it may stay there. It does mean a loss of portability–the Matchless isn’t too cumbersome, but in a portability contest the Joy wins that hands down. But I do have spindles, and soon I’ll have a charkha. I don’t think that will be too much of a loss.


4 Responses

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  1. Mary said, on February 1, 2010 at 10:20 am

    I didn’t realize your Charkha was coming so soon! Speed demon, indeed.

    It was so nice of you to lend your Joy to spread the spinning karma. I know she’s loving it.

  2. tchemgrrl said, on February 1, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Yeah! They’d originally said late Spring, and I was all ready to wait until June if things slowed up, but I guess they’re ahead of schedule.

  3. Lynn said, on February 2, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Yes, I remember feeling the same way when I got faster than my Ashford Scholar. It has Scotch tension only, and did not easily spin fine yarns. When I started spinning it was the least expensive wheel available. I got it as a kit at a discount and finished it myself. Once I got to the point of wanting to spin angora and lace-weight yarns, it just couldn’t adjust the tension low enough. I got a Country Craftsman (used) that has worked very well for me. I got the extra whorls to give higher and lower ratios. I occasionally use the Scholar for plying, when it is at my apartment. I’d had it loaned out to new spinners most of the time. Beth and Enid both had it before they bought their own wheels.

  4. Guzzisue said, on February 7, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I’m still thinking about getting a kromski sonata simply because I would like something more portable for guild meetings etc, will be interested to see how you get on with the Charkha 🙂

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