If you live near a city, check to see if there is a fiber arts store that lets you try out different brands of wheels. I was able to do that, as well as try a couple of wheels owned by members of a local fiber group. I chose a Lendrum double treadle for several reasons: the orifice is in the center, it folds for traveling, it has different detachable flyers for various types of spinning, though most brands now offer all those options. During this downtime, be thinking about what you want in a wheel and watch videos about the different kinds. There are even plans out there on how to build your own from pvc pipe! I started out drop spinning too and very quickly knew I wanted a wheel. It's so fun!
There are so many options that it’s difficult to give a single answer. Do you want to spin plant fiber or animal fiber? Do you want something portable? How much are you wanting to spend? You know...it depends! 😉
You will probably be able to find an Ashford Traditional (“Traddy “) for sale used in your area—they’re quite common, and for good reason. They’re solid wheels, easy to understand, lots of good tutorials for them, and easy to find parts for should you need them. I was given one by a friend, and it was a good beginner wheel for me until I knew more of what I wanted. I now have a Spinolution Echo that I adore and a couple of Electric Eel electric wheels that are fantastic when my hips/knees are too cranky for treadling.
If looking at Craigslist or other classified-type listings, be careful of the SWSO (spinning wheel shaped object). These were produced in the 70s as decorative objects but are absolutely not functional. Make sure that the wheel turns true and doesn’t wobble, that the bobbin and flyer are separate from one another, and that the flyer has an orifice. If the wheel isn’t a known brand, make sure there’s at least 3 bobbins; bobbins from handmade or unknown sources can be very hard (expensive) to reproduce accurately and you’ll need at least 3 bobbins to ply your yarn.
Enjoy your search! It’s fun to dream about new tools.
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