Last night at Sip n Stitch with the PDX Knitbloggers, someone asked me about my spinning wheels. "Why do you have more than one?" That evening I had brought my Louet S-10. The previous week I had brought in my Ashford Joy. I also have the Baynes which nowadays sits forlorn but is clean and shiny. So why do I have more than one wheel?
Abby Franquemont did an excellent entry on her blog about why she has so many wheels. But I'm not a textiles professional, so the need shouldn't be that great, right? Well, yes and no. If I wanted to work one type of fiber and make one type of yarn, yes. But if I want to be able to try out different fibers, I need the proper tools to do the job. Ask a woodworker if he has only one saw, one hammer, a few screwdrivers, and a piece of sandpaper and it's most likely the answer you'll get is "no." So it is with spinning.Now that I'm getting better at spinning and plying evenly, I've found that for fine spinning the Joy works very well. I can get some nice fingering weight off that little puppy. Her ratios are 6, 8, 11, and 14 to 1, which for those of you not familiar with spinning means that for every turn of the main drive wheel I get 6, 8, 11 or 14 turns of the flyer, adding less or more twist to the single. It's also has scotch tension, giving me more control of the takeup onto the bobbin, so more fragile singles can be made up. There's also the ease of portability with the Joy. But the bobbins are small, so I end up with small skeins. It's also more difficult for me to ply on the Joy, especially chain ply.
You'd think that with the Joy coming into the house that the Louet would be relegated to a corner to gather dust. Au contraire, mon frere! Louie has proved to be a great wheel for heavier yarns and plying. Not only do I have the benefit of larger bobbins, but I have great control of the wheel's spin due to the direct drive. The ratios are 5.5, 7.5, and 10.5 to 1, a nice complement to the Joy's. So Louie gets just as much attention as Joy does.
As for Goody Baynes, she has her place in the household. She's a more traditionally appearing wheel, great for beginners to learn on, and a sturdy workhorse. She's the backup for the other workhorses and available for lending to beginning spinners. She's portable and a fine little wheel. Her ratios are 5.5 and 7.5 to 1, so she's not very good for fine spinning, but for basic yarns she's a good one.
And that's why I have more than one wheel. As for handspindles, well that's another entry! ;)